Northwest Sounds

Northwest Sounds

Chastity Belt

I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone

"In the press release, the Washington band asked that I Used To Spend be described as 'v chill,' which is hard to disagree with. It flows more smoothly than previous releases; they sound like adults who’ve switched to aromatic coffee-drinking after a lifetime of sugar binges. We get I-guess-this-is-growing-upsong titles like 'Caught in a Lie' and 'Different Now,' in which Julia Shapiro sings about having to take responsibility for your actions. Contrary to the harsher and sometimes wonkier rock arrangements on their previous albums, the running thread throughout this record is a blend of shiny electric guitar hooks, background wah-guitars with just a little fuzz, and drums that are kept light and rounded. … Musically, I Used To Spend may feel like it never really lands because of its unlikely chord patterns, but it sounds clear as day. Chastity Belt’s lo-fi aesthetic hasn’t disappeared, but each instrument breathes in the mix, so they occasionally sound like the long-lost cousin of Real Estate. The daydream is interrupted by the timbre of Shapiro’s voice, which keeps the songs rooted firmly in an angsty tradition. But still, there’s something whimsical about the new record that’s hard to pinpoint. The disparity between the lyrics and the sounds is a little disorienting at first, but progresses into something remarkably natural, and invigorating. It’s both the fight and the acknowledgement that when you lose, you’d better wise up." - Spin

 

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Mary Lambert

Bold

Mary Lambert’s latest EP, Bold, is her first release since leaving Capitol Records, and was fully funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $20,000 in 8 hours, and closed at $70,000 in a few short weeks. The response was a testament to the passionate communities she represents. Released on May 5th, the independent endeavor debuted at number 4 on the iTunes pop chart. Mary says: “Bold is a queer pop EP about being unabashedly yourself. I think that we are in an era where embracing your real, complex self is radical, and this collection of songs epitomizes that belief.” "

 

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Ayron Jones

Audio Paint Job

"If you’ve been following the music scene in the Pacific Northwest at all over the past 5 years, you’ll already know the name Ayron Jones. The guitar virtuoso has been wowing audiences, supporting globally revered artists, and solidifying himself as a force to be reckoned within the rock and roll genre. His latest LP, Audio Paint Job, to be released by Barrett Martin’s Sunyata label, seamlessly mixes Jones’s blues-rock sound with a Northwest hip-hop sensibility that gets the listener closer than ever to his raucous, engaging live performance. ... Produced by Seattle legend Barrett Martin and mixed by another Seattle legend Jack Endino (who famously recorded Nirvana’s Bleach for $600), Audio Paint Job is the most cohesive and realized Ayron Jones has sounded to date." - Northwest Music Scene

 

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Perfume Genius

No Shape

"Mike Hadreas' goth-glam songs of longing uncoil like someone who's waited a long goddamn time for things to go right; when they finally rise to a crescendo, the release is thrillingly palpable. They do this often on his fourth Perfume Genius LP, which by his standards feels startlingly optimistic, with pop and rock tropes queered into dreamlike scenarios. ‘Go Ahead’ conjures ‘Kiss’-era Prince and mid-Sixties Dionne Warwick (‘say a little prayer for me/Baby’) over dyspeptic electro-funk. ‘Die 4 You’ is goth Sade, while the darkly ecstatic ‘Wreath’ invokes Kate Bush (‘Running up that hill/I'm gonna peel off every weight’) over harpsichord gilt. And who knew dude had a penchant for yodeling?” - Rolling Stone

 

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Bread & Butter

Bread & Butter

"There are countless quotes about the sophistication in pure simplicity. They would apply to rock 'n' roll music too. There is nothing new or sonically groundbreaking about Bread & Butter’s self-titled record, but that’s what makes it so refreshing. It’s not a 'retro' record by any means, but it does turn back the clock is in its unapologetic party rock nature. Bands rarely go this route anymore. Bread & Butter is not an indie band. They are not a garage band. There are no studio tricks. No overly intricate hooks or guitar solos or drum fills. It’s pure, shameless rock 'n' roll. Bread & Butter are the types of guys who listen to Cheap Trick, sing karaoke, drink cheap beer and somehow, that’s exactly what Bread & Butter the record actually sounds like. Certain tracks stand out, like 'Desperation' and 'Keys To The City,' but Bread & Butter as a whole is where the vibes truly lie. " - Ian Bremner, Easy Street Online

 

