69 Local Record Reviews

Our take on every new release.

LOCAL RELEASES

The Adarna, The Adarna (3/2, self-released, theadarna.com): Melodic pop-rock that is both competent and catchy, with a production style and vocals from singer/guitarist William Moore that sound ready for rock-radio airplay. ANDREW GOSPE (Sat., March 3, Comet Tavern)

Alabaster, Unraveled (out now, self-released, alabasterband.com): Super-slick, female-fronted radio rock from a Seattle-via-Chicago six-piece. Their latest seven-song EP is filled with big guitars, big vocals, and a glossy production that removes any edginess that may have poked through. As for pop hooks, the band delivers, though not much separates them from the rest of the pack—except maybe those angular haircuts. DAVE LAKE

* Avatar Young Blaze, The Humble Villain (out now, self-released, avyoungblaze.com): A fresh load of character-rich rhymes from one of the town's best. At times pop-culture-referential, at others surprisingly personal, Av continues to flex like few can. Todd Hamm

* Battles, "White Electric (Shabazz Palaces Remix)" (out now, Warp, bttls.com): Shabazz Palaces flips Battles' tense guitars into a spaced-out bed for typically snarling yet laid-back raps—and connects one more to Shabazz's hermetic musical world. ERIC GRANDY

Jon Brenner, Pisces Pieces (out now, self-released, jonbrenner.bandcamp.com): The only thing fishy about Brenner's latest release is the song titles, like "Hearing Herring" and "Tuna Tune." If you can get past all the watery wordplay, you'll be privy to the work of an interesting modern composer whose minimalist instrumentals fuse electronica, post-rock, and the avant-garde into hypnotizing sonic seascapes. DL

Buildings on the Moon, World's Away (out now, self-released, facebook.com/buildingsonthemoon): Newt Gingrich may want buildings on the moon, but Buildings on the Moon just want to rock you with their progressive hard rock, which isn't to say they fancy odd time signatures or lyrics about distant lands. What it mostly means is that they probably love Incubus and play most of their verses with clean guitars before kicking on the distortion for the chorus. DL (Thurs., March 15, Chop Suey)

Christa Says Yay!, Monster Love Machine (out now, self-released, christasaysyay.bandcamp.com): Easygoing female-fronted alt-rock with a heavy '90s vibe. Fans of acts like Goodness will appreciate its moody groove and grown-up sensibility. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Jill Cohn, Beautiful I Love You (out now, Box O' Beanies Music, jillcohn.com): The ninth release from the Eastern Washington pianist and guitarist offers more of her brand of adult-contemporary coffeehouse rock, featuring her warm voice and delicate melodies. There's even a song called "John Denver's Ghost," which ought to give you some idea of Cohn's inspiration/aspirations. DL

Cold Lake, Better Living (out now, Trench Art Records, coldcoldlake.com): This aggro punk-metal quartet serves mega-heavy chromatic riffs on their five-song EP. And so what if singer Corey J Brewer's guttural screams render nearly every lyric unintelligible? That's part of Cold Lake's charm. Includes a cover of Body Count's "Cop Killer." DL

* Keith Comeau, Nelson's House (out now, self-released, superprojection.bandcamp.com): Indie pop with distinctive vocals and serious teen angst meets a toothache-sweetness vibe. This barely- out-of-high-school singer/songwriter obviously grew up on Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse records, and has the kind of talent that warrants notice. MDL

The Crying Shame, EP One (out now, self-released, thecryingshame.bandcamp.com): Seasoned, feel-good twang-pop with simple melodies and cool, harmonic vocal play. Well-crafted songs ably approached. MDL

Daydream Vacation, "Clever Is Not My Best Excuse" (out now, self-released, daydreamvacationband.com): Head Like a Kite mastermind Dave Einmo crafts another powerful pop track here, and for her part, DV vocalist Asya de Saavedra (previously of Smoosh) sings beautifully about moving on. The song's one downfall is Einmo's overacted sentiment of regret, as he sings "Sittin' in the corner with a dunce cap on" and "I just want to make it up to you" to death. That aside, the song bodes well for DV's upcoming album Dare Seize the Fire. TH (Fri., March 16, The Crocodile)

