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Forgive us if we brag for a moment.

The Seattle music scene has been notable since Jimi Hendrix, through Nirvana, and continuing today. There is a lot of pride for the local scene here. Artists constantly pushing the mold with no discretion of genre.

But what’s make Seattle so prominent? Is it the weather? Maybe. But it has to be more than just the rain.

Local PBS station KCTS 9 just released a short documentary analyzing the music scene and community here in Seattle. It features some of our favorites: Pickwick, The Head and the Heart, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and more. There are also some great interviews with KEXP DJs, Sub Pop employees, and even Mayor Mike McGinn.

Check out the video streaming online right now. Okay, thanks for letting brag for a bit. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we will.

Here is the full length 13 minute documentary:

http://kcts9.org/something-in-the-water

Here is the trailer:

posted by: Dusty

I am a firm believer that indie rock would not exist in its current form if it weren’t for R.E.M. They were indie rock when it was still called “College Rock” (hipsters: how do you get more original than that?). This makes R.E.M.’s break up (announced Sept. 21) feel like the end of a musical era.

From the intriguing blur of R.E.M.’s first album (“Murmur”) and concluding with the revival in their last album (“Collapse Into Now”), R.E.M. has never settled on anything else but their originality. Even as they achieved superstar status in 1991 when “Losing My Religion” won a Grammy, the band opted for integrity over appeasing a mass public.

What makes R.E.M. such a great story is that refusing to sway toward public appeal worked out for them in the long run. Fans from their years on IRS records could listen to their later major label work and not disregard them as “sell outs.” The R.E.M. sound has always had the jangle of pop with the swagger of the South (where they hail from).

While I’m sad to see this band take their final bow after how much they’ve influenced my musical taste and view of the music industry, it’s a well deserved retirement. I hear changing the musical landscape over 31 years can be a bit tiring.

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Alternative Rock, Indie

iSheetMusic wouldn’t exist without Steve Jobs.

Yesterday the world lost one if its greatest innovators. How we view and interact with media is forever changed by his contributions to the technology world. Chances are most reading this own some sort of iPod, iPhone, iPad or knows someone who does. Thanks to Jobs, computers have becoming less intimidating and more personal.

Jobs and Apple have always surpassed our expectations of what technology can do since he founded the company in 1976. Whereas before computers were previously seen by the public as daunting and used only for scientists and mathematicians, now “everyday  people” have a direct link to information from around the world in their pocket.

Right now, the world is mourning for this massive loss and appropriately so. I think the best way for us to honor is legacy is to continue to try to push the mold and raise another generation of innovators. Jobs gave the geniuses of tomorrow the building blocks to do great things. It will be amazing to see the progress that comes out of his work even as he’s passed on.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs. Our hats are off to you.

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Miscellaneous

As the weather starts to turn and the air begins to chill, why not keep warm with the sweaty masses at a concert? Here is part one of our list of must see concerts for this fall and winter.

 

Colbie Caillat (Seattle: 10/7)

On a cool fall or winter night, the sweet sounds of Colbie Caillat is sure to be a soothing night out from the cold. Her pop-folk music makes for easy listening and approachable to invite a friend or two along. To find more dates: http://www.colbiecaillat.com/upcoming

 

Cash’d Out (Seattle: 10/7/11)

Cash’d Out is the officially endorsed Johnny Cash tribute act. They proclaim themselves to be “the next best thing to Johnny Cash.” The group will be doing a west coast tour. To be officially endorsed by Johnny Cash’s estate is high praise. To find more dates: http://artistdata.sonicbids.com/cashd-out/shows/

 

Death Cab for Cutie (Seattle:  10/22/11)

Over the past few years, Death Cab has gone from a locally famous Seattle indie band to a mainstream success story. As they return home, they’ll be trading up from the smaller venues to the massive Key Arena. The band is currently amidst a world tour. To find more dates:http://www.deathcabforcutie.com/tour

 