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Sera Cahoone

From Where I Started

"For those that would say you can never go home again, singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone begs to differ. Her new solo album From Where I Started is a deceptively uncluttered collection of classic country-inspired folk that manages to look both backwards and forwards, one foot firmly grounded in her previously-charted musical territories and the other headed mid-stride towards new sonic terrain. Although From Where I Started is the fourth entry in her solo catalog, it feels most like a spiritual successor to her self-titled debut. This is due in large part to both albums being written and initially recorded by Cahoone alone, singing and playing guitar and accompanying herself on a minimalist drum kit. The result is a new record that has the warmth, remembrance and intimacy of a photo album, one with which Cahoone charmingly invites you to get to know her a little better." - Paste

 

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Shelby Earl

The Man Who Made Himself A Name

"If you’ve ever gotten into an interesting and inquisitive conversation about Seattle music and got asked who you thought was 'the most heartbreakingly beautiful voice in Seattle,' some might say the timbre tycoon Shelby Earl, and if you’re Ben Gibbard, you’ve decisively given that answer. That being said, the Emerald City gem that is Shelby Earl is as polished and accomplished as ever in 2017 and is about to grace us with her newest album, The Man Who Made Himself a Name, out March 10. This third full-length is her first album in four years and comes to us following her Damien Jurado-produced album Swift Arrows, which exemplified her in-the-raw singer-songwriter saccharine nature that’s simulataneously sweet but gritty and generally finds itself in some dark surroundings. Elegant musicianship, cinematic motifs, and character-based stories are all compositional elements to Shelby Earl’s acoustic-driven ballads and waltzes. Interestingly, musicians like to mix things up a bit. They like to keep people on their toes and their audience honest, and that’s just what Earl seems to have done with her more BØRNS-sensible, synth-arpeggiated, alt-club hit 'The Man Who Made Himself a Name' that acts as the opener title track. Earl doesn’t just drop the dancey beat on new and old fans, she let’s her established and more minimal indie folk stylings ease into the electronic pop chorus. Shelby Earl might be delving into a newly textured direction, based off of 'The Man Who Made Himself a Name,' but her knack for crafting a signature song rife with motifs and character-based stories don’t seem to be going anywhere." - KEXP

 

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The Shins

Heartworms

"Like many of the indie bands from his era, including fellow pop true believers the New Pornographers and Death Cab for Cutie—one of the few other acts from the mid-’00s indie boom still on a major label—[James] Mercer has survived by staying the course. He has largely resisted trends or any temptation to drift too far from his established sweet spot. The thrill of discovery may be gone—really, it disappeared with Wincing the Night Away—yet it’s remarkable how little rust he’s showing. And although Heartworms never quite conjures the magic of those first couple Shins albums, it’s further proof that they weren’t a fluke. This guy always did, and still does, know how to write a song that sticks." - Pitchfork

 

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Minus The Bear

VOIDS

"The Seattle-based indie rockers' sixth full-length, and their first outing since the departure of longtime kit man Erin Tate, Voids arrives three years after Minus the Bear's B-sides and rarities collection, Lost Loves, and five years after their last proper studio LP, Infinity Overhead. New drummer Kiefer Matthias is more than up to the task. The band's penchant for pairing tight, loopy beats and mathy guitar noodling with sinewy verse melodies that reveal big rousing choruses is on display early with the lovelorn opener 'Last Kiss,' one of several cuts that mines heartache and missed connections for emotional riches. ... Despite their five-year absence from the studio, the band still sound like the well-oiled machine that discovered their mojo on their 2006 sophomore outing Menos el Oso. There's a bit more pure pop intention to be found on Voids, but it retains the left-field charm that made them one of the more captivating acts to watch amidst the alt-to-indie rock shift that dominated the late '90s and early 2000s." - All Music

 

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Dude York

Sincerely

The Seattle-based trio Dude York—Peter Richards on guitar and vocals, Claire England on bass and vocals, and Andrew Hall on drums—is announcing itself with an album that couches its themes of anxiety and eroding mental health in rock tracks that amp up the sweetly melodic crunch of power pop with massive distortion and bashed-to-heck drums. Sincerely is a loud, sweaty rebuke to those moments in life when it seems like nothing is working, a testament to the power of friendship, staring problems directly in the face, and finding solace in art. Longtime Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill producer John Goodmanson and The Blood Brothers’ Cody Votolato helped Dude York craft a more straightforward draft of Sincerely, one based on the energy of their live show but without any superfluous flourishes.The band’s thoughtful approach to putting together Sincerely's songs echoes the album's overarching themes of almost-punishing inward focus. Bringing England's straightforward drawl into the mix underscores that idea, and its contrast to Richards' excited yelp heightens the tension on Sincerely, a chaotic, yet ultimately triumphant album that's a vital tonic for these increasingly confused times.

