Reviews: It's February 2012 and Seattle Sounds Like...

Our take on every local release.

LOCAL RELEASES

*214, Tulum (2/14, Krecordings, krecordings.com): Seattle producer Chris Roman toasts the Mayan coast with a title track of gently rolling bass, wafting synths, and sly whispering; techno b-side "The Hair in the Biscuit" and remixes move things from the playa to the dance floor. ERIC GRANDY

Mathew Anderson, Wrist (out now, KRecordings, krecordings.com): On the debut release from new local electronic label KRecordings (not to be confused with K Records): dark, slinky techno that goes from dubby to bumping with the flick of a, well, you know. EG

Blame it on the Girl, Vaya con Dios (out now, self-released, blameitonthegirl.bandcamp.com): Female-fronted, gothy metal with all the ferocious vocals and speedy guitar work you could ask for. Perfect music for the black-wearing set that catches butterflies with one hand and throws up metal with the other. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Blvd Park, The Sound (out now, self-released, blvdpark.info): Had jug-band nostalgist Caleb Klauder been the dominant creative force in the late Portland-based jam band Calobo, they would have sounded a lot like Blvd Park, a rootsy gang of ex- Californians who stretch their old-tyme aesthetic to mercifully elastic boundaries. MIKE SEELY (Thurs., Feb. 9, Tractor Tavern)

Bréag Naofa, Bréag Naofa (out now, Panic Records, breagnaofa.bandcamp.com): Deep, sludgy death metal with those growly, timber-rattling evilcore vocals you either really dig or you don't. MDL (Tues., Feb. 14, Funhouse)

*Brokaw, Interiors (out now, Good to Die Records, brokaw.bandcamp.com): Brokaw aren't so much into melody, but who cares? This is a band more interested in rocking your face off. They have their noise-rock sound nailed on their debut: big, buzzing riffs and fuzzy bass lines mixed with a bit of angular, experimental free-for-all, just the way the Melvins or The Jesus Lizard like it. DAVE LAKE (Fri., Feb. 3, Sunset Tavern)

*Brennan Dignan, Idaho (out now, Manimal Music, brennandignan.com): Dignan skillfully captures the atmosphere of the desolate Northwest wilderness in this aptly named album. Each track plays like something escaped from a round of campfire confessions, lending to its airy, lonely, vulnerable, and lyrically chatty sound. JEVA LANGE

*Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (2/14, Southern Lord, thronesanddominions.com): Their sludge days long buried, Dylan Carlson's Earth continues to mine the dark, rusty acoustic drone laid out on this album's prequel—with cellist Lori Goldston and Karl Blau. EG

*Tom Eddy, The Bread Maker's Blues (out now, self-released, tomeddy. bandcamp.com): The five songs on this EP have been recorded with a old-timey, vintage quality, but besides the romantic title track, they aren't quite adequately described as "blues"—they're far too lively. Eddy incorporates jumpy Latin-influenced percussion rhythms and lightly strummed guitars alongside his lovely, fluent vocals. ERIN K. THOMPSON

*Eternal Fair, Eternal Fair, Vol. 1 (2/25, self-released, eternalfair.com): Led by songwriter Andrew Vait, Eternal Fair's prog-rock ambitions are largely fulfilled on this EP, which recalls My Morning Jacket by way of '70s power-trio sensibilities. ANDREW GOSPE (Sat., Feb. 25, High Dive)

*Fly Moon Royalty, Fly Moon Royalty (2/6, Sportn' Life, flymoonroyalty.bandcamp.com): Vocalist Adraboo's radiant pipes carry a confident spunk, and MC/DJ Action Jackson's smooth mixing skills lend a vintage soul feel to songs like "Do What You Say" and single "Lemonade." Good songwriting, positive vibes, and a heartfelt spirit seal the deal. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT (Fri., Feb. 10, Crocodile)

French Letters, In Tongues (out now, self-released, frenchletters.bandcamp.com): Fusing spoken-word poetry, jazz, and rock into a unique and bubbly 10-track album is no easy feat, but French Letters has pulled it off wonderfully. Smooth and fun meets intellectual and funky. JOE WILLIAMS (Fri., Feb. 10, Rat and Raven)

Friends & Family, "Laura in the Woods" b/w "Vermin" (out now, self-released, friendsandfamilyband.com): Quirky indie pop from an eight-piece band that aims for a New Pornographers or Broken Social Scene sort of thing, only goofier and with more elaborate costumes. DL (Fri., Feb. 10, Comet Tavern)