Sting: Back to Bass (Seattle: 12/05)

Sting is celebrating the 25 year anniversary with a stripped down tour in which he will be returning to playing the bass (as he also did in The Police). This promises to be a very special tour and a one to not be missed. To find more dates: http://www.sting.com/tour/index/

 

Lord of the Rings in Concert (Seattle: 10/19)

Whether it be the peaceful sounds of The Shire or the ominous tones of Mordor, the music of Lord of the Rings has become a phenomenon in itself.  Howard Shores score will come to life before audiences this fall. Howard Shore’s score will finally get to be experienced before a live audience this fall. For more dates: http://www.lordoftheringsinconcert.com/category/tickets/

 

 

posted by: Dusty

It’s very common that I’ve heard people tell me “you can’t just play the music on the page, you have to feel it.” At the surface level, it sounds a bit silly or like a lesson from a cheesy 1990s movie where a child learns about “the heart of music.” But when you play music, you know exactly what these people are saying.

Playing the sheet music exactly how it reads may produce an accurate presentation of the music, but it might feel emotionless.  So much of music is affected by the personality of the musician.

I found a TED talk this morning that has given the best, in-depth explanation of this phenomenon that I’ve run across. Evelyn Glennie is a Scottish percussionist who lost nearly all of her hearing when she was just 12 years old. She explains how she feels music not just through her ears, but through her whole body. She demonstrates playing simply the notes and playing with feeling.

Glennie’s talk gives us a lot to think about the next time we sit down and try and tackle a piece of music. Rather than playing it, we should interpret it.

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Miscellaneous, music

20 years ago today, mainstream music as we know it was turned upside down and pulled apart.

From an underground scene perspective, "Nevermind" wasn't to first album to create music so aggressive and emotive. It was, however, the first time the rest of us got a taste of this crunchy, loud, and poetic genre that would affectionately be called "grunge."

The first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (though it was over a decade after it's initial release...I know, I'm young) it threw me through a loop. It was powerful. Reading other testimonials online, it was the same way for a lot of people.

Continuing through the dark, self fulfilling prophecy/dramatic irony of "Come As You Are," to the adrenaline rush of "Breed," and "Stay Away," Nirvana's mainstream debut was opening the eyes of music with loud guitars and brutal honesty.

Kurt Cobain may not have realized just how influential his music would be even 20 years later. "Nevermind" remains as a cautionary tale of a great talent that didn't last as long as we wished it had. But the music is still here. I'm sure in another 20 years we'll still be singing the praises of a band that redirected rock.

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Alternative Rock

 

Continuing the list from the last blog [link], here are few more songs in our library that I think fit the upcoming season so perfectly.

Frederic Chopin - Nocturne In Eb Major, Op. 9, No. 2

Chopin’s compositions always have a sort of tenderness about them. I’m ashamed to say, but for a long time I just dismissed a majority of classical and piano music as “boring.” Then I started listening to Chopin. Like I said about the Joni Mitchell song in the last blog, imagine starting your morning with this!

Simon and Garfunkel – Sound of Silence

Simon and Garfunkel were made for fall. Paul Simon’s lyrics are something of legend. Listening to this song is like reading a few pages out of a great novel. Personally, I envision walking on a dark, rainy night listening to this song. Very wondrous.

R.E.M. – Losing My Religion

Maybe it’s the mandolin or the distinct wobble in Michael Stipe’s voice, but this song has always been able to capture me. This is especially true when the weather is grey and cold (as it often is up here in Seattle). It’s desperate but not too bleak. More so, it makes think about the lyrics and play it over and over.

Beach Boys – God Only Knows

A far cry from “Surfin USA” or “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” but “God Only Knows” is easily my favorite Beach Boys song. It still has their hopeful lyrics but with a more contemplative tempo and tone. The light horns at the beginning and the bass breaks are a great pick-up when things get too gray.

