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kexpadmin on 12/26/2010 at 03:00PM

KEXP 2010 FMA Highlight Mixes

Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int'l live at the 25th Anniversary of "Jon Kertzer's KEXP program" . Photo (c) Christopher Nelson

So many incredible artists have played live on KEXP this year, from top local Seattle artists like Damien Jurado and Black Stax, to those of international renown like Vieux Farka Touré, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Beach House, and Devendra Banhardt. The venues have ranged from KEXP's 90.3-FM headquarters in Seattle, to the Cutting Room Floor in New York City (where KEXP programming airs on 91.5-FM), to live events like Bumbershoot, SXSW, and the Capital Hill Block Party.

We've put together seven mixes that offer some of the many highlights from KEXP's live performances:

KEXP 2010: Worldwide -- 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of "The Best Ambiance" hosted by Jon Kertzer, and these were just a few of the many recent highlights:

KEXP 2010: Shimmering Pop
-- these artists bring a fresh, irresistable approach to pop music

KEXP 2010: Rock!
-- classic artists like The Wedding Present and The Posies, contemporary heavy-weights like Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady plus up-and-coming artists like White Mystery and Love Is All...

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JoeMc on 05/13/2010 at 01:00PM

Herb for Life

Imagine the sombrero and bandito moustache.

Ever seen Carol Reed's 1949 thriller The Third Man? This is the film that takes place in a shadowy, dank and dangerous post-war Vienna, and climaxes with a famous speech by the slippery, silvery-tongued fascist/opportunist Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles:

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had six thousand years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

You may also remember The Third Man's famous score, which was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas, an unknown musician that director Reed discovered playing in a wine garden. Karas' oddly jaunty title theme plays ironically against the darker-than-dark themes of the film, and it became one of the biggest hits of 1949. You can hear it in your head right now, can't you?

Well, now imagine that The Third Man took place not in the doomy depths of Vienna at night, but instead on a sunny beach in Mexico. Harry Lime's speech isn't delivered on a dilapidated ferris wheel, but in a tijuana taxi, and the house band has umbrellas in their drinks and doesn't even know what a zither is. Got that?

I now give you Rat City Brass.

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seattle, kexporg
macedonia on 04/17/2010 at 12:22PM

Kieran's Angel Echoes (and memories of Steve...)

Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet.

I was at work on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 when I got the news that legendary drummer Steve Reid had passed away.  Not even a week after the death of Malcolm McLaren, my heart was heavy that day.  With all of the amazing accomplishments that Reid achieved during the course of his life (as well as the wealth of talented musicians he played with), I can't help but think of his collaborations with Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet.  Their conversations between drums and electronics were something really special and it caused me of have Four Tet on the brain while Reid was on my heart.

It was about five years ago that I went to see an in-store appearance by Four Tet at Other Music in New York City.  Surrounded by an arsenal of keyboards, drum machines and effect boxes, it was there that I witnessed first hand his love for improvisation.  Even while performing songs like "Smile Around The Face" or "Sun Drums and Soil," the random bursts of noise threatened to run some onlookers out of the place.  It was as if Hebden was saying to the crowd, "If one of you refer to what I do as 'folktronica' one more time..."

For all of the melody and beauty his recordings possess, it was clear that Four Tet wasn't interested in his performances sounding just like the record.  There was an element of "OUT" that was being unleashed.  He wanted the music to get "free."  By that rationale, it was only a matter of time before he would cross paths with Steve Reid.  I will forever be in debt to Kieran Hebden: it was through him that I was introduced to Reid's music.  Both volumes of The Exchange Sessions remain phenomenal recordings in my mind, these one-take moments of unbridled energy.  You can tell the chemistry that Hebden and Reid had together just by listening to those albums.  They didn't have to exchange words; all they had to do was meet up in the music.

"Angel Echoes" is the opening cut from Four Tet's latest album, There Is Love In You.  This version was recorded live in the studios of KEXP earlier this year and aptly showcases Hebden's on-the-fly performance style.  The beats that usher us in to this selection slowly give way to sparkling tones and vocal cut-ups, making this song one of his most touching and poignant selections.  Put this one on and think of the living legacy of Steve Reid's music as well as the continuing tradition of rhythmic freedom that Four Tet provides within his own...

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macedonia on 03/06/2010 at 12:15PM

There is always comfort in Choklate...

It's always wonderful to stop by the Archive and find some new soul or R&B that hadn't been there before.  It's even better still when it's a live recording from one of the great radio stations serving as curators for the FMA.  Today, let's get to know Choklate, Seattle-based singer and songwriter.  Her voice is Godiva sweet and equally as smooth, stirring the listener's emotions and causing them to reflect upon the ups and downs within their own lives.

While not a widely known name within mainstream circles, her 2006 self-titled debut was the toast of soul music's underground.  Her latest album, To Whom It May Concern, was released last year and many of her fans and peers agree that it avoids the sophomore slump.  I encourage you to check her interview with Fave of the Friday Favecast to learn more about this talented songstress.  In the meantime, here's a selection from her debut album recorded last October in the live studios of KEXP...

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soul, live recording, kexporg
macedonia on 01/23/2010 at 12:18PM

Phantogram Live At KEXP

Phantogram, 2009. Photo taken by Doron Gild.

I've been absent from posting since my year-end mix, so this will mark my first for 2010.  And if there's any group that people should consider getting to know this year, I will suggest one name more than any other:  Phantogram.

Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel are a pair of upstate New York kids (Saratoga Springs, to be exact) who made good in 2009, releasing their debut album Eyelid Movies on BBE Music.  Equal parts shoegaze, electronic, hip-hop, rock, and pop, it was a bit of a departure for the label, but a risk that proved impossible to ignore.  It quickly became my favorite album of 2009 and judging from the customer reviews in iTunes and Amazon, they are amazing live.  In fact, people have said that Phantogram (as the opening act) was better than the band they actually paid to see.  TEN TIMES OUT OF TEN.  I fully agree with an iTunes customer suggesting that "this is what music will sound like in 2010."

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