Seattle Roundup

Even when you are on vacation the cogs of the city continue to grind. The music may slow down a bit in the hazy shade of the summer months, but it doesn’t stop. Seattle radio station to the world KEXP has a summer concert series at the Mural Amphitheatre at the Seattle Center and this Friday’s show is an indiepop lover’s wet dream. Seapony, Math & Physics Club and Arthur & Yu offshoot Gold Leaves will take the stage this Friday afternoon starting at 6pm. It’s free and there’s a beer garden. Music is free, beer is not.

Another free summer show I’m looking forward to is Cairo’s strangely named Vibrations Festival.  With a name like that you would be forgiven for assuming it’s a reggae festival. At least it’s not called the Positive Vibrations Festival. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s all indierawk man. It all goes down at Veteran’s Park on Saturday, 20 August. You can climb the stairs to the water stand pipe and walk through the conservatory between sets  from Grass Widow, Charles Leo Gebhardt, Purple & Green, Flexions, Metal Chocolates, Stephanie, Witch Gardens, and Seapony (again).

All of the above is well and good if you live around here. If you don’t, just know that Seattleites think summer is when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun makes an appearance for at least 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. What do you do besides suffer from Seasonal Effective Dissorder year round?  Listen to music I guess.

The Glasses are about to release their third album and in the absence of Tullycraft they are taking over the crown of the Emerald City’s writers of undeniable, saccharine-twee songs. Their new record is called Love Is Queer and they play a record release show down in Georgetown on Friday, 26 August. Grab the album for free over at their bandcamp page.

mp3: The Glasses – Love Is Queer

It’s not often that a new label is birthed around here so we should all give thanks for Fin Records which has a bunch of 7-inch singles available for your consumption. My favorite so far is the Seacats single. Both songs are plucked from the band’s Metal Music album that came out a few months back, but sometimes it’s nice to have the best songs on a slab of wax and that is what Fin Records has done. Seacats evoke a bunch of NW bands. Long Winters, Boat, Modest Mouse and Young Fresh Fellows  all come to mind. What are you waiting for?

mp3: Seacats – We Don’t Sleep (from the single in Fin Records)

The Dutchess and the Duke have ceased to be, but as you may have heard, the Duke Jesse Lortz has a new thing he’s calling Case Studies. It’s not a far cry from his previous band. The album is about to be released on Sacred Bones. It was recorded in the rain shadow of Sequim (pronounced Skwim) over on the Olympic Peninsula with the help of some Crystal Stilts.

mp3: Case Studies – Lies (from The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night on Sacred Bones)

Supposedly Arthur and Yu are still a thing, but Grant Olson has put that band on ice for the time being and donned the moniker Gold Leaves.  The Seattle Weekly wrote a nice piece on the album where Olson describes the record as his R & B, doo-wop, country record. If you appreciate obscurities like Fred Neil, Moose, Jack Nitzsche, and Jim Sullivan then this record is meant to be in your house.

mp3: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind (from The Ornament on Hardly Art)

Not quite Seattle (though I hear they’re trying to trade up to Seattle from Portland), Orca Team have a cassette release on Seattle label GGNZLA. Kissing Cousins is more of their uncanny 50’s zombie sock hop vibe. Not only are they good, but apparently they are prolific as well.

mp3: Orca Team – Michael (from Kissing Cousins on GGNZLA)

When making a mix tape I always liked to put a mellow song at the end. For this post Seattle’s Emuul provide that effect. Emuul is the moniker that Kyle Iman goes by. His new EP The Drawing of the Line isan excercise in how to be sublime. It will pick you up and set you on a pillowy cloud, massage your temples and put you in a dreamlike state.

The Black Hole of the Crystal Stilts

Crystal Stilts, Case Studies and Posse at the Crocodile, Seattle | 11 May 2011

Brooklyn’s (by way of Florida) Crystal Stilts played the Crocodile this past Wednesday night to a sparse audience. Apparently their darker take on the pop song doesn’t resonate as well with the kids as their labelmates and neighbors the Pains of Being Pure at Heart brighter stylings who sold the place out a few weeks ago. Where the Pains are bright colors and glistening pop hooks, Crystal Stilts dredge around below the ground in the dark of night. Their second album In Love With Oblivion recently released on Slumberland is a more assured effort than their debut. JB Townsend’s guitars rattle, jangle and shatter with a Bo Diddly tenacity while singer Brad Hargett keeps his vocals murky making you dig just a little for the melody.

Oblivion doesn’t make you dig too deep with its abundance of hooks as their previous effort Alight of Night did. Its glistening guitar more often than not offsets Hargett’s caliginous musings.  The band have never been ones to lead sing-alongs at their shows, opting to put up a distinct boundary between them and whoever shows up to see them play,  and this night was no different.  Crystal Stilts where there to play, oblivious to whether there were 50 or 500 people in the room which was good and bad.  Good  because there were only about 50 people there. They belted out a set of big moody songs that sparkled at times like a partly cloudy day in Seattle.  Sun breaks came with the Felt inspired Half a Moon, the pop of Through the Floor, and single Shake the Shackles and then darkness reigned on Prometheus At Large and Flying Into the Sun. Bad because it seemed like their set was cut short by the band’s disaffection or their general awkwardness of just being on stage.  Their music sounds intimidating, but to see them play, much of the mystery and malice that their songs conjure disappears because of their lack of a charismatic stage presence. They seemed uncomfortable playing to a mostly empty room and made a short night of it, only playing nine songs plus and encore.

I should not complain too much, because what they played sounded great. Evoking the Bunnymen, Velvets, 13 Floor Elevators and Felt at once is no easy feat, but it felt like it was phoned in. If you’re only going to play nine songs then why even bother with an encore? Just play 10 and leave the stage. Do it like you mean it and leave me wanting more. A band like Crystal Stilts who seem to not give a fuck about whether you’re there or not shouldn’t conform to the tired encore. If they would have done it like they meant it they would not have come back for an encore of Love Is a Wave. They would have left me wanting more, but as it was they left me wondering why they only played 10 songs and hoping they gain some charisma before they play Seattle again.

mp3: Crystal Stilts – Half a Moon (from In Love With Oblivion available on vinyl and CD from Slumberland Records)

Jesse Lortz who was the Duke in the Dutchess and the Duke has a new moniker in Case Studies. I had seen him a couple months ago at Cairo with only an acoustic guitar and thought his new songs were ho-hum, but this time getting some help from 3/5 of the Crystal Stilts the songs seemed to have more of an impact. The performance felt more like a practice with Lortz coaxing the Stilts on to “try another one”, but it seemed like they were on the right track and left me hoping the Lortz employs a band when goes to actually record some of these songs.

Kicking off the evening were Seattle’s very own entry into the 90’s retread, Posse. Versus come to mind and that in and of itself should wet your whistle. The trio sounded amazing, and seemed totally comfortable on the Crocodile’s super high stage giving a shout out to their parents who showed up to see them play.  If you haven’t checked them out over at their bandcamp page, what are you waiting for?