You few regular visitors out there must have noticed that the site has been down for extended periods during the past few weeks. Well it’s up now, so I am putting up a couple of photos from their show at The Sunset Tavern.
Here’s one of Martin setting up his array of switches and peddles that he uses to great effect during the shows.
And here’s one of all three of them (mostly Martin).
And this is how the show ends in a blaze of distorted harmonic feedback loops.
The Sunset has one of the darkest stages in the city, so it’s difficult (for me anyway) to get shots in focus, so I did resort to using a flash for quite a few photos, but most of those didn’t turn out because of all the backs of heads in front of me that turned bright white when the flash fired. Oh well… There are better photos out there. Capsula posted some on their Facebook page taken by Sandra Cox that are worthy.
And they were selling their new live album, Dead or Alive, at the show for $10. For more about the importance of it and why you should buy it, as usual I direct you to Tulip Frenzy.
Capsula returns to Seattle to Play at The Sunset Tavern in Ballard on Friday, February 13th
Something good has to happen to you this Friday the 13th, right? You can make good happen by going to the Sunset Tavern to see the best Rock n’ Roll band in the world perform in a very intimate setting.
I got hooked on Capsula the first time I heard KEXP play a track off their 2009 album, Rising Mountains. Since then I’ve seen them play during CityArts Fest at The Comet, a free KEXP summer show at the Mural Amphitheater, The Triple Door, and at El Corazon (perhaps my least favorite venue in Seattle), so I am very glad to see them play a show in a great club in my own neighborhood this Friday. You should be too. Buy a ticket, take the ride. If you don’t, bad things might happen to you.
For those of you reading who don’t know about this band, here’s a video of them singing “Mejor No Hablar de Ciertas Cosas” (it translates to The Porcelain Horse) at a venue in what is now their home town; Bilbao, Spain.
That’s one they do in Spanish. Almost all the songs they do in the states are in English, so don’t let that get to you. It’s a great rock n’ roll song!
Anyway, if you want to know more about their sound, read about them on Tulip Frenzy.
2013 was an awesome year for music. There were many great albums put out by some of my favorite artists, and there were several outstanding albums put out by artists I’d never paid much attention to in previous years, and a few by brand new artists. That said, let’s get to the number one album of the year:
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away. This is the album I listened to the most during the year. It is a quiet follow-up to the cacophonous noise of Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! released five years earlier. The album sounds as spacious as the brightly lit room on the cover, but sounds much darker and as beautiful as the model on the cover – his wife, Susie Bick (in the nude!). Key tracks are “Jubilee Street” and “Higgs Boson Blues“. Here’s video about the making of the album.
2. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone. I first heard Valerie June on Greg Vandy’s show, The Roadhouse, on KEXP. I was captivated by her arresting voice and the expert blending of folk, country, blues, and country music. Her album was released in Europe early in the year, and you could watch videos and listen to it on the web, but it wasn’t released in the US until August. The album was coproduced by Kevin Augunas and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who no doubt drew some extra attention from the press, and received great reviews in many major music publications. I bought it the day it came out and have been listening to it ever since. Key tracks are the title track and “Workin’ Woman Blues”. Here’s a video about Valerie and her debut album.
3. Holly Williams – The Highway. Prior to this year I had only heard Holly Williams singing her rendition of her grandfather’s, (Hank Williams, Sr. – she has the blood of Hank in her, and it shows) “Blue is My Heart” on the excellent album project titled The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. I was hooked on her voice and her style after hearing the song, and then I read a great review of The Highway in Uncut Magazine and went looking for the album to buy. I ended up buying it from Amazon, and I have yet to see it stocked in a brick-and-mortar store. That’s because it was independently released on her own label Georgiana Records, which apparently wasn’t picked up by any distributors. That’s a shame, because this album is a real gem. Holly’s voice sits front and center of a mostly sparse and acoustic production. The songs are of the south and of her family. Key tracks are the opener, “Drinkin'” and the closer, a song about her grandmother June Bacon White, “Waitin’ on June”.
5. Low – The Invisible Way. I first learned of Low when they opened for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at The Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle way back in 1998. The house was packed with people anxious to see Nick, and Low was kind of a quiet shoegazer band at the time, but I really like what I was hearing when I was able to hear it over the very loud man talking behind me. (I asked him to be quiet or leave. He stayed, but he was quiet.) Since then I’d heard them on the radio and liked the music, but never really got into them until this year. The Invisible Way was produced by Jeff Tweedy, and he has a way about bringing out the best in people. The album opens with a very humorous song, “Plastic Cup” sung by Alan Sparhawk. Mimi Parker sings backup on this one, but she takes the lead vocal on several songs on the album, including “Just Make it Stop“, another standout track.
