Hump Day Hummables #2: Jessamine, Cellophane


I find these drizzly, cloudy days in the Pacific Northwest to be the ideal setting for breaking out the Jessamine cd’s from my collection. Jessamine was a band out of sync with the more populist sounds of alternative rock emerging from the Seattle scene in the mid-90’s. Their blend of krautrock, post-rock, and shoegaze set the band apart from everyone else in the region at the time. Certainly, Sky Cries Mary achieved a fair amount of success-but they had a more psychedelic and dance-oriented sound.

Jessamine’s self-titled debut album on Kranky Records is a treasure trove of eerie, haunting sounds that aren’t necessarily disturbing, but certainly not in line with the upbeat or angsty sounds of the time. Their minor college-radio hit Cellophane (KCMU-the precursor to KEXP-used to play the heck out of it) off of the debut album is what originally drew me to the band. The song’s surreal beauty always make me think of an imaginary David Lynch film. Definitely for fans of Slowdive, Can, and Slint.

You can listen to the song over on the youtubes. Read more after the jump.

Several other songs off the debut album also have an otherworldly feel to them (Ordinary Sleep and Secret in particular stand out), but the band was just as interested in pursuing more experimental and improvisational sounds as well as swooning pop songs. One Trick Pony is a great example of this side of their music. They would explore these sounds even further on their next album, Long Arm of Coincidence.

Seeing the band live was always a special experience-the band was so clear about what they were wanting to create, that they were able to take their songs off in exciting new directions. Their keyboardist in particular was always creating fascinating new sounds. The band released three full-length albums and a collection of singles and rarities called Another Fictionalized History. The debut and the singles collection are the places to start if you want to explore their music. All of their releases are well-known for having intricate, creative, and beautiful album artwork. They even put out a single that came with a lock and key. If you are a fan of Stereolab, and enjoy the keyboard aspect of Jessamine, you should check out Fontanelle as well-the keyboardist and lead guitarist’s follow-up project.


Sundries: Upcoming shows this summer!


Seattle band Sundries has been on the scene for a couple of years now-playing all over town at a variety of venues. They have released several singles and an EP, All Good Daughters. Lead singer Sadie Ava’s voice at times brings to mind Seattle favorite Carrie Akre. Never Call My Name in particular recalls Akre’s band, Goodness, at times, with its soulful, edgy, chugging indie rock. The band’s sound can veer from off-kilter time signature math rock (Ribbon) to bluesy jams (I Found Perfection). While their songs can vary in style and dynamics, there is always a constant heartbeat that trademarks every Sundries’ song as their own. Head over to their bandcamp page to hear or purchase any of their music.

You would be wise to see them live-and there are many opportunities to do so this summer, as they are playing a variety of shows around town. Next up they will be at the Comet Tavern on July 14th, playing with Muscle and Marrow. I have a feeling they’ve been secretly huddling in a local studio recording new material-so my guess is you might just hear some new tunes this summer.

Exohxo: Stream new EP-Stories and Fictions


I just came across this local, self-described “chamber pop” band recently. The band appears to be readying the release of their EP, Stories and Fictions, for an early August release. The EP veers from soaring, anthemic indie rockers to quirky, New Wave-y pop to piano-laden instrumentals. Storytellers could easily be confused with an XTC song-certainly not a bad thing. On other songs I can hear traces of Zumpano, Lost Lander, and Arcade Fire. Untitled Song About Cats in particular is a gorgeous track-a great way to end the EP. I could easily see it being included on an indie film soundtrack.

You can stream the entire EP over on their bandcamp page.

Exohxo has a number of shows lined up around Seattle during the summer, including a performance this Saturday, June 22nd at the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. Never even heard of this event before-bands will be performing all along the course as the race proceeds. How cool is that?

I have a feeling that Stories and Fictions will be very well received in the Seattle music scene. I look forward to watching as the band’s career unfolds.