* Don't Talk to the Cops!, Let's Quit (out now, Out for Stardom/Greedhead, donttalktothecopsmusic.com): Let's Quit packs more of the playful dance rap and quick-hitting audio antics that have endeared DTTTC! to local fun-havers over the past year into an enjoyable 30-minute package. A few well-placed features and hyper-catchy songwriting make this album a big-time win. TH (Fri., March 9, Neumos)

* Eighteen Individual Eyes, Unnovae Nights (3/6, self-released, eighteenindividualeyes.com): The opening and title track from EIE's first full-length pulses with feverish melodies, thick, buzzy guitars, and Irene Barber's luxuriant vocals. Happily, the rest of the album keeps to the same uniquely beautiful and compelling blueprint. ERIN K. THOMPSON (Thurs., March 1, The Crocodile)

EvergreenOne, "Bangin' " (out now, self-released, wearecityhall.com): Though he packed in quite a few rap clichés here, I dig Ev1's fury (talking about people getting their asses kicked and whatnot), and "Bangin' " sounds like it would be just that in a live setting. TH

The Fabulous Party Boys, The Fabulous Party Boys (3/16, self-released, facebook.com/thefabulouspartyboys): On this fun and daringly funktastic record, electric saxophone and trumpets pierce through thumping tuba and guitar to create a record full of jazzy soul and foot-tapping. JOE WILLIAMS (Fri., March 16, Nectar)

* Fatal Lucciauno, The Message (out now, Sportn' Life, fatallucciauno.bandcamp.com): A surprise free EP which appeared just two weeks before the release of his formal sophomore record, Respect, The Message is entirely produced by local powerhouse Jake One, and is every bit as strong as its proper successor. Lucciauno's hard-core yet introspective lyricism strikes gold over Jake's pristine production. TH (Thurs., March 8, Rendezvous)

* Floods, "A Toast (to the Fallen)" (out now, self-released, barfly13.bandcamp.com): The first new offering from the Saturday Knights' Barfly in quite some time was worth the wait. The production (laid down by Fliz himself) is something spacey and dark, like El-P's "Stepfather Factory," and his words are beautifully solemn and anthemic. One of the best singles 2012 has thrown my way thus far. TH

Lindsay Fuller, You, Anniversary (3/27, ATO Records, lindsayfuller.com): With the backing of champion Dave Matthews, Fuller's big-label debut is her shot at the adult-contemporary set. That audience should cotton nicely to her gravelly, loosely mystical vocals and nuanced instrumentation, which ranges from solo piano to Silver Bullet-esque revelry. Chris Kornelis (Wed., March 28, Tractor Tavern)

Philana Goodrich, Arrows for Everyone (4/14, self-released, facebook.com/philana.goodrich): Every song on Arrows for Everyone sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of a Gregory Hines/Billy Crystal buddy-cop movie. And Hines is dead. MIKE SEELY

* Grimeshine, rip.mpc (out now, self-released, grimeshine.bandcamp.com): Pro beats that cherry-pick from jazz, classic rock, and beyond. Grimeshine is a fresh new voice in the area's beat scene, whom we surely haven't heard the last of. TH

* Grynch, Perspective (3/2, self-released, getgrynch.com): Grynch's well-crafted third full-length shows marked growth in both verse- and songwriting. When his songs center less around specific things and more around his personality and unique take on the world, as they mostly do here, his skill as an MC is fully realized. TH (Fri., March 2, Neumos)

J-Pros, Level Up (out now, self-released, jpros.bandcamp.com): This hip-hop duo's first-ever EP fits in nicely with the general tenor of the Seattle scene: earnest lyrics (check out the nostalgia trip on "Lunch Lines & Assemblies") coupled with straightforward beats. AG (Sat., March 10, The Mix)

