Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

A.A. Bondy: A Portrait

A.A. Bondy
(broken) Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super
Illford 3200
Hi-Dive Denver

Sage Francis: UMS 2011

Bad Weather California: UMS 2011

Fox & The Bird: UMS 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Deer Tick: An Evening With John McCauley

(look below for the entire series)

Timber Timbre: Flash

(look below for the entire series)

Black Lips: An Experiment In Light & Motion

 (Look Below For The Entire Series)

Fleet Foxes: Long Exposure To And Of Light

(look below for the entire series)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Johnny Flynn: Photographs


Caitlin Rose: A Portrait

Caitlin Rose
Hi-Dive Denver, 5-21-11
Holga 120N w/ Flash
T-Max 400 
Z. Saint James

 Caitlin was a sweetheart. And a badass. A sweethearted badass who saved me from being the only chainsmoker in the green room. We recorded a very loose, slightly ridiculous interview, so look for that soon(ish). Thanks again, Caitlin. Sorry this is the best frame I caught.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crystal Stilts: Photographs

"Brad Hargett and JB Townsend (The Original Two)"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Shovels & Rope: a photograph and failed experiment

 Michael Trent & Carrie Ann Hearst
Hi-Dive Denver 5-3-11 
(Opening for The Felice Brothers)
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super
BW1600, No Flash/Handheld
Z.Saint James

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Felice Brothers: a photograph and failed experiment

James & Ian Felice
Hi-Dive Denver 5-3-11
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super
BW1600, No Flash/Handheld
Z.Saint James

Monday, May 9, 2011

(Felice Brothers) Celebration, Essay; Death In Autumn, Birth in Spring

We sat at Sputnick’s with Greg Farley and listened to the 80’s dance mix playing. He told us he’d be playing the MPC now, as well as the fiddle and washboard. I asked him what he’d been listening to lately. He seemed embarrassed to tell me “mostly just Native American tribal music. Drum chants and shit.” When I asked him about the new album he was excited. When I asked him about the supposed change in sound he just laughed, told me it was the same as it ever was and then recited the same oft-repeated maxim about the need to progress. We quoted Dylan[1], finished our drinks and continued next door to the Hi-Dive. As I talked to the others they all took that same approach; they all acknowledged their progression but denied any assertion that they were doing anything differently than they ever had; ‘the new album fits seamlessly within the discography and you can hear that in the live show,’ they said. ‘Just listen.’

We had last spoken on a bitter October night. They we’re all sick and had apologized to the crowd about their voices. They apologized for the sound (read: Larimer Lounge). They apologized to us on the sidewalk for no reason. They had played one of the most beautiful single sets I’ve heard in years, working effortlessly through slightly slowed versions, introducing eventual classics from the tour-only Mixtape[2] like “White Limo” and “Marlboro Man”. The show will be ever carved in memory[3], yet for this they apologized. Greg admitted they needed time off to get healthy; they needed to finish the tour and take time and get back to writing. Seven months later we were standing in the Hi-dive laughing about the same thing; they were finishing another 2 and a half month tour; they were all still sick; both times Ian Felice would be quiet and observantly despondent while James Felice would hug and thank anyone who came up to talk (They are all genuinely great kids but I particularly need to thank James for his kindness. Such a sweet fucking man). It was the same band, yet the second time they were noticeably more alive, fueled by their own creation.

Its May 3rd and the new album Celebration, Florida (complete with synths and MPC drum sounds, half-rapped and auto-tuned vocals, time shifts, breakbeats, song fragments floating between tracks, and stories about Mike Tyson and Oliver Stone) will drop in a week. Tonight, the band will blaze through a double-timed set spanning their discography. Some songs will be nearly unidentifiable at such a wild speed; fans will try to sing but cant yell the words fast enough. They will rarely stop between songs; they will play new songs throughout the set and nobody will really notice. Ian, James, Christmas and Greg will all take turns singing/screaming and by the end Ian will stand on the bass drum before jumping down and playing the last songs on his knees. They will encore, it will be the perfect finish. They will get down and come back to break down their equipment and hang out. They will sign limited edition posters featuring a doubled wolf and accordion keys[4]. They will do all of this without ever acknowledging their new album by name, without ever hinting that anything has changed; they will do all of these things without ever acknowledging that they’ve been reborn as a new band, and that their potential for progression and experimentation is now limitless. They have escaped and reinvented their genre so that that its not even this album but the next one you should be excited about.

