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NEWS/BLOG 2013 ARCHIVES

1 DECEMBER, 2013

No arm-twisting required | Sometimes we meet the coolest people. Honorius, who caught our first two cyber concerts at StageIt.com, just happens to be a high-tech guru who has been staging his own cyber shows and experimenting with multiple camera angles and high-definition audio. When he noticed we were struggling with the technical side of things, he suggested we collaborate on a show. He would handle the video and audio, so we could focus on the music. He didn't have to twist our arm.

On Dec. 14, we'll be broadcasting our first multi-cam, HQ audio cyber concert, thanks to Honorius and his production company, Catching Sound Media. Greg will also be joining the show, adding some much needed low end to the mix with his bass and cello playing. Tickets are available here.

- Matt

13 NOVEMBER, 2013

AmnestyOur best album? | Many long-time TWBA aficionados have told us over the years that Amnesty is our best album. Released in 1999 (last century!), it's been out of print for a few years now, but we *finally* have a digital version of it available now at CD Baby!

The price tag? A mere $4.99.

To download your own copy, go HERE.

- Matt

24 OCTOBER, 2013

Cyber concert tutorial | Planning on logging in to watch our cyber concert on Oct. 29? Here are a few quick tips. First, off you’ll need an account at StageIt.com. It’s free to sign up and takes just a few seconds. You can even sign in via your Facebook account.

Count Chocula!Second, you’ll need to plunk down at least $5, using either your credit card or PayPal. “But,” you say, “I thought it was a pay-what-you-can show.” Don’t worry. You don’t have to blow all five bucks at our show. In fact, for any pay-what-you-can show, you can pay a minimum of ten cents to watch the show. Not free. But awfully close. The other $4.90 you can toss into the tip jar or save for another show or shows. In fact, a cheapskate could theoretically attend 50 shows for ten cents each.

So why do you have to pay that $5 up front? According to StageIt.com, this is to appease the credit card companies, which make small purchases cost-prohibitive. That $5, meanwhile, is converted into StageIt.com currency, called “notes.” One note equals ten cents. Ten notes equal one dollar. And so forth. So that $5 you have to spend up front buys you a grand total of 50 notes, only one of which you have to spend on our show.

Third, make sure you have the latest version of your favorite Internet browser, the latest version of Adobe flash player, and a solid and steady Internet connection (StageIt recommends 3Mpbs or higher for your download speed). If you’re working with a bad connection, the video might be choppy and/or lag behind the audio. To find out how fast your Internet connection is, try this site's free service (takes less than a minute to check your connection).

Finally, for the moment, you can only watch the concert from a standard desktop computer or laptop (no mobile or console devices), although this may change at some point.

Nearly everyone who watched our first cyber show last month did so without any problems. But just to be safe, we suggest signing in fifteen minutes before the conce
rt starts just to give yourself plenty of time. For our part, we're upgrading our Internet provider ahead of time, switching from DSL to cable, which will mean faster upload times on our end and most likely a better viewing and listening experience for you.

- Matt


17 OCTOBER, 2013

Tuesday Night at the Kite HouseBoo! | We had so much fun last month playing our first cyber-concert that we thought we'd do another one. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, just two days before Halloween, we'll be playing a handful of our spookiest tunes. Okay, maybe "haunting" is a better word. Yeah, we'll stick with that one.

The fun starts at 7:00 p.m. PDT. Tickets (pay-what-you-want) are for sale here.

Join us if you dare.

- Matt

19 SEPTEMBER, 2013

Scary fun | We put on our first cyber-show last night, via StageIt.com. It was everything: hair-raisingly frustrating, surprisingly fun, and musically satisfying. Thanks to a series of inexplicable glitches, we weren't sure until about ten minutes before show-time that we'd actually be able to pull it off. This, despite several soundchecks the night before, the last of which had, we thought, finally put all of our technological problems to rest.

Photo by Martha Nichols.Well, despite the drama, the show itself was a lot of fun. Viewers could comment in real time, suggest songs, and so on while we worked our way through a set of familiar and not-so-familiar TWBA songs. We plan to do it again soon -- and to vary the night of week so more people can join the fun. All in all, this felt like a great way to connect with TWBA fans, some of them far-flung. It was a strange-yet-compelling experience to simultaneously play for people who were just a few blocks away and others who were two or three time zones away.

