CD Review: Priceless Concrete Echoes by the Penelope[s]

France’s duo The Penelope[s] have released a dynamite CD this year. Called Priceless Concrete Echoes, it has several great artists making appearances. I always like it when bands include guests in their work as it always creates a different feel in each song. For this CD they’ve included artists Morpheus, Dierdre Dubois and Malka Spiegel.

The Penelope[s], comprised of Axel Basquiat and Vincent Tremel, allow Morpheus to rage with his deep voice in Stuck in Lalaland (Where broken souls are banned/Dog eats dog downtown) and then be subtle in The Heat Goes On (Love’s got a sore back-scratched by dirty nails). I love the dark twinkling of these songs. And in Long Black Fly the Penelope[s] offer up a crushing dance tune calling out mankind with Civilization just might breed some perfect monsters/and bionic shits . . . Mrs. Hairy belly and Mr. Shaven head are looking for/anorexic spiders to feed/Or some bulimic dildos made in Tawain. The lyrics bring up some strange imagery with laser sounds to dance along to. They’ve also done a very unique of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. Embrace it. Morpheus was a perfect choice to sing these songs, especially in the upbeat Licked by Love. The Heat Goes On is an extraordinarily well- designed song. When Morpheus sings You’ll wake the dead up with your kinky trash it’s grimy and wonderful. Morpheus co-wrote the songs he sings in with Basquiat and Tremel. They make a heavenly trio.

I don’t want to take away from Alex Basquiat’s vocals either. They’re right where they need to be in his songs. The lyrics are bizarre and the sounds are rabid. I like that. This is a favorite CD of mine and I salute and I thank the Penelope[s] for creating it.

Le Plan/Citizen Records

Video for Stuck in Lalaland, directed by Danakil


News & Show Preview: Bands Rocking in Sodo

Alex Crick checks in with some very good news for the weekend:

Summer is starting to wind down but there’s still a lot of great music happening in Seattle including the KIA-sponsored event this weekend. Not only can you see and test drive brand spankin’ new 2010 Kia Soul but you can do it in style by checking out several great up-and-coming musical acts. Friday night kicks off with Dum Dum Girls and San Diego’s Wavves. Saturday brings to town the much-hyped No Age – and Chairlift. Hell that’s reason enough to go, but on Sunday the Kia Soul folks top it all off with a private performance by Santigold who rocked the Gorge at Sasquatch festival this year. Now how much will this all cost you for all this great music and a chance to test drive a hip new car? Nothing, the whole event is absolutely free!! So get yourself down to the SODO neighborhood and check out the events going down this weekend at the Pacific Industrial Center (located at 2960 4th Avenue S).

Santigold – photo by Alex Crick

Schedule of Events:
Friday, August 21st: 12-8pm
Test-Drives all Day
Performances by Dum Dum Girls and Wavves
DJ Sets all day from Soul Uno, Risk One, Supreme LaRock

Saturday, August 22nd: 12-8pm
Test-Drives all Day
Performances by No Age and Chairlift
DJ Sets all day from N8, Sean Cee & Four Color Zack

Sunday, August 23rd: 12-4pm:
Test-Drives all Day
DJ Sets from N8 & Supreme LaRock
6:30-10pm: Private Santigold Performance, with tickets from Kia Soul test-drive

WHERE: Pacific Industrial Center
2960 4th Avenue South in SODO Neighborhood
Seattle, WA


CD Review: Julian Plenti. . . Is Skyscraper by Julian Plenti

Julian Plenti. . . Is Skyscraper, is the debut solo CD of Interpol’s Paul Banks. I hate to address this right off and I would rather just say Julian Plenti is a completely different artist, and he is. It’s a brave move to go out on your own and it makes sense to use a pseudonym when you’re making a solo CD. It means you’re automatically going to be compared to the first band – whether it’s a relevant comparison or not. I want to compare it with itself.

All songs on this CD stand out as winners from the twitchy rhythm changes of Fun That We Have You with its lyrics You came along with your shaky knees / And you came with fire to the subtle calypso background of Only If You Run. Banks is a master at delivering each word with a punch. When he intones in Only if You Run, ‘Cause harmless medications abound and you´re not sick, it’s force with a difference. Skyscraper is a devastating song with its soft, yet pounding drums and gentle guitar. Games For Days is the first song off the CD to be made into a video and with its sinister chorus it’s definitely the catchiest. No Chance Survival features a twisting guitar and strings, as well as piano. It’s a beautiful, immediate song that begins with There’s no chance survival/and no hiding place, like a response to an evolutionary panic attack. Unwind is a triumphant love song with trumpets and many of Julian Plenti. . . Is Skyscraper’s songs utilize string instruments in unconventional and successful ways.

