In the exhaustive local reviews included in this month's edition of Reverb Monthly--"It's July 2012, and Seattle Sounds Like..."--you'll find a review of Head East, a compilation that similarly sets out to document what the Eastside suburbs currently sound like. The collection was produced at Redmond's Old Fire House Teen Center, recorded in their on-site media lab facilities, and documenting the young bands currently cropping up there. Like I say in the review: "The Old Fire House Teen Center in Redmond has a long history of nurturing up-and-coming Eastside acts, from Modest Mouse (from Issaquah) to the Blood Brothers (Kirkland/Redmond). If no longer the destination for touring bands that it was during Seattle's odious Teen Dance Ordinance days, it remains a vital incubator for suburb-bred talent destined for Seattle and the wider world."
Head East, art by Casey Catherwood
The Old Fire House turns 20 this year, old enough for someone born the day it was opened to be too old to hang out there now (the OFH's shows are always all-ages, but its drop-in programming is for youths ages 13-19), and Head East is far from the only compilation to document the place's impact over the years. For their 10th anniversary, the OFH released All That Was Built Here: Ten Years at The Old Fire House, an album which collected (mostly previously available) studio tracks from two dozen of the bands that came up there or were otherwise regulars on the OFH stage, including The Murder City Devils, Botch, Trial, and others. Before that, though, there was the East Infection compilation (hopefully sub-titled "Vol. 1"), which did in 1995 what Head East is doing today, documenting the up-and-coming Eastside acts of the time. You might not recognize most or any of the band names on the track-listing, but if you dig in, you can find the roots of more than a few current Seattle acts here, as well as a weird time capsule of what the suburbs might've sounded like 17 years ago.
Download: VA - East Infection (Mediafire)
The first thing I notice listening to this CD again for the first time in probably 14 or 15 years is how much emo there is on it. Not like mall emo or whatever, but the real mid-'90s Sunny Day Real Estate-derived, destined for Jade Tree deals stuff. (My subjective experience of 1995 was way more in tune with "alternative" radio fare, for better or worse.) On that tip, there's Fields of Mars (whose Sonny Votolato and Josh Dawson would go on to form Slender Means), State Route 522 (whose Jake Snider went on to lead Minus the Bear), and Inlist (no idea). Some other notables here include Ribbonfish, the adolescent band of Truckasauras' Swan brothers, Red Rocket (still awesome power pop, members went on to play in Romance and other bands), and Wafflestomper (whose Danny Adamson your kids might recognize from tot-rock band the Not-Its). This being the '90s, there is also backpacker hip hop with a live band, and one track of swing revivalism (but no ska?!).
Only time will tell if the acoustic folk boom of the '00s which is so heavily felt on Head East will age as poorly as the swing revival, but looking back at East Infection gives some perspective by which to evaluate 2012's new crop of Eastside talent. Any of these acts might go on to do great things, and it's to all of our benefit that places like the Old Fire House are there to help them grow.