We'll see you at the next one.

- Matt

11 SEPTEMBER, 2013

Something different | We'll be staging our first cyber-concert a week from today, courtesy of  StageIt.com. Although we're not quite sure what to expect, we really like the format. Tickets are sold on a pay-what-you-want basis, audience members can interact with the band in real-time, and the top tipper wins a copy of Siren. Just Mary Beth and I will be playing stripped down, acoustic versions of TWBA songs for this first show, but there's nothing stopping us from bringing in more band members in the future. This could become a regular series or a one-off, depending on how things go. At the moment, we're just excited to be trying something different.

The concert airs Wednesday, September 18, at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Tickets here.

- Matt

1 AUGUST, 2013

Many irons, one fire | My mom used to always say to me, "Matt, someday you'll have to make a choice. You can't do everything." That was when I wanted to be a renowned scholar of medieval history, a world-famous novelist, an Olympic marathoner, and the next Pete Townshend.

Which one turns it on?Well, these days the band is facing a similar conundrum. We've been playing a steady amount of shows, we've got big plans to air our first cyber concert on StageIt.com next month, and we're entertaining multiple ideas for various video shoots. So when Scott Ross contacted us several weeks back to tell us about a bunch of barely used, high-end studio gear he could get us at a bargain-basement rate, we almost said, "No thanks." Who has the time to play shows, make videos, maintain a presence online, and master the art of recording, all while being a full-time parent and working a full-time job?

Alas, we couldn't resist. Mary Beth and I have long envisioned building our own home studio, from which we can tinker endlessly with new sounds and new songs. Even though we had to go into hock to our local credit union, we decided the short-term pain will be worth the long-term payoff, which in this case is nothing short of our musical freedom. At the moment, we're still figuring out how to use the stuff -- and where to put it. But hopefully at some point we'll actually start recording.

In the meantime, apologies in advance if we're a bit scattered these days. Too many irons in the fire.

- Matt

3 JULY, 2013

Ralph's boatAmnesty sails again | A few years ago we told you about our friend Ralph, who named his Catalina 36 after his favorite TWBA album, Amnesty. Well, that craft has since been retired, but the name lives on. Ralph recently bought another sailboat and, rather than come up with a new name (Siren might have been cool), kept the old one. The new boat, meanwhile, was officially christened  last Saturday at Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle. Here's to smooth sailing for Ralph and his new boat. May the wind always blow in Amnesty's favor.

- Matt

10 JUNE, 2013

Bravado | How often do you fret to yourself that you're powerless? That you can't make a difference? Most, if not all of us feel that way more often than we'd like to admit. The world is a hard place, we think, full of danger and pain. We're lucky to skate through life without too much grief. But every once in a while we're reminded of the power each of us has to not only live courageously but to reshape the world around us.

We met Alex Weinert three years ago while sharing a gig with his band ADHD and learned his son Owain had just been diagnosed with leukemia. Though devastated by the news, Alex, Owain, and the rest of the Weinert family picked themselves up and did what they had to do to face the illness. For Owain, that meant enduring hair loss, chemotherapy, and all the challenges associated with cancer and its treatment.

Photo by Greg Strickland.Last Saturday, to mark the end of Owain's grueling treatment, Alex threw an enormous bash at Hale's Palladium in Seattle. There was live music (including TWBA), a shave-off, and an auction and raffle. And at the end of the night, after the numbers were crunched, Alex and a huge contingent of volunteers had raised just north of $30,000 for Seattle Children's Hospital phase 1 trials for adaptive t-cell therapy for relapsed leukemia, plus another $24,000 for St. Baldrick's Foundation, the leading private funder of pediatric cancer research. In human terms, the benefit raised enough to put one kid with relapsed leukemia through treatment -- one kid who hasn't responded to treatment, can't go to transplant, and would otherwise be at the end of the line.

The night, as you can imagine, was laden with emotion. For Mary Beth and I, the highlight was playing on stage for the first time with our son, Gibson, who took over for Dan behind the drums for one song, a cover of Rush's "Bravado," which Alex had requested beforehand. Goosebumps.

The next time you're feeling helpless, hopeless, or otherwise discouraged, remember the Weinert family. Remember what one person or family, surrounded by a team of supporters, can do.

