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  • Blue Skies for Black Hearts does X-Mas

     

    Now that December is just a few hours away, let's break out the Jesus birthday jams. Now in it's 9th volume, XO for the Holidays is a compilation put out by Portland and Detroit based PR firm XO Publicity. This year, XO for the Holidays presents the rocking power pop of Blue Skies for Black Hearts doing a Christmas classic.

    We all miss David Bowie terribly and Bing Crosby's influence is undeniable, so hearing Blue Skies for Black Hearts taking on their 1977 holiday hit "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" brings about a true sense of joy. 

    Frontman Pat Kearns's vocals fittingly encapsulate much of what Bowie and Crosby were serving in their original rendition, but with his own twist of course. His recently released solo record, So Long City, showcases his vocal talents further.

    Listen to all of XO for the Holidays here, and give Blue Skies For Black Hearts' take on "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" below.

    http://portland.thedelimagazine.com/26403/blue-skies-for-black-hearts-does-x-mas

  • Blinded by Sound: We the Wild album review

    "Where do we draw the line, between feeding a habit and having a good time?" ask We the Wild, a young band from Portland. The line is from a song titled "Terrible, Terrible" and it is one of ten tracks on their debut album From the Cities We Fled. The rainy streets of Portland are as hostile to youth as anyplace else, and it is those types of struggles that their lyrics chronicle. But it is the music that makes this self-released disc such a gem. We the Wild have a hardcore background, but they mix in all sorts of other flavors: rock, punk, jazz, mathlete guitars, Cookie Monster vocals, classical piano, everything under the sun you might say. Unlike a lot of other bands, none of this feels gratuitous, everything fits, and everything has its place.

    When I heard that WtW were coming to town recently, I was ready. And so were the touring gremlins, as it turned out. Mechanical problems with their van drastically reduced the tour, but thankfully they made it to Seattle. It was a great show, although being on a bill with three other groups meant a shortened set. And for all the fabled history of Seattle's Central Tavern, the place has never been known for great sound. One of the things I have thought from the beginning about this band is how broad their appeal would be if they were exposed to a wide audience. In a one-person testimonial to this theory, my date (who tends towards classic rock) instantly "got" We the Wild.

    The members of the quintet are: Benjamin Cline - (vocals) Joe Lawson - (drums, vocals), Miles Davenport - (guitar, vocals), Elliot Sikes - (guitar), and Julian Rossetti - (bass). They graciously answered a few questions before the show began, and the first thing I wondered about is how they would describe their music. "We use the term 'post-hardcore' to describe ourselves," answered Miles. It seemed like that was a question he has been asked before, because he soon amended his response, "Actually I should say that we have a very good chord library," he concluded.

    While their roots are hardcore, where WtW really shine is in writing melodies and pop hooks. Their songs are incredibly catchy. This is a group who have refined their music to a point where there is nobody else like them. Even those who profess to hate punk or hardcore should hear From the Cities We Fled, because the contrast between the "abrasive" vocals and guitars with the amazing hooks and riffs they churn out make for a marvelous payoff.

    The songs are about drugs, prostitutes, losing old friends, the clampdown on clubs...you know, the fun stuff. What I did not know until we spoke was that to make this very urban NW album they "got away from it all." They basically went to a cabin in the woods and wrote and rehearsed and wrote and rehearsed until they had it down cold.

    Armed with this knowledge I listened to the disc again and realized that the opening "Still Asunder" actually works as a thumbnail sketch of the entire album. The song opens with the soft sound of raindrops, which harden into the sound of a good old-fashioned typewriter. Then the rhythmic typing is replaced with Lawson's drums as the music gets underway. The woodshedding they did in the cabin is addressed with the raindrops and typewriter, while the "heavy" vocals and guitars are met with equally "friendly" pop hooks at every turn.

    "Exodus and Decay" was the first single, and the following excerpted quote from The Deli Magazine was WtW's way of introducing it: "Exodus and Decay' was written about the alarming state of Portland's local hardcore scene, and the attitude of apathy that locals have taken to our passion for the music we create"

    The very next tune "Ol Boy" is the second single, and this excerpted WtW quote comes from Performer Magazine, "The core message in "Ol' Boy" is about independence and self-worth. People are constantly changing, and not always for the better."

