Angel of Music, My Guide and Guardian: A Preview of Angel Olsen at the Neptune Theatre

[Photo by Amanda Marsalis]

This Saturday, February 18th marks the 17th edition of KEXP’s Little Big Show, a concert series that donates 100% of ticket sales to benefit arts organizations in Seattle. This show’s beneficiary is The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), which is the largest film festival in the world for youth under 25 that aims to “encourage and acknowledge the accomplishments of young filmmakers and media artists, and showcase their extraordinary talents and the compelling stories they tell.”

Bringing some nice northwest basement rock to the Neptune stage first is Seattle’s own Sloucher. I haven’t listened to their music extensively, but KXSU’s wonderful digital music director, April, interviewed Sloucher over the summer, touching on how they started, their recent LP, Certainty, and the number of burritos they can consume. Definitely worth the read.

Los Angeles native Chris Cohen will be tending to his garden of soft-pop psych tunes off his 2016 release, As If Apart, for the little big crowd following Sloucher. This singer was listed as one of Mac Demarco’s favorite new artists in a 2012 Pitchfork feature, but Cohen’s not new to the scene, having been in the bands Deerhoof and The Curtains throughout the ‘oughts.

Every release, from her first EP, Strange Cacti, to her debut album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, and now My Woman, has revealed a new surface in the hall of mirrors of Angel Olsen’s enigmatic lyrical and musical ability. Olsen’s fluttery cooing, reminiscent of mid-twentieth century soul singers mixed with an echo-synth feel, present in much of her early work backed by a single guitar, is amped up in My Woman. She describes the theme of this album as “maybe the complicated mess of being a woman and wanting to stand up for yourself, while also knowing that there are things you are expected to ignore, almost, for the sake of loving a man. I’m not trying to make a feminist statement with every single record, just because I’m a woman. But I do feel like there are themes that relate to that, without it being the complete picture.” We see these parts in the structure of the LP; the first half includes more upbeat tracks full of resignation and assurance like “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Not Gonna Kill You,” while the second half, starting with “Heart Shaped Face” and “Sister,” feels like a long breath out.

What started out as a preview turned into a mini album review because, unfortunately (but also fortunately for the film kids?), it looks like this show is all sold out, but don’t let that deter you from taking a listen to the music of Angel Olsen, Chris Cohen, or Sloucher.

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Photo via Angel Olsen press

This event is sold out. If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket, doors open at 8:00 p.m., and the show starts at 9:00 p.m. at the Neptune Theatre.


EMMA PIERCE | Just a shrew singing Angel of Music | KXSU Music Reporter

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