 

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Car Seat Headrest

Teens Of Denial

With Teens of Denial, his first real “studio” album with an actual band, Will Toledo moves from bedroom pop to something approaching classic rock grandeur and huge (if detailed and personal) narrative ambitions, with nods to the Cars, Pavement, Jonathan Richman, Wire, and William Onyeabor. Teens of Denial refracts Toledo’s particular, personal story of one difficult year through cultural touchstones such as the biography of Frank Sinatra, the evolution of the Me Generation as seen in Mad Men and elsewhere, plus elements of eastern and western theology. The whole thing flaunts a kind of conceptual, lyrical, and musical ambition that has been missing from far too much 21st-century music. Horns, keyboards, and elegant instrumental interludes set off art-garage moments; vivid vocal harmonies follow punk frenzy. The selfish captain of the capsized cruise liner in the Mediterranean in 2013 becomes a metaphor for struggles of the individual in society, as experienced by one hungover young man on the verge of adulthood.

 

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The Head And The Heart

Signs Of Light

"On their third album, 2016's Signs of Light, Seattle natives the Head and the Heart have taken the leap from melodic indie folk with Americana tendencies into full-blown radio-friendly pop. Signed to a major label (Warner Bros.) for the first time and working with producer Jay Joyce (who had previously been at the controls for albums by Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, and Keith Urban), the Head and the Heart have added several layers of gloss to their sound, and stripped back some of the most rustic aspects of their music. The group's vocal harmonies have always been strong, but for this album, the Head and the Heart have punched them up and given them a bigger place in the arrangements, just as Joyce has given them a slick electronic makeover. And while acoustic instruments dominated the Head and the Heart's early recordings, Signs of Light is awash in keyboards and samples, shifting the group's musical personality into an entirely different direction." - AllMusic

 

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Blind Pilot

And Then Like Lions

"It's taken Blind Pilot five years to release a follow-up to 2011's We Are The Tide, and the result befits a group that moves at its own pace: And Then Like Lions unfurls slowly and gracefully, its energy directed more toward richness of sound than speed or force. The Portland, Ore., band makes wistful late-summer music — songs of reflection and connection, carried out in a subtle swirl of strings, horns, pianos and voices." - NPR

 

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Mackned

Born Rich

"West Seattle native and rising rapper Mackned had a banner year, selling out local venues like the Crocodile and Neumos. He reached a significant peak of local fame touring and working with Key Nyata, former co-leader of the Thraxxhouse collective. In 2015, it seemed as if each month Thraxxhouse would bless the web with another banger. Ned and Key sculpted a unique dark sound that served especially well as a soundtrack to the dreary Seattle winter. Key’s airy, cosmic synths and understated, hypnotizing style fused with Ned’s bassy, hard-hitting trap drums and sharp delivery, creating a series of hits that played like spiritual ballads for the lonely. Mackned’s brand-new album, Born Rich, is a major shift from that previous work. In collaboration with talented electro/soul trio The Flavr Blue, Ned experiments with a variety of subgenres on this nine-track LP. He veers away from the confines of the rap genre toward alternative music and synth pop. ... With his continually evolving and expanding artistic personas, Mackned has created a sonic palette that can encompass a range of moods and tones. One of the things that keep him interesting is guessing which part of that spectrum comes next. "

 

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The Posies

Solid States

The iconic band from the Pacific Northwest is now nearing thirty years of making intelligent, hard-to-classify music since releasing a home recorded album, Failure initially as a self-released cassette, in 1988. From their early 60s-tinged retro pop, to their latest work, Solid States, the Posies have always been pushing the boundaries. Folky long before deerskin vests and beards became the standard costume of Seattle; bookish and sensitive long before Death Cab For Cutie had driver's licenses...the Posies have pursued their craft with an unwavering commitment to excellence and experimentation. Following such major life changes as a move to France for founding members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, and the tragic loss of drummer Darius Minwalla last year, the band has reinvented their sound again with swirling programmed beats & dark synth tones, while still representing their uncanny ability to harmonize and pluck heart strings. Think Kings of Convenience backed by the Books and you have a taste of what this album is about.

 

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The Navins

Not Yourself Today

The Navins are 100% guitar rock dudes. From Seattle. They favor vintage amps and vintage guitars. You might say they are somewhat vintage themselves. They have a teensy bit of organ, but sometimes that’s just what guitar-band dudes do. Tain’t nuthin weird or freaky here - just one tight band with great songs living at the crossroads of indie, alternative, garage, jangle, twang and power pop, where absurd pop notions tinged with chemical longing meet the psychedelic, late-night creakings of the devil present in our every nature. Whew.

