Music Critics' Picks: Too Long Sparks, Band of Lovers, Mazen Kerbaj

Feb. 6-8: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

By Volcano Staff on February 4, 2015


The struggle of a one-man-band is that your defining characteristics are utterly your own. There's no flavor to be found from the inclusion of a wild drummer or a stoic bassist - everything comes directly from whatever you decide to include in your lonely presence on stage and record. Mig Artugue is the defining voice behind Too Long Sparks, which takes spare drum machines and layers looped guitar and ukelele on top to create a moody atmosphere that builds with increasing anxiety. His vocals drift from laconic to panicked, lending an urgency to his minimalistic compositions that sounds like nothing more than one man having a nervous breakdown in the recording studio. His time spent in Bay Area punk bands may inform his barely contained intensity with Too Long Sparks, but background is unimportant when faced with the eerily dissonant pop songs Artugue produces. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

TOO LONG SPARKS, w/ Middlewav, The Various Moods Of, People Under the Sun, Patrick Galactic, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6, Deadbeat Olympia, 226 N. Division St., Olympia, $5, 360.943.0662

TOO LONG SPARKS, w/ Red Planet Rebels, No Crown, Little Star, 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843


Few songs are sweeter than "Tennessee," the acoustic tune by upstate New Yorkers Band of Lovers. Their debut single comes correct with homespun violin, upbeat lyrics, even trilled ooh-oo-oohs and la-di-dahs. Friends for 10 years, Sabina Beachdell and Dave Strumfeld united their troubadour talents in 2013 to craft a five-song eponymous EP. Now they're on the road in support of The Coast, a full-length, crowdfunded album they recorded in a cabin in Woodstock. Band of Lovers are so hipster-friendly their CD packaging was constructed out of post-consumer recycled materials in Salem, Oregon. Their music itself is so adorkable the CD's official release date is Valentine's Day. You, on the other hand, can pick yours up a week early, at a release show, Feb. 6. Then, scope out some latte art while you enjoy their work live. Say it together, friends: awwwww! {CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL}

BAND OF LOVERS, 8 p.m. Metronome Coffee, 3518 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.301.2375


This festival of improvised music at Obsidian features a very special guest by the name of Mazen Kerbaj. Hailing from Beirut, Lebanon, Kerbaj specializes in the trumpet, taking that instrument many miles from any expectations you may have when I utter the words "improvisational trumpet." His style takes the trumpet in directions that delve deep into the experimental, testing the instrument's limits of expression, whether they be textural, percussive tonal, or pushing the envelope of what could reasonably pass for music. In taking advantage of his instrument's many characteristics, Kerbaj takes his audience through a journey of finding the potential in any sound to transport. For anyone with a passing interest in experimental music, this is a show that must be observed. The daring will get the most from this excursion into the base elements of the musical experience. {REV. AM}

MAZEN KERBAJ, w/ Arrington De Dionyso, Paul Hoskin, Daniel Buscher, Hammer of Hathor, 8 p.m., Obsidian, 414 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, $5-$10, 360.890.4425