Web-based Radio Station Jet City Stream Exposes Thrilling New Seattle Talent, From Blues To Rock To Hip-hop
In the Emerald City, the slamming power pop and fuzz-bomb rock of Nirvana is now a faint echo of the past.
It was only two decades ago when Seattle nearly ruled the world, when the technological advances of the Internet catapulted Microsoft into global dominance, when the town’s basketball and baseball teams thrust a refuse to lose underdog spirit into the playoffs, when grunge toppled Michael Jackson on the Billboard charts. One by one, it all fell apart. The Sonics were sold to corporate outsiders who ripped the team from its regional base and into Oklahoma; the Mariners decayed into low-income irrelevance; and the alternative-rock revolution collapsed from within as Kurt Cobain from Nirvana and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains committed suicide, and Soundgarden called it quits.
In the past couple of years, a few Seattle acts such as Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, and Death Cab for Cutie found themselves graduating to mainstream stardom, reminding the world that the Pacific Northwest could still breed refreshingly original and creatively vibrant independent music. But, thanks to the new Seattle online radio station Jet City Stream, it’s becoming apparent that something is brewing once again in the Puget Sound. And it’s about to explode.
From the scorched-Earth blues of Reignwolf to the breathless hip-hop of Macklemore to the post-punk metal crunch of the Absolute Monarchs, Jet City Stream has invaded the information highway with its playlist of local renegades. CEO Michael Raley and his partners have created a web-based station that recalls the sonic punch that FM rockers once had. In fact, what it is most reminiscent of is the golden age of 107.7 The End. At a time when modern-rock stations viewed one-hit wonders such as EMF and Jesus Jones as the future of music, The End unleashed regional heroes like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the Screaming Trees to international fame. It’s no surprise that one of Jet City Stream’s live DJs is none other than Marco Collins, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and former End music director who launched enough obscure alternative artists to platinum status in the ‘90s to fill a museum himself.
In the ‘90s, Collins was an on-air fireball. Not only did he have a Midas touch in predicting the future of pop music – Beck, Portishead, and Garbage were some of his stellar discoveries – his wit and infectious enthusiasm made him the Wolfgang Jack of Seattle in those pre-Internet days. Collins first reappeared locally on indie FM powerhouse KEXP a few years ago; however, on Jet City Stream, Collins sounds much more alive and electrified. One can tell that he’s given more freedom here, more space to be himself, more room to rock. And rock is certainly what Jet City Stream does. But don’t expect predictability. In any given hour, Jet City Stream can blast everything from the quirky, iconoclastic funk of Don’t Talk to the Cops to the liquid bass and Romeo Void-esque angular rhythms of Deep Sea Diver and back to the soaring AOR of prime ‘70s Heart. Joining Collins over the airwaves are radio veterans Heidi May and honey-voiced Shawn Stewart, whose recent booting from Triple A outlet KMTT caused a Facebook furor after their format change.
Oddly enough, Jet City Stream isn’t just proving that Seattle is still relevant musically; it’s also a bracing reminder of the companionship and artistic guidance that the best music stations provide. It can be both poignant and hilarious at the same time, too, such as when Collins invited Hole drummer Patty Schemel for an interview. What many listeners expected to be trip into ‘90s nostalgia turned into a darkly funny summary of the decade’s rock underbelly with its tales of drug abuse, prostitution, and smoking tacos. It was one of Collins’ finest moments as a DJ, taking us into a world we only heard whispers about.
To those who listened to Collins every night in high school or in college during the ‘90s, his is a voice that brings us back to our youthful, carefree days; however, we don’t just listen to Collins to see our past reflected on our speakers. His visionary tastes still intact, Collins again opens the door to the future. With Jet City Stream, Collins has found the perfect outlet, one that encourages him to raise his freak flag high and attracts all sorts of people to tune in. Here we are now, entertain us.