Jared Plays “Marylyn” Live at Conor Byrne, Seattle

Hey guys! I’ve been super busy with playing in The Last Great Love, working with Carter to run Melodrama Recordings, and cutting scratch tracks for my upcoming album! I can’t wait for this release, should be around December. In the meantime, I’ll be giving you little bits of sing-song to keep ya warm at night.

Check out this video of me playing “Marylyn” live at Conor Byrne in Seattle, and stay tuned for more! If you are in the Seattle area, be sure to catch me at all the open mics around town.


Guest Review: Vagablonde on Kreayshawn

To be perfectly honest, when I first saw East Oakland rapper Kreayshawn’s (pronounced “creation”) new video “Gucci Gucci,” I was crushed. Knowing the rap game had yet to see a white female rapper (sorry, Ke$ha), I hoped this was a gap I could fill— achieving fame not through talent, but instead for being the first to capitalize on an untouched sub-genre.

Then I saw “Gucci Gucci.” With her Jeff Koons-esque hot pink balloon headband, considerable swagger, massive Chicago Blackhawks chain, and numerous references to swisher blunts and “basic bitches,” Kreayshawn proves herself as the trail blazing, emphasis on the blazing, anglo-feme rapper  I hoped to become. Her lyrics are funny and clever, yet she doesn’t take herself too seriously: “bitch you ain’t no Barbie/ I see you work at Arby’s/ number 2, super size, hurry up I’m starving.”

Her badass, semi-androgynous aesthetic is equally admirable; rather than adopting the uber-sexualized look that defines so many female musicians, Kreayshawn rocks oversized M.I.A. sweatshirts, fitted hats, and tattooed knuckles. This break with traditional gender notions extends to her attitude. When asked in an interview “what makes a bitch real?” she responds: “Can’t have no quiet bitches on the team.”

Finally cementing my sheer admiration – Kraeyshawn claims her biggest influence as Hype Williams, particularly for the videos he made for Missy Elliott in the ‘90s. Seriously, it’s like she took the words from my mouth. Kreayshawn stole my thunder.

That being said, I have no musical background. Kreayshawn, on the other hand, wrote her first song at age 5, which she performed with her mother’s punk-surf band, The Trash Women. By age 10, she and a friend from the neighborhood were writing and recording complete mix-tapes and crafting their own beats. Kreayshawn’s artistic pursuits are widespread—in addition to rapping, she also enjoys cinematography (for which she briefly attended UC Berkeley film school) and drawing. “I’m hella creative,” she boasts, showcasing that Bay Area lingo.

Yet despite her strong ties to the Bay—she’s lived in San Francisco for 10 years and Oakland for another decade—Kreayshawn considers herself “from another planet,” and it shows in her work, which oozes eccentricity. As is likely clear at this point, I have serious faith in this bitch. Since I began writing this review, Kreayshawn has received recognition from Pitchfork, the Guardian, and GQ. The wheels of the hype machine are spinning, kids, and I sincerely hope that Kreayshawn lives up to it. And if not, let’s hope everyone forgets this little video, and clears the way for your girl to be the first white female rapper in the game.


Fleet Foxes Take Control On Helplessness Blues

Mismatched glassy eyeballs stare out at us over a collage of pale orange and forest green haberdashery. A tiny propeller plane nose-dives into a jagged mountain range, hunters armed with high-powered rifles poke out from behind the hills, and an anthropomorphic black cat curls around a set of concentric orbs. There’s a hand offering up rubies and emeralds as if worthless chunk of rock, as Van Gogh looks off into the distance, the lines of his face saturated with worry and turmoil. Crowning this amalgam of bizarre fragments, white capital lettering against a thin black horizontal stripe reads: Fleet Foxes. Anchoring these images, in identical typeface, is the title of their sophomore LP: Helplessness Blues.

Under the umbrella of Sub Pop Records, Fleet Foxes’ 2008 self-titled debut sold over a quarter million copies, so it’s no surprise the tandem is back together for Helplessness Blues. Sub Pop, after adding Seattle neophytes The Head and The Heart to their catalog of stalwarts that includes The Shins and Blitzen Trapper, arguably touts the tightest, most distinctive bands in the Pacific Northwest. Now that’s sayin’ something!

Opening track “Montezuma” features guitarist Skyler Skjelset’s tender finger picking, as hirsute singer Robin Pecknold strips away the illusions of social status to reveal a cyclical truth: “in dearth or in excess / both the slave and the empress / will return to the dirt, I guess / naked as when they came.” Pecknold carols in contemplative reflection: “oh man what I used to be / oh man oh my oh me.”

The snare drum rim clicks of drummer Josh Tillman kick off “Bedouin Dress,” with squeaky violins ushering an uneasy, eerie vibe. On “Sim Sala Bim,” Pecknold whispers that new beginnings sometimes demand surreptitious escapes: “lighting a match on the suitcase’s latch in the fading of night.” As the song builds, mandolin and tambourine shower lyrics depicting the mysteries of love: “what makes me love you despite the reservations? / what do I see in your eyes / besides my reflection hanging high?”

On title track “Helplessness Blues,” Pecknold searches for meaning in labor and life. Aching to shed the alienation of unique individuality for the simple, populist spirituality of agrarian toil, he echoes with ravenous longing for a bucolic countryside, : “If I had an orchard, I’d work ’till I’m raw!” Amidst melting, golden harmonies, Pecknold sings of pristine, fundamental beauty in this tremendously naturalistic tune.

Throughout the LP, Feet Foxes usher a sense of rustic placidity through eclectic instrumentation and soothing vocals.

Sunday Rewind: Itchycoo Park

Everyone has his Itchycoo Park. It’s that spot where you pick up a good vibe just by breathing deeply. Anxieties fade into the white noise of rustling leaves, nuanced hues intensify, and it all gets so clear. Mine is Indian Rock in North Berkeley: 51,400 square feet of volcanic outcroppings facing a bay view panorama that spans from Downtown Oakland to the San Quentin State Penitentiary, with San Francisco’s skyline and the Golden Gate nestled in between. And it’s precisely this favor of spiritual rejuvenation that Small Faces channel on their 1967 psychedelic pop single “Itchycoo Park.”

Co-written and produced by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, “Itchycoo Park” scored the East London invaders a top-20 U.S. hit. The track begins with a simple acoustic guitar augmented by psychedelic effects and a whirling Hammond organ. Immediately, we transcend distress and disappointment, as Mariott’s flanging vocal transports us to his modern day Eden: “Over bridge of sighs / To rest my eyes in shades of green / Under dreaming spires / To Itchycoo Park, that’s where I’ve been.”

Riffs shoot from behind the vocals as the track builds irresistible momentum In a Blues derived call and response section, Small Faces have us reaching for the heavens and crying in ecstasy: “What will we touch there?  / We’ll touch the sky  / But why the tears then? / I’ll tell you why.” These questions give way to a chorus overwhelmed by natural aesthetic perfection, as the band exclaims in exultant harmony: “It’s all too beautiful / It’s all too beau-tee-fuhhh-awllll!


Super-8 Seattle

A short film by Riley Ziesig. Music by Jared Hauser.