Katie Kate/Keyboard Kid, "Houses" remix (out now, self-released, soundcloud.com/keyboardkid206/katie-kate-houses-remix): Occasional Lil B producer Keyboard Kid throws down some syrupy synthesizers and hi-hat stutters behind Katie Kate's vocals. The result is a welcome twist, but it's hard to beat the hauntingly beautiful original. TH

Davidson Hart Kingsbery, "Two Horses" b/w "Stuck in Washington" (3/20, Fin Records, davidsonhartkingsbery.com): DHK's gravelly country twang, somewhere between Bruce Springsteen's and Jeff Tweedy's, saddles up nicely on these two tracks of pedal steel–steeped Americana rock. GE

Kung Foo Grip & Giorgio Momurda, Indigo Children Tales From the Other Side (out now, self-released, kungfoogrippbbj.com): A promising release from the young KFG crew and upcoming Eastside producer Momurda. Lyrics are occasionally dark, but always smooth. TH

Jordan Lake, Consistency (out now, self-released, facebook.com/jordanlakemusic): Usually when you say one musician sounds like another, you don't mean exactly like the other. But Jordan Lake's Consistency really does sound exactly like Barcelona (with some slide guitar thrown in), probably because Barcelona frontman Brian Fennell produced and played on the record. MS (Sat., May 19, party at UW's Theta Xi house)

Leeni, Headphones on Your Heart (out now, self-released, leeni.bandcamp.com): Years past chiptune's micro-moment, local Gameboy girl Leeni returns with . . . a "5th anniversary" remake of Headphones, plus an apt 8-bit cover of Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" for timeliness. EG

* Luck-One & Dekk, Beautiful Music Part 2 (out now, self-released, luckone music.bandcamp.com): Portland/Seattle MC Luck-One and collaborator Dekk show off their individual talents while making highly listenable songs. TH

Jacob McCaslin, Calm Before the Storm (out now, self-released, jacobmccaslin.bandcamp.com): At 17, McCaslin can be described as nothing other than an old soul, channeling John Mayer through his polished, bluesy guitar riffs and vocal vulnerability. The title track is by far the most definitive, but Calm Before the Storm has little in the way of disappointments. McCaslin certainly has room to grow, but it promises to be a great journey to follow. JEVA LANGE

Leslie McMichael, Peter Pan (out now, self-released, pluckmusic.com): This Vashon Island harpist's gently tuneful, Celtic-flavored original music for the 1924 silent film Peter Pan, which she has performed live during screenings of the film to popular acclaim across the West, makes for soothing, meditative listening on its own. GAVIN BORCHERT

* Nacho Picasso & Blue Sky Black Death, Lord of the Fly (out now, self-released, nachopicasso.com): The in-demand Picasso continues his barrage of comic-book-villain raps as fantastically vulgar as they are creative. As on LOTF's predecessor For the Glory, Blue Sky Black Death creates a perfectly dreary digital backdrop. TH

* Naomi Punk, "Voodoo Trust" (out now, Couple Skate, coupleskaterecords.com): The first single from the art-rock enigma's upcoming The Feeling LP stays true to its name—it's bewitching, thanks to the woozy electric guitars and chanting, high-pitched vocals. The chugging bass and walloping drums keep things heavy and rocking. EKT

Dangerfield Newby, Life in Another Time: (3/1, self-released, soundcloud.com/dangerfield-newby): Jeremy Best's debut album is a grab bag of digital emotions and inspiration. Keyboard and electronic beats blend with audio samples and sounds of cheering crowds, though the best instrument of all is Best's voice. JW

Parker & Lace Cadence, Imagination (out now, Members Only, membersonly206.com): State of the Artist's Parker and local hip-hop/R&B veteran Lace Cadence prove effective in the club/slow-jam game. This EP would sound good in the background while you're laying low with a date. TH

The Past Impending, The Past Impending (out now, self-released, reverbnation.com/thepastimpending): Most songs on this Head and the Heart–recalling three-piece's debut EP feature some combination of finger-picked guitar, gently brushed drums, syrupy cello, and frontman EJ Christopher's gruff, yearning vocals. These songs are allowed to meander, but they never get very far. AG

