The debut album by Selector Dub Narcotic is an exercise in ecstatic genre-smashing, blending and up-ending. Calvin Johnson of the K label and such Olympia combos as Dub Narcotic Sound System, Beat Happening, Halo Benders and most recently The Hive Dwellers has been working under the nom de plume Selector Dub Narcotic since founding the Dub Narcotic Studio in 1993. This Party Is just Getting Started is a collaboration with NW hip hop producer Smoke M2D6, who first began working with K producing the All Your Friend's Friends [KLP255] compilation. As a member of the Oldominion crew Smoke M2D6 has produced almost every major hip hop artist in Washington and Oregon. This Party Is just Getting Started began with the song "All for the Sake of Rhymin'" (which samples K artist Mahjongg) and snowballed into an entire album of dance pop garage soul with Calvin's trademark melodica wafting overall.
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"I've done everything myself. Every sound is mine, every synthesizer, every melody, every beat," says Isabel Fernandez Reviriego, who is releasing Adieu Or Die under her pseudonym, Aries. It isn't simply notable anymore that someone is their own band, overdubbing over and over, but in the case of Aries, we have music that is so thickly and sturdily constructed, through layer upon meticulous layer, it becomes not just a marvel of sound, but one of craft.
Aries' music is densely melodic, like echoes of the American west coast in the 1960s coming through the Spanish radio waves. On "En el Oceano" her voice twists around itself like a stick of Twizzlers licorice. Amidst all the synthesizers, drum machines, buzzes and whirrs, the most prominent, playful, melancholy, important piece pasting everything together is Reviriego's voice, light and dancing in circles around every song. On Adieu Or Die, she says, "someone disintegrates, while the world disintegrates around him or her." But there is something beautiful in the way things fall apart, in the way that things die. Aries lives in that nook, comfortable and warm.
We're going to be digesting the 20th century in music for at least as long as it lasted. The Shivas - typically versed in garage and surf and psych, pieces of Nuggets and Pebbles, touring regularly with The Dandy Warhols and playing Austin Psych Fest - have laid down Better Off Dead [KLP258] not with the raucous anarchy of the John Cusack movie of the same name, but instead with this lilting grace of static and radio waves from the past century falling all around, studying not the fuzzy chunks that fell off in the wake of the '60s psychedelic crisis. This is something earlier, slower, not a "new direction," but just a natural branch off the same tree.
Better Off Dead [KLP258] is like a hall of mirrors, but instead of seeing yourself everywhere you look, it's Roy Orbison, and then it's Les Paul & Mary Ford in the fogged glass - ghosts in the mixing board, all old and full of hiss, rattled loose and flying around. We're all digesting the past century of music; The Shivas have been doing this the whole time and just happen to do it a lot better than the other bands attempting the same thing.
Silas Blak is a unique force in Seattle's hip-hop scene, spitting complex bars about subjects that rappers seldom approach, let alone attack head-on. Known for his work in formative Pacific Northwest groups Blak Stax, Silent Lambs Project, & Blind Council, Blak remains a valued member of the region's hip-hop community. Since teaming up with Cabin Games Records in 2014, the veteran MC has wasted no time in unleashing a barrage of new material. Blak's work at the 'Cabin' began with the weekly-song series titled #BlakFriday, which has garnered praise from national blogs such as The Source, Okayplayer, School of Hip-Hop, and many more. "This mixtape is my first solo in a minute. The playing field has changed but the craft stays the same and I wanted to evolve without making up shit or co-opting the struggle," Blak said in reference to #BlakFriday, which will be released as a two-part mixtape during summer 2015. Editorials (War Tunes) is the title of Silas Blak's first full studio album with Cabin Games, and will be released on October 30th, 2015. The album will feature Blak's signature energy, lyricism and style over the crisp productions of Cabin Games in-house Producer Kjell Nelson.
Better to light a match.Than fear the dark.Burning the negativeSoftly.Lye in your wounds and allow spiritual drifting.How do you pronounce Nietzsche?What is the Mise En Scene of two Olympia drifters dusting their wayThrough experimental pop ballads without forgetting to add rave beats?They wrote me something on a cocktail napkin. something about lipstick and hard cuts (?).A treatise if you could read it. 11 Tracks. 33RPM.