- Matt

2 JUNE, 2013

photo by K. Lindsay, for Fremocentrist.comRock, Paper, Scissors Some of you might know that I lost my mom to cancer just shy of twenty years ago.  Technically, I lost her to the treatment, although she was shackled with terminal cancer when she died. But cancer doesn't win every fight it picks. Sometimes someone comes along and kicks its ass.

Owain Weinert, one of those brave souls, is celebrating just such a victory. He endured three years of chemotherapy and barely missed a beat, continuing on with school, activities, and family time like any young kid. We're going to be playing a very special benefit concert in his honor this coming Saturday at Hale's Palladium in Seattle. The evening has three angles to it: live music, a raffle and auction, and the chance to shave your head in solidarity. It's going to be quite a night. All the proceeds go to pediatric cancer programs at Children's Hospital. TWBA hits the stage at 7 p.m. sharp.

- Matt

[Photo by K. Lindsay, for Fremocentrist.com]

18 MAY, 2013

Photo by Steve Miller.The worst best show ever Every musician (and fan, for that matter) can spin a tale about their worst show ever. For a brief moment before our show at the Tap Room on Mother's Day weekend, I feared we were about to experience ours. The show was scheduled to start in less than five minutes and there was literally no one there but the artists on the bill and the support crew. Oh dear, I thought. This could be epically bad. There are few things worse than playing to an empty room. Fortunately, a few people started trickling through the door, and before we knew it, we had a small but engaging audience. The show turned out to be fun on many levels, not the least of which was me breaking a guitar on stage for the first time ever. Technically speaking, the guitar broke itself. It fell over and ... splat! The only thing holding the headstock to the neck was the strings. I wasn't too sad when I saw it happen (I've never been too attached to the guitar), but Brenda's eyes looked like saucers as she tried to scoop it up off the stage and hand it to me. Meanwhile, Don Miller, guitarist from Thornton Creek, happened to be on hand and volunteered to fix it. It was a good thing he spoke up. I was about to do my best Pete Townshend imitation.

Anyway, that near brush with the worst show ever made me think about the actual bad ones. And there have been a few. There was the time when we traveled across the water to Poulsbo to play a festival, only to learn the organizers didn't have a sound system. We ended up setting up inside a fairly big pagoda and hooking into the old-fashioned PA horns on top of the structure so we could amplify Mary Beth's voice. The people inside (there was room for a nice crowd, had there been one) couldn't quite hear Mary Beth. But the people outside -- i.e., the people not watching "the show" -- got an earful. Then there was the time we drove to some all-ages dive in Fife and it actually happened: no one showed up. Not even the other bands on the bill. We never unpacked the van. Just turned around and drove home. I believe that was the first time the other members of the band expressed an interest in helping me book our shows.

But the worst show, at least my worst show, occurred fairly recently when we played the Seattle Peace Concerts in 2011. It was at a much revered site -- Gas Works Park -- where we'd been rained out twice but had never played. And it was being run by the much beloved Don Glenn, the concert's long-time organizer, a man who just exudes good vibes to everyone he touches. We were scheduled to go on at a certain time, but it soon became clear that things were running a little behind and that no one was too worried about keeping a tight schedule. Before we went on, a local school of rock band hit the stage. All young kids loaded with talent. They burned through several awesome covers, much to the enjoyment of everyone in the crowd. But as their set dragged on, I started to get antsy. How long are these guys going to play?

Then it happened. A good friend came up to me and said, "Sorry, man. Gotta bail. Wish I could have seen you play. But I thought you were going on an hour ago." Then another. And another. It seemed everyone who had come out to see us had to leave -- or would shortly. When the teenage band played not one but two encores, I lost my patience. One moment I was grumbling backstage to Roger, who was setting up his drums and feeling just as cranky, and the next I was sounding off to the band's stage manager. "I just want you to know that because your band went on so long, a bunch of people who came out to see us won't be able to now!" I ranted. I threw him the goat. "Rock on!" (The lip readers among his students thought I said something else.)