Here is my concluding paragraph. Thank you public education for my understanding of structure. Here is where I elaborate on the ideas of progression and evolution. Here is where I stake claim that this album is not only revolutionary, but more so than the recent electronic experiments of Iron and Wine (Kiss Each Other Clean) or Bright Eyes (The People’s Key). Here is where I not-so-subtly imply that the last 20 years of hip-hop (as well as resulting movements),electronic music and the avant garde have informed this album more than any album by Dylan or The Band. Here is where the revelation will occur, right here in the last few sentences like I’m Joyce singing Dubliners. But, I’m not Joyce, there is no revelation; I won’t whimper for e.e. or end abruptly for Salinger. I will just, you will just, please will you just listen.

--Z. Saint James 5.9.11. (!) PHOTOS SOON (!)

[1] “He not busy being born is busy dying”
[2] Apparently they only did one pressing of Mixtape. So, I will burn copies to anyone who writes me ONLY UNTIL the band presses it again. Its just as important in their career as any other album and will at least be remembered for containing “Marlboro Man”.
[3] I won a broken washboard autographed by the band and dated 10-10-10, which I gave to a girl I had only been dating for a month. That girl is now the love of my life. I Love You, Erika Ryann Sedmak. As for those washboards, according to their tour manager there is only one company in the country that makes them and specially reinforces them specifically for the band. If he is not mistaken, I am the only person in the world to own a signed broken washboard by the Felice Brothers. Except that I don't own it because I gave it to this girl I love. So, I hope she loves me too.
[4] Of course I bought one of these posters and got it signed by the band. I will always be more of a fan than a journalist.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Larimer Lounge, 4/13
"Windsor" Diana
Flashless & Handheld on Bulb
Z. Saint James

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Breathe Owl Breathe

Hi-Dive Denver 11-2-10
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super
Z. Saint James

The Dodos Interview

Ogden Theater--Black Slim Devil, C-41 400

On July 28th, 2010, I sat down with The Dodos' Meric Long before a show at The Ogden Theater in Denver.

How's the tour been so far?

It's been rad because we get to play rooms like this, and its all been really good, man. Nothing crazy to report, which is actually kind of a relief. It's been about as relaxing as a tour could ever be. Plus, its been tons of fun to play with The New Pornographers.

Do you notice the difference between The New Pornographers' and Dodos' crowds?

Yeah, I mean they kinda have older fans, so when there are younger kids in the crowd we kind of just hope they listen to us. (laughs)

Dark Dark Dark Interview

 In May, 2010 I sat down with Marshall LaCount, Nona Marie Invie and Jonathan Kaiser of Dark Dark Dark to talk about travel, sound and the (then) upcoming record, Wild Go.

So you guys are touring...

Marshall: First day, actually. We were in New York and then Minneapolis playing shows, but this is our first show of our west coast venture.

Where are you heading from here?

M: Up to Salt Lake and then Portland, Olympia, Seattle and all that.

I'm sure you'll get support in Portland and Seattle, but I don't know about Salt Lake...

M: (laughs) It's on the way.  

The Lighthouse And The Whaler -- Acoustic Performance

Back in June, I interviewed The Lighthouse And The Whaler. Those kids are absolutely awesome and offered to bring all their instruments downstairs and play a song for us (The One Time We Happened To Bring A Video Camera). This is an acoustic performance of an unnamed and unreleased track, recorded by Aaron Radcliffe underneath the Hi-Dive in Denver. Thank you so much Lighthouse. Thank you Hi-dive. Now, will somebody sign these fucking guys already?

EDIT: I am told the song is now called "Venice" and will appear on their upcoming release, to be recorded this summer.

Long Time No See

Plywood Violins is finally getting going again after a six month hiatus. From here on out all photography (for now) will be original compositions from myself and my official partner in crime, E.R.S. All writing (for now) will mostly just be talking recorded by myself.

To start fresh is, ironically, to publish two backlogged interviews (Dark Dark Dark and The Dodos (I'm sorry that took so long)) and an exclusive acoustic performance of an unreleased song by The Lighthouse And The Whaler (you too guys). Then, finally, Something New... maybe a photograph. And then maybe Something Else. I don't know.

