KZUU Top 30 — 3/29

Pretty hip lookin’ dudes. Not much to say about this Top 30. BRMC is a good band, but they’ll never reach the heights of their early work. I suppose we can forgive them for that.

  1. BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB — Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
  2. BEACH HOUSE — Teen Dream
  3. LAURA VEIRS — July Flame
  4. FANG ISLAND — Fang Island
  5. FRIGHTENED RABBIT — The Winter of Mixed Drinks
  6. SURFER BLOOD — Astro Coast
  7. YUKON BLONDE — Yukon Blonde
  8. TORO Y MOI — Causers of This
  9. HOT CHIP — One Life Stand
  10. JJ — No. 3
  12. TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS — The Brutalist Bricks
  13. THE FILMS — Oh, Scorpio
  14. BLACK TAMBOURINE — Black Tambourine
  15. THE RUBY SUNS — Fight Softly
  16. THE RADIO DEPT. — Clinging to a Scheme
  17. LOS CAMPESINOS! — Romance Is Boring
  18. LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION — Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You
  19. JOEY RYAN AND THE INKS — Well, Here We Are Then
  20. GIRLFRIENDS — Girlfriends
  21. EELS — End Times
  22. PHANTOGRAM — Eyelid Movies
  23. ELECTRIC PRESIDENT — The Violent Blue
  24. ROGUE WAVE — Permalight
  25. XIU XIU — Dear God, I Hate Myself
  28. SHOUT OUT LOUDS — Work
  30. THE SOFT PACK — The Soft Pack

Introducing Gonjasufi…

A Sufi (left) and a Killer

Meet LA rapper-turned-singer Gonjasufi. His debut album “A Sufi and a Killer” is out now on the ever reliable Warp records. It’s a strange brew of Eastern-psychedelica, R&B, blues, soul, lo-fi, and hip-hop all sung with a sort of funky, drugged-out Tom Waits croak. Produced by notable vinyl-dedicated DJ and hair-enthusiast, The Gaslamp Killer.

If this sounds slightly intriguing to you, read my review of the album at the KEXP blog.

You can play Gonjasufi’s “A Sufi and a Killer” from the hip-hop preview rack soon.


Bellingham birds: Stephen Ray Leslie & The Crooked Mile

This is the seventh installment in our _____-part series profiling artists playing the Birds on a Wire Festival in Pullman March 26-27.Visit or for tickets and more information.

Stephen Ray Leslie & The Crooked Mile play at 12:00 midnight on Friday, March 26 at the Gladish Auditorium, and 12:00 midnight on Saturday, March 27 at the Bell Tower.

I first came to know Stephen Ray Leslie’s music through his band Chuckanut Drive. That band is well-known in Bellingham and beyond for their beer- and tear-soaked anthems of broken hearts and open roads. In fact, SRL & TCM take their name from CD’s first album, The Crooked Mile Home.

But now SRL has formed a new group while maintaining his sharp ability to cut to the heart with tender and elegant alt-country tunes. According to the band’s Myspace, “[TCM] will lay down the same southern-influenced sounds that define Chuckanut Drive’s sound with a stronger focus on…gritty, broken-hearted ballads”. There you have it. Expect the performance to feature songs by Chuckanut Drive (Leslie is joined by CD’s guitarist Stell Newsome in TCM), but mostly to be an unveiling of new material by a heartfelt, exceptional songwriter.


A bird with a pedigree: Justin Townes Earle

This is the sixth installment in our _____-part series profiling artists playing the Birds on a Wire Festival in Pullman March 26-27.Visit or for tickets and more information.

Justin Townes Earle plays at 10:00 PM on Saturday, March 27 at the Gladish Auditorium.

Country music fans among our readers and listeners may recognize two parts of this Birds on a Wire performer’s name. Justin Townes Earle’s father is Steve Earle, a country and Americana legend. The Townes comes from Townes Van Zandt, the tragic, preternaturally gifted, and highly influential country/folk genius and close friend of Steve Earle.  But that’s just JTE’s name–what of his music?

It’s easy to throw around descriptors like Americana, alt-country, and folk, then apply an artist with a label and move on. I don’t think that’s appropriate for JTE. He is all of those things, and none of them. His songs rely on, and evoke a hundred years of American musical tradition while still maintaining originality and relevance. It might just be the Western shirts that lend him such credibility in my eyes, but it’s more likely due to his strong, distinctive vocal twang and straightforward yet sophisticated songwriting.

Either way, the end result is this: out of the entire festival, I’m looking forward to JTE’s performance the most.