When we finally hit the stage, I was seething with anger and resentment, but also embarrassment. What the hell was wrong with me? Why had I just said that? I've always prided myself on getting along with anybody, rolling with the punches, and just being an agreeable guy. And here I was making enemies among fellow musicians. At the Seattle Peace Concerts! Well, when the smoke cleared, we learned our two bands had been given the same time slot beforehand. The lads and lasses from the school of rock had no idea they were running long, because they weren't. Of course, it really didn't matter. It was a free show at one of Seattle's coolest parks on a beautiful summer day. And somehow I had found a way to ruin it, at least for myself. After that, I knew I needed to take stock. The lesson I settled on was pretty simple: nobody owes me anything. If I can't be thankful for every opportunity that comes my way, whether that's to play a great show or to watch one, then it's time to make some changes. Because if every day is a gift, then so is every show.

- Matt


[Photo by Steve Miller]

2 MAY, 2013

Combustible drummers | As the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Way back in the nineties, few took note of our wee band until we'd been raked over the coals by the Rocket, Seattle's go-to music rag at the time. A month or two later, we were playing the Crocodile Café and hanging out with the cool kids. I can still remember the critic's verbiage. She claimed Mary Beth had "no pitch, passion, or range." I believe that's another axiom associated with having your music reviewed: you only remember the bad ones. We've only had two, but boy, were they doozies.

Anyway, the only thing better than a positive review is an entertaining one, and that's what we got this week from Ernest Jasmin at the Tacoma Weekly. EJ had fun with our long history of losing drummers (This Is Spinal Tap), accurately explained the origins of our name, and gave us a chance to describe the only show we ever played during which the audience rioted. You can read EJ's piece in its entirety here.

- Matt

18 APRIL, 2013

Cross-pollination | We've been enjoying quite a bit of overlap in our lives lately as relationships and interests intersect. Several months after Mary Beth went into the studio to sing backup vocals for Thornton Creek, a copy of our friends' new album, fancypants, arrived in the mail, and we were treated to the sound of MB's voice blending with Thornton's on two wonderful songs. Lovely indeed.

We also were thrilled when Los Angeles artist and indie music guru Ari Herstand used the "will sing for food" photo of MB for his latest post, an entertaining essay that wisely advises bands to shield their fans from the nitty gritty (i.e., depressing) details of their financially dire straits.

"Odin Wolf" by Michaela EavesHere in Tacoma, we'll be hosting our CD release party May 11 at the Harmon Tap Room and reveling in several connections in the process. Michaela Eaves, the talented artist responsible for our last two album covers, including Siren, will be exhibiting a gallery of her work. Holly Figueroa O'Reilly, a woman who spent much of the late nineties and early aughts connecting artists via her Indiegrrl organization (when she wasn't touring and writing prolifically), will be opening the show with a short-but-powerful set of her passionate songs. Be prepared to be blown away. And to top it off, 30% of the proceeds will be going to the Buckley Forestland Preserve, a nature preserve created by my very own sister and brother-in-law, Gay and David Santerre.

It's awesome when life intersects on so many levels.

- Matt

3 APRIL, 2013

Two Strats are better than one!Full circle | Oh, Fender Stratocaster, how I love your wimpy-yet-soulful tone. Your supple curves. Your blue-collar price tag. Your one-of-a-kind essence. So flexible, yet so simple that a used version of you costs less on Craigslist than a new set of tires.

File this one under "boys and their toys."

In my teens and all the way to my mid-twenties, I was a Fender guy, through and through. I especially loved playing my Fender American Standard Stratocaster (maple fretboard, black finish). Everything from the neck to the tone suited me to a T. Yes, occasionally there were grimaces from the bass player: "Can you make that thing sound thicker?" And honestly, I did wish sometimes that I could make it sound like AC/DC when I played power chords. But mostly I didn't care. It felt that good in my hands.

Kiss.Then one day I bought a Rickenbacker 620, which was jangly and honky and just plain novel. Then came a Gibson Les Paul Studio, which was so fat I wondered how I had ever survived without one. Finally there was the Gretsch 6118, the mother of all things feedback-y, thick, and round. Soon all my Fenders -- a Strat and two Teles -- had been sold and all but forgotten. I truly thought I'd never feel like playing one again.

