Throwaway Style is a monthly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, (mostly) the first Thursday of every new month on KEXP.org.
For all intents and purposes, Hurry Up is a supergroup! At least if you’re well-versed in Portland punk music!
The trio features Maggie Vail (formerly of Bangs and behind the scenes at some of your favorite indie rock labels), Westin Glass (formerly of the Thermals), and Kathy Foster (a founding member of the Thermals, All Girl Summer Fun Band, and nearly half a dozen groups even the most devoted reader of this column has likely ever heard of)!
Hurry Up was formed shortly after the dissolution of the Thermals! As legend has it, these three old friends came together a while before that after a Thermals show in 2010 and decided to start a hardcore band — a subversion of their individual reputations as “the nice people!” They practiced and wrote five songs with a swift sense of urgency … and then took nearly five years to complete and release their debut album!
The situational irony of naming their band Hurry Up was never lost on them!
The 2015 release of their excellent self-titled debut was wrapped in the warmth of tape hiss; very similar to the piercing treble of the Thermals’ great debut More Parts Per Million! But where that record went a long way on quasi-neurotic anxiety, Hurry Up contains a shout or snarl even when they’re coming onto someone!
The band’s self-titled LP begins with “Pick You Up,” a rousing, fast-paced tune that shouldn’t require any manner of Freudian analysis to determine what it’s about! A slightly more complicated read on infatuation comes up on the profoundly catchy and pottymouthed “Shit or Fuck,” reflecting that age-old quandary where you encounter someone you find yourself so attracted to that your body produces a visceral reaction of which you may not realize until it is too late!
A frustrating symptom of punk rock rapidly approaching a half-century of existence is that you’re incredibly likely to encounter a shocking number of bands who pretend to have something to say but don’t! A depressing plethora of groups (and writers, natch) who waste all their good insights on Twitter and then write songs (and articles, and stories, and entire books) made hollow by cliché! Hurry Up don’t have this problem; partly because they don’t keep social media accounts for the band, but mostly because they are very good songwriters!
But also, a fundamental key to writing good punk rock songs is knowing when to say enough but not say too much! “Wasted” finds Vail expressing the aforementioned sentiment of having a lot to say while admonishing an unnamed “you” for their lies and hubris! And to prove my recent point: the third verse is the same as the first!
Hurry Up is teeming with the sort of neck-snapping, melodic punk rife with catharsis, and a healthy dollop of semi-destructive fun! “Guillotine” is equal parts thrilling and ominous, some with the vaguely threatening pseudo-love song “Secret’s”! “Go to Hell” is pretty much self-explanatory, and “Think Again” says more with a 2:20 instrumental coda — which is as turbulent as being chased downhill — than most bands can say with a full lyric sheet!
Recorded on a cassette four-track in Vail’s basement, Hurry Up cuts a tough pose on the exterior but is inherently fun and briskly paced, like breaking bottles with your friends near the abandoned warehouse across town!
Much in the Hurry Up spirit, the band took nearly seven years to follow up on the promise of their debut, mutually busy with other projects (such as Vail running Bikini Kill Records and the iconic feminist punk band’s ambitious reissue campaign, Foster getting another indie supergroup off the ground: Slang)! Dismal Nitch, named after a somewhat depressing cove instantly familiar to anyone who has taken the Highway 101 Scenic Route south to the Oregon Coast, heightens the audio fidelity (just a smidge) and tilts the songwriting upward and outward toward the back of the mid-sized rock club!
One of the seemingly bottomless endpoints of the notorious Lewis & Clark expedition — with its “explorers” in miserable spirits, in a land of endless rainfall — Dismal Nitch the album doesn’t necessarily comment on Oregon’s bizarre preoccupations with settler culture, but rather the social deficiencies started by those settlers! During the opening couplet of “You Just Wait,” Glass half-shouts the text of an immortal Jenny Holzer piece: “Abuse of power comes as no surprise!” The record contains a fair share of hooks that double as sloganeering — the final two lines of the chorus on the aforementioned “Just You Wait” go: “Makes no difference how you fight! / Secrets find their way to light!” — punk sloganeering is not necessarily a bad thing, and honestly how much of the form seemed to communicate for a long time!
