It's October 2012, and Seattle Sounds Like...

Our take on every new local release.

LOCAL RELEASES

*A Dark Horse, A Dark Horse (out now, self-released, adarkhorse.bandcamp.com): James Parker and Hugh Rodgers' pretty, folksy indie rock makes you wonder if the ghost of Elliott Smith has chosen to haunt them in Seattle. Creating a sound that is compelling, dense, and dreamy, A Dark Horse prove themselves to be more than commercial-radio-ready. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Alex's Hand, Madame Psychosis (10/15, self-released, alexshand.bandcamp.com): A bizarre quartet of tunes that jumps among rock-musical resemblances ("Stalker"), Zappa-inspired weirdness ("Laura"), and Jesus Lizard heaviness ("Robot"). The soundtrack to your fucked-up drug trip. DAVE LAKE

*Avatar Young Blaze, Soviet Goonion (out now, self-released, avyoungblaze.com): The latest AYB offering packs some high-grade rhymes, as one would expect, though it's not his strongest front-to-back collection. You'll find some of his cleverest lines sprinkled throughout, but the most interesting moments come when he pushes himself to rap abstractly over left-field beats (as on "Fast Life Experts"), or when he's at his most unapologetic ("Darko," "The Scumbag Anthem"). TODD HAMM

The Badlands, The Badlands (out now, Shit Starter Records, reverbnation.com/thebadlandsusa): Straightforward party punk meant for chugging PBR in dives. Frontwoman Ginnie Ko's low growl recalls Joan Jett after several packs of cigarettes. The band recently signed with Oakland's Shit Starter Records, which is releasing this EP on blue 7-inch vinyl. JULIA MULLEN GORDON

Jim Basnight, Introducing Jim Basnight (out now, Precedent Records, jimbasnight.com): It's odd that Basnight is only now introducing himself, because his band has been around for more than two decades, playing multidate summer runs at Roche Harbor Resort like they're the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre. At his best, Basnight is a poor man's Mick Jagger, which is still pretty rich. MIKE SEELY

Billy the Fridge, Old Fashioned (out now, self-released, billythefridge.bandcamp.com): It's easy to write off the new project from this jokey Internet battle-rap star, competitive eater, and occasional amateur wrestler as simple novelty—so before I do, I will inform you that he was able to finagle beats by Jake One, Sabzi, MTK, and Mack Formway for the project, and that novelty can be entertaining at least once. TH (Tues., Oct. 9, Nectar)

The Bitter Roots, Chiaroscuro (10/9, Water Works Hill Recording Co., bitterrootsmusic.com): The Bitter Roots are nothing if not versatile. Stylistically, their sprawling Chiaroscuro goes from Alice in Chains to moe and back. If their lyrics and vocals were as sharp as their musicianship and creative chutzpah, they'd be a force to reckon with. MS (Sat., Oct. 13, Cafe Venus/Mars Bar)

The Blanket Truth, Urban Wildlife (out now, self-released, blankettruth.bandcamp.com): Just how cutesy are the cutesy pop songs on Urban Wildlife? The liner notes differentiate between soprano and baritone ukelele. They include whistling, handclaps, beatboxing, and shouted group backup vocals. It's the most aggressively twee album you'll hear all year. ANDREW GOSPE

*Blue Sky Black Death, Aquatic Reverie (out now, Behold the Destroyer, bsbdmusic.com): In-house producers for rising 206 rapper Nacho Picasso, Blue Sky Black Death's latest beat tape, surveying the duo's productions from 2006 to 2012, largely sticks to the promise of its title, presenting dreamy, underwater beats just on the cusp of evaporating into the rap cloud. ERIC GRANDY (Fri., Oct. 26, Chop Suey)

Cascadia '10, "The Secret Is Out" (out now, self-released, cascadia10.bandcamp.com): The spicy Afrobeat from this Seattle nine-piece sounds like it could have fallen right off a Budos Band album—but hey, Budos Band's albums are fun to listen to. TH (Fri., Nov. 9, Showbox at the Market)