* Robin Pecknold, "Olivia, in a Separate Bed" (out now, self-released, Google it): Stripped of Fleet Foxes' harmonies and arrangements, Pecknold's acoustic-guitar strumming and high, airy voice easily carry this meditation on an unraveling love. EG

J. Pinder, "Never No" (3/6, Fin Records, myspace.com/jpinder): The first single from Pinder's forthcoming album Careless gets by on the strength of its Kuddie Fresh–produced beat, which pulls out all the stops—organ, brass stabs, gospel backup vocals—and meshes well with the fairly archetypical lyrics about the hip-hop industry. AG (Sun., March 25, The Crocodile)

Poor Moon, Illusions (3/27, Sub Pop, subpop.com): No doubt Poor Moon's going to get a lot of first listens thanks to their pedigree—frontman Christian Wargo and guitarist Casey Wescott hold down day jobs with Fleet Foxes. It shouldn't surprise or disappoint FF fans that the bands share few prominent musical characteristics. Poor Moon is lo-fi and monochromatic where Fleet Foxes is lush and expansive. The disappointment comes at this EP's lack of ambition. There are fleeting (sorry) moments of inspiration, such as the lyrically articulate guitar lines on the lead single "People in Her Mind" and the operatic harmonies on album closer "Widow." But it's otherwise forgettable and unfocused, the product of a band that sounds sure they want to make a record, but not certain of much else. CK (Tues., March 27, Tractor Tavern)

Post Adolescence, "What You Would Call Socialism (I Would Call Civilization)" (out now, self-released, postadolescence.com): Power chords, fuzzy guitars, and bright refrains fuel this pro-Occupy anthem aimed at the Tea Party and conservative news media. GE

RA Scion, Beg Borrow Steal (out now, self-released, rascion.com): Scion (best known as Common Market's MC) released this blisteringly angry three-song EP as a tribute to the Anonymous movement, but songs like the hard-driving "Beg" hit home regardless of the political context. AG

Luke Rain, Rain Shine (out now, self-released, lukerainmusic.com): In a town where the hip-hop competition is so fierce, it's essential that artists bring something new to the table. Local MC Luke Rain has a familiar flow that, while well-executed, cannot be called wholly original. MDL

Red Jacket Mine, "Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)" b/w "Rosy Days" (out now, Fin Records, soundcloud.com/redjacketmine): Red Jacket Mine are a sonic respirator keeping '70s AM pop alive and well—radio-ready vintage Top 40 flirting with soul that could blend right in on a mixtape next to Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. MDL (Sat., March 10, El Corazon)

The Riffbrokers, The Green Key Will Let You In (3/17, self-released, riffbrokers.bandcamp.com): Roots-centric rock, like a low-key Sun Volt, that could benefit from the occasional up-tempo surge. Green Key features solid songs that could be great if infused with a little more rock-'n'-roll energy. MDL (Sat., March 17, The Rat and Raven)

Sam Russell, "I Am the Ghost" b/w "When I'm Gone/Talk About Heaven" (out now, self-released, thebluemoonbible.com): This local folksinger's new single is poignant in its restraint and subtlety; the flip, a simple acoustic-guitar-strummed, perfectly harmonized duet with Kate Noson, is even lovelier. EKT (Wed., Feb. 29, Columbia City Theater)

Sad Face, Cheer Yourself Up (3/3, self-released, wearesadface.com): The latest from this pop-rock quintet starts out gloomy and droning; things pick up a bit with the punchy guitars on "Batman" and the pretty, rhythmic vocal harmonies on "Red Chair," but for the most part this EP is more "sad face" than "cheer yourself up." EKT (Sat., March 3, High Dive)

Spoke, Ghost (out now, self-released, spoke.bandcamp.com): Inventive electronic constructs that show a natural knack for songwriting. Spoke's smooth voice unfortunately gets Auto-Tuned a couple of times, but when it's left bare (as on the beautifully somber "Satellite" with Jewel Lazaro), his emotive tone rings clear and strong. TH