Geist and the Sacred Ensemble, In Search of Fabled Lands (out now, Translinguistic Other, geistthesacredensemble.bandcamp.com): Psych-rock pilgrims hit high-desert territory on this droning, slow-sprawling crawl marked by acoustic twang, rattlesnake percussion, and cracked ritual chants. EG

Give It to Me Rusty, Pioneer Square Recordings (out now, Rusty Records, giveittomerusty.com): A pair of local buskers, Aaron Zig and Noah Dassel, take the stories of the city's homeless and translate them word-for-word into lyrics for their harmonized folk songs. Talk about street cred. DL

Golden Gardens, The Covers (out now, self-released, goldengardens.bandcamp.com): A wispy, ghost-like affair of trippiness, this album of covers (Red House Painters, Tears for Fears) is soothing dream-pop at its best. JW

The Hardcount, Life & Death (out now, self-released, hardcountmusic.com): Gravel-voiced singer Reverend Adumb Green has a bit of that Dicky Barrett rasp, and his band has a bit of that Bosstones sing-along thing, but ska isn't one of the styles you'll find on the band's eight-song debut. The Hardcount are a little bit punk and a little bit twangy, which mostly makes them sound a little bit like Supersuckers, which isn't a bad thing—especially if it's Saturday night and you feel like drinking. DL (Fri., March 2, Fuel)

*Haunted Horses, They Set Us Fevered Water (out now, self-released, hauntedhorses.com): Spooked but still snorting and kicking, the local duo tears up dark, dirge-y noise rock (and one druggy interlude of a title track) that recalls the Horrors' early garage squall and Liars' weirdo witch trials. EG

Elke Hautala, Love Songs for a Post Modern Paradise (out now, self-released, elkehautala.webs.com): Singer/songwriter Hautala's six-track debut yearns for a Prince Charming through lyrical and spoken-word poetry. Often accompanied by nothing more than an acoustic guitar, her vocals strive for great things, and sometimes reach them. JL

*The Horde and the Harem, A Long Midwinter (2/2, self-released, thehordeandtheharem.com): When you're a big band prone to layered harmonizing, adopting "The H & the H" template for your name is shortsighted. But that's about all that's wrong with this splendid group, whose new album sounds like a richly dynamic milieu of Menomena and The Negro Problem, with an infusion of Ben Folds-iness for accessibility's sake. MS (Wed., Feb. 8, High Dive)

In Cahoots, In Cahoots (out now, self-released, incahootsband.com): The first impression this EP makes isn't great: Its fast noise rock comes off as messy and uncomfortable. But the gems that stand out, "Borrowed Time" and "Triggerheart," have beautiful instrumentation and an addictive attitude. They're worth the purchase alone. JW (Sat., Feb. 18, The Mix)

Klover Jane, Tattoo'd Kandy (out now, self-released, reverbnation.com/kloverjane): In the distinct style of Soundgarden, Klover Jane's wailing vocals and sludgy guitar demand you crank the volume up to 11. The band may be noticeably stuck playing '90s rock, but no one's complaining when it's so damn catchy. JL (Fri., Feb. 3, Hard Rock Cafe)

Mark Lanegan, Blues Funeral (2/7, 4AD, marklanegan.com): Lanegan's first solo release since 2004's excellent Bubblegum is a not a downer because of its brooding lyricism—we all love that about Lanegan— but because the grunge icon trades distortion and mystique for cheesy guitar effects and misplaced irony (see "Ode to Sad Disco") that liken him more to the Dandy Warhols than Screaming Trees. GE

*Low Hums, Low Hums (2/25, self-released, lowhums.wordpress.com): This album was partially recorded in a cistern at Fort Worden State Park on the Olympic Peninsula, and that cavernous, eerie environment perfectly complements the band's dark country-psych. That the release comes only on clear vinyl and purple transparent cassette should surprise no one. JULIA MULLEN GORDON (Sat., Feb. 25, Highline)

*Lowlands, The Largest Armies (out now, self-released, lowlands.bandcamp.com): Tom Rorem has a deep, shapely voice that stands out in a genre run by guys who almost always sound like they're wearing a plaid shirt. A beautiful, harmonious experience of happy layers, The Largest Armies is a gem of an indie-rock album. JW