Dead Winter Carpenters, Ain't It Strange (10/19, self-released, deadwintercarpenters.com): Straddling the awkward line between "instant hit" and "I never want to hear this again." Instrumentally, "East on 8" and "Cabin Fever" are exhilarating, but the excessively countrified vocals detract from the experience. JOE WILLIAMS (Fri., Oct. 19, Nectar)

Demon Dogs, Demon Dogs (out now, self-released, demondogs.org): Old-school metal that worships at the altar of Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate, hitting all the requisite notes, including double bass-drum patterns, harmonized guitar riffing, and soaring lead vocals. DL

Everything Points Up, 2.0 (out now, self-released, everythingpointsup.bandcamp.com): Formed by two members of power-pop group The Glass Notes, 2.0 plays like a collective of outtakes that were "too electronic" for their primary band—spry guitar-pop songs augmented with synthesizer and drum machines. AG

Explone, Telescope & Satellite (out now, self-released, explone.com): Uncompromised indie pop that oozes nostalgia for bands like Queen and R.E.M. Probably would have gone over better during those confusing early-to-mid-'90s years. TH (Thurs., Oct. 4, Sunset Tavern)

Zach Fleury, Be Still, Neverland, Egypt (out now, self-released, myspace.com/zachfleurymusic): This frequent session player (he's worked with Macklemore, Allen Stone, and Noah Gundersen, among others) strikes out on his own—showing he's more than just a hired hand—and steps out on songs like "Neverland, Egypt," which showcases his smooth vocals and skilled guitar picking. JMG

Benjamin Gibbard, Former Lives (10/16, Barsuk, benjamingibbard.com): Based on the title alone, it's tempting to read Gibbard's solo effort in the context of last year's well-publicized divorce from Zooey Deschanel. But instead, Former Lives strikes an optimistic tone, anthologizing (and celebrating) the past through the prism of Gibbard's distinctive songwriting. AG (Fri., Nov. 16, Showbox at the Market)

The Good Hurt, You Are Here (out now, self-released, music.goodhurtband.com): These hooky, vocal harmony–laden pop-rock songs often err toward the saccharine (lyrics-wise, the chorus of "Half Hearted" recalls that one song from the '90s about putting a heart in a blender), but frontman James Lanman does boast some fundamentally sound songwriting abilities and a radio-ready voice. AG (Fri., Oct. 5, The Crocodile)

The Great Um, What the People Want (10/15, self-released, thegreatum.com): This Seattle trio play KEXP-style indie rock with clean guitar tones and an affinity for '60s British pop like the Kinks and indie icons like Pavement. Things are mostly subdued, but the band lets loose on "Sweet Baby K," which has a White Stripes vibe thanks to its big riffs and bluesy progression. DL (Thurs., Oct. 18, Sunset Tavern)

Hannalee, Cucurbita (10/9, self-released, hannaleesong.com): Hannalee's admittedly attractive members make similarly appealing, layered folk. In three-part harmony, Michael Harley, Anna-Lisa Notter, and Fidelia Rowe discuss joy and light while dustings of harmonica, music box, and organ fill out their version of the new Seattle sound: feel-good folk. JMG (Sat., Oct. 6, St. Mark's Cathedral)

Heiress, Early Frost (10/23, Deathwish Inc., heiress.bandcamp.com): These hardcore/ slowcore champs enlisted storied rock engineer Jack Endino for this somewhat trippy 10-track voyage. Though many of the compositions don't seem overly complex up front, they build upon their simpler foundations in unconventional ways (pan flute!) to create a sound all their own. TH (Wed., Oct. 24, El Corazon)

Coty Hogue, When We Get to Shore: Live at Empty Sea Studios (out now, Hearth Music, cotyhogue.com): On this live CD, banjo-picker and Appalachia expert Coty Hogue shares her love of traditional folk songs ("Handsome Molly," "Wedding Dress") and a whimsical take on modern classics (Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News") in a lusty, ringing alto. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