 

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Acapulco Lips

Acapulco Lips

This trio is bound together by a studied adoration towards the loud, reckless, rebellious sonic traditions of psych, garage, soul, and surf rock. What comes out of these obsessions is the interpretation of the band's favorite Sixties sounds, from transporting guitar jangles, assertively revved up percussion, boogie-friendly bass breakdowns, topped with disarmingly charming coos and aahs. This is good times music that will get you out of your blahs, though what's often addressed in these songs are precise moments of romantic disintegration, disappointment, and dread. Whatever—it's rock 'n' roll!

 

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Tacocat

Lost Time

"Tacocat love to be silly. From music videos with dancing lobsters and gumball-covered album art, to their space-age fashion and candy floss hair, being a goofball is practically in their job description. Their latest release, Lost Time, fits the bill, embracing the ridiculous with open arms. Don’t let the antics fool you, though, as a method is revealed in the madness over the course of the album. Tacocat have some things to say, and they chose this pop punk vehicle because they don’t want to be ignored." Consequence Of Sound

 

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Deep Sea Diver

Secrets

In late 2013, Jessica Dobson put in her notice to former Shins boss, James Mercer, in order to give full attention to her own musical vision. Mercer agreed, saying “I’ll miss you, but I give you my full support. You’ve gotta pursue Deep Sea Diver”. In their desire to explore dualities, Deep Sea Diver urgently and deliberately move you from rock experimentation to dreamy soundscapes, Kraut-esque drum and bass grooves to angular danciness, and full fledged orchestration to bare bones simplicity. Dobson has the voice and authority to tie it all together, and turn it into a cohesive unit that soars yet remains beautifully delicate and intimate. Live, the band has received acclaim for their festival-ready power and presence, Jessica’s larger than life guitar hooks, and their cascading layers that build upon each other until they reach their explosive peak.

 

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Gazebos

Die Alone

Gazebos rages against the forces of post-millennial, pre-midlife anxiety and Die Alone is the soundtrack. Given the band's collision of interests, Die Alone's manic diversity makes perfect sense. These songs are patchworks of parts conceived individually as demos and woven together collectively during sessions in guitarist T.V. Coahran's basement—which is also where the album was recorded on 8-track with Seattle garage-rock guru Kurt Bloch as engineer. No song sounds like another and yet the album sustains a dizzying, alluring vibe. It hits you right from the start: Is that vocalist Shannon Perry singing backwards on opener "Just Get High"? Her vocal delivery is bewitchingly unpredictable, the band stretching the song around her like bubblegum. "I Don't Wanna Be Here" is the album's punchiest track, clocking in at two minutes thirty seconds, Perry venting some serious girl-power angst; dig the woozy flange on TV Coahran's guitar throughout.

 

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Night Beats

Who Sold My Generation

"Their talent for brash, riffy psych-rock with plenty of attitude remains their greatest strength, and their marriage of Nuggets-era sounds with the contemporary lo-fi aesthetic of 21st century garage revivalists puts them in league with other prominent West Coast acts like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall." - All Music

 

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Wimps

Suitcase

Seattle's punk rock slackers-in-chief Wimps are a Seattle-based three-piece comprised of scene veterans Rachel Ratner (Butts) on guitar and lead vocals, Matt Nyce (Meth Teeth) on bass and backing vocals, and Dave Ramm (The Intelligence) on drums. Wimps serve their own brand of rapid-fire punk with a smattering of lo-fi post punk guitar work to create an angular, slightly off-kilter blast. Ratner lyrically twists otherwise common day-to-day woes into relatable tales of struggle shout-sung call and response stabs that champion boredom, laziness and social anxieties with wiry riffs and punchy bass lines, propelled by the measured rhythms of drummer David Ramm.

 

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Grace Love & The True Loves

Grace Love & The True Loves

Grace Love and the True Loves is an original 9-piece soul sensation from Seattle, WA. Following in the footsteps of Stax, Motown, King and Daptone artists, but with a sound all their own, Grace Love and the True Loves are setting a course as the next hot soul and funk number ready to sweep the nation with true cross-over appeal. On vocals, Grace Love is Seattle’s shining jewel of grit, beauty and power – think Etta James and Betty Wright meet Mahalia Jackson. Backed by the True Loves, her vocals float effortlessly over kickin’ back beats, smart horns, syncopated rhythms and sweet B-3 color. It’s the hip swinging, booty shaking, heart freeing sound you crave to hear live, but rarely do.

 

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