Here at the tail-end of 2016, it’s a little tough to deny that this has been an inordinately trying year. A brief and sadly incomplete list of the events that brought us together to cry, reflect, regain composure, and then cry again would include the death of Bowie, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the death of Leonard Cohen, the Ghost Ship fire, and… Well, the list goes on. Enough so that the world actually does kind of seem like it’s a crumbling gingerbread cookie right on the fragile edge of oblivion. We should (and, we very much hope, will!) all do what we can to respond to these challenges, and those that are sure to come.
There are also, it’s worth remembering, some things to celebrate from 2016. And, some of those very things are compiled in Sub Pop’s Best of 2016 collection, which many of us here at the Airport Store contributed to, and which can be found here:http://bestof2016.subpop.com/.
Here, also, is a summary of all the neat holiday items we started carrying at the Airport Store that just may provide a welcome distraction from the horrifying chaos that is modern times:
The Ventures’ Christmas Album (CD)
The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album (CD)
Clipping just shared a darkly surreal, post-apocalyptic short film - directed by Patrick Kennelly (“Body & Blood”) - inspired by their current and critically acclaimed album, Splendor & Misery [get it here].
The 405 had this to say of the film (and album), “Early this past fall, L.A. rap deconstructionist trio, Clipping delivered their latest challenging experimental full-length album. It was billed as a thematic release that “follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the on-board computer that falls in love with him.” On top of the technical rap reflections that make up the album, the trio are supporting their intriguing narrative with a short film of the same name, that brings the album’s unearthly concepts to life. Director, Patrick Kennelly helped piece together the surreal post-apocalyptic drama that’s equal parts fascinating and equal parts difficult to watch (see premiere December 13th).
Clipping are currently on tour in Europe (their forthcoming London show at Corsica Studios on 20th December has now sold out and a second night at the same venue has now been added) and the trio have been chosen to support The Flaming Lips on tour in North America next year! (see dates below.)
The band recently appeared on Conan and delivered a stellar performance of “Air ‘Em Out [see here].” And you can/should also watch Clipping’s official video “Shooter,” from Wriggle, the group’s summer EP, directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada [see here].
Splendor & Misery is available now on CD/LP/DL/CASS worldwide from Sub Pop [here] and Deathbomb Arc [here].
Tour Dates + Ticket Links Dec. 13 - Amsterdam, NL - Sugar Factory Dec. 14 - Hamburg, DE - Hafenklang Dec. 15 - Berlin, DE - Cassiopeia Dec. 16 - Frankfurt, DE - Zoom Dec. 17 - Munich, DE - Orange House Dec. 18 - Düsseldorf, DE - FFT Foyer Dec. 19 - Paris, FR - Batofar Dec. 20 - London, UK - Corsica Studios [Sold Out] Dec. 21 - London, UK - Corsica Studios Feb. 17 - Santa Ana, CA - The Observatory * Feb. 18 - Los Angeles, CA - The Broad * Feb. 20 - Portland, OR - Holocene * Feb. 21 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile * Feb. 22 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret * Feb. 24 - Oakland, CA - Starline Social Club (Noise Pop!) * Feb. 25 - San Francisco, CA - Brick & Mortar Music Hall * Mar. 03 - Boston, MA - House of Blues ** Mar. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore ** Mar. 05 - Washington, DC - 930 Club ** Mar. 06 - Washington, DC - 930 Club ** Mar. 09 - New York City, NY - Terminal 5 ** Mar. 11 - Westbury, NY - The Space at Westbury ** Mar. 13 - Toronto, ON - Rebel ** Mar. 14 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Theater ** Mar. 29 - Nashville, TN - War Memorial Auditorium ** Mar. 30 - Charlotte, NC - The Fillmore ** Mar. 31 - Raleigh, NC - The Ritz ** Apr. 02 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle ** Apr. 04 - St. Petersburg, FL - Jannus Live ** * w/Baseck ** w/ The Flaming Lips
On the eve of Low’s UK & Ireland tour - on which they’re set to play tracks from their seminal 1999 EP Christmas - the Duluth trio present a reflective and inspiring new recording, closing out our current year and looking ahead to the next.
”Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)” finds Mimi Parker’s lead vocal soaring above Alan Sparhawk’s own artfully processed vocal and plaintive guitar motif.
The song comes with a short personal note from the band:
“To friends who have moved away and friends who have passed on this year. To one and all, especially those who are alone, we wish you a Merry Christmas and new hope for the new year. May we all find ways to lift each other.
Mimi, Alan and Steve.”
[Photo by Zoran Orlic]
Low have an unparalleled pedigree when it comes to releasing seasonal aural delights. Their eight-song 1999 EP Christmas is often referred to as one of the best Christmas albums of the alternative era, and is a gift that many fans return to year in, year out. Originally championed by John Peel, the EP collects five Christmas-themed originals by the band as well as covers of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas” and “Silent Night.”
Starting today, fans will have a rare chance to experience the joy, peace and reflection imbued in these songs - as well as new release “Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)” - when they’re performed live in some of the most handsome venues that the UK and Ireland has to offer.
The tour, which includes two nights at London’s Union Chapel, is nigh-on sold out with just a handful of tickets remaining at certain venues.
