Take some Power Corruption & Lies New Order, Imperial f.f.r.r. Unrest and some current day Orca Team and Shopping and you could have a fairly good idea where the debut album from As Ondas is coming from. Andrew Milk from Shopping lends his bass this trio and is joined by Ochi Reyes of Wachi Wachi and Moema Meade of Joey Fourr.
The band sing in English, Portuguese and Spanish. and their slightly dancy, very minimalist and laid back sound has an effortless feel to it. The first track Iguale has New Order style guitar, but New Order never sang in Portuguese or Spanish, though they did like to hang out on Ibiza. The entire record has a playful and easy feel to it centered around tight rhythmic songs. Esta Noche is guaranteed to make you move something on your body and Vida de um Creep has an intro that sounds like the Smithereens‘ Blood and Roses and then morphs into a Funboy Three song. Looking for something cool and fun for the summer? This is it!
As Ondas is available on CD & download via Jigsaw Records in the US and on vinyl via Tuff Enuff in the UK.
Apparently Orca Team‘s Leif Anders has gone into a government witness protection plan. He appears to be sending out communiques from somewhere in the Carribean under the name Tim McClanahan. Last year Orca Team seemed to totally go for it. They released a great album in Restraint and toured like crazy. Perhaps they burnt out a bit or maybe Interpol or the Russian mafia really are after them because they’re now on some kind of ‘hiatus’ and Leif is going by Tim and playing in a tropical band.
Week of Wonders is the new band. It’s a trio fronted by Leif, who has switched to a guitar that sounds like steel drums. Week of wonders takes the surfy, 50’s driven Orca Team sound and takes it to a secret island in the Bermuda Triangle, spices it up and gives it a mojito. The band have a five song EP called Failures up on Bandcamp available right now.
Could this have been the year that Seattle went pop? Sure, there have been bands here and there with pop leanings, but this was the year that Seattle finally shed it’s flannel, got out of the garage, and didn’t feel like it had to be wooly, bearded and mechanical all the time. Look out old Seattle, the kids don’t care about your hang-ups! Here are my favorite 15 records (album, ep’s and singles) from the Emerald City and environs.
It was pretty cool to see much of Seattle’s music press unanimously agree that Erik Blood’s Touch Screens was a brilliant record. He took his shoegaze leanings, added some electronics, a motorik beat or two and came up with a concept album about pornography. Too bad that recognition seemed to stop at the city limits. Dear rest of the world, you may have missed one of the finest records put out this year. The Lonesome Death of Henry Paris:
stream: Touch Screens
Part soul, interstellar hip-hop, and trip-hop, the duo Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White combined to create a record that sounded like little else in Seattle and anywhere else for that matter. It didn’t get as much gushing attention as the Shabazz Palaces album did last year. It should have because it’s a better record. QueenS:
Neighbors’ deft songwriting seemed to effortlessly take their REM and Pavement influences and create a record that could rattle as well as soothe. John in Babeland came out cassette way back in February, luckily I got a download of it because as much as I’ve played it, the cassette wound up all scrunched in a tape deck by now. All United Grocery:
Dark clouds, dark allies, dark dark. Evening Meetings wouldn’t, no couldn’t take place in the light of day nor in any other place. Claustrophobia induced by low pressure and heavy dark clouds and dusk that sets in around 3pm. This time of year in Seattle it’s dark most of the time and in some weird strange way this record turns on the bright lights every time I listen to it. Shimmer Street:
Half Right is the best song to come out of Seattle this year. If I didn’t know any better I would have guessed they moved here from New Zealand and started a PNW Flying Nun shop right here in our midst. Seattle, rejoice! There is a pop band in our midst that breathes kiwi air.
Have you ever been to the beach in Washington? You can actually drive right onto it with your car because nobody’s there. It’s flat, cold and windy no matter when you go, winter, spring, summer or fall. La Luz don’t belong in this surfer’s nightmare. Their surfer’s paradise of an EP had to have been born in warmer climes, but being from Seattle, perhaps long winter day’s indoors, hanging with the ghosts of the Ventures and dreaming of an endless summer did it. Sure As Spring:
The basic sound of Orca Team record hasn’t changed much over their short career. Their bass-driven 50’s surf pop jangle consistently pleases. They’re random output of singles, cassettes and CDr’s has been scattershot. Finally the band has seemed to focus and that concentration makes Restraint feel like a proper record. Its concise songs make quick long lasting impressions.
Posse’s self-titled debut is brazen with amazing pop songs. They have the gritty boy-girl back and forth in their songs and slashing guitar solos that aren’t over the top but just right. You older folk will appreciate their affinity towards Versus. Back in the 90’s during that post Nirvana signing frenzy Posse undoubtedly would have been sitting on piles of cash and big record deal. Oh how times have changed.
Tea Cozies re-materialized after three years in the wilderness with this killer five song EP. It has an air of confidence about it and flare that will have fans of both 90’s Britpop and college rock hopefully reaching for their pocketbooks as well as old albums by the Tuscadero, Blake Babies and Sleeper. Silhouette In A Suitcase: stream: Bang Up
You thought I was kidding about the pop capitol of the world,didn’t you. I wasn’t and Chastity Belt are here to back me up. Their Pony Tail single had the audacity to tell the general NPR listening, latte drinking, Game of Thrones playing male populace of Seattle to cut off their ponytails. What a bunch of punks!
