Northwest Sounds

Northwest Sounds

Thunderpussy

Thunderpussy

"Combining the rebel heart of the Runaways with Ziggy Stardust's flamboyant glam, Zeppelin's titanic powerhouse blues, and the Stooges hypnotic raunch, Seattle's excellently-named Thunderpussy have embraced rock 'n' roll's foundational linchpins to craft their sound. The result is red-blooded hard rock at its most elemental: brazen, lustful, and timeless. ... From start to finish, this is empowering, fiery, and defiant stuff. One hundred percent badass doesn't begin to cover it." - Classic Rock Magazine

 

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The Gemini

The Gemini

The Gemini, the debut EP by Jeff Rouse, is a five-song collection of original material detailing the feelings of lost love, betrayal and redemption. Jeff has a long history of performing and recording with Duff McKagan’s Loaded, Buckcherry, Tommy Stinson's Bash & Pop, and has also shared the stage with Steve Jones, Corey Taylor, Mike McCready, Mark Lanegan, Ann and Nancy Wilson and many more.

 

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Damien Jurado

The Horizon Just Laughed

"Damien Jurado went completely off the grid. He was in the midst of his 50 State Tour, in which he picked a state and played several shows in small towns all across the state. Perhaps it got him in touch with a new state of mind which inspired his new and 13th album, The Horizon Just Laughed. Fresh off a magnificent trilogy of records produced by Richard Swift, Jurado self-produced his latest effort. Like Maraqopa and its psychedelia-infused successors, The Horizon Just Laughed started as a dream. Where it differs is the overall tone and sound. Jurado has always had the knack of infusing names of cities or people into his songs. They provide context and a story-arch for the tune. Oftentimes they are completely made up and yet it doesn’t matter. The listener is right there with Jurado as if it were a real place. After all, Maraqopa is not a real place, but if you listen to Brothers and Sisters of The Eternal Sun enough times, you may beg to disagree. The setting in the new album is not exactly a physical place, but a look into Damien Jurado’s mind. It is not simply spewing observations or songwriter-y metaphors, but more so conversations with himself. The names he references now are made up TV characters or books in which he is lost in. The strings, background harmony singers, and subtle guitar strums seem to coincide with the beat of dripping raindrops, making The Horizon Just Laughed a very Northwest record, but also very worldly and universal." - OldRookie.com

 

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Brandi Carlile

By The Way I Forgive You

"Cozy up to the year's early standout: On her sixth LP, veteran songwriter Brandi Carlile teams up with co-producers Shooter Jennings and Dave Cobb for a moving and righteous piece of Americana-infused pop. Across the 10-track LP, the folk-tinged singer belts with gusto, whether offering nostalgic, harmonized forgiveness on album opener 'Everytime I Hear That Song' or a shoulder to cry on with anthemic ballad 'The Joke.' She flexes her country roots on the quaint 'Fulton County Jane Doe,' which references the opening chords of Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth' before telling a tried-and-true story of a long-lost memory of a girl with 'Jesus on [her] hand.' The album's strongest moments, however, are Carlile's riskier departures towards the LP's end. She hits a bouncy pop chord on the tender 'Harder to Forgive' and settles into a booming Adele-meets-Joni moment with lonely, reflective tour de force 'Party of One,' a delicate masterpiece that teems with the most effective delivery of the album's underlying tones of forlorn, affectionate sadness." - Rolling Stone

 

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The Decemberists

I'll Be Your Girl

"The shorthand description of I'll Be Your Girl, the Decemberists' eighth album, is that it's the record where the band decide to ditch the past and engage with the modern world, layering their folk-rock with synthesizers and other contemporary accouterments. The intentional irony is, that this modern sound -- shepherded by producer John Congleton, best-known for helming acclaimed albums by St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, and Future Islands -- is predicated on the New Wave of the '70s and '80s, a sound that would seem like a throwback for nearly any other group, but in the hands of the Decemberists, such swaths of synths provide a vibrant, colorful jolt. Congleton doesn't merely expand the band's palette, he acts as an effective editor for Colin Meloy, keeping the proceedings swift and clean." - All Music

 

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Naked Giants

SLUFF

SLUFF is the debut release from the Seattle, WA band, Naked Giants. SLUFF is a collection of songs the band has been writing and performing over the past few years. The specific goal was to capture “THAT live energy” in a recording, but as the energies of the studio processes began to mingle, the album became an entity unto itself. Bassist Gianni Aiello explains, “We played our very best on this album, but there are still a good amount of mess-ups and rough edges that give it that ‘first album’ character. The album gets its personality in large part from the play between the planned and unplanned. With producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Low, Damien Jurado, The Posies), we could carefully craft some particular sonic signatures just as easily as stumble upon some random noise or mic technique. There’s no underlying concept for the album, but it’s this sort of order and chaos attitude which gives it a cohesive feeling.” SLUFF is a rock and roll record for the modern rock and roller. Some songs are long, some are short, and some are even shorter than that. It’s full of hooks and plenty of guitar solos. The most important thing is that everything hits you all at once, feeling like it could all happen in a matter of seconds. This is the Naked Giants thesis statement...for now.

