Some Good Albums from Seattle This Year

The moss has grown another layer over the past year here in the upper left corner of the U.S. and my stack of records from this Pacific Northwest outpost has grown as well. Luckily I have a cool dry place to store them. Here are my favorite records from Seattle for 2015, center justified for your reading comfort.

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Zebra Hunt – City Sighs (Tenorio Cotobade)
Buy | Listen

My favorite album of the year from Seattle or anywhere. If you’ve been reading along this year you probably could have easily guessed that.

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TheeSatisfaction – Earthee (Sub Pop)
Buy | Listen

Unclassifiable soul, hip hop, space age record that is part throwback, part social commentary and part bravely looking into the dark distant future.

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Childbirth – Women’s Rights (Suicide Squeeze)
Buy | Listen

The best feminist punk rock manifesto with a since of humor since forever.

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Unlikely Friends – Solid Gold Cowboys (Jigsaw)
Buy | Listen

With the rise of Unlikely Friends, fans of Boat and Math and Physics Club can’t be too sad that neither of those bands released a record this year. I wasn’t.

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Telekinesis – Ad Infinitum (Merge)
Buy | Listen

Michael Lerner eschewed his guitars and started collecting vintage synths to create a record inspired by OMD, Postal Service and Blue Nile.

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La Luz – Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art)
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Enlisting Ty Segall to record their sophomore record La Luz continue to shoot the curl with another great set of surf rock.

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Wimps – Suitcase (Kill Rock Stars)
Buy | Listen

Wimps dial up another batch of killer slacker punk rock anthems (if there is such a thing). Their sophomore LP Suitcase sees them getting higher marks in all categories which, given their M.O. is probably exactly the opposite of what they were going for.

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Grace Love and the True Loves – Grace Love and the True Loves (Self-Released)
Buy | Listen

The great soul revival of 2015 even reached such remote outposts as Seattle and Grace Love and the True Loves debut album was one of the best soul records of the year from any city.

DetectiveAgency
Detective Agency – Now (Discos de Kirlian)
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I’m not sure if Detective Agency would appreciate being called indiepop, but I call ’em like I see ’em and this is some very fine indiepop!

car seat headrest
Car Seat Headrest –  Teens of Style (Matador)
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The career of Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest reminds me of Steven Jones of Babybird. Make a bunch of songs in your bedroom and release them and then find a band to re-record the best ones and voila, instant good record rooted in lo-fi but with some new bright corners.

ponytime

Ponytime – Rumours 2: The Rumours Are True (S-S)
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Apparently Fleetwood Mac has permeated the garage rock scene of Seattle. I doubt there are any complicated love quadrangles in this band since they’re a duo. They’re more focused on just delivering a bunch of killer jams.
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Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home (Hardly Art)
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Chastity Belt got serious on album  album number two. Their first LP No Regerts was middle school lo-brow humor compared to Time To Go Home’s more mature and measured sound that is a unique combination of drone and some of that heavier rock from the 90’s for which Seattle is well known.

Telekinesis! | Black Whales @ the Tractor

Telekinesis! and Black Whales at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle | 22 October 2008

Seattle is so full of bands that there seems to be a new one each week that everyone is getting excited about, you’d think it was Brooklyn or something. While I’m not very good at predicting what band is going to be the next big thing, I would hazard a guess that either the Black Whales or Telekinesis! have pretty good odds. And as luck would have it they were sharing a bill at the Tractor Tavern down in Ballard last night.

Telekinesis! on paper is mostly Michael Lerner but he has a band for gigs. Lerner plays drums and sings which requires a different stage setup than the typical drums in the back.  Last night the stage was arranged with the drums up front and off to the side, and reminded me of seeing Tom Vek a few years ago where he had the drums setup as the centerpiece. Having the drums up front always offers a different and interesting dynamic to a band.  Lerner certainly doesn’t get lost behind his kit  looking a little like Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys, he keeps the banter going between songs and is a genuinely engaging singer with a smooth boyish voice.Telekinesis have a power pop energy in songs like Tokyo and All of a Sudden, but there is a more esoteric to some of their stuff that reminds me of other NW bands like the Shins and Throw Me the Statue.  Telekinesis! aren’t really breaking any new ground, but Lerner can turn a great pop hook and their set was pretty fun.  I can only imagine that will get even better with more playing.  Look out for a Telekinesis! album produced by Chris Walla in the coming months.

mp3: Telekinesis! – All of a Sudden

mp3: Telekinesis! – Coast of Carolina

I caught the last song of Black Whales‘ set as I arrived to see Boat at the Reverb fest a few weeks ago.  With that one song, I had heard enough to know I wanted to see them again.  Black Whales have this warmth in their sound that makes it seem like they’ve been together much longer than they really have.  The band seem to just really mesh with a sound that has elements of powerpop, classic rock and slight hints of country (I could be just making up the country thing, because of the western shirts three quarters of the band were sporting last night).   I’m sure that front man Alex Robert with his boyish good looks will end up getting compared to Conor Oberst, but Black Whales remind me more of California power pop bands of the 80’s like the Plimsouls, the Rave-Ups and Wire Train.  Black Whales played about ten songs and were joined for a few of them by Robert’s sisters to sing backing vocals.   They have a four song ep that they were giving away for free.  I’m glad I picked one up early because they were all snatched up by the end of the night.  According to an interview the band did over on the Three Gigs blog they’ve recorded enough songs for an album and as evidenced last night they’re quality songs.

mp3: Black Whales – Books on Tape

mp3: Black Whales – The Diamond Divide