    The record-biz term for opening your CD with your strongest songs is called "front-loading," but that is only if you have a bunch of crap after the first two or three. While the singles are two pretty great tunes, they are not even my favorites. "Roxy, the Cops are Here" is (for now at least). Tied to an irresistible melody, the line "Nothing ever looked so pretty, and nothing ever felt so wrong" has been in my head for a long time. The video for "Roxy" is a low-budget riot, with a mustachioed hooker, some cops, and a couple of Mormons on bicycles - all tangled up in an industrial backlot somewhere. While the video is hilarious, the subject of a prostitute's OD is pretty grim. This type of contrast is a fundamental element of WtW, a constant reminder that they are anything but one-dimensional.

    "Roxy" is an older tune that is rarely played live these days, but they did play my second favorite song, "Terrible, Terrible" (previously quoted). I loved their dead-pan introduction of it at The Central: "Here's another song about drugs." Yes, it is another song about drugs all right, but one with a message that resonates.

    I have listened to From the Cities We Fled many times, and there is one track that I kept skipping because it made me cringe. When I knew that I would be writing about them, I quit skipping "King of Wounds," and finally understood how essential it is. This is their "confessional," for God's sake! Ever since Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," the self-absorbed "narcissistic" ballad is required. And as much as I want to make fun of those songs, or think they are self-serving, I can't. It is youth. It is what you do. From the Cities We Fled would not be the genuine article without "King of Wounds" and that's all there is to it.

    I didn't know what to make of "Hold" the first time I heard it either. It is a solo, acoustic piano piece that seemed almost laughably out of place until I put away my preconceived notions. It is a beautiful interlude, and serves as an excellent introduction to the apocalyptic finale "2001" This song is one of those "all in" songs, with just everything but the proverbial kitchen sink and it is indescribably amazing. Throw in the four horsemen, and you have it all.

    And then it is over. Ten songs in a little over 49 minutes that pulled me out of a really difficult time in my life. The abundance of creativity, and the honesty of the lyrics spoke to a sense of purpose that I had nearly forgotten. This is more an impression than a statement, but in thinking about what a crass and ugly year 2016 was, and comparing that to the feeling I get in listening to We the Wild, these words came to mind: The soul of a true musician never changes hands.

    http://blindedbysound.com/reviews/we-the-wild-from-the-cities-we-fled/

  • Bluetint Magazine: KP and the Boom Booms and "The Brave"

    Immediately as I began to peruse the works of KP and the Boom Boom, I was lifted from my reality and taken on a “musical odyssey of love and magic”. The band’s first full-length album, The Brave, is an eclectic collection of emotion, excitement, and erotic enticement. Redefining the barriers of genre classification, this Austin based– band provides listeners with an innovative fusion of sound. It was my honor to chat with the band’s lead singer, Kate Priestley, and gain some insight on this dynamic group.

    You were born in the U.K., but your band is based out of Austin. How’d you end up in Texas?

    I was backpacking around Guatemala, and I signed up for an open mic night, this was in 2009, and there were two Americans that were in the audience and they were like “we have to start a band with you”. So I stayed with them for about a month and made music and hung out. Then we went our separate ways, I went back to England. Then the following year they invited me to Austin to make music while they had some time away from work, and that’s where I actually met the band that I’m with now, through those guys. It was just a real serendipitous meeting.

    So the band that you’re with now, did they play together before you met them, or did people sort of join in sporadically?

    They came sporadically, except for three of them. Those three played in a band together beforehand but they were playing very different music than we play now, I think it was kind of like Indie Rock, and they played with different people. It wasn’t too serious of a project, so when they joined in with KP and the Boom Boom that became of the main focus for them.

    Looking at videos and pictures that I’ve seen of the band, it looks like there are eight of you altogether. Is that correct?

    Yeah, so at the core there are five of us. Then outside of that, the smallest we’ll play is either five or six of us, and then when we play a bigger show it gets up to seven of us.

    Do you feel that the bigger size of your band has allowed for more experimentation with sound?

    Yeah it definitely has done that. I think the difficult thing with a bigger band in this day and age with music is making an income. I’ve noticed now with where the music business is going that it is much better financially to have less members in a band. When we went on tour, there were six of us, so it’s been great having additional members and the different sounds that brings. But it’s also difficult when everyone has a different view and trying to work out those differences together. I think we’ve done a really good job though, finding a happy medium, and coming together for the album.

    Where did you go on tour?

    This August we went up the east coast and back. From here we hit Dallas, New Orleans, Lafayette, Atlanta, then we went all the way up to Brooklyn, and hit certain towns and cities on the way back as well. It was a wonderful experience. I think our favorite show actually was in Brooklyn.

