A Review of Mannequin Pussy's Romantic by Lauren Van Staveren

It’s been a long time since I latched onto an album with the frenzy I feel for Mannequin Pussy’s, Romantic. I crave the intimacy I feel while listening to this album in the same way I’ve craved spending time with a new partner, or a new friend.

The album jumps directly into its vein of powerhouse emotion with “Kiss,” which spans only a little over a minute long. Marisa Dabice screams with bubbling defiance, anger, and desperation, “I kiss myself when I’m feeling lonely/talk to myself when no one hears me///and I am not ashamed to be lonely/but I’m afraid to feel it so deeply.” We quickly come to “Romantic”, easily the most immediately likeable song of the album (and the longest by a minute at 2 minutes 40 seconds). The first time I heard this song I woke up to it and walked home with it every day for two weeks. It’s a song about the black-hole aspect of romance often overshadows the rest, and contains both a fiercely beating heart and a starry guitar line.

Another one of my favorites is “Pledge”, a two-line song in which Dabise croaks “I pledge allegiance to myself and nothing else/oh nothing,” with fervor that makes it almost impossible not to scream along.

“Denial” is perhaps the most catchy, and musically possesses the lightheartedness of a pop-punk song. The drummer Kaleen Reading drives the song forward with a lot of snare clicks and bouncy fills. Thanasi Paul plays vibrant colorful chords on guitar while Dabise contrasts this atmosphere by singing about how her body shakes at night lost in the thought of what she is and what she thought she’d be. The song is both powerful and exciting.

Most of the lyrics are difficult to understand without help from the internet, but they read like passionate poetry written with addictive honesty. It feels like she’s collected every suppressed emotion she’s ever felt, worked rationally through them until they carry the potential to be expelled, then screamed her dense mass of emotion into the microphone in a modus reminiscent of a diary.

Another few favorites of mine are Hey Stephen, Meatslave One (about watching friends fall into the vortex of their iPhone life), and Everything. The next time you’re overwhelmed by existence and/or lost or confused human connections, give Romantic a listen. You might find some of the same comforts in it that I have. 

Savvas and Connor review Zombeavers to Carter and Jon who don’t really care are just want to get ice cream by Julia Olson

Connor, Savvas and I recently watched the horror/slasher film Zombeavers. The basic premise of Zombeavers is that there are these two trucker guys who aren’t watching the road and they hit this deer. Well when they hit the deer they lose one of the barrels of toxic medical waste they were carrying, and the medical waste ends up on a beaver dam-turning a whole lot of beavers into mutant hyper smart zombies. The linked audio is Savvas and Connor who explain the premise of Zombeavers to Carter and Jon, who both don’t really care about it all that much, and just want to get this over with so they can get some ice cream. In terms of rankings, Savvas gave Zombeavers zero hoots out of a possible three hoots, which although dismal, fared better than its counterpart film Zoombeavers, which earned itself zero hoots and one holler.

A Review of Jason McCue at Conor Byrne Pub by Bailee Clark

Photo by Bailee Clark

Humans may only be his third favorite species, but he’s going to be playing in front of thousands of them in a few days. Jason McCue, the Environmental Studies major from Seattle University, will hit the stage at Bumbershoot on September first. Conor Byrne Pub hosted Jason last Thursday, along with the bands Colorworks and Grubby Sweetheart. The dankly lit pub contained around 30 people, a stark contrast to what is to come for Jason.

 

The first band to resonate their tunes into the narrow Irish pub was Grubby Sweetheart, an alternative rock group that produced well-blended voices and instrumentals, and some strong riffs. Jason could be seen holding a beer and talking to supporters who had come to see him.

Jason was next on stage. I sat drinking my Guinness not knowing what to expect; despite knowing Jason since my freshman year and having had several classes with him, I hadn’t had the chance to hear him perform before. I knew him as a jokester and lover of animals. He strode onto the stage and sat down on a stool, legs crossed and Adidas dangling. Jason introduced himself and thanked everyone for showing up, gave an awkward laugh, and began to strum his guitar. His face was lit in an orange din on account of the faux gas light on either side of the stage and a string of lights in front, giving the place an eerie vibe reminiscent of an old pub in Dublin. As Jason began to sing, it became apparent that he is a unique sort of musical artist.