Julian Plenti. . . Is Skyscraper (Matador)
photo by Matthew Salacuse

Check out the video directed by Javier Aguilera for Games For Days:


Interview: Jack Antonoff of fun.

In 2008 Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff formed a band with the Format’s Nate Ruess and Anthallo’s Andrew Dost. They ingeniously called themselves fun., a direct, memorable name. Their first CD, Aim and Ignite is set for an August 25th release. It’s one of the most brilliant CDs I have heard in quite a long time. It’s addictive.

I talked with Antonoff ahead of the band’s August/September tours and when I asked him what he thought about fun.’s status as what I see as a supergroup he found that idea “bizarre.” He also said that “If you liked the Format, Anthallo and Steel Train, which I assume a lot of people will like all three bands because we toured together – for those people it will be pretty exciting.”

Antonoff’s been a touring musician since he was a 15-year-old. He was the primary songwriter for Steel Train and working with Dost and Ruess has been a new experience for him as he stresses, “It’s entirely different from Steel Train because it’s collaborative.” He’s found songwriting a release. “You write these things that you think are crazy and you can share it with people. You can share horrible things that happen in your life with people and it’s incredibly liberating.” When I asked him about his previous comments alluding to not necessarily liking people who have been important artistic colleagues he mentions that “Nate [Ruess] and I met and we didn’t hit it off right way. We were on tour and a couple days later we were the best of friends. I think a lot of people in my life that I’ve gotten close with I didn’t really react in the right way. I don’t know if it’s a character flaw on my side.”

fun. from left-right, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff and Nate Ruess
photo by Kevin Estrada

I always wonder which bands musicians like to see play live. Antonoff’s got an understandable view on live shows: “When you tour as much as I do you start thinking about how many people are there, the sound. . . I appreciate the people who come to our shows – it’s such an effort to go to a show. It’s really intense. I like seeing bands at festivals. I liked the National, a band I’m a big fan of but had never seen before.” Although he frequently tours he’s not entirely sure if he likes traveling as it’s been five years since he traveled, which was on a trip to England with his parents. “We were going to see Stonehenge in the morning. I slept in until noon. My parents got back and told me they’d gone to Stonehenge without me,” he recalls.

Antonoff was part of an ad campaign for UNIQLO in 2007 and I asked him since it turned out so well if he’d be interested in doing more modeling. He admits that at the time he “didn’t know who Terry Richardson was,” but that “it was fun and interesting.” He’s open to more, “as long as it’s as a musician and tied to something.” I think he should do more, and it’s in his family. His sister, Rachel Antonoff, is a clothing designer.

fun. appears at Chop Suey on August 25th.


Photos: The Redwood Plan, What What Now and Thee Satisfaction @ our Blue Moon show

Friday night rocked. We had the best lineup, the best audience, and for a Backbeat Seattle show, the best venue in town. Seriously.

THEESatisfaction immediately charmed me. San Francisco has lured our ladies from us, so check their site for shows and see them while you can.


What What Now splendidly proved again why they are one of my favorite bands. There’s a point in most of their songs where merely listening ends and the music actually takes me somewhere. It’s wonderful.



The Redwood Plan is the perfect band for any venue, but I love how their sound sunk into the Blue Moon’s woody interior. Larry’s bass was thankfully more prominent than at recent shows and they sounded great – I love the songs they showcased from their new EP.

photo by dagmar

Dagmar says:

Booking a show is really difficult and every time I do it I am reminded how much I appreciate and admire bookers. We were lucky to get these bands, The Redwood Plan, What What Now and THEESatisfaction to take a chance on a new blog’s first showcase. There was a huge audience for them and from THEESatisfaction’s alluring and connected performance to What What Now’s sultry punkness to The Redwood Plan’s dazzling and tasty set I want to say thank you to the bands! And thank you to the Blue Moon for hosting, KEXP and the Stranger for giving it props, everybody who came to the show, and Amelia – who designed a really wicked poster and co-organized the whole shebang.

Thank you Dagmar, the bands, the Blue Moon, and all our friends who came out to Backbeat Seattle’s first show. I had a blast and hope you did too. More of my photos here.
More of Dagmar’s photos: The Redwood Plan, What What Now, and THEESatisfaction.
See you next time.