Live: Marissa Nadler

Marissa Nadler has the voice of a siren, a voice that would tempt anyone into following it to ones own peril, having to reveal the beauty of its source. If I can describe her new album, “July” in one word it would be ethereal. And I mean that in regards to the way the songs seem to seamlessly ebb and flow from tracks you feel you would hear in a dream and the next, a nightmare. With the slightest change of tempo and rhythm of the songs, it’s hard to pinpoint which feeling Ms. Nadler was trying to get the listener to evoke, probably a little of both. The allure of her soft acoustic strokes, reverb-laden lyrics, and backup singers, who also play violin and cello, kept me enthralled and captivated through the entire album. The lyrics are reminiscent of American Gothic Poetry and Dark Romanticism.  The album is both beautiful and haunting, a tragically beautiful reminder of love gained, lost, and the faded memories of heartache. Though the album isn’t a complete downer, it does seem to have an overall uplifting approach to a heartache that most can relate to. I feel you will come away a bit more empowered over your past demons just as it seems Marissa Nadler has.

I had the chance to catch Marissa Nadler live at Mississippi Studio’s February 17th and her performance of a track titled, “Drive” was particularly captivating. The way Marissa and the back up singers can enthrall and entrance an audience was particularly impressive, as the whole venue seemed to be hanging on her every word. I have never been to a show so quiet in between songs, like a group of kindergarteners during story time, we all wanted to see how this would end, but hoping it never would. She sounded just as amazing in person if not more so, as in the studio. She even shed a tear at the end of one of her songs, the mark of a true artist.

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Marissa played along side Pure Bathing Culture that consists of the duo of Sarah Versprille (vocals, keyboards) and Daniel Hindman (guitars, bass, and keys). Though they are technically considered alternative, their sound is reminiscent of something you would hear on 80’s love station, and it’s amazing. A magically relaxed mix of Chillwave and Dream Pop, the band sounds and looks like they got stuck in 1986 and that is not a bad thing. They have so much fun being there they make you want to join in on the fun right along with them. Smooth reverb laced synth-pop, subtle dance beats, and unexpected drones this is a treat for almost anyone with two ears.

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Manatee Commune

Here’s another bunch of Treefort Music Fest artists to wrap your ears around. After the final wave of artists was announced, there is now about 350 bands coming to Boise at the end of March.
The first band we dug up is Bellingham, WA chillwave artist, Manatee Commune. The instrumental stylings of Manatee Commune has a groovy, yet ambient kind of sound. The newer singles have more of a free form, floating vibe than his EP release in 2012. Manatee Commune takes his sound directly from the Pacific Northwest sometimes literally, lots of rain noises and native bird calls. Definitely worth a listen and a charitable download here.

Next is Boulder, CO artist Frugal Father. His music is a weird mix of minimalism and dance, which I really enjoy. Then the vocal styling is also a bit strange, kind of a deadpan delivery, that actually plays really well into the music that’s being created. Check out Frugal Father’s singles and download for free here.

Last but not least is Boise duo Avtale. The vocals are beautiful and the music is a little on the darker side. Avtale’s sound is dirty electro-pop that gets fuzzy on the bass and heavy in the beats. You can’t help but move your body to the track “Groundless.”

Live: Quilt + Big Haunt

On Wednesday we went to go see a psychedelically stacked lineup at Mississippi Studios consisting of two Portland bands, and Quilt from New England.
The first band that played was Eternal Tapestry. Their sound is more on the experimental side of the spectrum of psychedelic music.

The live set was a little more chilled out than most of their recorded music, which was super smooth and incredibly enjoyable. As instrumental music goes, Eternal Tapestry brings the right kind of experimentation to the psychedelic realm of music.

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Next was Big Haunt. They have just released an EP called Devotionals and it was their EP release show. Big Haunt is more of a folk-pop group with a style somewhat similar to Alt-j. Their sound is made up of finger picking guitar, soft keys, and amazing singing. The vocals are just as amazing live if not more so than the recording. Listen to Devotionals and download it for name your own price here.

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The headliner for the show was Boston band Quilt. This four piece band has a groovy ’60s psychedelic pop-rock sound to them. Quilt’s new album is called Held In Splendor, and it just came out at the end of January. The album is so fresh and clean, it is what an adventure on a sunny day sounds like. My favorite tracks are “Eye of the Pearl” and “Tie Up the Tides.”