Fatal Lucciauno, Respect (2/21, Sportn' Life, sportnlife.net): Lucciauno's second release unites the gangsta rapper with past collaborators (Vitamin D, J. Pinder) and new alliances (Larry Mizell Jr., Fly Moon Royalty's Adraboo, Jake One) for a gritty, street-soaked sound of brooding beats and smooth-lipped lyrics. GE (Fri., Feb. 17, Chop Suey)

*Graig Markel, Graig Markel (out now, self-released, graigmarkelmusic.com): Inspired by the organic approach of Nick Drake and Springsteen's Nebraska, Markel (a studio owner and member of the Animals at Night) certainly had lofty goals for his new LP, and mostly achieves them. His delivery is sleepy, but occasional lap steel, piano, and ukulele give the record a warm ambience. DL

Matthew Meadows, "Smokehouse" (out now, self-released, reverbnation.com/matthewmeadows): A one-song preview of the Kenmore guitarist's upcoming Temple of Zither, "Smokehouse" is a blues-rock bar jam that isn't hip, but isn't trying to be. DL

MK Speed Dial, Here It Is (out now, self-released, mkspeeddial.com): This band's second and final EP (they broke up earlier this year) bursts with the healthy exuberance of the best pop-rock, via jagged guitar riffs, whipping tempos, and effusive vocal melodies. Their addictive enthusiasm will be missed. EKT

Mount Eerie and Selector Dub Narcotic, "Distorted Cymbals" b/w "Angelpoise Cymbals" (2/7, K Records, krecs.com): Mount Eerie balances rhythmic groove, typically plaintive vocals and piano, and blurts of muddy guitar on the A-side; Selector Dub Narcotic mixes it into an unstable mess on the flip. EG

*Murder City Devils, "Every Day I Rise" b/w "Ball Busters in the Peanut Gallery" (out now, self-released, themurdercitydevils.com): Ten years is a long time, especially if you greet each new day with a writer's terror of the blank page. The A-side of Murder City Devils' new single finds frontman Spencer Moody facing a typewriter and lamenting "Every day I rise and no one cares." On the B-side (relevant to my interests!), he wonders, howling, "How do I fill the gaps in this life?" The band approximates its old swagger boom on "Every Day," but "Ball Busters," with its martial snare rolls, delicate guitar phrases, seasick bass, and wavering organs, sounds more appropriately weathered—everything about the track, from its slower tempo to the soaked-in pathos of Moody's singing, feels more like the deflations of his post-MCD project Triumph of Lethargy. Murder City Devils are a long way gone from the days of record labels buying them drinks and Nate Manny pissing off the 10th floor, and the distance between those punk rock-'n'-roll dreams and creeping day-to-day reality is palpable like a brick. EG

*The New Law, The Fifty Year Storm (out now, self-released, thenewlaw.bandcamp.com): Producers Adam Straney and Justin Neff combine glitchy hip-hop beats with jazz-influenced soundscapes on their first full-length since 2009. It's downtempo, indelibly chill (but definitely not chillwave), and easy to get lost in. AG

Nice Nate, milo. (out now, self-released, nicenate.bandcamp.com): With three respectable releases on his Bandcamp page, Seattle producer Nice Nate is off to a good start. There are a fair number of down moments on milo., however, so finding consistency in his songwriting is the next step. TH

Orkestar Zirkonium, Too Hot for Sleep (out now, self-released, orkestarzirkonium.com): This horn-heavy 13-piece's sophomore effort is the perfect soundtrack for an Eastern European wedding. It will make you want to dance and drink, although if you're not in the mood for dancing or drinking, it's of little utility. MS

*Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It (2/21, Matador, matadorrecords.com/perfumegenius): On Mike Hadreas' sophomore album as Perfume Genius, not much has changed since his 2010 debut, Learning. His songs still take on ponderous issues (depression, addiction, and above all the struggles Hadreas faces as a gay man) over softly plinked piano, and his voice still recalls Sufjan Stevens at its most fragile. But while Learning felt like a series of private confessions, Put Your Back N 2 It sounds markedly more self-assured. The improved-by-light-years production helps, as does the album's remarkable concision (12 songs in just 32 minutes), indicative of an artist who knows exactly what he wants to say. Several songs, like the gorgeous "Hood" or "Dark Parts," end just as they start to gain momentum, but maybe that's the point—short and (sometimes) sweet might be the best way for Hadreas to grapple with such personal, painful material. AG (Mon., April 9, Crocodile)