I tried briefly to be a Fender guy again around 2008 when I bought a Fender Tele. The Telecaster, as any guitarist will tell you, is the "guitarist's guitar." It's elegantly simple, sturdy, and stays in tune no matter how much you abuse it. But it didn't take. Nobody in the band liked how bright it sounded in the mix (and this one had humbuckers, not the usual Nashville-flavored single-coil pickups).

snuggle time...Flash forward to a year and a half ago. A friend of the band had a set of NOS '65 custom Fender Strat pickups that needed a home. Would I be interested? Before I knew it I'd found a Mexican-made Strat on Craigslist for next-to-nothing. It was a closet case -- i.e., since 1994, the year it was manufactured, it had spent most of its life in a case in a closet. Wow. What a guitar. Even before I had the fancy pickups installed, I was smitten with it: the familiar neck, the sweet tone. Recently, when Kellie Hazen (daughter of Dan and Brenda Hazen) said she was selling her Strat (another Mexican-made Standard), I jumped at the chance to buy it. The reasoning: I could bring both Strats on stage and, with one of them tuned down a half-step, cover every sound needed -- while never having to tweak my amp between songs, since I'd be playing essentially the same guitar.

Well, as it turns out, the one with the stock pickups is way louder than the one with the fancy pickups (go figure), so there may have to be some adjusting. But who am I to quibble? At least they both feel the same. Okay, not quite the same. One has a maple fretboard, while the other has rosewood. But they're both Strats. And for the moment, they're all I want to play. If and when I cycle away from Fender again in the future, I'll remember not to sell either guitar. Because you never know when you're going to come full circle.

- Matt

26 MARCH, 2013

Doing something right "Did we muddle the message?" MB and I wondered over the weekend. We'd just taken more cheeky photos to help promote Siren in particular and indie music in general.

The whole concept behind the Why Buy Music campaign is to champion the value of music. For the latest shoot, I had the idea that we could assemble a few photos of us doing everyday, non-glamorous stuff, like washing the dishes or taking the garbage out, and post them alongside the caption: Because everything's better with a backbeat. And isn't that true? Chores, work, the daily commute -- nearly everything is more fun with a soundtrack.

troublemakersAnyway, as I turned the idea over in my head, I thought it would be an interesting twist if MB was the one pictured and if she was doing all sorts of "manly" things, like checking the car's oil or fixing the plumbing under the sink (two things, by the way, that she does on a regular basis). When I pitched the idea to her, she was all for it. So I suggested she dress up like Rosie the Riveter. You know -- scarf on her head, button-down shirt tied off just above the waist, etc. Well, Mary Beth disappeared for a few minutes and came back looking like an especially sexy riveter, thanks to a couple saucy additions to the traditional getup: high heels and a teeny, tiny pair of jean shorts.

As someone who loves MB and all her glorious layers (generous, thoughtful, talented, funny, sexy, etc.), I didn't have a problem with her choice. And obviously Mary Beth, who has worked her butt off to look as fit as she does, didn't have a problem with it, either. She has grown increasingly comfortable in her own skin. But as we started the shoot, it quickly dawned on us that we had to be really careful about how we took the photos, lest it look like we were serving up the usual sexist trash that is so pervasive these days in Hollywood (think of Megan Fox wearing a skimpy tank top and leaning over the Camaro in Transformers). Unfortunately, toward the end of the shoot, we got tired and started to run out of ideas. For the sake of expediency, we settled on a final photo that wasn't very Rosie the Riveter: MB scrubbing the kitchen floor.

The photo collage was up on Facebook and receiving comments, some of them provocative in their own right, before we realized we'd muddled the message. Did we go too far? Did we take a wrong turn?

marriageWorried that we might have offended some people, I started thinking about Beyoncé
and the photo that made the rounds after she performed at this year's Super Bowl. If you didn't see it, it wasn't particularly flattering. But the photo, or more precisely her skimpy attire, seemed to inspire a similar response from both sides of the aisle. On the one hand, a conservative friend of mine posted the offending shot on Facebook and included the words slut and retarded in his caption. On the other hand, a feminist friend of mine, while posting a link to an article critiquing Beyoncé's halftime performance and the hyper-sexualization of women, argued that any woman who struts her stuff in public is helping prop up the male-dominated society we live in (likewise, any male who aids and abets such behavior is equally culpable).

Think about that for a moment. Conservatives and feminists are saying essentially the same thing, albeit for different reasons: women should be careful how they dress. That almost sounds like a challenge, doesn't it?

It's unlikely we'll ever measure up to anyone else's standards, let alone our own. But rock and roll, if it's about anything at all, is about rebellion. It's about pushing boundaries, breaking rules, and following your muse, even if it takes you somewhere foolish or uncomfortable. The next time we find ourselves worrying about what other people are thinking, we can remind ourselves that we must be doing something right.