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Interview with Genders

KS: We’re really stoked to be having this interview right now. It’s actually our second interview so this is really cool. You guys stoked to be playing with Helio Sequence tonight?

Genders: Yes definitely, they’re one of our favorites. We’re really excited. It’s exciting to play with bands you really like.

KS: Absolutely. I really enjoyed the album you released last year Get Lost. First of all, that album artwork is super-cool. Did you have an artist do that?

Genders: She did that (points to singer Maggie Morris).

KS: That’s Awesome. I really like it. Is that just a bunch of stuff that you threw together?

Genders: Thanks! Yeah, a previous housemate left hundreds of National Geographics in my house, and I took a bunch and went though them. I spent a long time–I’d never done a collage before. Really like ten to eleven hours. It’s was really fun, I actually want to do it again.

KS: Ten hours straight?

Genders: I did like five hours straight then I probably did four or five putting around. I didn’t have an exacto knife, I just had shitty scissors, so it took a long time to get close—-and then I scanned it into my computer. I had two images that I was trying to decide which one was going to be the cover, then I was like ‘Oh, I need a front and a back’.

KS: Well it turned out really awesome. It’s definitely one of the most expressive album artworks I’ve seen in this past year. I know you guys toured with Built to Spill as well, that’s one of our favorite bands. We’d like to ask you about your experience touring with those guys since they’re since a staple of the Idaho scene. We do a lot of work in Idaho through Treefort and it almost seems like the Portland and Boise scenes seem interconnected. How did you guys get in with Built to Spill?

Genders: They were practicing in our practice space. They were borrowing a friends’ practice space to practice before a tour again. I guess it all kinda comes to Treefort because we were using Typhoons space, and they were friends with Typhoon from playing at Treefort with them. Yeah we just gave them our EP a couple of times and kept bugging them (laughs). They liked it; they invited us to their show here at Doug Fir, when they were playing in February with Finn Riggins. So we came and hung out with them, then they offered us that show.

KS: Right on. Another thing I noticed from seeing you guys play before, you guys rock the She Shreds, are you a part of that (asking drummer Katherine Paul)?

Genders: One of my best friends is involved. Maggie just did something recently for them—a tour photo diary. We’re good friends with them and we support them, they’re a really awesome magazine–the only magazine about women guitarist. Maggie documented our tour with Built to Spill. They posted it online. You should check it out, it’s really neat.

KS: I’ve seen some of their stuff around, I guess I didn’t really know too much about them until they did that show.

Genders: Here? With La Luz?

KS: Yeah. So they do guitar features…?

Genders: It’s a lot, they do interviews with women guitarists and bassists, they incorporate gear reviews, it’s kind of all over the place but it’s centered around women guitarists.

KS: That’s really awesome. I guess my next question is are you guys working on any new recordings or any new songs?

Genders: Yeah we’re working on new songs right now and we’re going on tour at the end of March for a couple weeks and then we’re just going to play them out on the road and when we come back we’re going to get down to recording an EP, and then tour again at the end of summer.

KS: That will be cool. We’d love to listen to what you got coming up. Feel free to take a couple months off if you need some time…

Genders: We’re learning how to say no. It’s really hard. We have a lot of friend bands in town and friend promoters that want us to play show, and we love to play shows. Your schedule gets filled up pretty quickly. You don’t realize. You go from having two months free to having a show every week. Even when we say we’re going to take time off. We’re only playing three shows that month? That’s taking time off. For us.

KS: I’m wondering since you’re music is new to me, it’s impactful. I just wonder where your inspiration comes from.

Genders: I think we have pretty different influences, but we come together. Maggie or Steve or Katherine or someone will bring in an idea for a song and then we’ll all bring our own stuff in, so it’s a really collaborative effort. And with such varying influences, that’s what makes Genders what it is.

KS: You really get that kaleidoscopic sense, when you listen to it it’s synergistic.

Genders: As far as inspiration I think all of us just think about music a lot. It’s the first band I’ve been in that I feel like everyone’s really invested in the music. Even if we weren’t in this band together we’d still be making music.

KS: Well I’m glad you guys are in the band together. We don’t get any specific musical references from anybody though?

