Wild Orchid Children (photo by Haley Young Photography )
I have been obsessed with our local music scene ever since I managed to get the>"/>
Wild Orchid Children (photo by Haley Young Photography)
I have been obsessed with our local music scene ever since I managed to get the hell out of Tacoma (no slight on T-Town, but a girl's gotta grow), landing fortuitously at UW in September of 1991.
While I'm grateful and proud that I manage to hold down both a weekly column and a radio show, sometimes focusing solely on the Northwest is, well, painfully monotonous--especially when you want to illuminate only the quality stuff that's out there (duh). Though my column covers more than just local artists, Audioasis (Saturdays from 6-9 p.m. on KEXP) is exclusively NW bands for 3 hours every week. I've been known to scold people for dissing the caliber of local musicians ("If you can't find anything good, you're simply not looking hard enough!" is a typical admonishment of mine), but the fact is remains that I just get burned out, or worse--bored to tears.
These are six songs that I can't get enough of these days and that have saved me from that deadly burn out. Some are new, some are old, but they are all worth your perusal. I've included links where you can listen for yourself; the full list is after the jump.
Zach Stokes Knows Scholarly Gentlemen, "TPFY"
Why does this guy have such an awkwardly long band name? What the fuck does "TPFY" stand for? Who knows, and who cares--this is one of the catchiest pop songs to hit my radar since Mad Rad's "My Product" (o.k., that wasn't that long ago, but still). Anyone who can claim both Acid Mother's Temple and ZZ Top as influences is bound to be doing something either great or terrible. Luckily in the case of Mr. Stokes, the former is the case. Perhaps it all comes down to the pull of tense, urgent guitar and the rhyming of "rich" with "bitch" (an art perfected by Hall and Oates, mind you). Regardless, this one's on heavy in my head these days. Listen over here.
Built to Spill, "Else"
Like many, I had my BTS obsessive phase, fueled significantly by going on tour with the band for a sizable chunk of the Keep It Like A Secret tour (I was managing opening act the Delusions at the time). My affection for the epic guitar jams thing waxes and wanes, but one thing I never get tired of is the fact that I can be completely clueless about what Doug Martsch's lyrical objectives are and still find him completely soothing and hynotic. "Else" is an excellent example of musical Valium. Drop your dose over here.
Cancer Rising, "Truckin'"
I have true, mad, and deep love for CR leader Larry Mizzel for a variety of personal and professional reasons, but I also just dig his art, and this summertime jam is at the top of the list. "Just do what you do", indeed. Check it out over here.
Big Business, "Drift"
My delightful friend Andrew Chapman turns me on to kick ass stuff in the harder rock vein all the time (but sorry buddy, I'm just not ready to embrace Wolves in the Throne Room quite yet), and this was his latest wise recommendation. I was already a steadfast fan of the BB, but I hadn't heard this masterpiece yet, probably because it's from a tour-only EP. Anytime someone can pull off a monster stomp like this, but still deliver it in impressively minimalist fashion, I'm hooked. Even if you missed it on tour, you can hear it over here on their Myspace page.
Juno, "The Sea Looked Like Lead"
Arlie Carstens was one of the smartest and most handsome frontman this city has seen (like Big Business, we lost him to L.A. a while back), but what made him compelling as a performer was the fact that he seemed to play every show like it was the band's swan song. This is the quintessential Juno song: almost too dramatic, but also achingly gorgeous and disciplined in it's construction. The build is fucking epic. For such a long song, it's compulsively listenable.
Wild Orchid Children, "Take My Heart"
When I first played this on my radio show, the note I wrote on the CD said "sounds like the Beastie Boys scored a funeral." I honestly have no idea what made me say that, other than the Beasties reference--every time I listen to this song, I half-expect singer Kirk Huffman to break into the chorus from "Sabatoge". The fact that they have a great hip hop vibe to their cacophonic punk is a selling point alone, but the crazy, twang-filled breakdown at the end seals the deal. This is one of the more promising unpolished outfits working in Seattle right now. I really look forward to watching them grow, but now I'm content to put this one on repeat.