Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Woolen Men – “Alley Cat”

Always good to hear a new one from those cats in Woolen Men and the start of a singles’ club coinciding with a revenue share day on Bandcamp seems like a damn good reason to get over and pick this one up. “Alley Cat” is a straightforward chugger with a lightly toasted twang that ought to get your head noddin’ and the grooves stuck squarely in your head. Northwest indie goodness filling up the speakers on a Friday afternoon. Can’t ask for too much more than that these days. Nab this one and keep an eye out for the rest of the series.





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Prana Crafter

Its already been a big year for Prana Crafter, with a stunning tape for Beyond Beyond is Beyond released around the first bend of 2018. Bhodi Cheetah’s Choice was draped in the hallmarks of great psych folk (think Relatively Clean Rivers recorded by Six Organs of Admittance), while pulling from the aesthetic traditions of masters like Amon Duul II and Trad Gras och Stenar. That release already made it into the top albums of the year when I ran down the first half tally, but its gonna have a hard time holding on as the Prana Crafter essential of ’18 with William Sol delivering a short-order follow up that cements his status as the new psych-folk class’ frontrunner. Enter The Stream hits just as hard as the tape that precedes it, digging deeper into the mossy wonderland of humid strums and heat warbled effects that drew me to Prana Crafter’s psychedelic vision. The LP seamlessly snakes between vocal and instrumental folk with an ear towards the grander scale, building a world over its forty-minute run.

The album, like some of the best of its genre(s) isn’t wholly interested in seeding your brain with standalone hooks. Instead the whole thing climbs in under the skin and takes root. There’s a darkness permeating Enter The Stream – quiet, lonesome, aching but never wholly consumed by the creeping dread. Its an album at one with the dark, thriving like mind-altering fungus on the dank corners the world forgot and reaching up towards the peeking light that filters down through the tree cover with a tentative curiosity. Sol knows his way around atmosphere and he wields it with the skill and scale of a cinematographer on the album.

He builds dread on tracks like “Mycorhizzal Brainstorm” then twists the knife on the ensuing “The Spell.” He balls up tension in the pit of the stomach on “Pillow Moss Absorption” then melts it all away with the orange-streaked closer “At The Dawn.” The album can’t be easily parsed, which I always find an endearing quality. Its not meant for part and parcel consumption, but rather it needs to be absorbed in full, preferably in low light with the weight of the day long behind the listener. If Sol was just teasing us with a release as high quality as Bhodi, then with Enter The Stream he proves that his legacy as a psychedelic force is well under way. This one’s an essential pickup for 2018 and only gets richer with each trip ‘round the table.




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Wimps

On their third album, Seattle’s Wimps knock the production into gear and embrace the best moments of squirm pop that slid from the tail of punk into the birth of New Wave. They trade in a brand of sax squall that hits like a belt sander to their chunky hooks. They rope in heat exhausted synth lines to the kind of twitchy punk that would make Devo and Magazine proud. There’s no small love for power pop in the band’s sound either, they wrap their heads around pop and punk (without necessarily combining the two) and work it out like Ric Ocasek was twiddling knobs in the nineties when this one was made. While dipping their toes into Slacker pop from a lyrical standpoint, the band never lose a moment to sweat on the tempos. They’re couch surfing and grousing about procrastination but damn well motivated when it comes to moving a crowd.

The band has a penchant for elevating the mundane – pontificating about their love of cheese pizzas, dragging ass around the house and penning odes to Monday like Garfield hopped up amphetamines waiting for his intro by Perter Ivers before they lay waste to the set of New Wave Theater. They’re tapping into tried and true feelings but making the banal brilliant, flooding the phones with a sparkling barrage of hooks twisted with enough tin foil freakout to make it more than nineties pogo retread digging into the stack of discount bin weirdness from the previous decade. This seems like it could easily slip between the cracks of 2018, but don’t sleep on Wimps. This one cuts with glee and makes any day just a bit more bearable with its lash of levity.