 

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Car Seat Headrest

Twin Fantasy

Will Toledo always knew he would return to Twin Fantasy. He never did complete the work. Not really. Never could square his grand ambitions against his mechanical limitations. Listen to his first attempt, recorded at nineteen on a cheap laptop, and you’ll hear what Brian Eno fondly calls “the sound of failure” - thrilling, extraordinary, and singularly compelling failure. Will’s first love, rendered in the vivid teenage viscera of stolen gin, bruised shins, and weird sex, was an event too momentous for the medium assigned to record it. Car Seat Headrest has now released a new version of Twin Fantasy. “It was never a finished work,” Will says, “and it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.” He has, now, the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker. According to him, it took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right. But this is no shallow second take, sanitized in studio and scrubbed of feeling. This is the album he always wanted to make. It sounds the way he always wanted it to sound.

 

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U-Men

U-Men

"Given the time (the '80s) and place (Seattle, Washington) in which their career took place, it's not surprising that the U-Men are widely acknowledged as important but little heard precursors to the nascent grunge movement. However, a listen to the group's music quickly reveals the flaw in this bit of conventional wisdom -- they didn't sound at all like a grunge band. The U-Men lacked the allegiance to heavy rock that was at the foundation of grunge pioneers like Green River, the Melvins, and Soundgarden, and the wiry attack of their guitars was designed to slice, not to bludgeon. They also had a singular frontman in vocalist John Bigley, whose abstractly shaped torrents of syllables put him in a class with Iggy Pop, David Yow, and David Thomas for creative rewiring of the English language. Musically, the U-Men suggested a stripped-to-the-frame hot rod built with parts scavenged from the Birthday Party and Scratch Acid, though it's pretty obvious that guitarist Tom Price took those influences and ran considerably far with them using his own power and imagination. The U-Men were a lot closer to punk than grunge, but their music was a lot smarter and more exploratory than the vast majority of what was coming out of the hardcore underground at the same time. ... Still a legend spoken of with reverence in their hometown, the U-Men have been honored with a two-disc collection, boldly titled U-Men, that brings together their entire body of studio-recorded work along with five previously unreleased tracks. Nearly 30 years after the group called it a day, the material on U-Men barely seems to have aged at all; like the best rock & roll outliers, the U-Men created something that was less a product of a specific time and place than music that existed in a world of its own, and that planet is still a wild, fractured, and thoroughly compelling place to visit in the 21st century." - All Music

 

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Gruntruck

Gruntruck

"If you were keeping tabs on grunge bands in the early ’90s, you probably remember Gruntruck. A supergroup born out of members of Skin Yard, Soundgarden, The Accused and Final Warning, while the Seattle rockers embraced all the elements of grunge, they also brought a heavier, darker influence to the table. Albums on respectable labels like Empty and Roadrunner built them a loyal fanbase, and metal heads watching Headbanger’s Ball we’re on board with Gruntruck’s metallic take on the Seattle sound. Tragically, major label legal nightmares would take the spirit and finances out of the band, and frontman Ben McMillan passed away as this third album sat shelved until 2017. A logical extension from where they were in their heyday, Found is an aggressive, noisey, and tuneful take on what Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden we’re doing at their peak. Often sounding like a pre Sub Pop alt-rock band cutting their teeth in dimly lit night clubs, the chunky basslines and chaotic melody present brings to mind Staley, Vedder and Cobain on steroids. A band who never got their due, had this come out in 1997 when it was recorded, there’s little doubt it would have propelled Gruntruck into the spotlight." - New Noise

 

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Noah Gundersen

White Noise

"In the past, one wouldn't have been remiss to label Noah Gundersen as indie folk and press the Seattle singer-songwriter comfortably into a corner with many of his similarly talented contemporaries. His warm, silk-and-grit vocals aside, he offered his heart on a string without many frills in his previous albums, with tracks often only instrumentally adorned with strummy guitar and introspective fiddling. Fans of Gundersen may be in for a surprise with White Noise. While he most certainly isn't the first folk singer to go electric, as the popular term goes, he is among the first to come out swinging with a record as layered undeniably different as this. While such a sudden change may be received to varying degrees depending on who you ask, there's also no denying the music on the LP is among his best work." - Pop Matters

 

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Odesza

A Moment Apart

"ODESZA's highly anticipated third album is one of this year's most emotive releases. Following 2012's debut album Summer's Gone and 2014's In Return, A Moment Apart finds the Seattle duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight putting forth their most ambitious material to date. ODESZA's meteoric rise to fame within the indie electronic scene is a testament to their ability to create truly moving and emotive music. Since their earliest days as instrumentalists, Mills and Knight have stayed true to their vision and looked to push the boundaries of their work, but that's more of a priority than ever here: 'Our first album was about discovering our sound,' Mills says in a press release. 'The second one was us trying to do something new with it and becoming more songwriters than instrumentalists, and this one was understanding what we do and trying to push it.'" - Exclaim!

 

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Danny Newcomb & The Sugarmakers

All The Way

"[A]lthough it is indeed its own animal, [All The Way] doesn’t veer too terribly far from the brilliant sonic course that was set by [debut] Masterwish. While that direction was the right choice, let’s address the elephant in the room right now. The debut was a northwest masterpiece, so the new album has a mighty big sleeve to fill, as do all sophomore albums that follow a great release. Like Masterwish, the new album has more hooks than the fishing aisle at a Cabelas, killer harmonies and great musicianship once again. After a whole bunch of spins, I consider it to be on the same level as Masterwish and that is quite an accomplishment." - Glen Casebeer, Northwest Music Scene

 

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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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