There's so much local music hitting the streets this week, it's not even funny. Actually, it's pretty neat. Here's a list of all of it -- unless I'm missing something, in which case you should e-mail me and I'll add it to the list.
Karl Blau enters the nautilus
The Dutchess and the Duke, Sunset/Sunrise (Hardly Art)
Everyone who loved The Dutchess and the Duke's first record will adore this album. Which means the lo-fi '60s folk comparisons will not cease (and Velvet Underground comparisons may even increase, particularly in reference to "Living This Life"), but that's okay. Basically a more fleshed-out incarnation of the band's first record -- Sunset/Sunrise employs lots of violin, organ, and more vocals from Kimberley Morrison -- this album is as good as -- if not better than -- the band's first.
Try before you buy: Hardly Art just released a second track from the album, "Living This Life," in addition to the first track on the album, "Hands." Also, The Dutchess and the Duke will perform twice this week -- tomorrow at Sonic Boom Records on Capitol Hill at 6:30 p.m. (that's all ages and free, of course) and at the Crocodile this Friday night.
Karl Blau, Zebra (K Records)
Karl Blau, Zebra (K Records)
Since my love of Karl Blau has been well-documented on this blog, I'll let Nicholas Hall take this one:
For an artist to whom "lo-fi" "indie" and "freak-folk" are common attributions, Karl Blau's album Zebra is both surprising and natural. Though he clearly continues to favor a fairly basic production philosophy, Zebra is downright slick in comparison to the general gestalt of bedroom-style recording. The album also eschews some of the freakier and folkier elements of the genre, preferring to dabble in dreamy pop, psychedelia, and surf rock, informing much of the album with influences from African music and its far flung descendants. The album opens with the chiming bells and island-lounge-chic of "Waiting for the Wind," skronks out on the jazzy (and most stridently lo-fi) bluster of "Crucial Contact," and surfs through the Luna-esque beach bum shimmer of "Apology to Pollinateurs," which also brings in the flair of exotica via a wind instrument (kazoo? sax?) that sounds like it would be more at home in a Moroccan bazaar than in Anacortes. That's just the first three tracks. Elsewhere are influences of bluesy Hendrix riffing mixed with proto-grunge ("Flood"), minimalist British Invasion flourishes ("Welcome to NW"), and the reverse looping of trippy spoken word piece "Shovel Song."
Try before you buy: One song, "Dark Sedan," is available on MySpace. You can also go see Blau play the Josephine on October 13 with LAKE, which is an all ages show.
Grynch, Chemistry 1.5 (self-released)
This re-mix EP (with two new tracks and two remixes) technically hits stores today, so I'm including it here. I highly recommend checking it out. So does Jonathan Cunningham.
Noah Gundersen, Saints & Liars (self-released)
Like most songwriters his age, Noah Gundersen's songwriting is remarkably earnest and sincere; unlike most songwriters his age, it is remarkably polished and mature. Paige Richmond recently interviewed Gundersen, and you can read that transcript right over here.
Try before you buy: MySpace, and he also plays an all ages show at the Q Cafe this Friday night.
Project Lionheart, The Art of Resistance (self-released)
Intense, politically-driven, hip hop -- if the title The Art of Resistance wasn't already a dead giveaway -- with eclectic beats, a strong reggae influence, Senegalese drumming and simple, straightforward rhymes. They're having a CD release show tonight at Nectar; for more on Project Lionheart, check out Jonathan Cunningham's featurette on the group.
Try before you buy:
Try before you buy:The band's website has a little media player up at the top of the page that starts on its own; the sound quality is much better than MySpace.
Red Jacket Mine, Lovers Lookout (self-released)
Poppy local rock.
Try before you buy: MySpace, or the band's CD release party at the Tractor Tavern on the 8th.
Downpilot, They Kind of Shine (self-released)
More poppy local rock -- for more on this band, check out tomorrow's Rocket Queen.
Try before you buy: Where else?
The Oregon Donor, A Pageant's End (Burning Buildings Recordings
I'll just leave this one to Erin Thompson:
It must be hard to be a musician from Anacortes, given that you will always live in the daunting shadow of the prodigy that is John Van Deusen (the Lonely Forest). It's almost like being from Aberdeen and starting up an angsty grunge band. That being said, there's always room for more indie-rock bands in the Northwest (right?), and the Oregon Donor is one that recalls several of the area's established favorites - say, an earlier-era Minus the Bear or a less thrashy Thermals. The foursome formulates textured and jam-heavy songs complete with jerky guitar riffs, frontman Christopher Edwards' rubbery vocals, and a plethora of extended proggy interludes. The group's been working hard recording and playing shows for years now and earlier this month released their third full-length, the enigmatically-titled A Pageant's End. Tracks like "Morse Code" and "Hostages" highlight the Oregon Donor's friskier side, with picked-up, jittery tempos and echoing layers of vocal harmonies - which happen to be the band's sound at its best.
Lazybones, Carnival Prize (self-released)
Lazybones is a funk-slash-jam band that plays at ToST a lot, but they're having their CD release this weekend at the High Dive. If you've ever been to ToST, though, you've probably got a good idea of what to expect. Their music is, in a nutshell, feel-good stoner grooves that get people too busy dancing to notice their repetitive lyrics. Actually, the songs in which there are no vocals at all are decidedly the best ones. People who like Michael Franti or Slightly Stoopid will probably like the songs with vocals, though.
Try before you buy: You can check them out on their website, or on MySpace, but bands like this are always ten times better in person, so I suggest checking out their show on Friday at the High Dive if this sounds like your scene.