Jack Doyle Smith slaps some bass for Craft Spells.
Friday, January 21
The Stockton, Calif., band Craft Spells played their first-ever Seattle show last night at Cairo (that tiny vintage store on Mercer on Capitol Hill -- by some act of miracle, they cram rock shows into their back room, usually every Friday night, always all-ages). Craft Spells is the brainchild of one Justin Vallesteros, who's taken his band and achieved what some music fans (this one included) consider to be the ideal: songs that perfectly blend dance and rock.
Songs like "After the Moment" (which you can hear on the band's MySpace page) are liquid and transcendent, but still maintain a tight enough edge to avoid the tired "dream pop" label. Frankie Soto plays an easy, fluid guitar, and Fonso Robles beats along on an electronic drum pad--the combination of instruments plus Vallesteros' dark, compact vocals recalls the best of New Order (think "Age of Consent," "Ceremony"). It's eminently danceable, which the roomful of kids at Cairo proved last night, and more importantly, it's impressively sharp--there's absolutely nothing amateurish about this band.
Although Vallesteros, Soto, and Robles all call Stockton home, last night they played with a local rhythm section--the lovely Jack Doyle Smith on bass and Peter Michel on the drums (Smith and Michel also play around town as Hibou). Vallesteros also told the Cairo audience that they were a lot more fun than the Stockton kids. Methinks Craft Spells should cut their losses and move to Seattle. Our local music scene could use a good shot of this kind of solid guitar rock.
The local trio Seapony opened the show last night; this band's been getting a bit of buzz lately so I was interested to check them out. It's pretty music (think the lo-fi female fronted soundings of La Sera) --Jennifer Weidl's soft little voice and Danny Rowland's catchy guitar hooks are a pleasant combination. I do have two critiques--first, no one likes a drum machine. Second, the bassist looked like he was about to fall asleep; actually, at several points he had his eyes closed. Maybe he should play the drums; that'd wake him up.