-- Zane Saint James

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Midlake Interview

I first interviewed Midlake's Tim Smith several weeks ago, only to find that most of our hour-long conversation went unrecorded. Luckily, Tim is a very kind and generous person, and gave me another chance. This attempt clocks in at about a half-hour, but I feel still presents the depth and intelligence that Tim, and the band as a whole, possesses. Midlake is a wide-ranging band, with an ever-evolving sound, and this, I feel, can be traced directly back to Tim himself.

You guys just finished a tour. How did that go?

We went all over the Midwest, and it was just the most difficult tour yet; driving in that van, and the cities are so spread out, it makes it kind of difficult to get a lot of rest. Just being in the van, and driving hours and hours a day, was kind of tough. We toured with Jason Lytle, from Grandaddy, who we really admire, and who was a big influence on us early on, so that was really cool, getting to play shows with him. We were also with John Grant, who is on the label with us, and who we helped make his solo album; he’s a great singer songwriter. So, you know, it was only 3 weeks on the road, but it was probably the toughest tour so far.

Because of the locations and having to drive?

Ya, in Europe we actually have a proper tour bus. So, we just get back to the bus at 1 or 2 in the morning, after the show, and then we can party, or just go to sleep if we want, and wake up in a new city by noon. In America, we don’t. So, its 1 or 2am, and then you try to get back to the hotel to sleep by 3 or something; you wake up at maybe 8am and then have a 7 hour drive to the next city. It’s just really difficult to get rest, and it can make you a bit grouchy. It’s not fun, not fun at all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Album Review: Dark Dark Dark -- Bright Bright Bright

  Dark Dark Dark will be playing at the Hi-Dive on July 19th. In anticipation for what will inevitably be an incredible show, I’ve decided to review one of my favorite recent releases, their brilliant new EP, Bright Bright Bright. Also, I’ll be sitting down with the band after the show, so look forward to an exclusive interview, and, hopefully, a video performance.

  Beginning with the prideful melancholy of the title-track, and continuing through to the mournful, yet hopeful, closer, a reimagined cover of Elephant Micah's “Wild Goose Chase”, Bright Bright Bright showcases a matured, and ultimately brilliant, progression for Dark Dark Dark. Moving forward from the shanty-folk of 2008’s The Snow Magic LP, DDD has managed bring forth the rich, ever-deepening hues that lurked beneath their previous works.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) Interview

Jake Bellows and Morgan Meyn (Whispertown) rode in to Denver on a motorcycle to see Tom Petty and play a show with Pearly Gate Music. Before the show, and for a little while afterwards, we discussed early Wailers recordings, Omaha and Edward Norton.

How did Neva Dinova get started?

In high school, Heath [Koontz] and I decided to be in a battle of the bands, but neither one of us really played and instrument, or made music. We just thought it would be fun. So, his grandpa loaned us some instruments and we made up some songs. Then, we entered the battle of the bands, but for some reason we weren’t allowed to perform. But that kind of made us want to really try to make music, so we got some more traditional instruments. We had had a banjo and an electric mandolin at the time, so we had to learn to play those. I wasn’t very good at the banjo.

Where does the name Neva Dinova come from?

It was my grandma’s name. About the same time we were getting the band going, she died of cancer. So, I thought, we’ll just name the band after her and keep her around as long as we can.

(Brief) Whispertown Interview

Whispertown ( Morgan Meyn) played an amazing show recently with Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) and Pearly Gate Music. I had interviewed Jake before the show, but after it was all over we hung out, during which time I recorded this brief interview.

How did you first start writing and recording songs?

The first time I asked my parents for a guitar was when I was 16, and I wrote a song and played it for them. Then, I forgot about it. but, when I was 20 I was working as an actress on a sitcom; we don’t really have them anymore, but the format was that you’d rehearse for a week and then record it live in front of an audience. So, you were only needed when you were rehearsing your scenes, so I had a lot of down time sitting in my trailer. It was there that I basically taught myself how to sing and play guitar and write songs. I started recording a couple years after that, at the push of Jenny Lewis [Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins], my dear friend, who sort of made me pursue it.

Tiny Vipers Interview

Recently, I talked to Seattle's Jesy Fortino, AKA Tiny Vipers, about her unique approach to songwriting and recording, as well as one good reason to peek into the bushes.

Where did the name Tiny Vipers come from?

Honestly, I just thought it sounded cool (laughs). I mean, it was like 6 years ago, and I need to come up with a name because I didn’t want to use my own. I had just sort of packed that away a long time ago incase I ever needed a name for something.