*Jackrabbit, A Better Place (out now, self-released, jackrabbit.bandcamp.com): Spun into an intricate web of bluegrass, Americana, and rock, A Better Place is as transparent as it is honest. With beautiful harmonies and bouncing instrumentation, "Fathers and Sons" is perfect after a stressful day of anything. JW (Thurs., Oct. 25, Tractor Tavern)

Sam Lachow & Raz, 5 Good Reasons (out now, self-released, datpiff.com): Rising lyricist Raz shines on this five-track EP, and although his delivery sounds a little less natural, Sam Lachow (who also made the beats here) rhymes respectably as well. TH (Fri., Oct. 5, Neumos)

*Legendary Oaks, These Narrow Bars of Light (out now, self-released, legendaryoaks.bandcamp.com): Rootsy without falling prey to Northwest folkies' tendency to hump a bale of hay, Legendary Oaks' superb sophomore effort is loose and sunny, evocative of the Byrds, only on way less acid. MS (Thurs., Oct. 18, Barboza)

Whitney Lyman, Wandering, Wondering (out now, self-released, whitneylyman.com): This multi-instrumentalist's gentle voice is the anchor of her 10-song release, which comprises mostly baroque pop ballads. Drums are sparse, but there's plenty of piano, banjo, strings, and even horns, all of which help keep the record interesting. DL (Tues., Oct. 16, Comet Tavern)

*King Dude, Burning Daylight 

(10/16, Dais Records, daisrecords.com)

In his old thrash- and black-metal bands Teen Cthulhu and Book of Black Earth, singer/guitarist (and Actual Pain clothier) TJ Cowgill affected an unnatural, strangulated shriek—sometimes even for his between-song banter. As King Dude, a black-clad death-country crooner in the style of an exhumed and ghoulish Johnny Cash, Cowgill stretches his voice to an equally unnatural though aesthetically opposite end: a low, bellowing moan that grinds down to a croak at its slowest crawl. Paired with acoustic guitar alternately cleanly recorded and decimated by reverb and noise, it makes for a convincingly spooky presence. ERIC GRANDY (Wed., Oct. 24, Chop Suey)

*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist

(10/9, self-released, macklemore.com)

Doused in personal disclosure and weighty subject matter, The Heist is aimed at forcing its listeners to more closely examine their lives and the world around them, and in that it succeeds. The album's lyrics feel as much like a conversation about the sad or goofy specifics of life as they do rap proper; different songs find Macklemore drifting from inspirational speaker to class clown as that conversation shifts moods. Musically, the album bulges with Lewis' elaborate compositions, which are thoughtful but (with several exceptions) mostly recapitulate the album's exhausting length and slow pace. The good songs hold up for the duration, but others could stand to be truncated or omitted altogether: "Can't Hold Us" and "Gold," for example, are terribly disposable pop songs, and "Wings," while lyrically powerful, is lengthy and overblown in its presentation. On the flip side, you probably won't hear more moving songs all year than the absolutely beautiful "Starting Over" and "Same Love." As a whole, The Heist is a (sometimes too) dramatic feature with striking moments of clarity; its main fault is that it sets out to accomplish too much. TODD HAMM (Fri., Oct. 12, WaMu Theater)

Magnetic Circus, We Die in Fire (10/10, self-released, magneticcircus.bandcamp.com): It's obvious Magnetic Circus can rock. However, somewhere in this album's fusion of heavy rock, lo-fi recording, and ambient sounds is a strong disconnect in the timing, tone, and delivery. JW (Wed., Oct. 10, High Dive)

*The Maldives, Muscle for the Wing (10/16, Spark & Shine, sparkandshine.com): It's tempting to accuse Maldives lyricist Jason Dodson of being a cornpone poser until you consider that The Band, with the exception of Levon Helm, hailed from Canada. Fittingly, Muscle for the Wing solidifies the Maldives' position as The Band's heir apparent. Their hallmark dueling guitars and multipart harmonies still emerge with regularity, but never has Dodson's pure, pretty voice been featured so adroitly. If this is posing, then it's runway-caliber stuff. MS (Tues., Oct. 16, Queen Anne Easy Street Records)

