Fresh Tunes – The Beast is Back

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The Afghan Whigs were one of the first hard rocking alt-bands to join Sub Pop’s increasingly popular lineup of successful grunge artists, including Mudhoney, Soundgarden and of course Nirvana. Their career was rocky at times, but the band managed to make a dent in the explosion of scummy alt-rock, that dominated the 90′s rock radio scene. The Afghan Whigs style was not quite marketable enough to explode into superstardom like their labelmates: Afghan Whigs had a significant following, but their lack of a decidable radio hit kept them just under the radar for most people. Their biggest claim to fame was their 1993 album Gentlemen, which saw the band moving away from their harder grunge roots with a grander guitar sound, higher clarity and more insightful lyrics. Whigs made a name for themselves by combining hard rocking guitar with the vulnerability of a flawed frontman. On Gentlemen‘s “Debonair,” singer Greg Dulli hints at his personal downfall:

“Hear me now and don’t forget
I’m not the man my actions would suggest
This ain’t about regret
My conscious can’t be found.”

Much like Kurt Cobain, Dulli’s lyrics have a certain broken sadness that, while lacking some of Cobain’s sincerity and tragic frailty, still manage to be compelling. Yet after fifteen years of moderate success, Afghan Whigs called it quits in 2001.

The-Afghan-Whigs-Do-To-The-Beast-608x608Afghan Whigs surprised the music scene with a reunion tour in 2012 (though with bigger acts like Slowdive, Neutral Milk Hotel and My Bloody Valentine following suit, you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention). More shocking though was their announcement to release their first album in sixteen years. Do To The Beast contains much of what fans fell in love with in the grunge era: jangly guitars with a sleek crunch, Dulli’s signature smooth croon, and some precise drum work (a hard rock band that doesn’t drown out the chorus with smashing cymbals? Sign me up!). Dulli may be at a career best for vocals, sounding revitalized, vulnerable and a little gravelly (think more Future Islands than Nicklederp).Nickelderp_a2b906_746023

Do To The Beast avoids being a period piece by making bolder statements and amping up the band’s songwriting, offering a variety of styles that place these guys in between modern hard-rock and Mogwai-esque post-rock. “Parked Outside” kicks off the album with a guttural guitar explosion, proving that these guys have not lost any sense of grandeur. Dulli swoons in a chorus of “you’re gonna make me break down and cry,” delivered with so much conviction it avoids any potentially cheesy melodrama. “Algiers” is like a 90′s alt ballad played from a mountain top, chugging in with a crystal clear acoustic jam before the guitars bust in with unhinged glee. One thing is for sure: Afghan Whigs worship their guitars, and every crunchy lick and devastating minor progression sounds full of a fighting spirit. Afghan Whigs have the kind of confidence and precision of a band twenty years their junior, and it comes through clearly on Do to the Beast.

This album was recorded loud, because it was meant to be played very loud. Much like the new Pixies material, I get the sense that Do To The Beast is strictly a road record; these are songs meant to be played live, and the recordings follow suit with a faithful interpretation. This is by no means a lazy record, but it does detract from any cohesive themes tying it together. Then again, this is an alt band from the 90′s; you’d be hard pressed to find any “cohesive themes” on a Stone Temple Pilots album. These guys take their rock and roll seriously, and their brazen methods of versatility expand upon this in unexpected ways. “Can Rova” touches on the pop-folk appeal of Mumford or perhaps even The Head and the Heart, but the four-on-the-floor EDM finale is just subtle and fleeting enough to catch you off guard. “The Lottery” largely treads through previously conquered territory, but a cascading waterfall chorus casts off any doubts of redundancy. Nearly every song showcases the revamped guitar work of bassist John Curley and returning guitarist Mark Lanegan. Herein lies the record’s strengths: keeping the Whigs core sound intact while exploring new sonic possibilities, innovating in all of the right areas to keep the sound fresh and newly revealing. A few songs are merely passable, but Dulli’s tragically heroic vocals ensure this album’s relevance in the modern rock scene.