*The Pharmacy, Dig Your Grave (2/3, Kind Turkey Records, thepharmacy.bandcamp.com): The Pharmacy's newest EP is a righteous punch of bang-up garage rock, beginning with the exclamatory title track and moving swiftly into the twinkly, harmonic "Pines" and the instrumental "Lazy Bones" before closing with the beautifully bitter "Burn All Yr Bridges," which moodily reflects thus: "Burn all your bridges down/Sink them in the Puget Sound/And all the seagulls gather 'round/To shit while burning bridges drown." EKT (Fri., Feb. 3, Black Lodge)

Pickled Okra, Sounds Like Chicken (out now, self-released, getokra.com): This old-timey string trio of steadfast Seattle buskers return with their third full-length, a jumpy and carefree 12-track collection of bygone-era bluegrass, spirited harmonies, and murder ballads. GE (Fri., March 16, Couth Buzzard)

*Posse, Posse (out now, self-released, posseposse.com): Posse makes the understated sort of indie rock that bands like Pixies and Sonic Youth made classic in the '90s; the best tracks on the trio's guitar-thickened debut full-length are those on which Sacha Maxim sings lead, like the steady "14 Days" and the thudding, ominous "Sarah." EKT

The Quiet Ones, "You Are a Trial" (out now, In Advanced Records, soundcloud.com): This wobbly alt-rock track suffers under the weight of too many ideas. Pick one and own it, y'all. Chris Kornelis

Silver Bullet, Manifest Destiny (out now, Eet Led Records, reverbnation.com/silverbulletfive): This Yelm quintet synthesizes old-school metal influences for a retro hard-rock sound with lyrics as inane as those of the '80s cock-rock bands they emulate. Leaving no rock cliché unturned, the album also includes a song with cowbell and the requisite power ballad. Bonus points for making themselves Google-proof thanks to a name that echoes Bob Seger's backing band. DL

The Soft Hills, This Bird Is Coming Down to Earth (2/14, Tapete Records, thesofthills.com): The Soft Hills achieves wonderfully textured harmonies but could stand to rethink their lyricism. The tambourine-tinged title track "Phoenix" includes worn-out passages like "journey to the end of night" and "misty morning," and the following track, "Days When We Were Young and Free," comes off a little jaded for a band so green. But the album eventually fleshes out beyond fuzzy folk into psych-rock, with an ultimately mellow, hazy rock sound. GE (Fri., Feb. 3, Comet Tavern)

*Sol, Yours Truly (out now, self-released, solsays.com): Combining a suave, nonchalant flow with polished, playful production from Jake One and others, Sol's sophomore LP is a pitch-perfect hybrid of pop and hip-hop. Fair warning: The über-catchy single "Need Your Love" will get stuck in your head and never leave. KEEGAN HAMILTON

Leezy Soprano, United We Ball (out now, self-released, facebook.com/leezys): One of Grit City's (that's Tacoma) hardest MCs, Soprano has an easy delivery that makes his often harsh lyrics go down smooth. See "From Hell to the Booth" for prime evidence. TODD HAMM

Spyn Reset, Four Dimensional Audio (out now, 23 Sounds Records, spynreset.com): This predominantly instrumental album takes the listener on a unique journey from dental-office jazz to Luscious Jackson and back. Is that a journey worth taking, though? Only if you really like dental-office jazz with a Luscious Jackson intermezzo. MS (Thurs., Feb. 9, Musicquarium)

Stereo Creeps, Ultrasound by Satellite (out now, self-released, stereocreeps.bandcamp.com): Stereo Creeps' bio claims origins of the punk-rock and hardcore variety, which is surprising as you will hear little of either genre here. Instead, you'll get '90s alt-rock that goes to bed at night dreaming of a solid pop hook. MDL (Fri., Feb. 17, Darrell's Tavern)

Rosie Thomas, With Love (2/14, Sing-A-Long Records, rosiethomas.com): Thomas' first non-Christmas album in six years came together with a little help from her friends Dave Bazan and Sam Beam, who encouraged her to channel her favorite diva, Bette Midler. Thomas remains a piano-driven singer/ songwriter, so her songs don't come close to the flamboyance of the Divine Miss M, but on top of her usual subdued sweetness, her vocals do take on a noticeable extra vigor. EKT