    Do you think that was the show that the crowd reacted the best to your performance?

    For sure. We actually opened for a really great band that night, Madame West, and it was interesting, she said to us, “Wow you guys, they really like you, and they don’t have to do that here. If they’re not into it they’ll let you know.” So it was just very surprising and wonderful that we had that experience.

    Have you ever played a show where you’ve had a difficult time getting the crowd into your music?

    Occasionally, I mean there have been the odd times where we’ve been booked out of context, and if you put us in a small town in Texas people just don’t understand at all. They’re used to their country music, and we’re this neo-soul band, so they just really don’t know how to take us. We know now not to take those gigs; those happened more when we first started. Sometimes I feel like people can still be a little confused by us, but that’s because you can’t “box” us. We’re not just a soul band; we’re not just a funk band. But I’ve noticed with eclectic sound, people take certain elements that they really like, and by the middle of the set they’re starting to get really into it.

    You just began to touch upon the point of your music being a multi-genre fusion; do you feel that the music industry tends to categorize bands too strictly when maybe everyone should address their accumulative influences?

    Only if you want that, I think if you’re set on only being a funk band or a soul band, than that’s what you should do if that’s your kind of music. But I have found recently that many bands are coming out with this kind of fusion of sound, and I love that. To me that is something exciting to hear as a musician, people taking all these influences from all these different genres and elements of music, and creating that one sound with it. I would rather be on the cusp of creating a new kind of sound than just repeating the sound of someone else.

    I would like to talk a bit about your album The Brave. On your website it is described as “an epic next-generation neo-soul album of universal sound seduction”. Which is an incredible description by the way. And after listening to it myself I couldn’t agree more. Do you feel that including this sort of “energetic sensuality” helps to engage listeners?

    For sure yeah, we’ve found that our audience really loves that type of energy. I think people definitely want to kind of be swept away and almost “high” when they listen to our music. We do have a serious side to the album too though.

    How long have you and the band been working on this album?

    We’ve been working on this album for two years. You always think the process is going to take less time. I think though if we had loads of money and the ability to all only make music and focus on this full time, then we could probably do that. But at this point, some of us are still teaching music, or working other day jobs, so that just isn’t possible yet.

    Do you have an official release date set?

    Yes, it’s going to be released on November 18th.  We actually finished the album in February, but then we started working with a publicist so we really wanted to wait those months and really ramp up publicity instead of just releasing it ourselves this time.

    Do you have plans to go on tour again after the release of the album?  

    We’ve not discussed doing that yet, but I don’t think that would happen by the end of this year. But I think next year we’ll start talking about it again. We had such a great time in August, and I know people have been asking if we’re coming back to the places we played on that tour.

    One final question I have to ask, what was it like opening for Snoop Dogg?

    Oh man, it was amazing, you know that was a very surreal experience. It was the biggest opportunity we had been given at that point as a band, so it was amazing to be a part of that, and be backstage, and to sing on a stage that size in front of so many people (The Moody Theatre in Austin). I got to meet Snoop Dogg very briefly at the end when he was walking out. We tried to have an official meeting with him but security was not feeling it. I think there were a lot of people backstage that night, so I think security was unsure of who was supposed to be there and who wasn’t. But I kind of bust past them at the end and introduced myself. I just wanted to say who I was and thank him, and he was a super nice guy, he was really chill and gave me a hug, I got good vibes from him.

    http://bluetintmag.com/kp-and-the-boom-boom

  • Stubby's House of Christmas review of the holiday comp!

  • Willamette Week: Pat Kearns’ Debut Solo Album Is an Ode to a Changing City and the Doldrums of Middle-Age

    Pat Kearns’ Debut Solo Album Is an Ode to a Changing City and the Doldrums of Middle-Age