Suttikeeree & WD4D, After School EP 2 (3/6, Fourthcity Records, fourthcity.net): Two local beatmakers get together to lay down some extracurricular jams full of head-nodding beats, gleaming synths, and the odd, cut-up hip-hop shout. EG (Tues., March 6, Lo-Fi Performance Gallery)

TacocaT, Take Me to Your Dealer (3/13, Hardly Art, tacocatdotcom.com): A-side lead "Spring Break-Up" details the neurotic disintegration of a relationship over some of the band's tightest, poppiest punk yet; the B-sides pay homage to Cat Fancy magazine and the band's favorite vaporizer. EG (Fri., March 23, Crocodile)

*THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE (3/27, Sub Pop, thesatisfaction.com): Enough waiting in the wings; Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, collaborators on Shabazz Palaces' superb Black Up, now have a record of their own with the full backing of the Sub Pop machine. Ishmael Butler is the guest star this time around, and the ladies build on his signature blend of avant-jazz, hip-hop, and funk. If anything, awE naturalE is impressive for its sheer diversity of sounds. The lead single, "QueenS," is a nouveau-disco jam that sounds like a Seattle-hipster take on the Scissor Sisters ("Sweat through your cardigan"), while the preceding track, "Earthseed," is a wholly innovative spin on R&B that combines gentle piano chords, an off-beat drum loop, and an intensely profound rap verse, all building in an abrupt crescendo. There are moments of brilliance, but the 13-song LP just barely clocks in at half an hour, leaving the listener wanting more satisfaction. KEEGAN HAMILTON (Thurs., March 29, Neumos)

Three Ninjas, Live at the Monkey Grind (out now, self-released, threeninjas.net): Recorded in 2010 in a Greenwood coffee shop, this live album from nerdcore MC and producer Jason J Brunet, aka Three Ninjas, isn't unlike the reality series Hoarders, which he once appeared on. His songs are mashups of found sounds, hoarded beats, and tweaked pop samples; the result sounds a little like listening to three radio stations at once. DL (Fri., April 13, Cafe Venus/Mars Bar)

Tip to Base, No Consequences (out now, self-released, facebook.com/tiptobase): Quirky and incredibly upbeat, Tip to Base offers funk fans an excuse to get up and dance. "Cut to the Chase," the standout track, is quick and bounces around while making it obvious the band is all about fun. JW (Fri., March 16, Nectar)

The True Spokes, The True Spokes (out now, self-released, truespokes.bandcamp.com): This quintet, formerly known as Flowmotion, mixes up mellow, harmony-dense alt-country with an occasional feel-good pop groove. MDL

* Kate Tucker, Ghost of Something New (3/13, Red Valise, katetucker.net): At the intersection of Mazzy Star Boulevard, Innocence Mission Avenue, and Cowboy Junkies Way stands onetime Seattleite Kate Tucker, whose new EP is just as pleasant as any of her prior releases. Tucker is also hotter than a mouthful of ghost chiles. Why she hasn't blown up yet is beyond us. MS (Fri., March 30, Columbia City Theater)

* Art Vandelay, "Vitiligo" (out now, self-released, unimpress.com): MC Ricky Pharoe drops a couple of Christ-critical verses here that are as heavy as producer Mack Formway's distorted beat. A single this on-point would make any alt-rap fan pray to some old carpenter for the speedy delivery of Vandelay's upcoming LP Face Tattoo. TH

Various artists, Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly #27 (out now, self-released, ballofwax.org): Another fine compilation showcasing local artists like songstress Alicia Amiri, melodic chillsters The Music of Grayface, and a smattering of national talent including the Steve Albini-approved The Bats Pajamas. MDL

Viper Creek Club, Hot Lights (out now, self-released, vipercreekclub.com): VCC do some fine remixes, but their latest EP of originals is a disappointing batch of cringy electro-emo, every thick kick or synth line marred by Mat Wisner's strangulated howling. EG