*Eric Miller, City Lights (out now, self-released, ericmillerband.com): In the 12 songs on City Lights, Eric Miller engages in approximately 12 different styles of music. A pop chameleon in the best sense of the word, he sounds as though Loudon Wainwright III accompanied Robyn Hitchcock to a bar where the Traveling Wilburys and Chet Baker happened to be hanging out. MS

*Mts. & Tunnels, Mts + Tunnels (out now, self-released, mtstunnels.bandcamp.com): This debut album is cozy, old-school garage rock filled with bluesy guitar riffs punctuated by vintage horns. At times the local group has a classic Northwest folk-rock sound, made more apparent on tracks like "Something in the Light," where the complementary vocals are reminiscent of The Head and the Heart's harmonies. SARAH ELSON

Murder Party, The Vue (out now, self-released, reverbnation.com/murderparty): Like a less-quirky B-52s without Fred Schneider and with fewer dancy bits, Murder Party have the Eastside on the brain. This EP's title is a reference to Bellevue with "your SUV and your sense of entitlement," while "545" describes a ride on a Seattle-to-Redmond SoundTransit bus line that is apparently packed with passengers into self-help books and fantasy novels. DL

9 Lb Beaver, Paradise Awaits (out now, Big Steve Records, facebook.com/ninepoundbeaver): This is sloppy, four-chord, beer-guzzling punk rock (think Guttermouth) with songs about partying in North Korea and girls from Yakima. DL (Sun., Oct. 14, Funhouse)

Omega Moo, Viva La Moovolution! (out now, self-released, omegamoo.com): Running just under nine minutes, this three-song EP is practically over before it starts. However, Omega Moo's breakneck bar-rock shout-alongs have enough going on (well-placed keyboard, a slight tinge of rockabilly) to warrant repeat listens. AG (Sun., Oct. 28, High Dive)

Kris Orlowski & Andrew Joslyn, Pieces We Are (10/16, self-released, krisorlowski.com, andrewjoslynmusic.com): Backed by a 17-piece orchestra, Joslyn's sweeping compositions, featuring Orlowski's honeyed baritone and mingled with the talents of choir members Allen Stone and Campfire Ok's Melodie Knight and Mychal Cohen, strike an ethereal chord. GE (Sat., Oct. 13, Triple Door)

Police Teeth, Police Teeth (10/16, Latest Flame, policeteeth.bandcamp.com): Although the propulsive punk on this trio's fourth album is a bit one-note, it has hints of bands as disparate as Fugazi and Hüsker Dü, and the big, jagged guitar riffs never hamper the songs' incisive energy. AG (Fri., Nov. 11, Sunset Tavern)

Red Jacket Mine, "Amy" b/w "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" (10/16, Fin Records, redjacketmine.net): The latest single from this power-pop band, "Amy" is full of breezy pop melodies and plenty of doo-wops that will have you humming for days. On the flip side, it's all smooth soul. SE (Sun., Oct. 14, Locöl Barley & Vine)

Red Sea, Planets Align (out now, self-released, redseaband.com): Red Sea is a classic bar band: They play well, their songs are decent, but they're not at all contemporary. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you're into classic rock like Pink Floyd, whose influence looms large over "Something Else." DL (Sat., Nov. 17, Fuel)

*Smokey Brights, No Sheer Force of Will (10/12, self-released, soundcloud.com/smokey-brights): The hardest-working side project in Seattle continues their roll with a new 45 that sees their '70s-AM-radio-meets-indie-folk sound become even more refined with the addition of lady harmonies and power-pop prowess. MDL (Fri., Oct. 12, High Dive)

Mike Simmons, Sunburn (out now, self-released, mikesimmons.bandcamp.com): Simmons blends hard-core twang with bar-band rock on this guitar-driven, booze-flavored record. MDL

