! = recommended
* = all-ages
Don't see your show on our calendar? Contact our calendar editor.
Tullycraft's first single came out when I was fifteen. Played heavily on WPRB Princeton, "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About" was the start of MY long and damning relationship with indie pop. Yet, like the boy in that 1995 single, Tullycraft has made me worry I was too stupid to know about the bands they were singing about. My love for them has been a combination of sheer adoration and joy coupled with a nervousness that I was missing the joke -- maybe I too, in the words of the album's title track "Lost in Light Rotation," never took the time to learn the slang that we speak or the slogans on the t-shirts. Yet when the message is all wrapped up in harmonies and power chords, I forget my fear for love of bouncing and singing along.
Tullycraft’s vision of twee was something both sweet and cynical, a cuteness belied with dirty jokes, and both obscure references and snide comments about other bands. Don’t you dare try to tell me they’re all about ukuleles and bunny rabbits and cuddly wuddly love songs! The hearts in their songs are often broken, the best times have already past, and computers don’t even exist as a way to keep in touch with friends.
This is Solvents' least stylistically ambitious release -- and that is a very good thing. The band hasn't gone purely minimalistic in working with Karl Blau for one day in his Anacortes studio; the absolutely luscious violin of Emily Madden honey-drips upon her husband Jarrod Bramson's salty sighed-vocals in a way that could never be described as overly restrained. But the duo are sounding gingerly tight and scrupulously aware of their best qualities in the seven songs that make up Ghetto Moon, and every song could be a gentle giant hit. They've left the cut-and-paste scruff of oblique fanzine rock for cafe troubadour waltz, august vocal melodies partnered with bardic elucidation. And yet not without coy humor ("I'm so obscure, and bitter cool, and long to come undone").
The Port Townsend, WA creator-couple have released, over time, a flurry of diverse-sounding cassettes and CDs and Internet-mixes, and their last planned full-length, the appreciated forgive yr. blood, showed they could be a lo-fi Basement Tapes jukebox of styles. Ghetto Moon is much different: it's all stately-gorgeous, if denuded to Jarrod's mellifluous lead vocals and Emily's complimentary harmonies, truly deeply sung melodies that are going to stick with you as much as her lovely fiddling.
Lines We Trace opens up suddenly, with all kinds of ache laced through the echoes of a well-worn Andrew Bird album, cut beautifully with strains of Matt Bishop's unmistakable vocals. It's a powerful track ("Tides"), the line I would trade ten thousand days / for one more hour with you immediately vaulting the listener into a pile of Polaroids, to sift through the sweet nostalgia of every relationship they ever had that didn't quite work out. As sudden as the physical start of this album is the realization that Hey Marseilles has matured, with a new depth to their composition, yet with that familiar I'm-telling-this-story-right-to-your-soul songwriting that we've come to know and love.
For those who have gotten by these last few years on live shows, the occasional single release, and 2008's To Travels and Trunks; Lines We Trace is the equivalent of a new apartment in a town you love: you know the roads around it like the back of your hand, but you've never seen the sunlight through the windowpanes quite like this. Everything that's wonderful and familiar about Hey Marseilles is present -- a profound earnestness, those unmistakable chord progressions, the orchestral swells and pitches -- but delivered with new perspective, more wisdom, and perhaps the sight of a first laugh line in the bathroom mirror.
Here is some fantastic news to brighten any grey Seattle Fall day -- our favorite garage-surf rockers the Tea Cozies are releasing a new EP on October 30! I don’t think I have stopped randomly breaking into “sha lalalala”-style choruses since their last album Hot Probs dropped. Their latest effort, titled Bang Up, is a five-song feel-good funhouse that’s filled with three-chord riffs and dreamy pop vocals.
Bang Up was recorded over the summer and features the Tea Cozies’ distinct brand of 60’s girl group harmonies blended with effervescent surf pop rhythms. Briefly venturing into the darker reaches on “Cosmic Osmo,” you get a taste of their more rough edge capabilities and quirkier sound. But it doesn’t last long: they quickly take you back to dreamland in the closing track “Silhouette in a Suitcase,” which catapaulted me straight to the days of Veruca Salt and Blur.
The highlight is “Muchos Dracula,” a wonderfully retro-spooky monster ode reminiscent of The Munsters theme song and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Not to mention, it’s bloody perfect for Halloween! All in all, the Tea Cozies didn’t stray far from the familiar, but instead work on perfecting what they already know. And that’s okay by me because heck, it had me skipping down the street.
For their fifth full-length album, Moms, Portland’s Menomena underwent a significant lineup change: front man and multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf left the group in January of 2011 to focus on his own project, Ramona Falls. Thankfully, the remaining members of the band -- bassist and saxophonist Justin Harris and drummer Danny Seim -- are not short on talent in their own right. Friends since high school, the pair simply kept the band together as a two-piece, and the result is an album that proves to be Menomena’s most lyrically intense and earnest work yet, and also one of their best.
While the sound of the band occasionally argued and feuded as a three-piece, now that they are down to two, the decision making process has been refined and by all accounts, it appears as though the recording of Moms was very collaborative and productive. The songwriting and singing duties for the ten tracks are now split evenly between the two members; with Harris and Seim taking the lead singing role on five tracks each, even alternating back and forth from track to track.
The most striking development on Moms is the straightforward (and at times downright dark) lyrical moments on the album, which is often seemingly directed at their upbringing and family dynamic. Seim’s mother died when he was young, and Harris was raised by his mother after his Vietnam-veteran father walked out on the family when he was still a teenager. A strong example is this line from the Harris sung “Pique”, where he sings: Now I’m a failure / cursed with male genitalia / a parasitic fuck / with no clue as to what men do / impossible to love. On “Heavy Is As Heavy Does” Harris touches on a multitude of topics including family (Heavy are the branches / hanging from my fucked up family tree), religion (I’m not one for religion / but I can’t seem to shake this imagery) and relationships (Among six billion people / I want the ones who never wanted me).