* The Walkabouts, "My Diviner" (3/13, Fin Records, thewalkabouts.com): The Walkabouts spend 10 minutes building anticipation on the back of meticulous atmospherics and slick Americana. That the record is then over and not just getting started is the only quibble. And not a minor one. CK

LOCAL LABELS' OUT-OF-TOWN BANDS

Jeremy Camp, I Still Believe: The #1's Collection (3/13, BEC, jeremycamp.com): Camp's deep, grainy voice meshes perfectly with the driving, upbeat instrumentation on this showcase of his hits. Genre lines disappear across the 16-track record, with heavier songs like "Take My Life" offsetting the slower, acoustic-laced "Right Here." JW

feedtime, The Aberrant Years (3/13, Sub Pop, subpop.com): Sub Pop has rescued two hours and 42 minutes of punk 'n' roll from this Australian power trio. The Aberrant Years includes everything the band made between 1978 and 1989, including inspired covers of the Beach Boys ("Fun, Fun, Fun"), the Stones ("Last Time"), and the Animals ("We've Gotta Get Out of This Place"). CK (Wed., March 21, Tractor Tavern)

Aaron Gillespie, Echo Your Song Live (out now, BEC, aarongillespie.com): Naysayers came out in droves when Gillespie parted ways from Underoath. Though he was the last founding member, it's clear why he left: Echo Your Song is an uplifting album from a man who obviously needed a change of scenery. JW

La Sera, Sees the Light (3/27, Hardly Art, hardlyart.com): In the growing period between scrappy and full-grown, Vivian Girls' Amy Goodman brings spunk and hooks aplenty to a record in which she's looking for her place outside the garage. CK (Sat., March 3, Rendezvous)

Maga Bo, Beyond Digital Mix (out now, Automation Records, automationrecords.com): This Selector and Seattle expat currently resides in Brazil, and this DJ mix hosted by local label Automation is an appropriately dizzy survey of dirty global beats. EG

* Spoek Mathambo, Father Creeper (3/13, Sub Pop, spoek mathambo.com): It's hard to listen to this South African producer/MC without being reminded of labelmates Shabazz Palaces, but Mathambo's musical palette is broader, rooted in spacy electronica and hip-hop while incorporating rock and funk stylings reminiscent of TV on the Radio's more experimental work. AG

MyChildren MyBride, MyChildren MyBride (3/13, Solid State, facebook.com/mychildrenmybride): In a genre diluted with drop-D tuning and pounding instruments, MyChildren MyBride does its best to stand out. However, short of "Morpheus," which builds among layered screams, the record as a whole feels like a regurgitation of everything else. JW

Nü Sensae, Tea Swamp Park (3/6, Suicide Squeeze, facebook.com/nusensae): A digital reissue of the Vancouver, B.C., band's sold-out three-song seven-inch, first released by Portland label Fast Weapons. Nü Sensae play doomy, gloomy punk riffs which bassist/vocalist Andrea Lukic screams over, and which would make the perfect soundtrack for a slasher-flick killing spree. DL

Retribution Gospel Choir, The Revolution EP (3/27, Sub Pop, retributiongospelchoir.com): This group lets Low's Alan Sparhawk air out songs too rocking or power-poppy for his slowcore day job; not quite a revolution, but it's always nice to crank up the amps. EG

* Sent by Ravens, Mean What You Say (out now, Tooth & Nail, facebook.com/sentbyravens): The band's second album is an exemplary example of powerful, aggressive rock that's both uplifting and intricate. Echoing guitar and pounding drums round out a record that stands strongest on "Rebuild, Release" and "Prudence." JW

* Yellow Ostrich, Strange Land (3/6, Barsuk, yellowostrich.com): The New York trio's second LP, all raw guitars, thrumming percussion, and strident vocals, is every bit as outré and charming as their first, last year's The Mistress. The enchanting "Elephant King" is reminiscent of another indie-rock royal, Neutral Milk Hotel's "King of Carrot Flowers." EKT

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