Genders: It’s constantly changing. It’s whatever I happen to be listening to and it’s totally random. I think we all have music tastes that are all over the map. I feel really inspired by seeing live performances specifically, going to a really good local show. Seeing people actually creating music is really inspiring more than listening to tracks at home. It’s raw. Something about it…

KS: It’s straight heroin versus the synthetic stuff. (laughter) Don’t pay attention to that one.

Genders: Speaking of, RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

KS: Who are some of your favorite acts around Portland, or to play with.

Genders: (pause) None (laughter). My friend Mike has this band called Paper Brain that’s really really good. I think my favorite Portland band that’s recently defunct is Support Force. They we’re really really good. They were a local band that I would look forward to seeing more than some national acts. RIP Support Force. I really like Ghost Ease. They’re really great. My best friend is the drummer. Actually my other best friend Bobby is the bassist, she runs She Shreds. Jen is really awesome as well.

KS: Is there anything you guys want to promote or talk about, about the album or in general?

Genders: What should we promote? Hmm. We’re learning how to do all this…

KS: So are we.

Genders: Our next show is at The Know on February 22nd, it’s going to be really fun. It’s with The We Shared Milk, another great Portland band. We haven’t played at The Know in a while. So that will be really fun.

KS: Such a great spot…

Genders: It’s definitely going to be loud. We’re going to try to play an all new set that night. Maybe I’ll just play one song though. I kinda want to play just one song.

KS: Man, last time we were at The Know things got really weird. So feel free to just live it up… UFOFBI with Spookies, it was quite the show. So if you want to play a twenty minute long song go right ahead, we’re into it.

Genders: Yeah lets do it, I won’t even play the drums I’ll just play the clarinet. Just chords over and over, chords for twenty minutes.

KS: I think people would be way into it. You never know what’s going to happen when you walk back there.

Genders: Yeah that might actually get people to come out to the show. We were thinking it might be a negative thing, but it might be like ‘Will they actually have the balls to play that, will they drive themselves insane? Can your fingers sustain the power for twenty minutes?’

KS: You could at least squeak out ten, fifteen.

GS: That’s what we should promote.

KS: Well we still want to hear the new stuff too. Just one last question; you mentioned you were new to this. When did you guys form exactly?

GS: A little over a year and a half ago. July, Summer 2012. In July we’ll hit the two year mark.

KS: Wow, that’s crazy fresh.

GS: Yeah. We’re primarily new to thinking about businessy shit. I think we’ve all been playing shows and touring for quite a while. But in terms of actually trying to make it like a business and doing the things you have to do to succeed, we’re all like OK, promotion, how do we promote ourselves? How do we manage this, getting a band bank account? All this stuff. How do you do taxes as a band?

KS: So you guys are like an incorporated business?

GS: We’re an LLC. Yeah, planning a tour we used to just “Let’s go on tour!” and we’d just pick a time and called it good and now we actually have to think about it.

KS: Well I say just make good music and the rest will follow.

Treefort Music Fest

It’s that time of year once again. A little more than a month away from what is quickly becoming one of the best Northwest music festivals. And once again Killing Sasquatch is your headquarters to learn and listen to the newer indie bands. The headliners this year include RJD2, Polica, The Joy Formidable, Dan Deacon, Odesza, This Will Destroy You, and many more!
But we like to scroll all the way to the bottom of the artist page and fine some of the gems buried deeper.

First band that you need to listen to is New Madrid from Athens, GA. These guys have a chilled out rock and roll sound. Almost on the ambient side of acoustic rock, New Madrid has a good mix of vocals, jangly guitar riffs, and catchy rhythms. Their next full length is coming out at the end of February called, Sunswimmer.

Next up is a Salt Lake City band called Dark Seas. This five piece band has a good old time classic rock kind of sound to them. Their debut release is called Hawkes Court that came out last April. Dark Seas’ sound has a lot of The Doors influence to it, though with a lighter, groovier feel to it.

Last band for the post is Tangerine. This Seattle band is straight groove-pop. Super bright guitar riffs, surfy drum beats, and amazing vocals make up this four piece. They have two EPs that came out last year, Feel This Way and Pale Summer. They are both excellent.
These bands are just the beginning of part 3 in the epic adventure of Treefort Music Fest.