Hump Day Hummables #4: Sky Cries Mary, Shipwrecked & Every Iceberg is Afire

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There was a time in Seattle in the mid-90’s, when one could imagine it was San Francisco in the Summer of Love, or at least Burning Man. It was the Summer of 1994, and local psychedelic/dance fav’s Sky Cries Mary were just getting set to release their second full-length album, This Timeless Turning. They had already scored a hit on KCMU and the End with the first single off of the album, Every Iceberg is Afire. But they hadn’t really played a lot of the new material from the album to a live audience. So they decided to throw a free cd release party/show at Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill. The weather totally worked in the band’s favor-classic Seattle July weather-70’s and sunny. Already having established themselves as kings and queen of the psychedelic scene, the band had a fairly rabid following at the time. Pretty much every one of those fans turned out for this show.

The band chose for their set to play the songs off the new album from start to finish, and then followed the show with an encore of older favorites. Well, between the naked hippies, the lavish yet surreal band costumes, lead singer Anisa’s soaring soprano, flowers everywhere, body paint, the sunshine, the burning incense, now-legal drugs being not-so secretly toked, and the band’s 60’s psychedelia meets 90’s trance-dance sounds; regardless of whether you bought into the whole jam-band/psychedelic thing-everyone present was transported to some other place and time. The day ended up being one to remember and talked about for years to come.

Two of the more straight-forward, poppier songs of This Timeless Turning are Shipwrecked and Every Iceberg is Afire. Here are the official videos for both of them.

And if you’re interested, go check out the band’s website, it’s loaded with lots of cool pics, and you can listen to all of their albums. Their first album, A Return to the Inner Experience, still stands as their best. The album veers from then-trendy trance sounds to a Rolling Stones cover to psychedelic pop. David Byrne thought they were going to be the next big thing. They certainly were huge in the Northwest, but that didn’t quite happen on a national scale. Either way-if you want some chill, upbeat music-you can’t really go wrong with Sky Cries Mary.

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Hump Day Hummables #3: Celebrating Sub Pop!

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This Saturday, our beloved, trend-setting, and groundbreaking local record label, Sub Pop will be celebrating 25 years of operations with the Sub Pop Jubilee down in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. This will be a truly fantastic event-loads of classic Sub Pop bands from the roster (Mudhoney! TAD reunion! Greg Dulli!), new indie stalwarts (Father John Misty! Shearwater! METZ!); the Sub Pop Mega Mart is being rolled back out; lots of food trucks; and plenty more to make it a memorable day. I definitely will be there enjoying the festivities.

To pay tribute, here are a couple of favorite, somewhat lesser-known Sub Pop acts-locals Kinski and D.C.-based Velocity Girl.

One of my favorite Kinski songs is Rhode Island Freakout, from their 2003 album, Airs Above Your Station. If you’ve never seen them live, this band is ferociously loud. If you enjoy the more rocking side of Sonic Youth, you are sure to love this.

And here is a noise-pop gem from Velocity Girl, Sorry Again. It is from the single of the same name in 1994. They have that great Lush meets Juliana Hatfield, swooning, noisy, soaring pop sound down pat.

Hump Day Hummables #1: Hazel, Day-Glo

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Every Wednesday (Hump Day), I’ll be digging in the youtube vaults to find some classic Northwest alternative/indie sounds to share with you. I might also share some touring band that I was lucky to see at a local venue. Should be a fun way to kindle the memories, and-you might just discover a new favorite classic band.

For this first edition, I was in the mood for something, well…chipper. One of the first bands that sprung to mind was Hazel. Based in Portland, Hazel put out two solid albums on SubPop in the early/mid-90’s, Toreador of Love and Are You Going to Eat That?. I had the pleasure of seeing this quartet at Sit n’ Spin (a combo laundromat/live music venue-definitely one of the oddest and coolest venues in Seattle at the time) on a bill with Some Velvet Sidewalk and, I believe, Harvey Danger and Modest Mouse.

Today’s hummable is Day-Glo, off of Toreador of Love. Read more after the jump.

Even though they were on SubPop, Hazel was sort of outside the alternative explosion of Seattle/Pacific Northwest at the time.  Their catchy, melodic, upbeat brand of noisy, punky pop had more in common with Superchunk and bands from the East Coast than other bands in the NW scene. That being said-they definitely still had a loyal regional following.

There were two main things that set Hazel apart from their peers. For one-a lot of their songs had interweaving, dueling vocal melodies vs. just a background vocalist harmonizing. Second-one of their members, Fred, did not play an instrument. He was a dancer/performance artist. Sure-the Happy Mondays had Bez-but Fred wasn’t just shaking some maracas on the side of the stage. He was a whirlwind of dreadlocks, flailing arms, Jethro Tull-ish toe pointing, and other shenanigans. He really brought something quirky, alarming, and special to a Hazel show. While their two albums are great (especially Toreador), this is one case where if you weren’t able to see the band live back in the day, then you kind of missed out.

Fortunately, this video for Day-Glo captures some of that energy. I hope it brings a smile to your day.