How long had you played guitar before you felt you needed the name?

Well, I had played on and off for a while. I had played for a little bit when I was a teenager, and then I played again when I was maybe 20. I started playing shows when I was 22, so, its been on and off for a while

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Lighthouse and the Whaler Interview

The Lighthouse and the Whaler is Michael LoPresti, Arron Smith, Evan Storey, Mark Porostosky and Nate (?). They played recently at the Hi-Dive, bringing their instrument-swapping folk to Denver for the first time. I sat down with the guys afterwards to discuss their music and art itself. (UPDATE: Click Here For An Exclusive Acoustic Video Performance Of An Unreleased Song!)

Album Review: Pearly Gate Music -- Self-Titled

   On stage, Zach Tillman stomps and howls in a blood-boiling frenzy of raucous spirit. Off stage, he is jovial, gregarious and ultimately charming. On record, Zach shows himself as something in between, yet definitively different, from his other selves.

    Pearly Gate Music’s self-titled debut presents the melancholic cries of Zach’s ethereal-folk, with the ability to shift from whispered drums and guitarless, chanting harmonies to sweat-drenched, clap-along rock n’ roll, complete with distorted, madhouse solos and (inevitably) the stomping toes of everyone within earshot.

   The album is lush, a richness that is only furthered by Zach’s heartbroken poetics, something that hasn’t received as much attention, but which deserves as much praise as the sound itself. He is a poet rooted in the spirit of electric-Dylan, but with a modern twist of broken, trailing cadence that drifts in and out of time.

   The album pulls you in deeper with every rotation, allowing you to catch the almost unnoticed nuances that you had unknowingly smiled towards last time, eventually realizing why a seemingly-sad song left you grinning and dancing about. Pearly Gate Music is, in one reporter’s humble opinion, one of the best debut albums in recent years, something to be cherished among the ever-cluttered shelf of modern music.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Emily Jane White Interview

Emily Jane White is a joyously macabre poet from California. She has recently released her second album Victorian America, to critical acclaim. On June 3rd 2010, I conducted a phone interview with her to discuss her career, and herself as an artist.

What types of ideas, or moments in life, inspire songs?

I’d say that music is very emotional, and I write songs mostly about things that I feel very strongly about. It usually has to do with feelings of sadness, or injustice, or the realities that happen in life that are very strong and powerful. So, ya, its mostly emotional reactions to things.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Album Review: Woom -- Muu's Way

Beginning 6 years ago as Fertile Crescent, and reemerging recently as WOOM, Sara Magenheimer and Eben Portnoy have collaborated to create a feverishly different take on the Female-Male duo. Don’t think The White Stripes or The Moldy Peaches (although the simplistic approach of the aforementioned and the playfulness of the latter do resonate); WOOM is a very different beast altogether, echoing the electronic rhythm of Panda Bear as much as the sundrenched, lo-fi pop of Jonquil, while, in the end, sounding nothing like either. Additionally, gaining comparison to Young Marble Giants and early Velvet Underground, yet touring with bands like Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu, the band has proved nearly impossible to pinpoint stylistically, and their debut LP Muu’s Way presents this sonic amalgamation perfectly.

Mini Mansions Interview

On May, 31st, 2010, I talked with Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age, Wires on Fire) about his new project, Mini Mansions. Mini Mansions is playing here in Denver on the 4th, so look out for a possible follow-up interview.

To start, what is the line-up and how did you guys form?

It’s myself, Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford. As for getting together…that’s a long story. Me and Zach have been best buds for like 14 years and he went to college in Santa Cruz and ended up living with Tyler. Tyler makes weird music and always has. He’d never been in a band, just kind of made weird tunes for himself, and Zach sent me some of his stuff and it was always rad. So, when he moved back to LA I hung out with Tyler and showed him some of my stuff and talked about making a band, and the music we were both making just kind of made sense together in the direction we wanted to go. And since he’d never been in a band he didn’t really know what do with his music, but it made was just so good I felt that we had to make a full band out of it.

New Site!

Welcome to Plywood Violins. This is a blog to document the music interviews, album/show reviews and whatever various pieces of art I might want to publish over the next few months.

Generally, all articles having to do with music will simultaneously be published on Rocky Mountain Music ( If, in the future, any freelance music journalists need a home, they will be welcome here.

For now, it's just myself, Zane Saint James.