6. Daughter – If You Leave. Elena Tonra is the leader of this London trio. I was hooked on this band the moment I first heard “Youth” on KEXP. The sound of their debut album is sparse and hypnotic, and the lyrics take you inward to a claustrophobic space. Beautiful record that I listen to all the time. “Amsterdam” is another standout track.
Capsula, for those who don’t know — and if you don’t, we pity you — are the finest punk rock band to ever emerge from South America, though for the past 13 years they’ve used Bilbao as their locus for world domination. It’s been paying off, too, as Solar Secrets, their recent album produced by Tony Visconti — fresh from his handling the chores for David Bowie’s The Next Day – has been topping Alternative charts in Europe. They may be the hardest working band in rock’n’roll these days. Based on the commitment they showed last night, wherein Martin Guevara and Coni Duchess bounced off one another, and then the ceiling, like those ping pong balls about to be plucked for the Powerball lottery, they may, at moments, also be the single best live band working today. The drummer — was that Ignacio Villarejo or someone else? — was like a locomotive, minus the smoke, and even when Guevara and Duchess were doing synchronized back flips, the musicianship would have made the Berlin Philharmonic seem like amateurs.
Longtime fans of Tulip Frenzy know we’ve been wild for Capsula for years and years. Ever since hearing 2006′s Songs & Circuits, we’ve viewed them as some magical combo of the Cramps, the Stooges, and the best ’70s radio pop. We can’t put it better than… we already have: “Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin.
I blame John Boehner for this! Damn you John Boehner! You will roast in Hell for this one!
Seriously though, the Comet Tavern has closed. How can that be? Here’s a snippet about the closure from The Seattle Times:
For more than half a century, the Comet Tavern welcomed hippies and punks with cheap drinks in a dark bar. It was one of Seattle’s oldest, diviest bars, famous for its loud stage, pungent bathrooms, ceiling of nicotine-stained dollar bills and the way it fondly honored a departed bartender named Ethel. It kept her ashes inside the bar stool she used to sit on.
So when the Comet went into death throes last week, it was understandable that the wailing was loud.
“There’s few places left in this town of Hendrix (Nirvana, Soundgarden countless others…) for loud, sweaty, rock and roll anymore, and The Comet was a great one,” wrote local band Bad Love on Facebook.
The place should have landmark status – remember that saved the Blue Moon Tavern from getting torn down many years ago and getting replaced by a strip club. Well it wasn’t officially given landmark status, but the public outcry about its pending doom did save it.
The Stranger reports that there is some hope that someone will buy the Comet and reopen it, but it might be difficult to do because the owner, Brian Balodis, stripped the space of its sound system and changed the locks on the doors. Employees aren’t even able to get in and retrieve their belongings.
Anyway, I am sad to see the place go. I have many fond memories of going to that bar. My friends and I frequented it pretty often during the eighties and early nineties, and most recently when Capsula played there in October 2011 as part of City Arts Fest. Front man Martin Geuvara loved the venue and referred to it as “de puta madre.”
Back in the day we all liked going there to sit at the big graffiti-carved, wooden tables and drink pitchers of beer. We also were amused by the graffiti in the restroom while relieving ourselves of the beer. And we could help ourselves to free popcorn. That brings back a not-so-fond memory of the place. One night we noticed a patron had nodded off on one of the benches along the wall and, for shits and giggles, some of us tossed a few pieces of popcorn in his direction. When the guy woke up, someone must have said something to him about it, but instead of responding in kind with a few pieces of popcorn thrown in our direction, he grabbed a full pitcher of beer and smashed it into the skull of my good friend Gorby. The police arrived very quickly, and there was no more violence, but Gorby spent the night at Harborview and still suffers from hearing loss due to the blow.
Some time later (months? years? I don’t remember. Gorby! Fill in the blanks here.) he returned to the Comet and talked to the bartender about the incident. I think the bartender gave him a free t-shirt.
So farewell fine Comet. I hope you are resurrected soon and not torn down and turned into another Capitol Hill condo or cell-phone store or stupid Chase Bank or whatever.
Capsula‘s new album Solar Secrets was released on August 27th. You should watch this video and then go buy the record.
