More samples available upon request.

Band Profile: “Pile: Noisy Thoughtfulness” (published in What’s Up! Magazine)

Beer Profile: Fremont Brewing– Lush IPA

This crisp, citrusy Lush IPA from Fremont Brewing is light enough for a summer’s day at the beach. But with its hop-forward taste and 7.0% ABV, it’s got enough punch and verve to satisfy after a winter’s day on the slopes. Boasting a golden hue and an alluring, fruity nose, this IPA is destined to unite beer lovers across the board.

Film Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I’m still mourning the loss of Tarantino’s long time editor Sally Menke. All his films after her death have been plodding and overlong.

This one is too, but I found this depiction of 1960’s Hollywood irresistible– the clothes, the cars, the music on the radio. All the actors put on excellent performances and they are all extremely good looking.

There’s a melancholy but good-hearted vibe to the thing which I didn’t expect from the director of Deathproof. As disjointed as it is (plot-wise, focus-wise), it’s too damn visually pleasing for me not to enjoy. I felt similarly about The Darjeeling Limited.

Don’t expect the suspense of, say, Basterds or the narrative control of Reservoir Dogs. This is a nostalgia-fest– an homage to a Hollywood golden age. Watching Leo recreate old television serial westerns is a pretty sumptuous experience.

My biggest gripe is that I wish I could’ve seen more of Pitt in action on set as a stuntman, although the car bridge jump was pretty cool.

Album Review: Crooked Constellation– Whistlin’ Wind (published in Whats Up! Magazine)

Bellingham-based string band Crooked Constellation takes me back in time, making me feel as if I’m at a campfire along the Oregon Trail and five men in my party have retrieved their instruments (a guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, and stand-up bass) from covered wagons and have started jamming. On their first full length album, Whistlin’ Wind, these complimentary instruments build a clean layer of sound that range from melancholic (“Like So Long Ago”, “Separation Blues”) to energetic (“Hope in My Heart,” “Eagle Speaks the Name”).

Clear vocal harmonies are rampant on this album, with lyrics strongly rooted in the Pacific Northwest: “Well that northwest winter came hard and cold/ with that rain coming down driving down in my soul/ and that white mountain rain seemed so far away.” As fall overshadows summer here in Bellingham, these lyrics are especially poignant, addressing the shifting seasons and the blues that come during the dreary cold months.

Right in the middle of the album is “Passing Fields,” a real standout because of the gorgeous mandolin solo that opens the track, one reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s work on the Into the Wild soundtrack (the song “Rise” comes to mind.)

Although this is a folky string band first and foremost, complete with the comforting earnestness often found in folk music, Crooked Constellation also dip their toes into rock n’ roll. On the track “Big River,” the guitar is electrified and I was reminded of The Eagles or even some of the more country-inspired Rolling Stones tunes, like “Wild Horses” or “No Expectations.”

This is music born of the mountains and trees in this wet region of the planet; the sound of rainfall accompanies a guitar during the intro of “Circlin Sun.” Crooked Constellation is the kind of band you want playing at an outdoor stage while a thunderstorm rages and rain pours down and everyone stomps and twirls in the mud.

Album Review: Deadly D– Deadly D Presents… Exclusive Show Mix (published in What’s Up! Magazine)

Deadly D blends genres to such a degree that on paper it sounds nearly preposterous. Take the track “Good Feeling,” which combines an immediately recognizable old school hip-hop beat with Mollie Jay’s vocals riffing on the refrain from Avicii’s “Levels” (“Oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling, yeah”). MC Stevey B raps throughout. It shouldn’t work, but it’s one of the best tracks on the album.

EDM is just one of the many styles melded into this eclectic hip-hop album. The tracks “Rental” and “Highway Home” have elements of reggae, and tracks like “Bounce Back” are pure electrofunk.

For all its outside influences, some of the tracks stay faithful to ’90’s hip-hop. There are a few throwback samples (I heard “Oh Honey” By The Delegations in the beat for “Cocaine”) that keep your head nodding along. The consistent beat in “United We Pimp” is another standout, though it slightly overstays its welcome, clocking in at 6:10.

So how are the lyrics? There is a lot of what we might expect from underground rap (bars highlighting the grind and the struggle, drugs, ladies), but there are also lots of memorably juicy lyrical moments. Some involve sexual miscreancy: (“give a fuck I do not/jerk me off in tube socks”) as well as self-effacing choruses like the one in “Rental”: “Drive a Ferrari and a Lambo but don’t tell ‘em it’s a rental/ I snort lines with a hundo/ it’s the only one I got though.” The bars come fast and loud and with an elasticity reminiscent of Outkast or Eminem.

This is an energetic, fun album with loads of features, notably the Shanty Dwellers, who appear on four of the album’s 18 tracks. Play this at an outdoor summer party, preferably one with beer pong and a pool with a diving board.