Wishbeard: Up & coming local dreampoppers

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I saw that local rising stars, Chastity Belt, were playing an upcoming show at Columbia City Theater, and took a look to see who else was on the bill. Seeing an unfamiliar name, Wishbeard, on the lineup, I clicked on the link to check out their sounds. I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. They have a mellow, vaguely shoegaze/dreampop vibe about them, with winding guitars, dreamy keyboards, and an eerie brightness to their sound. At times, they remind me of Lemolo, another great, local, dreampop band. And there is just the subtlest edge of post-punk in places, with the opening tune, Strawberry ’79, bringing to mind a less prophetic/intense version of Savages. I can envision some great late night drives around Seattle to their music.

You can hear their debut EP, It’s All Gonna Break, over on bandcamp. And you can check them out live on February 1st at the Columbia City Theater in SE Seattle.

Those seminal sounds

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Ok-this is going to be a flashback post.

Every music fan has a time period, era, or genre of music that they identify with-music from your formative years, your youth, music that got you through a rough patch, whatever.

I certainly had music that I discovered as a kid that changed my perspective about what music could sound like. I remember hearing “The Tide is High” by Blondie on the radio in the car when I was like 5 or 6 and thinking it was sounded so different and fascinating. On a trip to visit relatives on the East Coast in the early 80’s, I remember a cousin who I thought was very cool at the time, was listening to early albums by U2, B-52’s, Talking Heads and R.E.M. I had never heard any of those bands or that kind of music. During high school, I finally started to expand my musical palette a little bit beyond whatever was on the generic radio station. But it wasn’t until I was out of high school and in community college that my true time of musical discovery happened, 1991-1993 to be exact. Right when the whole “alternative” scene was bursting. Not only was I discovering the music that would set the course for the kind of sounds I’d continue to enjoy in the future, but it also coincided with me coming out of my shell, and discovering who I was myself.

Looking back now, these albums seem like pretty basic alternative fare-Alternative Rock 101, you could say.  But for me, these are the albums that I played and played and played-the music that defined (and continues to define) and provided the soundtrack to my life.

What songs, albums, genres shaped you? Leave a comment below, or discuss on my Facebook page.

Smashing Pumpkins – Gish

Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

Ride – Nowhere

Sonic Youth – Dirty

R.E.M. – Automatic for the People

the Breeders – Pod

Mudhoney – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

Beat Happening – Jamboree

Some Velvet Sidewalk – Avalanche

Pixies – Surfer Rosa and Doolittle

Hump Day Hummables #2: Jessamine, Cellophane

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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.