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Catching Up With Ben Barnett

It’s been as much as half a decade since we’ve heard an official release from Ben Barnett (formerly dba Kind of Like Spitting), but if World Record is any indicator, the time spent out of the rat race has reinvigorated the songwriter, and enabled him to forge an album that is the clarion call to a new era of music.  Enter Blunt Mechanic:

Aluminum And Light from World Record [Barsuk]

Ben Barnett is a musician who has, all his life, documented experiences through song. After releasing eight albums, six singles and five splits as Kind of Like Spitting over the course of a decade, retiring the moniker and reinventing himself as Music Director of Seattle’s Paul Green School of Rock, Barnett has now emerged triumphant with a new band, Blunt Mechanic, and said band’s debut full-length, World Record. Both band and album tip heavy on the riffaged hooks and light on the darkness; big on the thumbs up–no time for the thumbs down.

In the mid-’90s, and for more than a decade following, Barnett had enough of that to last him through the foreseeable future. His life then had become about Kind of Like Spitting, and at a certain point, existence had become nomadic, cyclic, troublesome and challenging, and it was time to stop and re-evaluate; reinvent. As often happens when you’re truly open to new things, reinvention found Barnett when he was offered a job that was to be his life calling: teaching kids how to play music. It was a revelation: this was what he was here to do; this was what he was amazing at doing, and this is what he loved: showing kids how to blow peoples’ minds onstage and grow their own souls and self-confidence in the process.

Speaking of processes, during all of this, Barnett found himself completely incapable of keeping away from his eight-track cassette recorder. Life was happening all around him; there was too much to songwrite about! Too much to work out through the get-down! So many sludgy, crunchy solos in his head and so many stony grooves and tricky time-signatured bridges to commit to tape! Even if said musical fruits turned out to maybe never see the light of day (which they did, fortunately for the universe), Barnett could no sooner let his ideas evaporate into the ether than he could quit performing any number of vital bodily functions. Over the course of three years, he laid down each track of each instrument on what was to become World Record, editing and tweaking, mixing and baking until the alchemy completely settled. He gave copies to friends. Friends smiled; Barnett smiled, copious hi-fives were smacked, a live band was assembled and a release date was set.

It is far from hyperbolic to enthusiastically assert that this album—Blunt Mechanic’s first—is Barnett’s finest work to date. Considering the critically-acclaimed and cultishly-followed body of work he has amassed over the past 15 years, it’s understandable that one could lazily dismiss that claim before having heard the onslaught of unstoppable, charming hooks, impeccably constructed songs, heart-wrenching, moving, uplifting storytelling, brilliant turns of phrase and vocal/instrumental interplay that defines World Record. Barnett has here created the culmination of his musical and personal explorations in a way that is powerful, relatable, inspirational, ineffable and communicable, and there’s just no stopping that kind of force.

But listening close reveals antecedents in Barnett’s former incarnation:

Kind Of Like Spitting – “One Bird One Stone” from $100 Room


Rauelsson to open for She & Him in Barcelona / Tour in Spain with a Portland touch

Spain to Oregon… then Oregon to Spain then back and all over again… that sounds like Rauelsson, doesn’t it?. After an entire year in Oregon, Rauelsson is back in Spain until the Summer. He seems to not have had enough of Portland as he is about to embark on a tour all over the Spanish peninsula that is somehow full of Portland. He will be touring Spain with the same Portland band that played with him here in Oregon and on his West Coast shows; Laurel Simmons (MayMay; who will open for some shows in Spain), Nicholas Marshall (Sabertooth), Matt Berger (Musee Mecanique, Laura Gibson, etc.), Anna Schott and Dave Leavitt. The tour starts in Barcelona opening for She & Him, the “side” project of monster-of-folk and Portlander M. Ward with actress Zooey Deschanel. Then they head to Valencia, where they play with HUSH queen Laura Gibson, who is back in Europe on an extensive tour with Port O’Brien. Then north to the medieval city of Girona, then Madrid for a Radio-3 interview/session on Julio Ruiz’s Disco Grande (a session that Rauelsson shares with Laura Gibson). Then a bit south to Albacete, then back to Madrid, then off to the Mediterranean coast to play in Alicante and from there to finish on a homecoming show at the Auditori of Castellón….oh! and before the tour supporting “La Siembra” starts, Rauelsson will be performing live the score that he wrote for the documentary “From River to Sea”, directed by Susan Fink, as part of the Cinemascore Festival in Benicassim, Spain.

This is how it goes:

April:

22 Festival Cinemascore, Benicassim
25 Apolo, Barcelona (+ SHE AND HIM)
26 El Loco, Valencia (+ LAURA GIBSON)
27 El Cercle, Girona (+ MAYMAY)
28 Radio3 Disco Grande, Madrid (+ LAURA GIBSON)
29 Pussy Wagon, Albacete (+ MAYMAY + SANTI CAMPOS)
30 Clamores, Madrid (+ ABRAHAM BOBA)

May:

1 Coyote, Alicante (+ MAYMAY + SANTI CAMPOS)
2 Auditori, Castellón (+ MAYMAY + ABRAHAM BOBA

Loch Lomond – “Night Bats”, Interviewlet

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aNQen8CT0Y

Poem courtesy of Luz Elena (Y La Bamba)

Meanwhile, Dave Depper gave a mini-interview to the Caught in The Carousel blog, detailing the following essentials:

DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND IN ONE SENTENCE: Castrati unicorn lovemaking grooves.

PROUDEST PROFESSIONAL MOMENT: Playing to 4000 people in NYC the day after Obama won the election was pretty wonderful.

STRANGEST PROFESSIONAL MOMENT: It’s all strange after a while.

THE SONG YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN: “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” – Prince

FIVE MUSICIANS YOU ADMIRE: David Bowie, Prince, Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder, Emmit Rhodes

ALBUM YOU CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO: Currently anything Funkadelic-related.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A KID: Hyper, unhappy.

LAST TWO BOOKS YOU’VE READ: “Eating Animals” – Jonathan Safran Foer, “Chronic City,” Jonathan Lethem. I only read books by Brooklynites named Jonathan.

THINGS WE’D FIND IN THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR: A bass amp. A bottle of Purell.

FAVORITE MUPPET WITH A BRIEF EXPLANATION: Gonzo. What is he?

Get the full scoop here.

Nick Jaina – “Sleep Child” Video Debut

From Filter.com:

Portland alt-folk bandleader Nick Jaina, is a fine writer of prose and if it weren’t for his infatuation with music and performing he’d probably be sitting up in his room churning out novels instead of songs. His band, featuring members of Jolie Holland, Loch Lomond, and Laura Gibson, is the result of playing in the streets, touring, sometimes living hungry, and sometimes selling out shows to his ravenous fans. His latest album, A Bird In The Opera House, releases today on Hush Records, and FILTER is happy to exclusively premiere his video for “Sleep, Child,” directed by Tim Nelson.

Sleep, Child (song by Nick Jaina) from Tim Nelson on Vimeo.

Nick Jaina Tour Dates

April
13 – Chico, CA – Cafe Flo
14 – Los Angeles, CA – Echo Curio
15 – Joshua Tree, CA – Pappy & Harriet’s
16 – San Diego, CA – Lestat’s
17 – Flagstaff, AZ – Mia’s
19 – Torrey, UT  – The Patio
20 – Salt Lake City, UT – State Room
21 – Provo, UT – Velour
22 – Boise, ID – Early show @ the Modern/Late show @ the Linen Building
23 – Kennewick, WA – Red Room
24 – Pendleton, OR – Great Pacific