    Pat Kearns, So Long City (Self-Released)[SO LOW] For his solo debut, born-and-bred Portlander Pat Kearns offers up what seems to be an album-length lamentation of a forgone hometown. But on closer inspection, it's actually a low-key love letter to the unspectacular elements of a middle-aged man's life. Although Kearns is most associated with his power-pop act Blue Skies for Black HeartsSo Long City takes a subtler sonic approach that pays homage to familiar comfort. The undistorted steel-string acoustic guitars and wheeze of harmonica melodies on the title track don't sound as funereal as the lyrics might imply, but it's this light-hearted approach at misfortune that makes So Long City so inviting. "Hit the Highway" coaxes an improvised road trip in an effort to create a worthwhile memory, coolly set to midtempo strums that never aim for anything bigger than the steady, casual range they started in. "Sweet Lorraine" takes a bluesier approach at sporting a previously outspoken black heart on a well-displayed sleeve and utilizes the same Southern barroom soundboard to reveal what's perhaps the most album's sincere turn. It's presumably why Kearns chose to release this unpretentious batch of songs under his own name. He's not posing or aiming for anything unrealistic on So Long City, but rather showcasing both sides of what's earned after your zenith is in the rearview—dexterous skill and constant trepidation.

    SEE IT: Pat Kearns plays Turn Turn Turn, 8 NE Killingsworth St., with Rambush and Maia Dooney, on Thursday, Nov. 10. 9 pm. Call venue for ticket prices. 21+.

  • MAGNET: Alejandra O'Leary

    Alejandra O’Leary: Crawling from the Wreckage

     

    Alejandra O’Leary is a formidable guitarist, an impressive singer and a songwriter dedicated to venting the raw emotions most of us would rather keep hidden. On her latest album, All I Know, she dedicates herself to speaking the truth, now matter how painful it is. “Rock’n’roll is all I know,” she says. “That’s why I used that song as the title of the record. I’m not very good at many things, but I’m good at expressing emotion with my words, music and guitar playing. The phrase also sounds like gossip. This album has some very gossipy ideas and innuendos running through it.”

     

    The songs on All I Know are primal, visceral expressions driven by O’Leary’s stirring, multi-layered guitar attack and her passionate vocals. “I wanted to sing in my lower register, which I’ve never used before. I had to relax to reach those subtle tones, then push my voice to an almost falsetto place, to blow off the steam. The high highs and low lows intensify the drama of the songs.

     

    “A lot of the songs are about women trying to save men from themselves. I like to take the inner conflicts I’m experiencing and turn them into characters that can play out my emotions. I was going for high drama, musically and lyrically, cranking up the drama as high as I could get it. It’s not a chilling out kind of album. It’s an amped up, pacing around at night, ripping off your clothes kind of album. I don’t play screaming music, so the intensity has to come through the arrangements and lyrics, not sheer volume. These songs are about chaos and the aftermath of turmoil. It’s about assessing the wreckage and being resigned to it, while you’re figuring out how to live with it.”

     

    UNDER THE INFLUENCE with Alejandra O’Leary

     

    Nature: I live in Maine. Looking at the ocean and knowing how vast it is and how much it contains, that we can never see, is humbling. Especially one a turbulent day, when it’s really rockin’.  

     

    The Smiths/Morrissey: I’ve always loved how funny and insightful they are as songwriters. They carry on a tradition I love in art - finding humor and seriousness in the same thing.

     

    Dogs: I saw someone in a wheelchair walking a dog. Caring for vulnerable creatures makes you more human. Even if you’re disabled, you have the urge to nurture. It’s often on display in the way we care for dogs and other pets.

  • Sputnik Music reviews We the Wild

    Review Summary: Modest beginnings of We The Wild make way for a debut album of fury, dazzling instrumental technicality, and just the right amount of melody throughout.


    We The Wild is a young group from Portland, Oregon, but their musicianship reveals seasoned players with a ferocious attitude. From The Cities We Fled is their passionate expression of everything from personal confessions to assertions about the state of modern music. Genre-bending techniques impressively never sound gimmicky or forced, with compositions that defy explanation; the title track for example resembles the most insane moments of Mastodon filtered through a post-hardcore aesthetic. Blistering guitar riffs are a near constant and border on being relentless, lending to the strengths of “Exodus and Decay” and “2001.”

    The jazzy drumming and mind-bending guitar playing from We The Wild rarely gets overwhelming, with a healthy dose of melody in each song. Emotive expressions add further dimensions to their sound, with softer, melodic moments within “Still Asunder” and “Terrible, Terrible” showing an impressive understanding of dynamics. The ending trio of tracks forming a musical suite begins with “King of Wounds,” a heartfelt and confessional ballad of sorts. Despite the frenzied sound throughout, a sense of careful yet straightforward method of control is placed over how it functions. Tracks like “King of Wounds,” “Still Asunder,” and “Roxy the Cops are Here!” are each as catchy as they are frenzied.