There are some concerts that necessitate a few pulls from the trusty old flask, and some that require the whole damn thing. I sometimes find myself tuning out the repetitive and horribly boring lyrics that comprise a good chunk of today’s music. I find myself in the crowd at concerts, observing the variance of individuals around me, letting my body flow with the beat, tapping my foot to the methodical droll of the drums, mind wandering and distant. Jason’s lyrics, on the other hand, were words that demanded to be heard. With all thoughts of going into the bathroom to take a pull from my flask put aside, I leaned in a bit closer to hear what Jason had to say.

Jason didn’t move from the stool, but he didn’t have to dance around the stage to commandeer attention. The emotion in his songs is portrayed through facial expressions; the scrunch of his face as he concentrates, the blink of the eyes and nod of the head, and the distant stare indicate that he is in his own little world as he sings. The listener is forced to connect, to truly listen to the lyrics and attempt to read the enigmatic musician.

He has a wide vocal range, sounding natural as he hits the high notes in the song “Humans.” Beforehand, he had informed the crowd with a little smile that gorillas and giraffes were his two favorite species. Jason engaged the crowd in playful banter throughout the show, making corny jokes and seeming unfazed when people would give unenthusiastic responses.

After his performance, Jason sat with his self-proclaimed band manager and waited for the final performance of the night, Colorworks. The floor in front of the stage was vacant at this point, and when a member of Colorworks encouraged all of us mingling about to come stand by the stage, Jason was the first to hit the floor with a beer in his hand and a smile on his face.

In an interview after the show, Jason admitted that he was a little nervous for Bumbershoot, but that he is also excited to fan girl over the other artists. “I’m going to just wait around the artist area until I see Lorde and try to sneak past her bodyguard somehow,” he said with a chuckle. He told me that he wants to continue with music until it isn’t fun anymore, but that eventually he wants to do an environmental studies related job, preferably one with animals. For my final question, I asked him for his life motto. Without hesitation, he rambled on for about two minutes, saying random and nonsensical sentences involving Nintendo and snowmen.

Tea For a Wildfire Throat by Lauren Van Staveren

This fiery B.C. haze…just a Canadian conspiracy to boost end-of-summer aesthetics in the PNW? Perhaps. But I reeeeally wasn’t about the constant sore throats and the need to munch a dozen cough drops every day.

But hey, then I remembered that tea is a cure-all. And I want to share my go-to tea recipe for any time you wake up sick, smoke a cig too many, need an xxtreme mood boost, or inhale foreign smoke.  

Tea For a Wildfire Throat

Ingredients

  • A painfully ordinary mug (8-10 oz of water usually)
     
  • A ginger tea bag
     
  • 1-2 tbsp of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (detoxifying, cold-curing, pH balancing superdrink)
     
  • A good spoonful of honey
     
  • A sQuiRt of lemon
     
  • Cinnamon optional (it doesn’t really dissolve but it still smells great)

Little Besos: The Loudest Goodbye by Connor McKeon

     I arrived on the scene around 8 o'clock pm with the taste of venom in my mouth. I had spent all day trapped in a “sales training” for what turned out to be a treacherous pyramid scheme.  As mad as I am at the dubious fuck-offs who masqueraded this boondoggle in the guise of legitimate business, I will not disclose their company name for the sake of privacy (however I will say it rhymes with Shmector, and they sell Shmutco knives).  Fortunately for this FFF writer, if shady business is the sickness, then rock n’ roll is the antidote.  One intravenous injection of the musical stylings of Yuta Shimmi, Eric Brown, Lauren van Staveren, Paul Fitzpatrick, and Nello De Angelis was the only remedy this attendee needed to get back to his normal spry and sporadic self.

     I arrived as they were setting up for their act; executing tunings, sound checks, warming up, etc…  I was dressed in my finest blue sport coat over my favorite skull T-shirt (which I have kept since the seventh grade), Doc Martins, wayfarer sunglasses, and ripped Dickies.  I could lie to you, my faithful reader, and tell you that the functional purpose of this ensemble was to present a demeanor of professionalism while, still maintaining that alt rock style that seems to be so commonplace at these events, but I won’t.  I wore the jacket because it’s the only one I own that has pockets deep enough to store the necessary paraphernalia, i.e. one flask of Jameson Irish whiskey, one purple leather glove, a slingshot, 13 blue paint balls, and two miscellaneous fireworks leftover from 4th of July (which I seem to have misplaced, I’m sure they’ll turn up sooner or later).  I was prepared for anything.