- Matt 

19 MARCH, 2013

The Whole Bolivian Army at Winter Court (Allen Creek Church, Marysville)A jewel in suburbia A week and a half have passed since our first show in 400-plus days. The show, which was held in the lobby-turned-espresso bar of a Marysville church, was special for us for two reasons. To begin with, we got to share the stage with Brenda (backing vocals) and Dan Hazen (drums) for only the second time since we parted ways with them in 1995. Back then, they were growing increasingly busy at their church and just didn't have time to rehearse twice a week, play shows every weekend, and do all the little things required of someone in a working band -- all while parenting their first daughter, working full-time, and so on. So they recorded Hazen with us and then graduated to more adult responsibilities.

Ironically, the very church that lured them away from us helped bring us back together, which brings me to the second reason the show was so special. True listening rooms are few and far between, but the good folks at Allen Creek and the Carabinieri Bar seem determined to create one in the heart of Snohomish County suburbia. They had all the basic ingredients needed for a successful show -- stage, lights, PA, a packed house -- but it was the vibe that made the show feel like, well, something out of the ordinary. Any place that can host live music in an intimate, friendly, and inclusive way should be considered a jewel, and that's exactly what AC3's new listening room is. If you missed the show but live in the area and want to support a worthwhile community effort, get yourself to the next concert there (held every Friday evening).

- Matt

25 FEBRUARY, 2013

Northwest Convergence ZoneGenerous souls | Behind every thriving music community there are a handful of individuals who, through their own tireless efforts, keep the scene alive. We got to hang out with some of those generous souls last night while doing an interview at NWCZ Radio. Big D, Voxxy, and the rest of the Northwest Convergence Zone crew made us feel right at home -- and even handed a microphone to Gibson, who waxed poetic on what it means to be the son of rock and roll parents. If you'd like to listen to the podcast, go here and scroll down to Episode 193, Part 2. Our part of the show runs from 34:08 to 49:04.

- Matt


21 FEBRUARY, 2013

E-mail of the week Got a nice note this morning from Frank G. in Colorado Springs, who had this to say about Siren:

I have to say that even though this one still sounds like TWBA, it has more robust flavor than I'm used to hearing. There's so much 'message' in the music -- and without killing the music in the process. Very impressive! I've been awful keeping up with YouTube, but the newer videos are the same and really well done. Great music and huge philosophical notch-up in composition. That's not meant to be a review, ha ha -- just my little ol' opinion and what it means to me.

It's harder for us to get a handle on how an album is coming across, but it does feel like Siren lived up to at least some of its promise. We'll know for sure in a few years. We always need some serious space from a project before we can be even remotely objective about it.

- Matt

20 FEBRUARY, 2013

At least two ways to rock | Two albums arrived in the mailbox yesterday. One is new: Dead Sara's self-titled 2012 release. The other belongs to the previous century: My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, which dates back to 1991.

Dead SaraI'll start with the first one. Dead Sara flat out rocks. Not surprisingly, much of the spotlight has found its way to Emily Armstrong, whose dexterous vocals are shockingly good. You just don't hear many singers who can belt it like Armstrong, especially these days. Think Grace Slick or Eddie Vedder. She's that good. But this isn't a one-woman band. Chris Null (bass) and Sean Friday (drums) form a tight rhythm section with plenty of muscle, and Siouxsie Medley brings a dark, assertive swagger to the guitar that would make Tony Iommi proud. We haven't heard anything this righteous since the early 90s, and producer Noah Shain doles out just the right mix of in-your-face grit and slick production to make this album rock at any volume. The signature rockers are "Weatherman" and "Monumental Holiday," the latter of which could easily belong on a Soundgarden album (Badmotorfinger, anyone?). But the band shows its range with upbeat songs like "Whispers & Ashes" and "We Are What We Say," as well as when it slows down the tempo for "Dear Love" and "Sorry for It All." If I have a criticism, it's only this: like other relentlessly heavy albums of years past, especially ones with a consistent, disciplined sound, this one can wear you out after a while. But who's going to complain about having their ass kicked in such a delicious way?

