Rocket Queen: Emerald City Mashups

If you think the genre-blurring is fun now, just wait until REVERB.

While watching the goofy, hyped-to-high-heaven Beard-Off between Mad Rad's Terry Radjaw and Champagne Champagne's Sir Thomas Gray last Thursday evening at the Funhouse, it occurred to me that some of my favorite episodes in this music community take place in between moments of actual music-making. At other times, I just love watching the cross-pollination of scenes happen in front of me. Funhouse booker Brian Foss, who has a well-known proclivity for classic punk rock, has lately done a good job pulling in more hip-hop shows, but never had I seen so many luminaries from that community mingling with the punk and rock crowds. Ultimately, it was a silly, overdocumented good time that obviously achieved its braggadocio-oriented goal, but it was also just a nice opportunity to catch up on what local artists are working on, which is precisely what I did.Past Lives drummer Mark Gajadhar was pretty much bursting with excitement about the new record his band is working on. "We are in the studio with Steve Fisk right now. We tracked most of the stuff at Avast [studios], but [we're] doing overdubs and vocals at Steve's house right now," he explained. "I honestly think it's going to be the best record I've ever been involved with," he told me. Coming from the man who helped forge landmark works like the now-disbanded Blood Brothers' ... Burn, Piano Island, Burn, and who is currently the brain behind the beats of Champagne Champagne, that actually means a great deal. The new Past Lives record is slated for release on local label Suicide Squeeze in the spring of 2010.Also fresh from the studio are Mobile Slaughter Unit; the duo, drummer/vocalist Violet Strychnine and guitarist/vocalist Roddy Chops, recently came out of Conrad Uno's Egg Studio with a two-song demo that's possibly the strongest and most thrilling work I've heard by a local punk band this year. In a nutshell, it sounds like an unholy resurrection of Fugazi and Karp, fused at the hip and ready for a fistfight. Times may be tough for independent record labels, but someone should sign these kids pronto (I'm looking at you, Kill Rock Stars).Mobile Slaughter Unit are just one of several dozen bands playing Seattle Weekly's REVERB on Saturday, October 3. The festival focuses exclusively on local artists, highlighting the best players across a wide variety of genres, including punk, metal, alt-country/Americana, pop, and hip-hop. Ten venues will host performances throughout Ballard, four of them all-ages. The cost of admission is also an incredible value—wristbands are just seven bucks for the under-21 set and $10 for 21-plus attendees.The highlights are myriad and booker Kwab Copeland is still confirming more acts, but two of the best acts he landed were hip-hop artists THEESatisfaction and GMK. Both artists have recently announced that they're moving from Seattle to sunnier scenes in California, but are making special trips back just to play REVERB and say goodbye to the music community that initially nourished them. It's a major drag that we are losing such promising artists, but it's damn heartwarming that they're getting a fitting send-off.Luckily, we don't have to worry about Visqueen frontwoman Rachel Flotard ditching Seattle anytime soon. Her band is scheduled for REVERB as well, and copies of Visqueen's long-awaited third album are being pressed as I type this. Entitled Message to Garcia, it drops Sept. 8, and will be the flagship release of Flotard's brand-spanking new record label, Local 638 Records. Local producer Kurt Bloch was at the helm for the record's final mixing sessions, and his verbatim assessment of the end result was "This record is going to mess some people up." That's an admittedly biased perspective, but an undeniably passionate one.Bloch was also behind the knobs for recent sessions with Unnatural Helpers, who are taking their time polishing their next release, but also making time for an appearance at REVERB (no small feat, considering bassist Kimberly Morrison's obligations touring with her other band, The Dutchess and the Duke). Other bands signed on for REVERB include the fast-rising pop princes in Final Spins, more great hip-hop in the form of Fresh Espresso and Fatal Lucciauno, angel-voiced Spokane singer-songwriter Kaylee Cole, punk stalwarts the Cute Lepers, and the art-damaged dub-punk of Lisa Orth's Telepathic Liberation Army. The full lineup will be announced on our blog Reverb; wristbands go on sale Saturday, Sept. 5.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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