    Despite being infantile as a group, We The Wild show command over their influences while being wholly original, and impossible to ignore. The passion is ever-present and From The Cities We Fled is a bold statement from a band with a bright future ahead.

    http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/72081/We-The-Wild-From-The-Cities-We-Fled/

  • xo for the holiday vol IX ready for you!

    artwork by KATIE WHITAKER (this years first snow in COLORADO! featuring apache white horse)

    http://xopublicity.com/xo-for-the-holidays-vol-ix


    Features...
    *SF's EagleWolfSnake "Make It Glow"
    *BC Canada's Texture & Light "I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas (Aimee Mann)"
    *Seattle's Andrew Joslyn and The Local Strangers with "Under Mistletoe"
    *LA's funny man Bill Berry 'Twas the Night After Christmas"
    *NYC's well known playwright Occurrence with "This is How You Know (It's The Holidays)"
    *LA's insane prog rock duo Magnuson with "Silent Night"
    *London's darling Piney Gir with "Love is a Christmas Rose"
    *Portland Oregon's Blue Skies For Black Hearts and "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy"

     check out all 8 of previous comps! HERE
  • VANCOUVER SUN : CD REVIEW OF TEXTURE & LIGHT

    Music Mondays: Texture & Light

    Texture & Light: Inner Space Odyssey (textureandlight.ca/music)

    On tour throughout B.C. this month

    Still showing a penchant for good album titles, this electro/indie crew from Powell River expands its sonic scope considerably with the followup to 2013s The Hard Problem of Consciousness. “Recovering DJ” Trevor Refix (a.k.a. Mervyn) and multi-instrumentalist Lyell Woloschuk’s disarmingly polite songs about everything from environmental degradation (Theft of the Sky), isolation (Predators) and general ennui (Post Everything) likely pack far more punch live and the pristine production can’t hide a raging band waiting to cut loose. Yet it’s the most mellow and non-dance track (This Too Shall Pass) that worms its way in the best.

    http://vancouversun.com/entertainment/local-arts/music-mondays-tanya-tagaq-devin-townsend-margo-price-texture-and-light

  • PreAmp Suggest: We The Wild

    Portland’s We The Wild show another side of the City of Roses. Shows like Portlandia and the overwhelming presence of bands like The Decemberists paint a picture of PDX as a city that’s exclusive to rustic, quirky charms. But our friends south of us have been birthing punk and hardcore bands just as long as Seattle has. We The Wild goes against every stereotype that media has tried to shoehorn the city into. Their mangled guitar riffs are assertive and furious, building a mighty base for vocalist Ben Cline’s brutal screams. With whatever wave on now of hardcore/emo, We The Wild are contenders for the Northwest act to pick u the mantle.

  • LOGAN LYNN – Adieu

    logan-lynn-adieu-front-cover-artwork-by-ian-ophelan-300x300

    The Upshot: Thanks to smart lyrics, a strong mix of synths and sharp guitars and a knack for mixing in some truly inventive elements, Lynn moves well past what could have easily just been standard catchy pop songs.

    BY JOHN B. MOORE

     

    The last time Logan Lynn put new music out into the world it was a charming Miley Cyrus cover about three years ago. His latest album, Adieu, is aligned much closer to classic ‘90s college rock – everyone from Liz Phair to the Dandy Warhols – than to ex-Disney stars turned Molly-diggin’ pop divas, though played through a classic theatrical rock filter.

     

    As Lynn described the sound recently, “there are moments on this record that feel really jaunty and bratty and as we were recording them I tried to keep this mental image of myself with a dancing cane, clicking my heels in the rain and moving through these very serious themes with a spring in my step, front and center. The whole thing is very jazz hands mental health crisis, frankly.”

    So, yeah, pretty apt.

     

    At 15 tracks, Lynn manages to keep the momentum up throughout the entire record thanks to smart lyrics, a strong mix of synths and sharp guitars and a knack for mixing in some truly inventive elements to what could have easily just been standard catchy pop songs (I’m not certain, but pretty sure they mixed in a loop of a Nancy Kerrigan crying out “Why?” after getting whacked in the knee at the end of the song “The One”).

     

    Adieu is quite possibly his best yet, as each song here builds on the next for an impressively cohesive set, ending in the brilliantly wry “Oh, Lucifer”. Despite a mix of up tempo indie pop and more introspective piano tracks they fit together beautifully. Lynn continues to impress eight records into his career.

    http://blurtonline.com/review/logan-lynn-adieu/