My Bloody Valentine "Loveless"So that leaves Loveless. My Bloody Valentine was one of those oh-so-cool bands from the early 90s that I was determined not to like, so I deliberately avoided them for two decades. But after recently happening upon the final track, "Soon," on Loveless, I gave in and bought the whole album. Mary Beth, upon hearing it for the first time, asked in all seriousness: "And you payed money for this?" It's not for the faint of heart. The production is deliberately off-putting. The vocals are buried -- not one word is decipherable. The drums, assuming they're even real, sound like they were recorded inside a wet cardboard box. And the guitars, bass, and keyboards form one, fuzzed out, drowning-in-reverb, pitch-shifting wash. But there is something here if you're open to the album's mood-altering charms. Remember how your parents told you your favorite music was just noise? Well, that's Loveless in a nutshell. But it's carefully crafted noise, and beneath it are the kind of bittersweet melodies and chord progressions you might find on a Cure album. You just have to dig deep.

- Matt 

13 FEBRUARY, 2013

SoundCloudSoundCloud There are endless options out there for music fans hoping to discover new music or reconnect with old favorites, and some of them are quite good. But one site we're pretty keen on is SoundCloud, which seems to offer a perfect combination of passive and active uses. Music fans can browse for their favorite artists and find rare live tracks, remixes, etc. Or they can try to dig up new bands, create custom playlists, or start their own podcasts. Musicians, meanwhile, can post whatever they want, from rough demos to finished recordings. They can also collaborate with other musicians on mixes and so on.

Our favorite feature, which may or may not be unique to SoundCloud, is the ability to comment not just on a song but on a specific point in the song. If you like a particular guitar riff or vocal line or whatever, you can literally mark that spot on the sound wave and insert your comments. Pretty cool.

We've only just dipped our toes into the water but are hoping to explore SoundCloud more as the year progresses. In the meantime, we're relying on it for our music player.

- Matt

3 FEBRUARY, 2013

Why Buy Music?Why buy music Not so long ago, it was fairly easy to sell music to fans and concert goers. You played a good show, people listened, and afterward you sold a bunch of CDs. These days people are a little more tight-fisted with their money where music is concerned. Those who've grown up listening to mp3s, in particular, pretty much expect to get their music for free. This new economic reality has wiped out whole swaths of the music industry, while funneling the survivors into increasingly shrinking revenue streams (licensing, merchandising, etc.). Musicians are quickly becoming like poets: expected to live off crumbs (and work two jobs). That soulless day job, of course, often kills the muse. But that's the musician's problem, not the customer's.

Anyway, those of us in TWBA are still tilting at windmills. We still think music has value, both artistic and economic. We've blogged about our thoughts here. What do you think?

- Matt

1 FEBRUARY, 2013

It's official | As of today, Siren is officially available. If you'd like to pick up a copy, head to our store, or drop by CD Baby. The CDs are going for a measly $8.99 each. If you're the digital type, the album costs next to nothing at $6.99. Go grab yourself a copy, and once you've had a chance to digest the new songs, let us know what you think.

- Matt

27, JANUARY, 2013

Photo by Rosea LakeVIPs, dressing like a woman, etc. | Last night's listening party at Elliott Bay Recording Co. was a great way to spend a Saturday evening. About 40 or 50 very important people (friends and family of the band) showed up at Scott Ross's studio to celebrate the upcoming release of Siren. We ate, we drank, and we blabbed. We also listened to the album a half dozen times or so. We've met some amazing people over the years, thanks to this music-making obsession of ours, and many of them graced us with their presence last night. Thank you, all, for making our lives that much bigger and better.

On a completely different note, we received an e-mail from a long-time TWBA friend that included a link to a "very observant and very intelligent article," as our friend put it, on what it means to dress like a woman. Check it out if you get a chance.

- Matt

17 JANUARY, 2013

Milestones | It's hard to believe we've been making noise for 20 years. Even harder to believe that the baby band that played a 5-song set at an open mic at the Romper Room in March of 1993 has since recorded ten albums.

The Whole Bolivian Army - "Siren"Our newest, Siren, is due out officially on Feb. 1. You can preview it in its entirety here. Back-story, lyrics, album credits, and video are all here. This one was a year in the making and enlisted the services of several TWBA members, past and present. Truly a labor of love.

We already have a handful of live dates lined up, most of them house concerts. Hopefully by the end of this year we'll bring the music to a festival, club, or other venue near you.

- Matt