PROTEST! Submit to Ball of Wax 38

Photo courtesy Flickr user Wystan, via Creative Commons license. (Cropped from original)

Photo courtesy Flickr user Wystan, via Creative Commons license.

Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s a lot to protest lately?

For the next volume of Ball of Wax, to be released this fall, I have decided it’s time to get feisty (and no, I don’t mean move to Canada and sing catchy hooks in a coy, pretty voice). I am calling for songs of protest!

Your submissions can be straightforward political songs, surreal, fictional, and/or satirical takes on the form; direct or oblique, earnest or cheeky, angry or sad . . . channel your inner Bragg/Baez/Mingus/Styrene/Riley and get up in arms about something!

Deadline: September 15

Submission guidelines over here.

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Album Review: Meursault – The Organ Grinder’s Monkey

The Organ Grinders MonkeyMeursault – The Organ Grinder’s Monkey
(Song, By Toad Records, 2014)

Back in January, Scottish band Meursault did a Kickstarter to raise money for travel to the USA for SXSW and a two week tour of the East Coast. Despite a goal of 3,000 pounds, Meursault raised over 5,000 pounds (that’s what, like $800 US? The notes have funny colors, it’s hard to tell). The primary thing that folks received for their support was an as-yet unrecorded CD from the band that backers themselves could influence with requests for cover songs. The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is the product of that exercise, and it’s fantastic. In fact, despite the fact that Meursault seemingly had a successful SXSW and tour (they played the mighty Fergie’s Pub in Philly, which is a magical touchstone for me), The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is a hundred times more interesting than the familiar-yet-often-necessary Kickstarter story. Also, as we will see, it serves as an ambitious, vital epilogue to the band’s recorded body of work. Continue reading

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Album Review: Bandolier – Steady Love EP

Steady LoveBandolier – Steady Love EP
(self-released, 2014)

Seattle’s Bandolier contributed the title track from their Steady Love EP to Ball of Wax 35, tipping me off to their particular brand of melodic goodness. The other four songs that round out the EP fit nicely in the realm of ’60s-inspired baroque pop, not far off from the stuff you might find on Slumberland (Aisler Set reunion, peoples!) or Happy Happy Birthday to Me (which put out a 7″ from another Seattle pop band, Week of Wonders).

Opener “Army Infantry” is a cheery, sun-drenched workout, threaded through with perfectly executed “woo-ah-ooo”s. The bassline and fuzzy organ that open “Diamond Ring” recall early Attractions, while Sadie Adams’s co-lead vocals introduce a jarring, and effective, change to the song. Compared to main vocalist Lino T. Fernandez’s breathy, wavering vocals, Adams’ voice is much more powerful and classically soulful (if that makes any sense). The mix of their two voices works well trading lines on “Kissing Cousins” and closer “Sit-com Song,” which round out the breezy, upbeat vibe of the EP.

It’s a really fun, promising release from one of my favorite new local finds. Grab the Steady Love EP and head over to Barboza to check out the band live this Saturday night.

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Songs about Animals Is Out Now!


These cutting-edge young people have their copies already. Get yours before they’re all gone!
Photo by Juliann Itter / Jumay Designs.

Ball of Wax 37: Songs about Animals is now available for purchase. Go get it right here, or at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard. (More retail locations coming!) [Edit: Now available at Magpie in the Central District, Clover in Ballard, and Schmancy downtown!]

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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): The Foghorns – “Alfred the Elephant,” Illustrated by Darryl Blood


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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): Monica Schley – “All the Pretty Horses,” Illustrated by Laura Szumowski

ballofwax_horses_print“‘All the Pretty Horses’ is a lullaby, so I wanted to draw something whimsical and soothing– an illustration that felt somewhere between awake and dreaming. I chose muted colors to accompany bedtime, when we turn down the lights and play soft music to prepare for sleep. I asked Monica Schley about the song, and she explained that it’s an old American lullaby that she came across in Pete Seeger’s book Rise Up Singing. It’s a song Monica sang to her daughter as an infant, and I really enjoyed hearing that personal connection.” -Laura Szumowski

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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): The Whizpops! – “Sea Turtle,” Illustrated by Charles Spitzack


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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): Caroline Keys and Nate Biehl – “The Deep Above,” Illustrated by Tim Kirkpatrick

“It’s hard not to love Caroline & Nate’s song. My inspiration came simply from the playfulness of the song’s cadence. The lyrics and melody reminded me of a playful ‘day-in-the-life-of’ the giant squid – a sort of walk in the park – & it seemed clear that this slumbering queen had a lot of different friends to enjoy frolicking in the deep dark sea with. I wanted to be sure that visually there were as many fun things to spot with your eyes as there are fun things to hear with your ears. . . .

“As for how this was created technically: I’ve added a little visual progression. I pretty much approached the creation of this the same way a comic book artist might – first pencil, then ink, then add color. I vectorized the end product so that I could more easily manipulate the individual creatures, and the layers of line & color information.” -Tim Kirkpatrick


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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): Cleemann – “The Sloth,” Illustrated by Sarah Kulfan


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Ball of Wax 37 Songs (and pictures): Colin J Nelson – “Koala,” Illustrated by Scott Bilstad

“I think of great children’s books as having many little things in the art and story that you discover each time you read it.  I tried to make an illustration to Colin’s song that reflected koalas being high up in the trees and also keeps your attention for a little while. I work in pencil and pen and then Photoshop for tweaking and color.” -Scott Bilstad

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