Sundries, "I Found Perfection" (out now, self-released, sundries.bandcamp.com): The new single from this relatively new rock band features a propulsive rhythm and the powerful, pleading singing of frontwoman Sadie Ava, whose vocals have a richness and maturity that belie her 19 years. ERIN K. THOMPSON (Wed., Oct. 10, Chop Suey)

* Tea Cozies, Bang Up (10/30, self-released, tea-cozies.com): Tea Cozies returns with another dose (its third) of raucous, organ-laced garage pop. Fans of The Pharmacy, Posse, and even Camera Obscura should take notice. JMG (Sat., Oct. 27, Columbia City Theater)

Thaddillac, Adayzndalyfalayk/One Man Trash Can Band (out now, Jewel Turner, thadillac.com): An original take on guitar-based funk from local character Thaddeus Turner. This double album is cleanly engineered and creatively arranged with traditional-style rock numbers alongside vocoder-voiced synth-funk. As always, though, his personality is his loudest instrument. TH

*Tiki Joe's Ocean, Soul of the Sea (out now, self-released, tikijoesocean.com): Multi-instrumentalist/composer Andy Nazzal has created a serene but vigorous, Latin-lounge-influenced album that's straight-up addicting. The opener, "Hotter in the Shade," is overflowing with classy piano, bongo drums, and three helpings of soul. JW

Tokyoidaho, Tokyoidaho (out now, Neon Sigh, tokyoidaho.com): On this synth-rock group's self-titled debut, the most relaxed songs are the best, like the meandering mid-album number "The Ballard of the Teenage Shut-In" and the album closer "Deep Cushions"—an ambitious space-rock track even if it doesn't quite earn its 10-minute run time. AG

Various artists, Ball of Wax 29, No Guitars (out now, self-released, ballofwax.org): In what has to be curator Levi Fuller's most controversial compilation to date, BOW 29 features keyboards, winds, banjos, mandolas, percussion, voices and more, but not a single axe, acoustic, electric, or bass: Fuller dares to go guitarless in the city Kurt and Jimi built. MDL

Kristen Ward, Last Night on Division (out now, self-released, music.kristenward.com): Ward's powerful vocals and guitar work roughen up the usual female-fronted alt-country thing on this stellar effort. MDL (Thurs., Oct. 25, Tractor Tavern)

We Say Bang!, Ignite (out now, self-released, myspace.com/wesaybang): Trading traditional studio recording for a DIY project recorded in the lead singer's basement using shoddy software, Ignite features sporadic bursts of bright crash, fast snare rolls, and distorted guitar that beg to be seen live. JW

Wickerbird, The Crow Mother (out now, self-released, wickerbird.bandcamp.com): With a crackling sound quality, this debut album from NYC-by-way-of-Puyallup's Wickerbird is an oddly soothing collection of indie-rock lullabies full of hushed harmonies and ambient fuzz. GE

Wiscon, Wiscon (out now, self-released, reverbnation.com/wiscon): This female-fronted band plays a strain of dark new wave that's powered by vintage synths and driving bass lines. With no guitar player, there's lots of room for the songs to breathe, which is simultaneously a strength and weakness. DL (Thurs., Oct. 18, Funhouse)

Younger Shoulder, Younger Shoulder (out now, self-released, youngershoulder.bandcamp.com): Sweet, lo-fi indie pop with classical-guitar elements and emotive, whispery vocals. MDL

Your Favorite Book, Remember the Narwhal  (out now, self-released, yourfavoritebook.org): This album's 11 songs travel the well-worn road of literate indie rock carved by bands like the Weakerthans. If acoustic folk punk is your jam, you'll find something to love here. JMG

LOCAL LABELS' OUT-OF-TOWN BANDS

*August Burns Red, August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin' Hill (10/9, Solid State, augustburnsred.com): Move over, Trans- Siberian Orchestra; it's time for a heavy-metal Christmas. From "Frosty the Snowman" to "Carol of the Bells," ABR creates a cheery, snowy world of shredding guitar, pounding drums, and even some soft/pretty guitar solos. JW