 

posted by: Dusty

As I was driving the other day listening to the radio, a song came up on the radio that I was unfamiliar with. It sounded like a familiar ballad, but I was sure that I’d never heard it. It was very simple with lots of strings.

It wasn’t something I would normally like, but it somehow grabbed me. The singer sang with ease and age. The track ended and the DJ came on to say it was a new song from Glen Campbell called “Ghost on the Canvas.”

Earlier this year, Glen Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was truly a tragic diagnosis. With this news came the inevitable: a final album and a final tour.

Admittedly, I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated Glen Campbell as much as I should have until this news came out. I know he was one of the artists my grandparents liked… and that’s where most of my thoughts about Campbell ended.

As I began to delve into his back catalogue, I began to admire him. While he might not have been the type of artist I typically keep in my rotation, I respected him for his consistency. When I listened to tracks like “Rhinestone Cowboy” or “Galveston,” I could imagine them fitting in perfectly still with his latest and final release.

In an industry that demands artists reinvent themselves to stay relevant, Campbell has kept playing the music he likes in the way he wants to play it. That’s a great thing. Campbell’s pure and relatable voice should be used the way he used it.

For his final album, he could have easily made it a sentimental, stripped down and reflective work (which would be acceptable and predicted by most). Instead, he delivers a work with the upbeat ballad sound that made his career. Even in his time of struggle, Campbell keeps on doing what he loves. That’s something to admire.

 

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Country, music

It wasn’t until recently that I began to realize how important the venue is for me when considering what concerts I’m going to spend my money on. When I first started going to shows in my early teens, it was a simple choice: a band I like is playing nearby and if I can afford it, I’ll go. Now that I live in Seattle and shows are happening everyday and I’ve been able to see some of my favorite acts, I’ve become a bit more selective.

When I hear of acts such as James Taylor or any other singer-songwriter type playing in a sports arena, I question if it’s really worth it. Does their sound really match the venue?

I stumbled across this TED Talk featuring David Byrne offering a different view. Maybe it’s not simply that the music doesn’t match the venue, but perhaps the music was written for a specific venue. With this in mind, it might be for to take a look at some of your favorite songs and imagine what space they might have had in mind for it being played. Dingy night club? Opera hall? Living room?

posted by: Dusty
| posted in: Miscellaneous, music

 

Some people look forward to fall for leaves changing colors, fashion, or pumpkin spice lattes. Now all of these things are fine and I can enjoy them too, but what I look forward to is making mixes that fit the mood of the season. Fall brings about such calmness and introspection. Here are some favorites from our library, spanning genres from classical to alternative:

 

Cannonball Adderly and Miles Davis – Autumn Leaves

Well could the title of this song be any more appropriate? I mean, it’s called autumn leaves! But aside from that, this song has such a smooth and soft groove to it that you can’t help but imagine the leaves falling to the rhythm of the brushes on the hi-hats.

 

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

There’s something about the bass and subtle use of lead guitar in this song that brings out the emotion in Stevie Nicks’ lyrics so perfectly. The reflective nature of the song makes it perfect for this season. I still think it’s one of their best tracks, even with how much it’s been played over the years.

 

Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind

It’s hard to pick just one Dylan song for this sort of list, but this one seems perfect. After a presumptively fast paced and lively summer, it’s a great chance to take time to digest Dylan’s lyrics (especially with everyone so politically minded with elections and whatnot this time of year).

 

Radiohead – High and Dry

An acoustic driven pop song… from Radiohead? Why, yes! The band’s catalogue is a bit more vast than casual fans may realize. Thom Yorke’s falsetto and Johnny Greenwood’s overdriven slides give a great voice to thoughts about Evel Knievel.

 

Joni Mitchell – Chelsea Morning

I’m not sure if I even need to explain this one. Joni Mitchell’s imagery is perfect. Just imagine drinking your morning coffee (or aforementioned pumpkin spice latte) listening to this song. Perfect.

Stay alert for part 2!

 

posted by: Dusty