Courtesy of the artist

Broken Spear’s ‘True’ Stretches Pop Into Pointillism

Redmond-native Seb Choe’s latest is a musical salad worth picking apart.

This Thanksgiving let’s try and give thanks for something. If you’re into local music, how about the city of Redmond? The Eastside suburb has quietly meted out cool sounds for 20 years now, with its epicenter the Redmond Fire House teen center. From that world, Broken Spear’s True (out Tues., Nov. 15) is the latest album worth exploring.

Broken Spear is the chosen alias of Seb Choe, a Fire House-forged artist who makes films and many different types of music, and who also spent lots of time in Seattle’s DIY all-ages spaces—before it closed, you could find him obsessively video-recording shows at Capitol Hill’s Cairo. True peaks with two great dance-pop singles. The other 14 tracks are jarring experiments chopping up skater metal, Top-40 radio, and hokey family-TV samples. It’s a trip. In a way, the whole project vaguely resembles a rap mixtape: postmodern music, a few “real” songs, and a bunch of informal musical tangents. But up is down and down is up. Instead of a chopped and screwed version, we get the inverse-helium edition—a sped-up, nightcore version of True for advanced listeners will be simultaneously released by Pedicure Records.

Some may know Choe’s rock-music history as a guitar player. His latest band, Cool Void, sounds a lot like Olympia’s Naomi Punk, whose producer, Dylan Wall, was Choe’s mentor. True is completely different. For one, it’s computer-driven, and its frame of reference feels individual. How else do you end up sampling Metallica, Avril Lavigne, and the show One Tree Hill?

Weirdness aside, the dance-pop singles straightforwardly rule. The eponymous “True” has an ’80s twee melancholy flavor, with Maria Ivanova, a friend Choe made in St. Petersburg while studying abroad, singing affectless and precise melodies in a high soprano. Work on the album actually began in Russia, and was finished on summer vacation in Redmond.

“Julius” continues the sad-sounding dance party, with low singing from Julius Metal, whom I assume to be Choe himself. The music has a beat that moves your feet. The singing has a depressed greaser feel. It’s a unique and well-executed concept, something Morrissey could break-dance to.

As for the 14 experiments, they are pretty and grating. Sounds are stretched to the point of abstraction or made into a kind of overwhelming pointillism. Some of us will headbang. Others will recoil. It depends on your tolerance for hyper-aggressive music salads. Chances are if you’ve ever felt any type of way—literally any type of way—about the music of Jojo, Ariana Grande, or Jordin Sparks, then Choe will have tapped into some part of your memory bank.

My feeling is you have to respect music like this, which comes from a real place and takes the form of an unstable compound, causing all kinds of potential reactions. This album didn’t come to make friends. Perhaps that’s one benefit of being from Redmond? Everyone thinks you’re uncool anyway. It’s a strong position to accept that—to do your art and decide you don’t necessarily need to be liked.

More in Music

The boys are back in town: Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus combine forces to form Boygenius. Photo by Lera Pentelute
The Girl Power of Boygenius

Julien Baker discusses her new indie songwriter supergroup with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.

Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall). Photo by Julien Bourgeois
Cat Power Powers Through

The acclaimed singer-songwriter chats about her stripped-down new album ‘Wanderer,’ motherhood, and when performance gets in the way of the song.

Sloucher displaying surprisingly decent posture. Photo by Eleanor Petry
Sloucher Is Not Posturing

The Seattle band doesn’t shy away from embracing ’90s guitar rock on ‘Be True.’

Blues Traveler Still Giving the Run-Around

Now-local John Popper marks the 25th anniversary of his band’s big break.

Greta Klein (center right) brings the soft indie pop Frankie Cosmos to The Neptune. Photo by Angel Ceballos
The Soft Comfort of Frankie Cosmos

Sub Pop’s tenderest band brings its indie pop to The Neptune.

Pedro the Lion. Photo by Ryan Russell
Pedro the Lion Returns with “Yellow Bike”

After nearly 15 years without new music, the Seattle band releases a song and video from the upcoming album, ‘Phoenix.’

Mitski auditioning for a role in a new <em>Poltergeist </em>film. Photo by Bao Ngo
Seattle Halloween Concert Guide

With a handful of stellar options, how should one celebrate Rocktober?

Wild Powwers Gets Under Your ‘Skin’

With its new album, the trio proves that it’s the only modern Seattle grunge band that matters.

Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards (left) brings her self-aware dance tunes to The Neptune. Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel
A Reflection on Musical Whiteness with Tune-Yards

Worldbeat art pop mainstay Merrill Garbus chats about the need creative culture to go beyond simple racial awareness in the current climate.

Death Cab for Cutie Headlines Deck the Hall Ball 2018

The annual 107.7 The End holiday bash moves to WaMu Theater.

The new Chris Cornell statue resides outside of MoPop. Photo courtesy MoPop
Seattle Rock Star Statue Breakdown

The new Chris Cornell statue at MoPop got us wondering about the statues honoring local music legends.

Jazz harpist 
Brandee Younger. 
                                Photo by Kyle Pompey
A Beginner’s Guide to Earshot Jazz Festival

A look a seven of the most intriguing performers at Seattle’s annual month-long jazz celebration.