Created in 2010 by vocalist/guitarist Jem Marie as a solo project, the Ghost Ease evolved into a Portland, OR-based three-piece with the addition of drummer Nsayi Matingou in 2012 and bassist Laurence Vidal in 2014. The Ghost Ease's woozy and vivid self-titled debut was released on Talking Helps in 2013 before the trio partnered with Cabin Games for the powerful/seething Quit Yer Job EP (May 2015) and upcoming Steve Fisk-recorded full-length - aptly titled RAW - due out September 2015. RAW is simultaneously heavy and ethereal like an amethyst raincloud. The 10 tracks ebb and flow from softened layers of melody to frenetic shreds of distortion. Matingou's drumming moves nimbly while Vidal's bass ensures the album's swirling moments crash comfortably into the angular grunge freakouts. The dreamy intensity of Marie's guitar sounds are neatly woven around her voice. Her lilting cadence casts the album's moods like spells. From the tuneful crusher "PJM" to the swelling of "Gemini Rise" and the majestic piano of "Bye, Love," RAW embodies its name.
Angelo Spencer's third album is his most danceable work so far. Written and recorded in Chambéry, France, in the heart of the Alps over the course of a week in February 2014.
With the help of old friends and amazing musicians Luc Detraz (Imperial Tiger Orchestra) and Karol Skonitcki (Super Fedor), Love In The Morning (KLP256) is a short, precise, and undeniably groovy love affair! With repurposed autotune and raw, uncompressed sound recorded by Djan (the man behind the Larsen Records sound), the album is minimal yet so full.
"In my book, one of the sharpest young intellectuals we have out there." - Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
ISSKOOTSIK (Before Here Was Here) is the debut album from author, activist, attorney, and Native American spoken-word artist Gyasi Ross. A forceful collection ranging from historical facts to dreams of love and death and loathing, featuring Slug of ATMOSPHERE, Abiodun Oyewole of THE LAST POETS, and Northwest Independent music legend STEVE FISK, as well as traditional Native American performances from NAKOA HEAVYRUNNER and SACRED WATER.
Gyasi comes from both the Blackfeet and Suquamish Indian Nations and has gained visibility nationally through frequent network television appearances and regular contributions to Huffington Post, Gawker, Deadspin and Indian Country Today.
ALL YOUR FRIEND'S FRIENDS is a seminal Northwest Hip-Hop compilation album produced entirely off of samples pulled from the K catalogue. Featuring over 30 of the most unique MCs from the region including members of mega-crews Oldominion and the Sandpeople, the album also introduces a host of hidden talent from OLYMPIA, WA - K's sonic stomping ground.
Recorded at K's own Dub Narcotic Studios, The Shivas' fourth LP will have you on your feet. With all of the fierce energy and body shakin' that The Shivas are known for, You Know What To Do (KLP252) encapsulates that, and much more. Recorded and mixed on tape by Calvin Johnson, it is an apt follow-up to WHITEOUT (KLP242), and features the title track of The Shivas, "You Make Me Wanna Die 7" EP" (IPU143) released last April. Amongst the 13 tracks of the album, you can glance the many faces of the The Shivas' musical style. From the blistering heat of tracks like "Old Lightning Rod" to the cool groove of "Ride On", the record also touches down into the slower tempos on tracks such as the deeply psychedelic "Let It Happen To You". This is The Shivas record we have all been waiting for, so don't hesitate, you know what to do.
Coming a long way from her debut album, Pith (KLP239), Ruby Fray's upcoming release Grackle (KLP251) blends Americana sweetness with sludgy dissonance. Helmed by Emily Beanblossom, the band teamed up with Pith producder, Ben Hargett, to record the album at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, WA. Their newest recording preserves the playful jangly genre-bouncing enervation found in their previous work while insisting on a more disciplined approach to songwriting.
