Jace Krause, lead singer of Seattle-based band Friday Mile, snapped this photo at the High Dive on Friday, the same night his band played with Pickwick(also from Seattle) and Telegraph Canyon (from Fort Worth, Texas). The anti-country rant was scrawled on the walls of the venue's green room.
In some ways, it's fitting that Krause would be the musician to find graffiti that called for the return of indie rock. At the show Friday, he mentioned to me that Friday Mile's fanbase has grown organically. There hasn't been much buzz about the band -- a positive review on Three Imaginary Girls, a few write-ups here and there -- but the band has been growing in popularity mostly by word of mouth and the musicians' own motivations.
There's a reason why: Seattle has been on a country (or folk) kick pretty hard for a few years. Some of the most hyped out bands in Seattle -- Fleet Foxes spring to mind, along with Grand Archives, the Maldives, the Moondoggies -- are playing rootsy, Neil Young-influenced songs. (Even solo artists like Sera Cahoone and Rocky Votolato fit the bill).
But Friday Mile isn't country. At all. If anything, the band's guitar- and keyboard-driven songs are best described as good-old-fashioned indie rock. There are no violins or strings, no gently brushed drums and acoustic guitars; Friday Mile boast two guitarists playing the occasional riff, a bass player and a drummer following the beat, and a keyboard player that pounds out notes.
Since I started listening to Friday Mile a few weeks ago, I've had a time figuring out how to describe the band. The music always sounded a little off, or a little out of place. At first, I thought it was because the band had two lead singers: Krause and Hannah Williams trade off vocals, echoing other male-female duos like Mates of States.
Now I'm beginning to believe it's because Friday Mile lacks that rootsy-vibe I've come to associate with most indie rock these days. Of the three acts at Friday's High Dive show, Telegraph Canyon grabbed and held my attention strongest -- and the band was also the most country-influenced, sounding like the Arcade Fire if Conor Oberst were the lead singer. The music was highly layered, with an antique organ, a violin, and a vocalist who draws out his words. (Lead singer Chuck Brown also boasted an impressive, Seattle-style beard.)
Sure, there are other reasons why Friday Mile might not be generating buzz. The band's best asset is Williams, and her sultry voice is currently under-utilized: She sings back-up more often than lead. Moving her up to frontwoman status could be a gamechanger. And of course, there are non-country indie rock bands in that are getting buzz in Seattle (Anacortes' The Lonely Forest is a newer example, and there's always Death Cab for Cutie or Modest Mouse as the classic ones).
But I can imagine it's hard to make music in Seattle when you're fighting the prevalent trend. Which leads me to this question: Is roots-rocks the biggest deal in Seattle these days? Or -- like the High Dive graffiti artist requested -- is the Emerald City returning to its rock roots?
(And really, what does that graffiti artist (or anyone, for that matter) have against Neil Young, anyway?)