The Torn ACLs, Make a Break, Make a Move (out now, self-released, thetornacls.net): Effete indie pop that verges on twee, similar to that of other local groups like The Lonely Forest and Us on Roofs. These songs are occasionally catchy, but that's about it. AG (Sat., Feb. 11, Comet Tavern)

Vox Mod, Spectrum (Remixes by Vox Mod) (out now, self-released, voxmod.bandcamp.com): This live-electronics dude tackles tracks from chillwave (USF) to electro (Sports, WD4D, & Suttikeeree) to goth industrial (Nightmare Fortress, The Walking Wounded) with vaporizing synths, solid beats, and an overall light touch. EG (Tues., Feb. 14, Comet Tavern)

LOCAL LABELS' OUT-OF-TOWN BANDS

*Black Marble, Weight Against the Door (out now, Hardly Art, hardlyart.com): This Brooklyn cold-wave synth-pop act makes a promising Hardly Art debut—five tracks of mopey bedroom dancing that borrow from Joy Division way more credibly than that Mickey Mouse shirt did. EG

*Michael Chapman, Rainmaker (out now, Light in the Attic, lightintheattic.net): Chapman's as proficient at singing and songwriting as he is at guitar-slinging. It's a curiously rare marriage of talents that adds a dimension to this 1969 debut, rightly getting dusted off for a fresh act. CK

Father John Misty, "I Would Love You" (out now, Sub Pop, fatherjohnmisty.tumblr.com): This easy, barroom-anthemic single is far livelier and open-ended than the light-footed acoustic records that dominate J. Tillman's solo catalogue. His first offering under the Misty moniker is already one of his most interesting tracks. CK

Laura Gibson, La Grande (out now, Barsuk, lauragibsonmusic.com): Named for a small town in Eastern Oregon, veteran folk artist Gibson's first album on Barsuk feels appropriately self-contained. The subdued instrumentation and her soft-spoken vocals make for some gorgeous moments, even if this album could be classified as indie-adult contemporary. AG (Sat., Feb. 4, Tractor Tavern)

Hunx, Hairdresser Blues (2/28, Hardly Art, hardlyart.com): The first solo album from Hunx and His Punx founder Seth Bogart is noticeably less gleeful than his band's girl-group-inspired material, but the fuzzy pop songs remain memorable for their plain-spokenness; the ruthless "Always Forever" and the hooky Bay City Rollers tribute "Do You Remember Being a Roller?" are standouts. EKT

La Sera, "Please Be My Third Eye" (out now, Hardly Art, hardlyart.com): Lo-fi darling Katy Goodman is more polished on this teaser to her March LP, Sees the Light. But she's as charming as ever. CK

Memoryhouse, The Slideshow Effect (2/28, Sub Pop, subpop.com): This meditative Canadian duo's first full-length is composed of slow-moving keyboards and vocalist Denise Nouvion's plaintive vocals, and is comparable to an afternoon nap—sweet, soothing, and relaxing, but nothing to get too terribly excited about. EKT (Fri., March 3, Crocodile)

Nada Surf, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (out now, Barsuk, nadasurf.com): After nearly 20 years and six albums, Nada Surf has barely changed musically, and their seventh album continues this trend. Anyone who's heard one knows what to expect here: lots of big, bright, hook-laden power-pop songs, but little innovation. AG (Thurs., Feb. 2, Tractor Tavern)

Nine Lashes, World We View (2/14, Tooth and Nail, facebook.com/ninelashes): Hearing "Afterglow," it's clear this band has the potential to make beautiful, passionate music, but as a whole, World We View is nothing more than an homage to every angry, palm-muted, distorted rock band before them. JW

nonnon, El Socialismo (out now, Automation Records, myspace.com/nonnon): Dripping with energy, El Socialismo is a lively, spastic record with a serious case of multiple personality disorder. Chaotic in nature but in sync with itself, there's a lot to praise in these 15 tracks of musical anarchy. JW

Wendy Rene, After Laughter Comes Tears (2/7, Light in the Attic, lightintheattic.net): The best thing about falling for a throwback genre is that fans never have to wait for new music—they need only go mining. Appreciators of the current soul revival will find themselves helpless against the power of Rene's majestic howl. CK

Shearwater, Animal Joy (2/14, Sub Pop, shearwatermusic.com): Okkervil River offshoot and ornithology enthusiast Jonathan Meiburg's stately, soaring soft-rock balladry finds a fitting new nest at the increasingly "indie/adult contemporary"–friendly Sub Pop. EG

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