You can try your local record store, but I have a hunch it won’t have it. They never do. The only “local” Seattle store that ever has their music in stock is Amazon. I will try Sonic Boom (it wasn’t included in this week’s email) and Easy Street, but I’m 99% certain it will be Amazon.
Update: I’d been out of town the week Solar Secrets was released. Today I went to Easy Street Records to buy the new Neko Case album and, just for kicks I looked for a Capsula section and didn’t find one so I thumbed through the miscellaneous “C” section, and guess what I found? That’s right, they had one copy, and I bought it. It was the first time I’d ever seen a Capsula album for sale in a record store. Nice job Easy Street! Now stock up with some more copies of the new one and bring in their back catalogue.
Capsula finished recording their new album, Solar Secrets, at Saint Claire Studio in Kentucky with Tony Visconti producing. While he is mixing the album that is due out in August, the band is on the road as the opening act for Ose Mutantes.
The show was Wednesday night at The Triple Door, Seattle’s dinner-club music venue. It’s nothing like The Funhouse, The Comet Tavern (de puta madre!), or the Mural Amphitheater – the three venues Capsula has played in past shows.
I’ve seen a few shows at The Triple Door, and I wasn’t sure how Capsula would play to a crowd of mostly older music fans who were all seated at their tables eating dinner and sipping on their drinks as they waited to see the headliner, Ose Mutantes.
Capsula had no problem adapting to the venue. They opened with a song from Rising Mountains, and followed with their cover of “Moonage Daydream” from the Ziggy album and, during his guitar solo, Martin Guevara got down from the stage, jutted back and forth between tables, and then climbed on top of a booth to play out the solo. The band had the crowd in its hands from that point on.
They played a couple of new songs from Solar Secrets, but I don’t recall the titles. I do remember the songs rocked and sounded great. I think it was during one of the new songs when Martin scraped the neck of his guitar across the edge of the stage to start some feedback and then held it above his head and banged on it like it was a percussion instrument. Loved it.
Before the last song of the set, Martin said “I don’t know if you can get out of your seats here, but you should for just this last song, if it’s okay.” Many people obliged.
Cory and I were able to talk to their tour manager in the merch booth and later to the band. We found out they’ll be heading back to Europe this summer and hope to return to Seattle during their U.S. tour to support the new album. Martin said he would really like to play the KEXP Barbecue at the Mural Amphitheater this year. (Anybody from KEXP reading this? Make it happen!)
They also did an in-studio performance for KEXP on Wednesday afternoon, and thanks to the magic of the intertubes, you can listen to it right here, right now.
All week during KEXP’s pledge drive, they have been playing the top albums of the past 40 years as voted on by their supporters to celebrate their 40th Anniversary. The list is 650 albums long. Like me, you probably liked a lot of it, and didn’t like some of it.
You can read the whole list of 650 albums on the KEXP Top 40 of the Last 40 years here.
Here is their top 40:
The Joshua Tree
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
Dark Side Of The Moon
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Blood On The Tracks
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
The Rolling Stones
Exile On Mainstreet
Prince and the Revolution
Neutral Milk Hotel
In the Aeroplane Over The Sea
Stop Making Sense
Houses Of The Holy
Automatic For The People
Power, Corruption and Lies
The Queen Is Dead
The Flaming Lips
Yoshimi vs. The Pink Robots
Licensed To Ill
And now you may be asking yourself why this list of the top 40 goes to number 41. Well let me tell you: In my opinion, Sufjan Stevens’ album is not worthy of being on this list and R.E.M.’s Murmur is.
Sufjan bores the hell out of me.
Placement matters. Fore example, when KEXP did their top 903 albums of all time back in 2008. Sufjan placed 15th of all time, and Patti Smith placed 104th. (Anyone that tells me that Illinoise is better than Horses I immediately dismiss as a fool). So as I am glad to see that enough people have come to their senses to drop Sufjan’s album 26 places since 2008 and move Patti Smith’s Horses up 52 spots from 104th to 52nd, I still cannot accept that Illinoise is in KEXP’s top-40 list. Again I must ask who the hell are my fellow KEXP supporters and why do they like such boring music? And I won’t go too far out on a limb to predict that, in the next multi-generational poll, the fools will all have forgotten Illinoise, and Horses will prevail.
Enough of that…
What’s most interesting about these lists besides who made it to the top ten (Congratulations to Nirvana for taking the Number One spot over Radiohead, who usually places Number One in these polls, and yes I have come to appreciate Radiohead more since the last multigenerational poll [more about that here, although I prefer The Bends over OK Computer, but nevermind]) are the albums missing from the list.
Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever
Capsula – In the Land of Silver Souls
The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across the Land
Jim White – Wrong Eyed Jesus
Nick Cave – every album except Let Love In that placed 591st.
Richard Hawley – True Love’s Gutter
Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine
Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity
Just to name a few…
I can’t blame KEXP for these omissions, because they play and promote all of the above artists who are missing, so all I’m left with is their listeners.
Wake up KEXP listeners! There are way better artists than many of the 650 listed, but you just aren’t paying attention. Maybe some of the ones I’ve pointed out are not in your wheelhouse. I get that, and I also get that expanding your horizons is why KEXP is so loved around the world.
So next time you hear Capsula, Jim White, The Duke Spirit, Scott H. (the “H” stands for “FUCK YOU”) Biram, Alejandro Escovedo, or Lydia Loveless – pay attention and expand your horizons. You might really like some of this stuff. You might even like it more than you think you like Sufjan Stevens!
Okay so I am a couple weeks late getting this list posted for several reasons, but mainly because it’s so difficult to choose which twenty of the fifty-six 2011 albums I purchased belong on the list.
The top five are the albums I’ve listened to the most during the year, and two of the top five are by groups that don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve, especially in the United States.
1. Capsula – In the Land of Silver Souls. This is the album I’ve listened to probably a hundred times, and I never tire of it. Their sound is part seventies Bowie, part Stooges, part Sonic Youth, a pinch of Link Wray, and a whole lot of “it.” Martin Guevara on guitar and vocals, Coni Duchess on bass and vocals, and Ignacio Villarejo on drums take all of their influences an blend them into one of the best sounding sonic stews I’ve ever heard. Top tracks are “Wild Fascination,” “Communication,” and “Hit ‘n’ Miss.”
Now that you’ve watched that video, you’ll probably want to go buy the CD. Good luck. Right here in Seattle where’ve they’ve been in heavy rotation on KEXP and have played two shows in the past six months (The Comet and the KEXP BBQ), you can’t find their music at Sonic Boom, Easy Street Records, Silver Platters, or any other store I’ve wandered into. The album is on the BCore Disc label, which must have very poor distribution in the U.S. Amazon sometimes has it, and you can buy it from the band for $10 if you go to a show. So what I guess I am saying is go to a show, see the band, buy their music, spread the word. (I guess you pod people can download it too.)
2. P.J. Harvey – Let England Shake. When I read that P.J. was working on an album of songs she plays on an autoharp, I thought that’s gonna be pretty weird. What it is, is a masterpiece – an incredibly focused, forceful collection of passionate and sometimes angry songs about war. Here’s one of the twelve films by Seamus Murphy that are available on YouTube and on a DVD now available in the UK that hasn’t yet made it across the pond.
3. Tom Waits – Bad as Me. It’s been a long time since Tom Waits put out an album of all new songs, and it was worth the wait. Tom uses all his voices in this album. He delivers the rockers “Bad as Me” and “Satisfied” in a howling gravelly voice with a nice shout-out to Mick and Keith, and “Back in the Crowd” and “Last Leaf” in deep, slightly raspy melodious voice.
4. The Decemberists – The King is Dead. I had heard the Decemberists on the radio quite a few times, but I never paid much attention to them until this album came out. This is a pop album that the band says was influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees, XTC, and R.E.M. (Peter Buck plays guitar on three songs.) Top tracks are “Calamity Song,” “Down by the Water” and “This is Why We Fight.”
Be sure and watch the video for “Calamity Song” too. It was inspired by the David Foster Walace novel, Infinite Jest.
5. The Duke Spirit – Bruiser. This album was released in Europe in September and has not yet been released in the U.S. where they don’t get near the attention they deserve. KEXP has recently started playing a couple of tracks, so maybe the band will get a little traction and release their album in the U.S. soon. Liela Moss has one of the sexiest voices in rock ‘n roll today, and the band backs her up brilliantly. Key tracks are “Don’t Wait,” and “Surrender.”
7. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh. This album will grow on you. With lyrics like, “Then she left me here reeling with that time-release feeling/Like a long wisp of hunger, I swung from the ceiling” how could it not?
9. Viva Voce – The Future Will Destroy You. The album was released on the first day of summer and this guitar-heavy, retro-psychedelic-pop record instantly became the soundtrack to my summer. It’s a great one to listen to while driving through the city on the way home.
10. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi. She’s got pipes, she can play guitar, and she’s got impeccable taste. Here’s a list of her influential albums from the November 2011 issue of Uncut Magazine: Aladdin Sane – David Bowie, Death of a Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen, Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins, Gris-Gris – Dr. John, Grace – Jeff Buckley, The Ecstasy of Gold – Ennio Morricone, Quartet for the End of Time – Olivier Messiaen, Let Love In – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Wild is the Wind – Nina Simone, and Limehouse Blues – Django Reinhardt. ‘Nuff said.
19. John Doe – Keeper. It’s John’s “happy” record. No, really. Listen to “Little Tiger” and “Lucky Penny.”
20.Wild Flag – Wild Flag. Carrie Brownstein’s new band: “What is the sound of an avalanche taking out a dolphin? What do get when you cross a hamburger with a hot dog? The answer is: WILD FLAG.”
Honorable mentions to: Dave Alvin, The Cave Singers, Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi, Ry Cooder, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, The Kills, The Pimps of Joytime, The Roots, Sons and Daughters, Tinariwen, Trombone Shorty, and Thurston Moore.
Capsula, Whalebones, Stag, and Rose Windows at The Comet October 22, 2011
The Comet Tavern doesn’t have a green room, so after you’ve had few pints and have to go pee them out, you must walk through a maze of instruments and gear and past a pinball machine in the cramped area behind the stage to get to the men’s room. I stopped on the way to say hello to Martin Guevara of Capsula and tell him how much I appreciated his band returning to Seattle so soon after their show at the KEXP barbecue in August. And then there I was in the men’s room staring at the graffiti covered walls as I pissed into a trough thinking, this is weird – I am taking a piss just ten feet or so from the members of one of my very favorite bands.
I had not been to The Comet in years – maybe decades. The last time I had gone was a few months after some stupid, angry drunk had awakened from his slumber and smashed a pitcher of beer into the skull of my friend Gorby.
I returned to The Comet with several friends on Friday night to see four bands playing a show that was part of the City Arts Fest. We arrived about mid-way through Rose Windows‘ set. I had never heard them before but immediately took a liking to them. Their sound is kind of throwback to the psychedelic, flower-power sound of San Francisco during the sixties. The lead singer, Rabia Qazi, dressed in a flowing white dress has a beautifully expressive voice that reminded me of Grace Slick. The other five or six members of the band worked together to create some loud, densely layered jams.
Stag came on next. I am friends with the drummer, Rob Dent (thanks for putting me on the guest list Rob!), and I had seen his band a few times. Friday night they put on the best show I had ever seen them play. They were all very happy to be there, and it showed. Steve Mack was sporting his new close-cropped hairdo and put on an animated show while Rob pounded his drums, and Ben, Lincoln, and Pete played guitars. Check out their new video for “Don’t Lead with Your Heart.” Steve was working up a sweat and wanted some “naughty water” to drink on stage, but he obeyed the signs taped to the backs of the speakers that told him not to. (photo here.) It didn’t take him long to get a beer after they ended their set.
Whalebones, another band I was not familiar with, played next. They are a trio led by Justin Deary who sounds (to me anyway) like his roots go way back to Eddie Cochran and a little less way back to Crazy Horse. The band can rock. Go see them.
Capsula took the stage and dove into their high energy set of sonic soup built around Coni Duchess’s wicked fast bass playing and Ignacio Villarejo’s furious drumming. Crank up the reverb and add in Martin Guevara’s searing guitar, dynamic vocals and stage performance, and what you get is awesome to the power of 10. They played “Wild Fascination,” “Into My Skull,” “Let’s Run Away,” and “Commmunication” from In the Land of the Silver Souls, and from Rising Mountains they played “Girl! Whip Up the Sound,” and my favorite song that they sing in Spanish, “Mejor No Hablar De Ciertas Cosas.”
Martin made his way into the crowd holding his guitar by its base so he could scrape the neck on a light suspended from the ceiling. His guitar was so close I could touch it, so I did. I think I may have even plucked a string or two.
The band was feeding off the energy of the crowd and was very happy with the response they were getting. Martin expressed his appreciation by telling the crowd that playing at The Comet was “de puta madre.”
I talked to one of the photographers at the show and told him I would bet putting up a post and wanted to know where I could find his photos. His name is Dave Lichterman and he gave me his card, so I think it’s okay to link to his photos, so here you go: