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Kara-Lis Coverdale – Grafts

Cherry tree in Lacey, WA

Kara-Lis Coverdale’s beautiful “Grafts” starts with sounds that are like soft things falling a long way. Phased organ exhalations. Instruments suspiring in cushy environs, reacting to each other, provoking further action. But that’s not the whole story. It’s a protean piece, all 20+ minutes keep moving, dancing off-balance—later in the piece, notes from a piano flutter in a stiff wind. Still later: prepared pitter patter and steam releases. Coverdale shares sound space with folks like Ellen Arkbro and Nils Frahm, composers who like to experiment with soundcraft and form. “Grafts” is incredible, can’t recommend this one highly enough.

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Wolf Parade at Fawcett Hall in Tacoma

Dungeness Spit

Wolf Parade played in Tacoma at the end of February, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I hadn’t seen them live since 2005, when my brother and I saw them in Philly at the Khyber, right after Dante DeCaro had joined the band (who played as Johnny and the Moon to open the show, followed by Think About Life) and they’d been on tour for “Apologies to the Queen Mary” for a little while already. That was an incredible show, one of my favorites ever, probably. They played so well and intensely that night, not only the songs from the album, but also stuff that never got the studio treatment, like the incredible “Things I Don’t Know.”

So 14 years later, everyone’s older, and Dante’s left the band. I’d gathered from recent social media updates that the band had been holed up recently recording the follow-up to “Cry, Cry, Cry,” so I was curious to hear what they’d play. The place was packed and the crowd greeted the band’s arrival on stage with a lot of supportive yelling and hospitable whistling/clapping. I can’t remember everything they played, but I think they started with Lazarus Online (or something from the last album) and then proceeded to rip through a bunch of older songs interspersed with brand new songs (all of which sounded awesome, especially the one that’s been tagged “Seattle”). It was crazy to see them play with the same kind of energy I’d witnessed the first time I saw them live, at a weird Believer magazine music showcase in New York (Dan played some theremin at that show, if I remember right), like no time had passed at all.

Hearing them play stuff like “Grounds for Divorce,” “I’ll Believe in Anything,” and “Dinner Bells” made me remember what it was like in 2004, when I first heard of the band through places like Said the Gramophone, Goldkicks/Goldkixx, and ordered the first two EPs from Cheap Thrills in Montreal. I remembered how mysterious the band seemed then, how they sounded so new and wild.

It was an amazing show, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. They’re still a thrilling band.

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