Garrett Croxon started writing songs on his guitar back around 2006, but first played them onstage less than a month ago. In the interim, Croxon, 27, has served as the drummer for a number of local acts—Little Penguins, Tea Cozies, C'est la Mort, a brief stint with Fleet Foxes.
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"I was busy enough to the point that I didn't really think about it. But over the years, I kind of got tired of playing drums, so I thought I'd do something else," Croxon says over a bottle of Negra Modelo at the Saint on Capitol Hill. He's bundled up in a black beanie and a matching black scarf; also around his neck is a chain with two charms: a gun and Saint Christopher, the patron saint of protection. "I grew up Catholic, so I think it's kind of funny," he says.
Croxon's solo recordings started out as sparse folk melodies, but, he says, "I got kind of carried away, and just started recording more and more stuff, to the point where I realized, 'If I'm going to perform this live, I need a band.' " Last summer he assembled two more guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer, who now make up Midnight Blooms (originally called Midnight Veils, they recently changed their name at the request of the Seattle psychedelic outfit Midday Veil) and who are seated around him at the Saint.
Chad Cassady is a voluble, long-haired former Tacoman who answered a Craigslist ad that sought a "guitarist who just wants to fucking play." Stephen Robert is a muscly folk singer and the editor of the Capitol Hill Times. Andrew Gaskin and Will Hallauer were poached from Erik Blood's band. Hallauer isn't here tonight—there's speculation that he skipped band practice last night to go see Lady Gaga at the Tacoma Dome with his wife—but Gaskin is; he and Croxon have been friends since they went to the same middle school in Everett.
"When someone asks 'What does your band sound like?', we say 'We're next-level romance,' " says Gaskin. "And he's like, 'What's next-level romance?', and we're like, 'Well, next-level romance is when you go to Olive Garden and you get three breadsticks in a pyramid with a lace ribbon wrapped around it.' "
"All the weird shit from this band comes from that guy," says Croxon, pointing at Gaskin.
Breadstick formations aside, "next-level romance" isn't a bad way of describing Midnight Blooms' ambrosial sound, flush with looping layers of guitar and Croxon's smooth vocals. "It's not predictable," says Robert. "It's like the same parts recycled, but in different ways. There's a little more disjointedness to it." I mention that one of their songs, a pretty, pensive track called "Carousel," reminds me very much of the music of Red House Painters, the melancholy San Francisco group fronted by sadcore saint Mark Kozelek. Croxon nods and does a slow-motion fist pump: "Yeah, they're pretty much the band that got me playing guitar."
Midnight Blooms have almost nine complete songs; they'd like to have an EP completed by summer. There's an open niche for a band like theirs in Seattle, where the current rages are for hyperactive punk, dance-ready synth-pop, and country-fried folk. Croxon's songs aren't folky; they're mellow and understated, the sort of slow rock practiced by Kozelek, Galaxie 500, and Sub Pop's Low.
"We're not playing '80s music on Capitol Hill," says Robert, "so that's gotta be interesting."