Bujemane. Photo by Nathan Cornell

The Best Local Records We Heard This November

A garbage month. But Bujemane, Guayaba, Moving Pictures, and New Information made it a bit better.

November was a cold kick in the crotch. America elected a reality TV/Twitter president (even though he technically got at least two million fewer votes than his competitor); the so-called “alt-right” is trying its damnedest to make white nationalism, Nazism, and racism normal; and our nation’s violent, oft-unacknowledged colonial past keeps repeating itself at Standing Rock. Some folks find solace in the idea that in the wake of all these events, at least we can expect some great new music. As Jessica Hopper eloquently outlined in her “Silver-Lining Myth” essay for MTV, not only did we already have a litany of amazing music come out in the final months of Obama’s presidency, Trump will likely make things harder for musicians. In light of that, let’s buckle down and do our best to support our local artists in the years to come, starting with the excellent records they released in this otherwise bummer month:

Various Artists

Styles for Relaxation

If you’re a Northwesterner and feeling relaxed post-election, you’re in the minority. Anxiety attacks and a general encroaching dread seem to be the new norm up here. But remember—to do the work that needs to be done now, you have to remember to breathe. Styles for Relaxation, a fantastic new compilation of ambient-leaning electronic, house, and New Age tracks, is something like an auditory sauna—a record during which the listener sweats away all the noise and emerges leaner and more focused for the real challenges ahead. Compiled and released by a mysterious group from Portland calling itself New Information (which insists it is not a label and does not “promote a brand or represent any sort of scene or movement”), the record is a hefty 23-track restorative trip that can help ease the post-election jitters. The compilation features new songs culled mostly from West Coast producers with a special focus on the Northwest—save for a few outliers like Kansas City’s impossibly smooth Body-San. Vancouver, B.C.- and Portland-based artists get lots of deserved shine on the record, with contributions from RAMZi, D. Tiffany, Unknown Mobile, and Orthographic Figure, but Seattle gets its due in the mix via Raica, aka Chloe Harris, co-head of Further Records. Harris contributes a gurgling ambient track, entitled “Bloo Lyt,” full of billowing bubble sound effects and underwater synth ripples. The tune sounds as if it was recorded in a sensory-deprivation tank. If floating weightlessly for a moment sounds nice right now, give this record a try. newinformation.bandcamp.com

Guayaba

Black Trash/ White House

Formerly known as Aeon Fux, Evergreen grad Guayaba has spent the past few years wowing audiences in Seattle with her wildly dynamic singing range, a strong predilection for writing about insects, and her singular musical style—a doomy, alien hybrid of doo-wop, soul, and hip-hop. While her demos thus far have mostly been self-produced, on debut EP Black Trash/White House she’s handed production duties to Seattle’s Luna God, and the two are an absolutely brilliant match. Back in August on LGEP 2, Luna God roped in features from the Seattle area’s brightest young hip-hop and R&B talent and proved his chameleonic ability to bring out their individual strengths—acing everything from blazing bangers to subdued slow-burners that gave each guest vocalist the perfect platform for their particular style while preserving his own personal touch. Black Trash/White House is no different. Refining her unique style on the six-track record by delving into her Afro-Cuban heritage, Guayaba serves up a phenomenal, acrobatic vocal performance—scatting, singing, and rapping in a game of lyrical double dutch, delivered as though she was possessed by spirits. She effortlessly slips between English and Spanish, flexing deft wordplay out of both without breaking a sweat. Luna God, as usual, keys right in on the vibe, churning out a wholly original fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms, melodies, and drum tones blended with trap drums and hip-hop bass. “Santa Sangre” finds the two at their peak powers, with Luna God’s spooky marimba lead lines and skittering minimalist hand percussion giving Guayaba’s ghostly conviction and devastating rhythmic onslaught ample room to breathe until the superb, skronking horns break in on the chorus. Sleep on this record at your own peril. (See our Guayaba profile this week) aguadeguayaba.bandcamp.com

Bujemane

I Quit

At 21, Federal Way’s Bujemane already does it all—he shoots, directs, and edits his own videos; designs clothes for his own brand, Red Zone; produces his own beats; and writes his own raps. But he’s no mere dilettante; he does it all really well. His new tape, I Quit, is a testament to these last two skills, an exceptional addition to Tacoma’s booming hip-hop scene that’s coalesced over the past few years around the eTc streetwear shop. Like many of his other South Sound peers, Bujemane came up in the punk and hardcore scene before moving toward hip-hop, but I Quit is notable for its departure from the sinister, aggro energy that defines his contemporaries like CRIMEWAVE, Ghoulavelii, and Yung Fern. The tape, released by Seattle DIY bedroom label Hellur Records, is certainly dark, but not in a foreboding way—it sounds like wandering the streets at dusk as the streetlights start to come on. The overall tone, strikingly mature in its subdued palette and vocal delivery, actually tends to veer toward the aspirational. Lead-off track “Comfy Shoes” spins minimal trap drums atop a languid jazz key line that warps in and out as if on vinyl—Bujemane unhurriedly enumerating the keys to his work ethic: “I dream big/I think big/Get paid for my English/I practice what I’m preachin’/Go hard every weekend.” “Long Sleeve” keeps up the nighttime vibe with another clever minimalist beat built of a stuttering horn sample. Bujemane’s wordplay shines here with the impeccable line “My mind flooded with thoughts of stresses, buoyancy, and virtue/So many people sleep on me that all my dreams’ll probably come true.” If Bujemane keeps hustling and putting out smart records like this one, people will wake up soon enough. hellurrecords.bandcamp.com

The Moving Pictures

EMDR PTS 1, 2 + 3

Perennial Death is one of the Northwest’s less-heralded underground record labels, which is a shame because the amount of top-notch Olympia talent it’s managed to shine a light on—acts like Vexx, CC Dust, Gun Outfit, Broken Water, Milk Music, and Trans FX—is pretty staggering. Perennial Death’s latest record by the Moving Pictures was actually written by label founder Hayes Waring, and is a testament to the impeccable taste steering the imprint. Featuring Grass Widow’s Lilian Maring and Milk Music’s Charles Waring, EMDR PTS 1, 2 + 3 harkens back to early-’90s indie rock in its subdued tone and post-hippie lilt, as on the warm, kaleidoscopic “Face Back.” But true to Olympia’s roots, it isn’t afraid to get punky and scrappy, as it does on the chugging art-rock riffer “Body Tiger.” “Genet’s Rose”—a lush, squalling ode to the French writer that blossoms like the flower in its title—is the perfect marriage of the record’s diametric poles: clattering, rushing cymbals and freewheeling guitar, with a refreshingly loose song structure that recalls Sonic Youth’s experimental sonic poetics and noisy beauty. Like much of Perennial Death’s output, the record pays homage to its influences without feeling grossly nostalgic or “throwback,” anchoring its particular tonal proclivities and songwriting approach in something that feels contemporary and new. mov-pix.bandcamp.com

ksears@seattleweekly.com

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