Okay, time to own up to something that will probably not be well-received: I am not an Aqueduct fan. It's nothing personal. It is just too poppy for me. So when I saw this three-song City Light sampler on my desk, I saw "Aqueduct side project" and thought...uh oh. I may hate this. But then I saw that the person songwriter Matthew Shaw had recruited from Aqueduct was actually Andy Fitts, which changed everything for me, because his personal ukulele pop songwriting project, the Banyans, is just wonderful. And then I saw that Denver Dalley, who was once in Desaparecidos (you know, that Conor Oberst side project that was better than Bright Eyes? that's right, I said it) was involved. Not to mention Nick Andre, a Bay Area producer who's worked with Blackalicious, the Living Legends and Lateef the Truth Speaker, among others. I thought to myself, "You know, tepid feelings about Aqueduct aside...this could be quite good." And it is. If you like catchy synth pop, you'll like it. The songs, in case you're curious, are "Evil Twin," "Far Away From Here," and "New Kid Revival," a Her Space Holiday cover. I expect big things to come for these guys, but I hope Fitts doesn't abandon the Banyans if City Light does blow up. That would be tragic indeed. They have a show coming up at Chop Suey on May 30 with Her Space Holiday, if you like what you hear.
Speaking of synth pop, fellow Seattleites No Fi Soul Rebellion made a new album called Oh Please Please Please, and like everything else they've done, the record is chock-full of party jams that are much cleverer than they first appear. It's got that awesome-but-really-out-there Prince thing going on, but underneath all of that there's some really intelligent lyrical commentary you might miss because you're too busy shimmying. Far from lo-fi, No Fi Soul Rebellion actually puts a lot of work into production, and it shows. I really enjoy this record, particularly the song "Brother Lupine," which you can hear on their MySpace page, and if you're free this Friday, the band is celebrating the release of Oh Please Please Please at the Comet Tavern with a shitload of really different local artists who are all excellent in their own right. Like hip hop superteam Thee Satisfaction and galactic MC Spaceman. Or Portland rock band Oh Captain My Captain. All great, and all together! It'll be a riot, as you can see from the above photo of one of their crazy-ass shows.As for the Curious Mystery, well, I've raved about them plenty on this blog, but I just can't put down Rotting Slowly, their K Records debut, which was recorded with the help of venerable K Recs founder Calvin Johnson. I've been waiting for that sucker to come out for a solid 8 months, and now that it's finally out (sort of), it's been living in my CD player. It's a good, solid dose of aural LSD, the sort of thing that's ambient without being boring, psychedelic without sounding dated, and country without smacking you around with kitschy twang. Add all that to an interest in Eastern music, and you have something very much unlike any other group making music in Seattle, if not the entire country. Yeah, it's perfect for doing drugs (well, certain drugs: please, kids, stay away from the addictive stuff), but it's easy to just sit down and listen to the thing stone cold sober, because it's totally fucking absorbing and will make you feel stoned even if you are not. I would tell you what my favorite tracks on the album are, but I like every single song so much that I can't play favorites. Check them out at their CD release party next weekend; they're playing Friday, May 15 at the Sunset to celebrate the release of Rotting Slowly.