Blooper do saccharin powerpop so well that any cuts inflicted by their killer songs will bleed cherry syrup. Look out for a new 7-inch single from these Ballard popsters early in the new year on Manic Pop! Records.
Tacoma’s Nightgowns, similar to Tea Cozies have been slumbering for a few years, but this EP sees them wide awake and in good form. Slightly bombastic and theatrical, but only slightly, Bonita sounds like that bubble the Flaming Lips use, but instead of it being in a sea of confetti, they are bounding across the high desert, down the cascades and into the Sound.
The Purrs are like the elder statesmen of nothing. They’ve been around for years putting out great records to little recognition. Perennially writing killer songs that are left rotting on the vine so to speak. If anyone ever asks you, yes they do make them use to. Seattle’s Fin records have given the Purrs a new home and this beauty is a taste of their album due next year.
Funny how Seapony’s second album is better than their first and yet last year they were number one in my Seattle albums and now they’re number 14. It might be because Falling was more of the same only better or it might be because I’m capricious. They may have slightly fallen out of fashion, but this record will be considered a Sarah-esque classic in a few years. Too bad it takes obscurity for some people to really appreciate things.
Stephanie sound like they could have been on Factory records back in the early 80’s. They employed Erik Blood to record One Glove, but it sounds like they got Martin Hannett from the grave instead. Stephanie employ sparse, jaggedy steely guitars that are part Magazine and part Durutti Column and a singer that some might say is an acquired taste but they make it work quite well.
Rose Melberg has been in a quite a few bands. Tiger Trap and Go Sailor were reved up C-86 fueled rock records. After that things mellowed out and have stayed that way. The Softies were gentle and sugary and here last few solo records kept the minimal sweet and soft songs coming. After going solo for the last few records, she’s got a band together again that goes by Brave Irene. They released an eight song self-titled album on Slumberland earlier this year that brings back some of the energy from her Tiger Trap and Go Sailor days with its organ soaked and harmony drenched songs. Brave Irene play a rare live show this Saturday, November 5th at the Vera Project here in Seattle. Opening the show will be the city’s very own indiepop hero’s in the making Seapony. It’s great to have a band like Seapony in Seattle. They’re active, playing out a lot and make shows like this happen with their enthusiastic support. The band have a new 7-inch coming out on Hardly Art, so I’m guessing we’ll hear some new songs along with the gems that adorned their album Go With Me.
While we’re talking shows, Orca Team are playing the tiny Rendezvous Thursday night. The former Portland band seems to have defected and now officially call Seattle home. They are still playing that 50’s dance party music from 20 leagues beneath the sea and are garaunteed to be wearing matching outfits. Opening are Detective Agency who are pretty new to Seattle. So new, they only have two songs posted over on their facebook page. Both are drenched with noise and DIY. I’ve been kind of obsessed with their song Daggers for the last couple days. I’m hoping they’ve got a bunch more stuffed in a duffle bag that are just as good.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me seems to keep quietly releasing stellar music and the latest batch of singles is no different. Here’s the evidence:
Cleveland’s Afternoon Naps will get you ready for summer with a double A-side (there’s no B-side on this record, both songs are on one side so you don’t have to flip). Jangling guitars, swirling organ and pastoral melodies abound. The sounds are so smooth and sugary sweet you forget that this is coming from the rust belt. I think I’m partial to Short Sleeves and it’s nod to the Free Design and its mysterious refrain of ‘short sleeves they are mocking me.’ Are her arms so undeniable, or is it because she can wear them in the winter sun? mp3: Afternoon Naps – Short Sleeves (get the single from HHBTM)
Orca Team are from Portland, Oregon, but play Seattle more than most Seattle bands. Their self-released album from last year had many highlights but my favorite was Vancouver, BC a song where they scoff at Seattle for being not that great. Go figure. Pacific Northwest rivalries aside, they’ve plucked Vancouver, BC and slapped it onto a 7-inch giving it rightful single status. The two b-sides were recorded live, Take My Hand being a new one. One of my favorite bands in Pacific NW right now. mp3: Orca Team – Vancouver, BC (get the single from HHBTM)
Eureka California hail from Athens, Georgia, but have named themselves after a town in California. This trio look to the currently popular 90’s indie rock scene for inspiration and sprinkle their hooks with a little supergrass and pixie dust. I kind of wasn’t sure about this record at first but its nerdy grittiness has endeared it to me. mp3: Eureka California – Modern Times (get the single from HHBTM)
You’ve just entered high school gymnasium, it could be the 50’s or an old Twin Peaks set, but the band up on the stage is dressed in period clothes and their moonlit, minimal bass heavy sound has just caused you to swoon. A girl in a poodle skirt and a ponytail comes up and asks you to dance. The band bounces along adding some heavenly ooohhhs to the chorus. You say yes to the girl because you can’t believe your luck. Yeah the girl is a dame, but the band is really where it’s at. You’d probably dance with anyone they’re so good.
Portland’s Orca Team may be throwbacks to a bygone era, but they incorporate some more modern references into their sound like Unrest, Sea Lions and a little bit of Beat Happening. I recently found out about them when I was checking to see who was opening for the Intelligence at the Funhouse on 16 October. Mainly seeing if I could come up with a good excuse to go see them again. Orca Team has provided the perfect excuse, and now that I’ve had their album Let It Go on repeat for the past several days, I think I may be going to see them instead of the Intelligence.