     We all came to this send off party for Logan Dutton and Nello De Angelis birthday party for Lauren Van Staveren to say goodbye, and what we got was a grande open mouth kiss of good old fashion ass kicking rock n’ roll from the band, Little Besos.  Knowing the level of musicianship of this bunch, I came with high expectations, and they were met and surpassed.  Paul provided a solid foundation on the bass, Eric and Yuta both shredded on guitar, and Nello and Lauren showed a wide range of versatility, switching back and forth between drums and lead vocals.  No one in the audience would dispute the high level of technical ability in these musicians, but what’s most fun about this band, is their uninhibited stage presence and fun loving, “devil may care,” attitude.  Highlight moments from the show include (but are not limited to) Lauren’s pop punk cover of Fergie’s “London Bridge” and Nello’s cover of the Thin Lizzy classic, “The Boys Are Back In Town.” 

     This explosive performance saved what would have otherwise been a somber, melancholy day, sending our good friends out with a bang, just like a surprise firecracker on the backyard lawn.  I would be remissed if I didn’t give a special thanks to our very forgiving host, Melissa Oeser, as well as thank the band for graciously and humbly allowing me to interview them!  Give the podcast a listen to hear me slobber all over a microphone and learn more about the inspirations behind this very electric performance!

????, a photo series by Celeste Malatesta

Hi All. new series for u. check out the blog every monday for some dope photos by celeste.

Rigor Mortis by Connor McKeon

Hi all. I am excited to announce a series of writings by Connor McKeon! To get things started we chatted a bit about the whole thing: Favorite writers, top inspirations, and about his first post, Rigor Mortis. It's about stage fright. Nothing like the feeling of putting yourself out there and being absolutely terrified. (Also, please excuse all the nervousness at the start of the conversation..) Here's a convo of us chillin at cal andojo

and without further ado, we hope you enjoy Rigor Mortis by Connor McKeon.     

     You stand there, alone, staring into an abyss of faces, a sea of anonymity, and start to wonder why you came here in the first place.  What once sounded like a “fun idea” went from being an opportunity to a nightmare in a single instant.  Not the kind of, “forgot to wear pants to the first day of middle school” type of nightmare, a hellish fever dream that could put the Boogie Man himself in a cold sweat.  You snap out of this paralysis just long enough to discover the torrential outpour of sweat from your forehead and you struggle to find your fretting on your guitar.  A simple riff that you’ve listlessly played a million times while in the privacy of your own bedroom suddenly becomes quantum physics.

     Something draws your eye to that cute blonde girl with the septum piercing from your UCOR Humanities course, standing in the very front.  Up until only a moment ago you were hoping that she’d show up so you could finally make some kind of impression.  She sits at the front of class and cites the text in ways that even the teacher has trouble keeping up with.  Yeah she’s beautiful, but what’s more than that she’s opinionated and articulate as balls.  People like us always sit in the back row of class with nothing to contribute because “school isn’t really our scene,” but not her.  The only way you’ve been able to justify your mediocre academic performance to yourself thus far has been by telling yourself “music is my real passion.” You’ve never been quiet about that.  If you haven’t said it explicitly, you dress and carry yourself in ways that intentionally advertises the archetype, “musician.”  Now she’s looking at you in that denim jacket, the one that you’re now regretting. It’ll likely be all that’s left of you when you melt like a sugar cube in the rain.  You get to thinking “Why denim? Like, what am I? James Dean or Something?”

     More like Jimmy Dean, because you know that you’re about to look as appealing as a big ol’ wad of ground pork, squeezed freshly from a plastic tube, unless you get over it and play something.  What’s about to happen, is that this amazing woman is going to watch you publicly frizzle fry into a burnt little crisp in front of an audience.  You chuckle to yourself, laughing at your own obscurity and self grandeur, and that’s when it happens.  The abyss settles to calm ocean of subtle familiarity.  All around a are motley bunch of capitol hill patrons you see on a regular basis.  You recognize this lot from places like dollar beer night at Cha Cha’s, petting the kittens at Twice Sold Tales, or possibly rifling through the used CD section at Everyday Music.

     It’s this sentiment that galvanizes the shy performer into a stage presence of both confidence and humility.  These Friends and Friends of Friends events serve as an incubator for this kind of artist, and that’s what makes them special for this time and place.  Standing in front of a crowd to share something that would otherwise only be heard by the walls in your bedroom and a collection of stuffed animals, is a rare experience that many are robbed of by the bandit that is crippling stage fright.  We lift each other up onto this pedestal for the purpose of knowing the songs that would otherwise go unheard.  Knowing this symbiotic relationship between artist and audience is a humbling sensation for all participants, and creates a mutually beneficial arrangement.  We in the audience give you the quiet support you need, and you give us what we came for, a show.