People are more likely to remember a great punk song than the writing on a pamphlet, right?!
Much of Dismal Nitch contains song concepts and big hooks lamenting the culture of mistreatment or rallying against it! “No!” is a pro-consent anthem that contains a thrilling refrain of, “No you can’t have a hug!” The central lyric of “Death Puberty” is a taunt: “We’ve got a name for you, you know!” The album’s title track brings Glass to a near wail: “Nobody knows the cost of what you stole!” If the album came with a thesis statement, it would likely be their cover of Dead Moon’s “Fire in the Western World”!
Among the scores and scores of artists only making music to boost their cool points, there are still bands refusing to go gentle into that good night! Hurry Up comes from a very long lineage of such artists, but that doesn’t make that music any less poignant and exciting!
I don’t need to tell you, the past two years have been a fucking trip. I hope you’ve managed to fit some personal growth amidst all the human rights atrocities, crucially necessary time spent indoors, and the world shifting into something new and somewhat unrecognizable as we’ve slowly been readjusting to living normal lives during a deadly and endless pandemic. The members of Salt Lick have experienced all such manner of things, but have also had the chance to take their time in releasing their gorgeous new album, The Gift of Missing.
What was once a rotating cast of characters has settled into a core, led by Malia Seavey (whose name you might recognize if you were a fan of the Seattle-based iteration of Dogbreth) and built with the essential contributions of Teddy Keezer (guitar/vocals), Ian McQuillen (bass), Kevin Middleton (drums), and Dylan Hanwright (the band’s longtime producer).
The Gift of Missing benefits greatly from the newfound solidification of the band’s ranks, creating a band with a great deal of musical chemistry—abounds on sterling performances on “Cold Karma” and “Hothouse Flower” to match their excellent songwriting and Seavey’s outsized charisma. The Keezer-written “Blue Car” is stately and melancholy, while “Laying” feels powerfully resolute. Seavey’s sense of interiors in her songwriting (especially on songs like “Stray Into Wonder,” “(Don’t) Bring Me Down,” and the album’s title track) is a perfect match for her lights-out vocal performances and the band’s propensity for lush, full, climactic arrangements.
If you know, you know, and those of us in the know have known celebrated, multidisciplinary artist Clyde Petersen (impresario of long-running indie-pop band Your Heart Breaks) has been spending the past several years putting together the finishing touches on a documentary on the iconic experimental rock band Earth. In addition to production being derailed by Petersen being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we, you know, experienced a global health crisis we’re still very much in the thick of. Because of that, Petersen had to mail his camera all over the world in order to complete the film.
But fret not, because Even Hell Has Its Heroes—featuring dozens of interviews, incredibly poignant storytelling, and immaculate shots, all filmed on Super 8—is preparing to hit the film festival circuit and will screen in Seattle and beyond in 2023. The storied history of Earth is as heavy as its music, and given his immense talents as a filmmaker (not to mention the fact that he managed the band for five years), Petersen is the perfect candidate for helping tell this story. The Stranger’s Dave Segal recently interviewed Petersen about the movie, and you can read that interview in full here. You can also purchase the DVD version which comes with a 100-page book of film still here (but do it now because the DVD/book combo is only limited to 1000 copies).
Something you might not implicitly know about me through reading my writing about music is that I love going to art museums. I went to see the Kinsey Collection at the Tacoma Art Museum for my birthday last year. I once almost got kicked out of SAM ten years ago for taking a photo of a Warhol piece. I was moved nearly to tears when I saw Cy Twombly’s “Ecstatic Impulses” and Gerhard Richter’s John Cage series at the Tate Modern.
Though I’ve yet to have the time and inclination to formally study the visual art I find myself drawn to — and who would, with all the time I have to spend sifting through promo emails and listening to literally every band in the Northwest who sends me their Bandcamp? — but I feel things when I’m standing in front of a painting.