Final Spins: you spin me right round…

This is the fifth installment in our _____-part series profiling artists playing the Birds on a Wire Festival in Pullman March 26-27.Visit or for tickets and more information.

Final Spins play at 10:00 PM on Saturday, March 27 at the Gladish Gym.

The band Final Spins was first brought to my attention sometime last year when my band, (Yarn Owl) went to Seattle to play a show. We stayed with Chris Early who plays keys for the band and also engineered their full-length album, This Is Then/That Was Now, and the EP, City Of… (not to mention Yarn Owl too). Early was an original Band of Horses member and so the production on the recordings does have its BOH moments. I remember seeing a stack of shrink-wrapped Final Spins CDs sitting on his speaker and he handed some over to Tim and I.

During my first week with the music I was immediately hooked with the lead in track on the full length, “Battle Wings”. It’s a beautiful, echoey and haunting song played on a ukulele. Front man Joe Syverson (who used to play bass in Throw Me the Statue) sings with a deep and rich voice that is only made more mellifluous and beautiful with the vocal assistance of Pearly Gate Music front man Zach Tillman (yes, he is related to J.). More representative of the band’s repertoire, however are songs like, “Used to”. It’s a big rock and roll track full of “oohs”, handclaps, a searing lead guitar and a bunch of other rock and rolly things that are way cooler to hear than to read about.

Here is the group:

On the far left is Joe. Joe is rad. Tim calls him “Joe the Giant” because of his towering height. We stayed at Joe’s house once too and ate the most delicious pancakes I have ever experienced. Then his dad came over and we jammed. I wish I had a picture of that. Brown shirt fellow is drummer Colin English. He also plays drums in the Hardly Art band Pica Beats. So we got Band of Horses, Throw Me the Statue, Pearly Gate Music, Pica Beats….all in one super fantastic band. I’m gonna have to go ahead and call this a Super-group.

I was delighted and proud of the guys last summer when they went in for a KEXP live in-studio performance. Here is that:

Soooo…I will see you Saturday, 10 o’clock at the Gladish Gym [edit: directly following a performance by Yarn Owl!] and we can gawk at the group’s wonderful talent and brilliant songwriting together.


Javier Suarez

A Seattle bird: Rocky Votolato

This is the fourth installment in our _____-part series profiling artists playing the Birds on a Wire Festival in Pullman March 26-27.Visit or for tickets and more information.

Rocky Votolato plays at 8:00 PM on Friday, March 26 at the Gladish Auditorium.

The first time I heard Rocky Votolato’s unique voice was back in my junior high days.  His older albums Suicide Medicine (2003) and Makers (2006) were so catchy and creative.  Being in junior high I guess Rocky was my first inspiration that got me into the music I listen to these days, which is why I hold him a lot closer to my heart than many artists.  When you first listen to Rocky live, the first thing you will notice is that he pours his soul and southern roots into his music.  His bright, choppy guitar chords, soothing yet strong voice, and wailing harmonica will warm your insides and have those butterflies swarming around your stomach for days.

Rocky’s new album True Devotion was released about a month ago from Barsuk records.  I was not expecting it to be spectacular, but I was caught off guard when I heard the first song on the album “Lucky Clover Coin”.  Through the mixture of string instruments and darker lyrics, this whole album speaks like a story to me.  From the time I heard “White Daisy Passing” on the show The OC and now, Rocky has definitely grown as a musician and never ceases to impress me.  He is definitely one to see at our Birds on a Wire Folk Festival and one of the finest musicians from Seattle!

With much love,


Horses don’t have feathers, but birds certainly do.

This is the third installment in our _____-part series profiling artists playing the Birds on a Wire Festival in Pullman March 26-27.Visit or for tickets and more information.

Horse Feathers play at 9:00 PM on Saturday, March 27 at the Bell Tower.

I saw Horse Feathers last spring at The Nuart Theater in Moscow and was completely taken away by their music. Beautiful and full of powerful strings. Frontman Justin Ringle has such an attractive voice—one that sort of pulls your head to the side and entices you to lean closer toward it. Imagine yourself rocking on a country porch as the deep orange sun sets and the most beautiful voice whispering you to relaxation. That is Horse Feathers.

It’s just so natural to be attracted to the music Horse Feathers make. It really speaks for itself; I don’t need to convince you, just check out the Tiny Desk Concert below.

My other favorite songs are “Working Poor”, “Falling Through the Roof” and “Like Lavender”. I can’t wait to see you all at Birds on a Wire I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Yours truly,


(I can’t really deny that a huge reason I love this band is because of the adorable and talented violinist. Harry Potter glasses which frequently get pushed back up to the bridge of his nose. He also plays the saw. Pocket, pocket, pocket.)