The Presidents of the United States of America release their new single "Mixed U.S. O. B. " on the radio today, Feb. 1. Check it out at...

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The Presidents of the United States of America release their new single “Mixed Up S.O.B.” on the radio today, Feb. 1. Check it out at 1 p.m. on KNDD-FM (107.7) or After the preview, the song will be posted on and

It’s a fun ditty that may elicit fits of spastic dancing.

The Seattle pop-punk band just finished filming a video with spoof singer Weird Al Yankovic. Their album, “These Are The Good Times People” comes out March 11. The record is a fun soundtrack to ramp up the party energy with friends, before a night on the town or on the way to the beach (OK, well maybe later this year). Fun tracks include “French Girl” about not getting involved with one and “Truckstop Butterfly” about a half-dead insect.

Seattle grunge singer Ben McMillan dies

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Seattle grunge metal singer Ben McMillan passed away earlier this week. He had battled diabetes for the past eight years and suffered a complication due to a related blood-clotting disease.

McMillan sang for both Gruntruck and Skin Yard. Gruntruck started in 1989 in Seattle and became popular in the early ’90s, touring with popular heavy-metal bands Alice in Chains and Pantera, as well as the Screaming Trees and the Lemons. Their second album, 1992’s “Push,” was Roadrunner Record’s highest selling non-metal album to date in 1993, because it included the single “Crazy Love” that was used on MTV’s “Beavis & Butt-head.” (Here is a link to that song:

Gruntruck enjoyed a successful comeback in 2000, only to disband in 2002.

Here is a Gruntruck performance at the Gorge:

Various tributes and memorials are planned. Fans have been leaving notes on Skin Yard’s site — and Gruntruck’s site —

Modest Mouse to open for R.E.M.

Issaquah-bred band Modest Mouse will open for R.E.M. when the famed alternative rock band tours North America this May and June. The National is also on the bill.

Unfortunately, there are no local dates. The closest they perform is Vancouver, B.C., on May 23 at Deer Lake Park.

R.E.M. releases its 14th studio album, “Accelerate,” on April 1. Grammy-winning producer Jacknife Lee ( worked on the album. Lee has worked with the likes of U2, Snow Patrol and Bloc Party.

For more information on the tour, check

Vote for the Presidents

Fans will dictate where Seattle punk band The Presidents of the United States of America will play on their next tour. Using the Web site, users can vote for a stop in their hometown. The five cities with the most votes win a show.

Fans can participate until 2 p.m. March 3. At presstime, the Seattle metro area was ahead in the poll.

San Diego-based Eventful, Inc. ( is overseeing the promotion.

Tom Petty tickets on sale Feb. 4

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers have announced dates at The Gorge on Aug. 15-16. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Feb. 4, (the day after the band’s appearance at the Super Bowl XLII halftime show) at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at,, or by phone at 206-628-0888. Admission is between $45 and $95.

Since the band’s debut album in 1976, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers have sold more than 50 million albums. And Petty has received 18 Grammy nominations. Here is the band’s site:

Steve Winwood, who has played with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, will be on a May — August American tour with the band. Winwood has performed for more than 40 years, collaborating with the likes of George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Here is a link to his site:

Olympia songwriter shares “Juno’s” success

Olympia singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson has made headlines lately, as the principal artist behind the soundtrack to the Oscar nominated film “Juno.” The soundtrack peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Here’s her MySpace page: Be sure to listen to her song, “I Like Giants,” which describes her feelings on fame: “I am grounded. I am humbled. I am one with everything.”

There’s a mix of childhood wonderment and adult cynicism in her music that brings to mind the Barenaked Ladies. It’s as if the 35-year-old mother devised songs for her baby: soft and rhythmic lullabies, but slipped in things only adults would understand. Her description on MySpace sums up this sentiment nicely — “happy and sad and scared and brave all mixed up together.”

Dawson is signed onto Olympia indie label, K Records, which shares the same quirkiness. On its Web site,, the label describe itself as “a conspiracy of gravediggers, spies, swim instructors and international pop stars.” It has more than 150 artists based from Olympia to Japan.

And, here’s Dawson’s Web site: She’s a beautiful breath of fresh air compared with the canned pop on the airwaves these days.

Death Cab’s Walla goes solo

Much-in-demand indie rock producer and Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla is releasing a solo record. It’s called “Field Manual,” and its due out Jan. 29 on Barsuk Records. The album is beautifully wistful — a soundtrack for cuddling up indoors on a rainy day.

Here’s a link to listen to “Sing Again,” off the album: (the site features all of Barsuk’s free Mp3’s).

In the past, Walla has produced for the likes of the Decemberists, Nada Surf and Hot Hot Heat. Check back at next week for an interview with Walla.

Marian Liu:

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