The Afghan Whigs are happy to just be playing shows again, and their critically acclaimed Coachella performance is a testament to their staying power. If Do to the Beast is simply a road record, then it sounds best blasting in a car stereo down the highway. For all the 90′s era reunions going on recently, the Afghan Whigs stare down their past demons with a grace and tact that puts them a neck above their competition. When Queens and Pixies rule today’s rock stages, the Whigs still prove themselves a fiercely capable dark horse.

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Shows of Note – Sasquatch Predictions

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Well folks, everyone has been anxiously waiting to hear the official line-up for this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival, hosted at the beautiful Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash. Due to its overwhelming popularity, the festival has been extended to both Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend! This means that Sasquatch is going to pack a much harder punch than previous years, even considering that 2013 hosted some of the world’s biggest indie music acts.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Energetic folk rock quartet Mumford & Sons made a massive appearance last year following their sophomore album, Babel, and shared the headlining bill with the Grammy award-winning indie rock outfit Vampire Weekend, and Icelandic post-rock pioneers Sigur Ros. Could any of these acts be returning to the Sasquatch stage?

Following the major acts, we also had the Arctic Monkeys, who will definitely making a come-back for 2014’s festival in support of their new record AM. The Arctic Monkeys have a solid chance of being on the headlining bill for this year considering the great success of AM, which sold over 150,000 copies in the first week with critics claiming it as “the band’s most original album yet.”

Seattle-native Macklemore and Ryan Lewis saw the light of 2013’s festival after The Heist dropped. After taking home four Grammys from the 2014 Grammy Awards, you can be sure that Macklemore will be spitting the lyrics to “Thrift Shop” on the main stage as a primary headlining act in the 2014 festival.

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

The rap scene made a huge statement in 2013 with artists such as Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt and Ab-Soul. We should definitely be expecting to see some of these rappers come back for 2014’s festival; Danny Brown is riding the train of his newest critically-acclaimed record, Old, which dropped in October of 2013. Killer Mike and El-P became a dynamic duo in 2013 and formed Run the Jewels; a collaboration project that has gotten them massive respect. They released the self-titled debut just a month after Sasquatch, so we’re expecting to see them come back in support of that record.

In terms of RUMORS for the 2014 line-up, we’ve heard that Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age might be headlining the May weekend in support of their new records that dropped in 2014. QOTSA’s …Like Clockwork went up for a Grammy award, so it’s more than likely to see them come out for the biggest festival of the summer. Indie rock bands that will probably make the line-up are Foster the People, The National, Portugal. The Man, of Montreal, Cage the Elephant, and HAIM.

HAIM

HAIM

What we’re most skeptical about right now is whether or not Sasquatch will be able to fill up the two weekends completely with great artists. 2013’s festival will be hard to live up to, but we think that if they scheduled two full weekends this year, they’ll make it happen.

The release party is today (02/03) and the lineup will be released officially Tuesday morning. Visit the Sasquatch Music Festival website and our blog for updates on line-ups and ticket details. Tickets officially go on sale February 8th. The ‘Burg is giving away tickets to Sasquatch so be sure to check out our Facebook page for details on how you can win.

Thanks for staying in touch with your friends here at 88.1 The ‘Burg!

-Tim Mitchell – Music Director

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It’s Sasquatch Season!

SASQUATCH!!! It’s on every music lover in the Northwest’s brain. We’ve heard mixed reviews of the lineup this year but 88.1 The ‘Burg staff is most excited for The Postal Service, CAKE, Tame Impala, Mumford and Sons and Alt-J.  Other big acts include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sigur Ros, Vampire Weekend, The XX and Nick Offerman who plays Ron Swanson on the television show Parks and Recreation.

The Postal Service

The Postal Service

Alt-J

Alt-J

Tame Impala

Tame Impala

Tickets are a whopping $337.50 but fortunately your music central is hooking it up! The hunt for Sasquatch will be on Thursday, February 7th, at 10:30 a.m. Sasquatch will be roaming the CWU Campus and whoever catches him first will win a pair of Sasquatch Festival passes. See link below for full list of contest rules.

Because The ‘Burg loves  you so much we will be giving away ANOTHER pair of Sasquatch tickets this April at our own battle of the bands “Burg Stock” festival. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and mobile app for more details to come

2013 Sasquatch Ticket Giveaway Rules & Regulations

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