Sunday, July 31, 2011

TONIGHT: Pocketknife EP Release At Mississippi Studios

Portland band Pocketknife are releasing their first EP, "Tough as Snails" (Sohitek records) tonight at Mississippi Studios with Vanimal and Pegasus Dream. Be prepared for tight pop melodies, lots and lots of synths, and frequently cheeky songs on a variety of topics, from "Cotton Candy" a (mostly) straightforward I have a crush on you song, to "Normandy", a mournful yet danceable song about a doomed mission, to "Should I Kiss the Vipers Fang" which warns that "every girl's crazy 'bout that sharp-toothed man". Take a listen and if you can, come out tonight, for music fun enough to make the cool kids dance too.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Okay, I know this isn't a music post, but I just felt the need to plug it. Recently I had the opportunity to get my microfiction and art featured in an anthology edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, featuring works from authors like Alan Moore, Mike Mignola, China Mieville, Michael Moorcock, and countless others whose last names don't start with M. Such as John Coulthart and Jan Svankmajer. It's a beautiful book, and if you are interested in alternate history, steampunk, pseudo-scholarship, or just plain weird stuff, this is a fascinating read.

You can preorder it now on Amazon and several other places. Here's some description from the press release:

“The narrative scope and stellar assemblage of writers and illustrators…makes this a book that will be absolutely cherished by fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk afficionados alike.” – Paul Goat Allen, B&N Book Club

---An LA Times recommended summer reading selection
---Features over 60 pieces of art, including four originals by Hellboy’s Mike Mignola
---All-new Fiction from top creators in fiction, comics, and the art world

After the death of Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, a remarkable discovery was unearthed: the remains of an astonishing cabinet of curiosities. Many of these artifacts, curios, and wonders related to anecdotes and stories in the doctor's personal journals. Others, when shown to the doctor's friends, elicited further tales from a life like no other. Thus, in keeping with the bold spirit exemplified by Dr. Lambs­head and his exploits, we now proudly present highlights from the doctor's cabinet, reconstructed not only through visual representations but also through exciting stories of intrigue and adventure. A carefully selected group of popular artists and acclaimed, bestselling authors has been assembled to bring this cabinet of curiosities to life.

An independent follow-up to the cult classic The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, a Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award finalist…

Contributors include Holly Black, Greg Broadmore, Ted Chiang, John Coulthart, Rikki Ducornet, Amal El-Mohtar, Minister Faust, Jeffrey Ford, Lev Grossman, N.K. Jemisin, Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Mike Mignola, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, James A. Owen, Helen Oyeyemi, J.K. Potter, Cherie Priest, Ekaterina Sedia, Jan Svankmajer, Rachel Swirsky, Carrie Vaughn, Jake von Slatt, Tad Williams, Charles Yu, and many more.

Just for a taste, here's my illustration for a mysterious "Coffin Torpedo".

And of course, if you're curious about other things I've written, check out my novel 10 A BOOT STOMPING 20 A HUMAN FACE 30 GOTO 10.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Album Review: Seven Stars by John Amadon

An old friend of mine, John Amadon, got at me about a month and a half ago with a new album of pop oriented rock (Power Pop I suppose) that's been in pretty constant rotation at my house ever since. John spent the last couple years crafting these songs and plays the bulk of the instruments here while finding just the right side-men to fill out the sound, which comes out being very lush and well crafted. People always want to compare the sound to Elliott Smith, and while I do see where they're coming from with that, I think that John's achieved a sound that's much more his own here, tinged with Neil Young-ish overtones and laced with a sort of reverence for George Harrison and the sound of middle-era-Beatles. It's evident from the first listen that he approaches songwriting not just from the lyrics and guitar, but builds melodies and complete songs creating some pretty catchy business in the end.
John told me that he's already in the studio working on the next album and that it's going to carry a much more stripped down, less polished tone, which I'm also looking forward to hearing.

Check it out at and iTunes and such.

Picket Line

Hello Crappy Indie Musicland!

I’ve been absent for a while. It’s true. It’s not that I don’t love you any more, I’ve just been cheating on music. I’ve been seeing comics lately and I have to say, I think we’re made for each other. I’m going to put a ring on it. That’s right. I’m marrying cartoons.

That’s not to say that music and I are done, I think we’ve got a lot more than drunk one night stands left. If you want to see what I’ve been up to you can come find me all over the Internets. This isn’t really about me though. It’s about the fusion of my favorite things, comics and music.

So if you didn’t know, Easel Ain’t Easy by Breena Wiederhoeft is the greatest thing in the world. It’s true. I’ve got facts and figures to back that up. FACT. (Don’t you dare dispute me). Autobio comics come in many shapes and sizes but this one nails me right in the heart. It’s honest, funny and strange just like a life should be. So she’s been up to a larger project too! Just when you thought there wasn’t anything greater in life.

Picket Line is an upcoming Xeric Award Winning graphic novel that tracks life, ecology, being strange, community, feeling out of place and being very human by following Beatrice and Rex as they navigate threats to the local redwood forests. I think the way of this is to not try. If you write a story and it falls that way that’s great. It’s forcing the themes into a story that make everything fall apart. These themes seem to have evolved very naturally out of the characters. I’m reaching here, I don’t have a Secret Advance Copy or anything. The first chapter is up to look through and I can see a lot of what’s in store in her process post.

I was already stoked about this book.

Today I learned that there’s a soundtrack to the book. It’s good. Not just “Oh that’s nice” good. I mean so intimately tied into the atmosphere that they cannot be separated. The essence of film score is to not only underpin the scene, but to entwine the music so deeply with the story that every time a listener hears a song they are immediately transported back into the film. This soundtrack has my head locked into the aesthetic of the book so completely that I can’t imagine the music without a pair of tiny arms. Even better, this has given me a great list of artists to follow up on. Especially The Recreation Station, because this song is so delightful it has made me dance around my job like it’s a parade every time I hear it. This is what I want to listen to every time the sun shines in Portland. Beardy biking music, you’re my favoritist.

The whole tone of the record starts here and continues on through the rest of the tracks. Every single track is bursting with sunlight filtered through the evergreens. It is a swirling dance through the inspiration that imagination brings. It’s a great feedback loop, comics sending love to music, inspiring more comics and more music and we’re all in the middle as the luckiest people. Listen to this. Read this book while you’re listening to it. GO CREATE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Denver's Adorable "Kissing Party" Summer Tour Hits the NW

Kissing Party, from Denver, offer pure pop pleasure in 2 minute increments. Tight rhythm section, catchy pop hooks, a spattering of glockenspiel, and lovely boy-girl harmonized vocals. They're on tour this July in anticipation of their third release, Waster's Wall, coming out this fall.
They're playing Portland's Knife Shop July 12. For those of us outside the area, they're playing the Visual Arts Collective in Boise on July 6, New Frontier in Tacoma on July 8, and two Seattle dates, Funhouse on the 11th and the Comet on the 13th (Where I plan to be, celebrating my birthday.) If you happen to be in SLC, they're playing a house show there on the 14th. My recommendation: check them out. After all, I emerged from grad-school enforced blogging hiatus to tell you about it.
Also, here's a video.