Zebra Hunt Phasing Into the Sunset

Zebra Hunt, Unlikely Friends & Seacats at the Sunset Tavern, Seattle | 2 June 2017

Over the last five years it seems like many of my favorite Seattle bands have either broken up or left town. A few new ones have come up to replace them, but it seems like we’re in a slight lean period compared to the previous bounties we’ve experienced. Friday night at the Sunset in Ballard three Seattle bands provided some much needed rain on the parched fields of the Seattle music scene. Zebra Hunt, keepers of the Seattle pop flame, were celebrating their second album seeing the light of day courtesy of Spanish record label Tenorio Cotobade.

If you haven’t heard, Zebra Hunt are Seattle’s answer to the classic Flying Nun jangle of the 80’s and the current day jangling explosion of bands from Australia. If you’re old and dig the Clean and the Chills or young and love the Twerps and Chook Race, then Zebra Hunt will fit nicely into your wheelhouse. Having employed Jack Endino to record it, their sophomore effort improves on sound quality and sees no let up in song quality.

Focusing mostly on the new record the band played a great set for the home crowd and provided after show cupcakes decorated with their album cover. Since the last record Zebra Hunt have added a fourth member to the band to help flesh out their sound. The additional guitar and keyboard combined with their already stellar rhythm section increases the impact of the Zebra Hunt experience.

Singer and songwriter Robert Mercer writes about ordinary life but supplies an element of mystery to to his songs by being economical with the details. He is of the Raymond Carver school of writing. You get stories of house hunting, evening walks, listening to records in the kitchen and Foxhill Drive in 2005 with clues to what happened but no answers. I Wont’ Blame You house hunting backdrop sounds partly inspired by Courtney Barnett’s Depreston which was inspired by Paul Kelly’s To Her Door, which was inspired by Carver’s short stories. The lineage is impeccable.  With the release of In Phases, the band now have a larger trove of treasures to pull from for their live shows with a virtual guarantee never to disappoint.

Unlikely Friends were coerced out of their sabbatical to provide support. A BOAT and Math and Physics Club team-up, the group features the um, unlikely combination of both band’s singers, except on this night D. Crane had lost his voice . Probably due to the previous weekend’s BOAT reunion show or some rogue virus, the voiceless Crane  replaced his voice with a message he wrote on a series of notebook pages that littered the stage. The band was in triage mode with Charles Bert of MAPC taking over most of the vocals but letting the drummer Chris have some leads as well. They persevered and kept their sense of humor about them. Look for a second album and hopefully more shows from these underdogs when they’re restored to full power sometime in the not too distant future.

Opening the night were Seacats. Formerly of Kelso-Longview, but now apparently based in Seattle. The two singles I have of theirs give the impression that their a silly, happy-go-lucky sort of band, but as I walked in it was in the middle of their heavy stuff. I think it was their nuclear bomb song. Then they switched singers and pulled off a sublime psych-pop number and I was thoroughly confused. I wasn’t sure what to make of it all, but at least it was interesting!

Singles of the Year Countdown: 40-31

The 7-inch single has been around since 1949. That’s 62 years and counting! In my humble opinion the 7-inch single is still the essence, pinnacle and acme of pop perfection. Optimally, it’s one song, one side (Some try to squeeze on more). That’s no room for screwing up. You always hear that releasing a 7-inch is a money losing proposition, but that thankfully, doesn’t keep pop geeks from doing it. In honor of true blue pop geek vinyl junkies out there, here is the first installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.


31. Games – Don’t Look For Her (Robs House)
At first I thought this sounded like the Super Fury Animals, but then I got to thinking that they both just have a thing for the acid tinged side of the Kinks and a Rasperries fetish.
mp3: Games – Don’t Look For Her


32. Tunabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister (HHBTM)
Lo-fi to the core, but writing songs that transcend any recording fidelity. Half of me thinks they should get Steve Albini to record their next record, but the other half thinks they don’t need Albini. Albini needs them.
mp3: Tunnabunny – (Song For My) Solar Sister


33. Lenz – Leaving (The 21st Century) (SS Records)
The Bay area’s Lenz is just one of Andy Jordan’s bands that looks to the 80’s for inspiration. Leaving sounds like it could have been on The Sound’s From the Lion’s Mouth. It’s that good.
mp3: Lenz – Leaving (the 21st Century)


34. Fidlar – Wake Bake Skate (White Iris)
Whenever I have a day off this song is the soundtrack to my day. You can find me at one of a number Seattle’s skate parks with this on a cassette blasting out of my boombox. Is it 1985 again? Damn!
mp3Fidlar – Wake Bake Skate


35. Fear of Men – Ritual Confession (Italian Beach Babes)
Fear of Men first caught my attention with their cover of the Chills’ Pink Frost, but this, their debut single kept it. Their dreampop reminds me of Lovelife era Lush after they had shed their shoegaze origins.
mp3: Fear of Men Ritural Confession


36. Seacats – We Don’t Sleep (Fin)
There’s a bridge in Longview, Washington called the Nutty Narrows Squirrel Bridge. Apparently it’s there to help squirrels cross a busy downtown street.  Kelso is just across the Cowitz River from Longview which is where the  Seacats are from. No songs about quirky squirrel bridges here, just saccharine power pop. The band pluck two of the finest tracks from their internet album Metal Music and quickly join the ranks of Northwest’s top tier power pop bands.
mp3: Seacats – We Don’t Sleep


37. McDonalds – Name Names (State Capital)
Does Brooklyn have drive-thru’s? You know, to get your e’s. If they do McDonalds can probably give you directions. This one’s for all the 24 Hour Party People that were born 20 years too late.
mp3McDonalds – Name Names


38. Ice Choir – Two Rings ( Shelflife)
Pains of Being Pure at Heart drummer Kurt Feldman’s latest band are one big ode to the 80’s. Scritti Politti and Prefab Sprout to be exact. Destoyer should get them for their opening band.
mp3Ice Choir – Two Rings


39. Caucus – Wandering Ones (Cloudberry)
This kind of sounds like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but Japan’s Caucus aren’t aping them, they just have the same set of influences as that more well known band and implement them in slightly different way (The B-side is a cover of Rocketship’s I Love You Like the Way That I Used To Do).
mp3Caucus – Wandering Ones


40. UV Race – Acid Trip / Speed Freak (Sweet Rot)
Australia’s UV Race sound like Brix era Fall on this druggy single. Both Acid Trip and Speed Freak sound exactly as you would expect, that is trippy and freaky. Wonderful and frightening.
mp3: UV Race – Speed Freak

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.