Low Christmas 2016 tour
01 December – Norwich, UK – Arts Centre (SOLD OUT) 02 December – Buxton, UK – Opera House 03 December – Brighton, UK – St. Georges (SOLD OUT) 05 December – London, UK – Union Chapel (SOLD OUT) 06 December - London, UK - Union Chapel (SOLD OUT) 07 December – Bristol, UK – St. Georges (SOLD OUT) 08 December - Salford, UK - Eagle Inn* (SOLD OUT) 09 December – Halifax, UK – Minster (SOLD OUT) 10 December – Glasgow, UK – St. Lukes Church (SOLD OUT) 12 December – Belfast, UK – Empire 13 December – Dublin, IE - Christchurch (SOLD OUT) 14 December – Kilkenny, IE – Set Theatre
*LOW return to Salford, Greater Manchester on 8th December for an intimate performance at The Eagle Inn. The 80-capacity show will consist of an exclusive set of all-new material never before performed in Europe, with all profits donated to local homelessness charity Booth Centre. Support comes from Loop legend Robert Hampson and local singer-songwriter Elle Mary; marking the final Dots & Loops event to wind up ten years’ promoting in Manchester.
Commence feasting your ears on this previously unreleased b-side “Baby Are You In?” from Kristin Kontrol, available today everywhere in the known digi-verse.
What’s the story here? Well, Kristin tells us, “”Baby Are You In?” was recorded during the X-Communicate sessions and I really regret not including it on the album. It was super fun to make - Kurt Feldman and I let loose on the production, trying to pin down that nebulous aggression from Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, but let it cork off the party at the end. It’s my favorite to perform live; I really feel the lyrics…’I wake up with the sun on my face, I call this moment “morning grace.’ I wanna kiss the light cuz it’s one day later, the night’s lost its tenure, I slept off my failure.’”
Kristin Kontrol will perform on Tuesday, December 13th at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge with special guests Starchild & The New Romantic and NOIA. Tickets to aforementioned performance are on sale now here.
[Photo credit: Jimmy Fontaine]
Kristin Kontrol’s X-Communicate was released in late May to mass critical praise. Highlighting the singular quality of Kristin’s voice and songwriting, the album moves effortlessly between tempo and mood, using genre rather than adhering to it. “There are sparkly synth ballads and icy New Wave tunes, and Welchez finds her inner Kate Bush behind the microphone. But it all makes sense because the whole record is so relentlessly, meticulously catchy that it coheres in ways few albums this varied could,” says the Los Angeles Times. Pitchfork also praised X-Communicate for its “sleek synth pop,” crowning its title track Best New Song. Idolator called it one of “the best pop albums of 2016.”
“She’s hitting reset, forcing us to rise to the occasion and see female creators as something more than our preconceptions,” said MTV News. Stereogum observed, ”X-Communicate and the evolution into Kristin Kontrol show Welchez becoming an absolute machine when it comes to hooks.” “Yes, this is a dance-pop record, but think a modern spin on Kate Bush’s The Hounds of Love, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Tinderbox,” noted Under the Radar.
At long last, Philadelphia’s (and Sub Pop’s) own male-fronted quartet Pissed Jeans just announced 2017 tour dates in support of Why Love Now (out Feb. 24th). Upcoming shows span February 23rd-March11th, and include stops in Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Somerville, and Philadelphia. Tickets for these shows go on sale Friday, December 16th w/additional live dates to come, but for now… sick yr clicks into these babies:
Feb. 23 - Washington, DC - Black Cat Feb. 24 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bazaar Feb. 25 - Somerville, MA - ONCE Ballroom Mar. 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle Mar. 11 - Philadelphia, PA - PhilaMOCA
Recently, Pissed Jeans shared Why Love Now’s lead single “The Bar Is Low” and we strongly suggest you have a listen to it here. In addition, their recent interview with the Sub Pop Podcastmight be one of the absolute best things to come out of late(r) 2016.
The New York Times says (and who are we to argue?) of the band and single, “Matt Korvette, the skeptical frontman of a terrific, coarsely named post-hardcore band from Allentown, Pa., doesn’t want to hear your compliments. As a dude, he knows he’s being graded on a curve…The track feels partly inspired by a recent series of unmaskings in the public sphere. “It just seems to be quite an easy bet,” Mr. Korvette sputters. “Those we adore just haven’t spilled their secrets yet.” But the excoriation is all-inclusive: By the end, he floats a claim about our rate of evolution as a species. (Spoiler alert: It’s not hopeful.)”
Why Love Now was co-produced by Lydia Lunch, Arthur Rizk and Pissed Jeans, and will soon be available on CD / LP / CASS / DL on Sub Pop [over here]. The album features the aforementioned “The Bar is Low,” along with standouts “Ignorecam,” “Love Without Emotion,” and “I’m A Man” (featuring lyrics and vocal from Ugly Girls author Lindsay Hunter).
Since we’re not above using our (perceived, if not actual) “influence” to try to get you to do good, we’ve compiled a list of local (to Seattle / the Pacific Northwest) and national / international charities. If you’re in a position to donate a sum of money to one (or more) of them, it will certainly be put to use, and as a bonus you’ll feel good about yourself! Five or ten $s (or € or £…) would not be too little to give.
We at Sub Pop and Hardly Art are amazingly fortunate to work with a varied and creative roster. So thanks to all the artists on the label(s), and thanks to our friends in the wider community we inhabit, in Seattle and beyond. We’re grateful for all of it. With any luck, you’ll discover something in these lists that gives you many happy years of listening/watching/reading/visiting/eating/etc’ing.