The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints (KLP254), ventures softly into the cool, dark whisper of the haunted south. Short, tight spun rhymes about silver quarters and vampires come from a late evening session in a small pink house in south Alabama, located next to an old Native American mound of shells and bones, recorded at low volume with red eyes and open windows. This is the 4th Halloween dance party long player the haints have cut for K.
On her fifth solo album, Mirah breaks it down and builds it back up again with the street smarts that only years behind the wheel of love can inspire. Ready with the maps and driven to the rhythms on the radio dial, Changing Light's ten songs carry us from heartbreak to wholeness and all the places in between.
On their second album the Hive Dwellers make with a low, wailing expression of sorrow (or suffering). Moanin' [KLP249] is a collection of field recordings made at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington. It's a noisy pop runaway freight train that stirs the blues soul rockin' of their debut album Hewn from the Wilderness [KLP241] to a new beat music recipe. The Hive Dwellers' Calvin, Gabriel and Evan have toured across the United States and left a wake of frug and shimmy shines that won't be forgotten any time soon. You beat the tambourine to "Streets of Olympia Town" in Knoxville; stomped the floorboards to "Montgomery Hammer" in Buffalo; knocked a heady bongo to "Baby Be Mine" in Oakland. C'mon, join in Moanin' for a while.
Originally released in 1994 The Halo Benders - God Don't Make No Junk (KLP029) is made available again on vinyl.
Out of the basement rock n' rule that is Dub Narcotic Studio comes the angel noise from the comet's tail. Doug Martsch (Built To Spill, Treepeople visted Olympia from his home in Boise, Idaho, bringing a guitar and other battered ideas. Calvin Johnson sang and played along. Other Boisians in exile like Ralf Youtz (ex Built to Spill, Sone) and Wayne Flower (Treepeople, Violent Green) contributed to the melee. Steve Fisk played some keyboards through ancient amplifers and helped sort out the whole mess at the mixing console. This is interstellar punk/pop overdrive. Bending brainwaves and calling it art. Knocking icicles down, melting angels all over town. Heaven sent with halo bent."...rompingly funky bloke-indie stu with a certain irresistible elasticity." - Time Out
" ...an utterly disarming 33-minute mix of basement jamming, attic inspirations, and rec room sound" - The Stranger
The Shivas are Portland's premier surf-rockers and back-ealley dance party rollers, lovers of '60s pop and psychedelia, but players of something modern and mischievous. "You Make Me Wanna Die" makes you feel like you're watching hte kids do the monkey on The Corny Collins Show, hair up in beehives and arms goin' wild. It's a song of love gone way too good or way too bad, but either way you spin it, they got passion. Flip it over for "Whiteout", the ttitle track from their last LP (KLP243) that got left on the cutting room floor but remains the most infectious surf riff you'll hear this decade, featuring a cameo by Calvin Johnson at the 15 second mark. Closer, "So Far Out of Control" sees Jared Molyneux going solo in Dub Narcotic Studios and recording everything himself onto a reel to reel eight track. It's catchier than the flu, but feels way better.
This reissue of Girl Trouble's 1988 debut album, Hit It Or Quit It [KLP229], includes eleven original songs, one Northwest classic ("Steppin' Out" by Paul Revere & The Raiders), and two bonus tracks. To keep the energy level up and the over-production level down, these songs were recorded "live" (using the band's plywood speaker cabinets and a drum set purchased for $70 from the Sears surplus store) with only an occasional added guitar or vocal track. With the minimal pounding of Bon's drums, the steady cool of Dale on bass, the buzzsaw scream from Kahuna's Ouija guitar, and the rabid rock 'n' roll stylings of K.P. Kendall, Girl Trouble continues playing throughout the Northwest, 30-plus years on.
Jeremy Jay's latest, Abandoned Apartments, feels lived in, familiar, but filled with creaking shadows that go deep into the unknown. A product of several years spent in self-inflicted isolation and at various self-produced recording sessions, it is studied and wiser, culling its synthesizer tones from late-80s goth pop and touching on something darker than anything else Jay's ever made.