*Black Marble, A Different Arrangement (10/9, Hardly Art, blackmarblenyc.com): This Brooklyn coldwave duo doesn't radically alter its sound for its debut full-length, following the Weight Against the Door EP from earlier this year. Drum-machine beats drive spare guitar and synth melodies, the vocals drip with melancholy, and everything has the mournfully spare sense of space of New Order's earliest post-Curtis recordings. EG

Jeremy Camp, Christmas: God With Us (out now, BEC, jeremycamp.com): It's never too soon to get in the holiday spirit. Camp puts an upbeat, modern twist on classics like "Jingle Bell Rock," though his voice shines best on the less-poppy songs, like "O Come O Come Emmanuel." JW

The Coathangers, "Merry Go Round" b/w Heavy Cream, "Toasted" (out now, Suicide Squeeze, suicidesqueeze.net): Atlanta garage gals the Coathangers thread a jagged, catchy dance-punk guitar riff through an appropriately circling beat on "Merry Go Round"; like-minded Nashville band Heavy Cream follows with an equally fun punk charge. EG

*Gap Dream, Ali Baba (out now, Suicide Squeeze, suicidesqueeze.net): The two shuffling, psychedelic tracks on this 7-inch, "Generator" and "A Little Past Midnight," feature warm beats and desultory guitars; it's the bedroom project of Cleveland's Gabe Fulvimar, whose spacey, mumbling vocals make him sound like a computerized Lou Reed. EKT

The Glorious Unseen, Lovesick (10/9, BEC, facebook.com/thegloriousunseen): After raising $21,000 via Kickstarter, vocalist Ben Crist turned inward for an album that varies drastically from the indie-rock vibe of "Brand New" to the soft strum of "Can a Nation Be Changed?" JW

Hyland, Finding Our Way (10/9, Tooth & Nail, hylandofficial.com): Hyland melds the instrumentation and upbeat vibe of Mutemath with the faith-based pop-rock feel of Anberlin. "Beauty in the Broken" is supported by a powerful bass drum and a soaring chorus by vocalist Jon Lewis. JW

*King Tuff, "Screaming Skull" b/w "Love Potion" (10/9, Sub Pop, facebook.com/kingtuffy): The follow-up to Kyle Thomas' full-length debut as garage-pop squealer King Tuff is a clap-happy, ultra-catchy track in which Thomas pledges, "I'll give you my heart and my soul/All I want is your screaming skull." The single's B-side is the robust and sexy "Love Potion." EKT

*METZ, METZ (10/9, Sub Pop, subpop.com): The Sub Pop debut of this Toronto trio claws and pummels its way through 11 opaque tracks—including an ominous, wordless closer called "--))--"—of savage guitar riffs, brutalizing percussion, and thick walls of reverb. Easily the year's most exhilarating rock record. EKT (Fri., Nov. 2, Barboza)

Bebo Norman, Lights of Distant Cities (10/22, BEC, bebonorman.com): This singer/songwriter captures a personal religious journey in 11 rich, beautifully written songs. The standout, "Collide," begins with a soft acoustic-guitar intro that crescendos into a mammoth song of devotion. JW

*Peace, The World Is Too Much With Us (10/16, Suicide Squeeze, peacevancouver.bandcamp.com): Three cheers for Vancouver, B.C.'s Peace for this Wordsworth-inspired album title and especially its cover: The band's mustachioed, suit-clad guitarist sits on a footbridge over a stream holding a half-eaten banana. The artwork's juxtapositions are similar to the band's sound, which mixes melancholy post-punk progressions with the uniquely half-sung melodies of singer Dan Geddes. DL (Fri., Oct. 12, Hollow Earth Radio)

*Total Control, "Scene From a Marriage" b/w "Contract" (10/9, Sub Pop, subpop.com): The new single from these Australian post-punk howlers doesn't have the hooks of last year's killer "Carpet Rash," but the deadpan drag of its guitars, drums, and wounded vocals aptly evokes the grueling slog of an unraveling marriage. (Ingmar Bergman would be proud). The B-side is a crisp, synth-blipping electro dub version. EG

 
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