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Bend Sinister – Tape 2

One of the great, ink-black holes of interest in the pervasive Seattle music culture is A-Frames. The dirge-worthy noise punks were a black hole of chaos, tearing up S-S records and Dragnet before even they got themselves a Sub Pop deal and subsequently either delighted or deflated listeners looking for a certain Northwest sound. Long before there was The Intelligence and slightly before there was the idea of an A-Frames proper, there was Bend Sinister – the incubator of sorts for what would grow into a sprawling, narcotic entity. The band was built around Erin Sullivan, Min Yee and Josh Turgeon but later added in Steve Kaplan, who in turn left to make way for Lars Finberg. Lars, Erin and Min would go on to form A-Frames but it was in Bend Sinister that their love of noise punk produced some of the heaviest din associated with the region.

Named after a Fall song and professing love for The Electric Eels, Scratch Acid, Feedtime and Country Teasers, there’s no doubt that the band was about to gouge a few holes in the linoleum when they let loose. Homeless culls up a good chunk of the band’s ‘90s recordings on Tape 2, and it’s a must for fans of the A-Frames trajectory, but more than just a curio for Northwest collectors. Despite the relatively low-profile release status of a lot of the material here, it hammers pretty hard, not going for pristine power like some of their contemporaries but exchanging scrubbed audio for pure power in the end equation. Having missed out on Bend Sinister in its day, but loving everything that came as a result, this is a great primer and a peek at the seeds of what was to come.



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Dude York

Despite the undeniable inevitability that they were pups during its actual occurrence, the members of Dude York are savants for the ’90s. True to form, that’s the way the winds of influence have begun to blow, the kids are cribbing my adolescence and I hate to admit, it’s kinda working on me. The songs on Sincerely are built on a trifecta of bands tied by a qualifying “Super” – shades of Supergrass, Superdrag and Super Furry Animals all bound throughout; each imparting their own sense of distorted, crunch-crusted power pop. The band breezes through a yard littered with the slick pieces of Matthew Sweet’s outsized hooks, cribbing more than a few for their own use. They even snag an unshakeable likeness to Spacehog at one time or another.

Now, the ’90s being a time of radio pop shots and one-offs that pulled bands into the spotlight and dumped them down to a few devotees, these anchor points might seem like a well-worn wast of time. They’d be chalked up as an homage paid to bands people dump in the dollar bin of their memories. But for those of us that got the hook of something better from late night radio waves embracing an new alternative, the crunch of distorted hooks feels like coming home. Between the forgettable punch of Eddie Vedder wannabes there were some true gems that funneled restless energy into spring-loaded pop hits.

This is what Dude York captures, on Sincerely. Along with the production team of John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill) and Cody Votolato, the band have packed up all the right pieces into a tight compilation built for ’90s kids who were too invested in Britpop for their own good. The kids with an NME subscription that caught confused glances in Midwestern lunch rooms. They’ve stacked the hooks high and glossed it all down to a tight sheen. And just like sense memory, this feels good in the headphones, a comfort food crunch that’s part after school snack and part drinking buddy. It may not be breaking any new ground, but it’s digging up the time capsule right.





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Pony Time

Pony Time are creating a pretty danceable racket with just bass and drums, knocking the garage-pop formula askew and finding their solace in a quick wit that’s underscored by chunky as hell hooks. The Seattle duo has kicked out four releases since 2011 and they’re only now finding a true stride with Rumours 2: The Rumours Are True. The band called out Wounded Lion, which caught my eye and its a damn fine point of reference for the their half cocked smile and thick low-end celebrating fare. There’s a toasted ember element in the grumble and rumble of Rumours that comes off as duct tape biker glam, feeling like a band reaching for the bright lights with what they have on hand. I’ve always loved a non-trad lineup and though the bass n’ drums combo has been around plenty (DFA 1979, COCO, Lightning Bolt) that fat bass sound combined with Luke Beetham’s yelp lets Pony Time keep the tradition alive without immediately pegging them into a hole dug by others traveling down similar aesthetic paths. The band brings the party and not a whiff of self-seriousness and that’s the charm of Rumours 2 they’re just hanging out like the Spuds McKenzie of garage you were always looking for.




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