As the world’s foremost evangelist for the Suede God (to the point where I should funnel my KEXP earnings into building a megachurch), it’s safe to say the music of AJ Suede makes me feel things. Additionally, there’s an aesthetic grace that continues to deepen with each release, along with brain stimulation overload from the world that unfurls with each successive verse.
After two pretty incredible releases with the talents of two exceptional hip-hop producers (Televangel on Metatron’s Cube and Small Professor on Hundred Year Darkness), Suede’s third LP of the year finds the bicoastal artist boasting some of the most thought-provoking, headnod-inducing beats he’s ever laid on the blank canvas, firmly establishing himself as on the level of the game’s best up-and-coming beatmakers along with being a lyrical talent on the rise.
Suede smashes salvos about pressuring heshers and rain dancing at Coachella in one take, pontificates on information being sold, listens to JPEGMAFIA’s early masterpiece Black Ben Carson, and explains learning the fine art of patience. His sample-flipping instincts are to the point where he can grab some obscure pieces of music belonging to no clear-cut “genre” of music and craft it into some hip-hop shit, like he does with the pensive vocals of “Growing Diamonds,” the languid vibes of “Praying for Rain,” or the highlife-esque guitar on “Waking Up.” He enlists a cadre of talented rap stalwarts like South Sound spitter Astral Trap and Philly’s Zilla Rocca, the latter of which delivers one of the best verses of his long and fruitful career on album highlight “Watchers.” (In the interest of full-disclosure, I have collaborated with Zilla on music in the past.)
Oil on Canvas is Suede’s 10th album in the past two years alone, but it still feels like the beginning of something. A leveling up, an introduction to a bright new phase in his notoriety.
In the past eight months alone, NAST — one of the region’s best interview podcasts, in my humble opinion — has featured some of the Seattle music scene’s most thoughtful luminaries: Grxtty, Greg Cypher, Crane City Music’s Gary Campbell, Guy Keltner of Acid Tongue, and Gifted Gab. The joint interview with local legends Jarv Dee and Nacho Picasso is a must-watch. Another must-watch was NAST’s recent interview with Suede, which touched on a cornucopia of topics, including vinyl in the streaming age, an interesting business card strategy Suede implemented in 2015, Seattle being a somewhat insular artistic community as well as the circumstances which brought him here from the east coast, missing birthdays and funerals from living here and further pursuing his career in rap, gaming, SEO, YouTube rabbit holes, and much more.
It’s a fascinating conversation that only skims the surface of Suede’s wide range of interest and intellectual fixations, as well as his artistic process. Now only if I knew someone who could make his dream collab with Ishmael Butler happen…
From the minds that created the destination event, Treefort Music Festival, comes a new multi-day event descending upon the streets of Garden City, ID. It’s a music festival, but not just a music festival. Sure, there are bands like indie/alternative rock legends Built to Spill (who seemingly are and probably should be booked for every major Boise event until the end of time), Chicago rippers Dehd, Portland psych-garage punks Spoon Benders, and Seattle’s resident arbiter of soul, Shaina Shepherd. But Flipside will also feature a plethora of murals for your viewing pleasure, and a drag performance from Drag Race standout Mariah Paris Balenciaga (who you may recognize from the video for Lizzo’s “Juice”)!
For more information and ways to buy single-day tickets and three-day passes, head over to Duck Club’s website.
August 14: Wimps & Tissue at Seward Park Amphitheater (free show!)
In KEXP's weekly series Living Singles, KEXP staff contributors highlight three brand new singles that are resonating with them right now. Martin Douglas discusses his picks alongside Sound & Vision interim producer Rachel Stevens.
KEXP is celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, and we're looking back at the last half-century of music. Each week in 2022, KEXP pays homage to a different year, and our writers are commemorating a song from that year that resonates with them. This week, KEXP's Martin Douglas looks back at vis…
Martin Douglas reevaluates the British Columbia band's sterling debut album.