Hump Day Hummables #1: Hazel, Day-Glo


Every Wednesday (Hump Day), I’ll be digging in the youtube vaults to find some classic Northwest alternative/indie sounds to share with you. I might also share some touring band that I was lucky to see at a local venue. Should be a fun way to kindle the memories, and-you might just discover a new favorite classic band.

For this first edition, I was in the mood for something, well…chipper. One of the first bands that sprung to mind was Hazel. Based in Portland, Hazel put out two solid albums on SubPop in the early/mid-90’s, Toreador of Love and Are You Going to Eat That?. I had the pleasure of seeing this quartet at Sit n’ Spin (a combo laundromat/live music venue-definitely one of the oddest and coolest venues in Seattle at the time) on a bill with Some Velvet Sidewalk and, I believe, Harvey Danger and Modest Mouse.

Today’s hummable is Day-Glo, off of Toreador of Love. Read more after the jump.

Even though they were on SubPop, Hazel was sort of outside the alternative explosion of Seattle/Pacific Northwest at the time.  Their catchy, melodic, upbeat brand of noisy, punky pop had more in common with Superchunk and bands from the East Coast than other bands in the NW scene. That being said-they definitely still had a loyal regional following.

There were two main things that set Hazel apart from their peers. For one-a lot of their songs had interweaving, dueling vocal melodies vs. just a background vocalist harmonizing. Second-one of their members, Fred, did not play an instrument. He was a dancer/performance artist. Sure-the Happy Mondays had Bez-but Fred wasn’t just shaking some maracas on the side of the stage. He was a whirlwind of dreadlocks, flailing arms, Jethro Tull-ish toe pointing, and other shenanigans. He really brought something quirky, alarming, and special to a Hazel show. While their two albums are great (especially Toreador), this is one case where if you weren’t able to see the band live back in the day, then you kind of missed out.

Fortunately, this video for Day-Glo captures some of that energy. I hope it brings a smile to your day.

The Navins with Mark Pickerel: FREE Show!


Do you enjoy some good ole’ garage-y powerpop? Then make sure you get over to the Feedback Lounge in West Seattle on Saturday, June 29th. That’s where you’ll find local band, The Navins, who will be playing a *free* show with Mark Pickerel. There is some serious NW-rock pedigree in this line-up: you’ll hear folks who have been in bands such as TAD, Screaming Trees, Truly, Gnome, and Sweet Secrets.

You can hear a few songs by the Navins over on ReverbNation. Definitely for fans of Guided by Voices, the Velvet Underground, the Replacements, etc. Perfect music for a summer BBQ in the backyard with friends.

Kladruby Gold: Album teaser-Lure of the Stars


If you haven’t heard of Kladruby Gold yet, than you have been missing out. This Seattle-based band has been around for a little while, playing shows around the PNW for a little over a year. They put out an EP, To the Terminal, in 2012, and are getting ready to put out their debut full-length, Lure of the Stars, later this year. You can stream or download three songs off of the album over at their bandcamp page. OBC is a particular favorite of mine for driving with the windows down.

The band has a unique, dynamic sound that draws from a lot of different influences, self-described as “amerigaze”. You could draw comparisons to the National, Pixies, Tom Petty, and edgier New Wave; and Gary, the band’s lead guitarist, used to be in grunge favorites, TAD.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, they are having a mini-NW tour in August to promote Lure of the Stars. They’ll be playing Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. Visit the band’s website for tour dates. Their show in Seattle at Columbia City Theater on August 16th will definitely be one not to miss-they are playing with the Trouble Starts (see my earlier post about their new single) and Keaton Collective.

The Trouble Starts: Stream new song-Glaciers


The Trouble Starts, a Seattle-based post-rock band with some Americana flourishes (formerly known as Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts), have a brand new album, called East, that they have just announced for an August release. You can stream the first single, Glaciers, over at bandcamp. If you were a fan of their last album, Risk, you are sure to enjoy this. The song features a nice buildup that resolves itself at the end with soothing harmonies.

They will be playing a cd-release show at Columbia City Theater on August 16th with Kladruby Gold and Keaton Collective. You don’t want to miss this great lineup. Purchase advance tickets here.