1 I Crater
Birth Date: 2014
Best Song: “Crater Head”
Favorite Ice-Cream Flavor: Black Sesame (Kessiah) and Molly Moon’s Sasquatch (Ceci)
Aqua Socks or Flip-Flops? “Aqua socks, f’sho.”
#1 Summer Blockbuster of All Time: Jurassic Park
Playing at: Capitol Hill Block Party
Kessiah Gordon and Ceci Gomez are two moon goddesses who operate a slinky electronic group by the name of Crater. Soon they will conquer planet Earth with their industrial sampled drum lines and earworm melodies about break-up sex and the internet. Having already drawn praise from Black Constellation producer Erik Blood and The Huffington Post, which declared Crater “the next band you need to know,” the duo continues to make a big impression, so to speak, with its smattering of smart Soundcloud singles that mix trip-hop rhythms, moody guitar, electronic noise collage, and a distinct pop sensibility. It’s nice for once to hear a band that isn’t throwing back to anything, but forging a sonic path forward that’s completely its own. In fact, the band is so futuristic, it once wrapped the entire interior of Seattle boutique/DIY venue Cairo in aluminum foil for a show. Forward-looking fans of big nod-your-head beats, sing-alongs, and, uh, aluminum foil: Crater is going to make you very, very happy this summer. Perhaps the two will wrap all of Capitol Hill in shiny reflective metal when they play at Block Party—the resulting cellular signal interference might finally get you to put your damn phone down.
2 I Moor Gang
Birth Date: 2012
Best Song: “Asuna 哀傷” by Mackned
Favorite Ice-Cream Flavor: “Cherry Garcia or mint chocolate chip” (Gifted Gab)
Aqua Socks or Flip-Flops? “Flip-flops with socks.” (Gifted Gab)
#1 Summer Blockbuster of All Time: Happy Gilmore (Gifted Gab)
Playing at: Northwest Folklife Festival
To say Moor Gang will “break out” this summer is a little inaccurate—members of the Seattle hip-hop collective have already hit it big. Nacho Picasso has garnered national attention with his lurid rhymes and dark, Tim Burton-esque universe. Jarv Dee’s toke-happy lyrics, delivered in his trademark nasal wheeze, have amped up countless festivals by now. Gifted Gab’s Latifah-like flow rightly has many calling her the “Queen of Seattle Hip-Hop.” But Moor Gang is a gift that keeps on giving, continuing to morph and evolve as new members are invited into the now-11-deep crew and sub-movements within the group start to blossom. Key Nyata and Mackned’s self-proclaimed “thraxxhouse” throws hip-hop for a gothic witch-house loop, taking the music from the streets to the cemetery. SneakGuapo and Cam the Mac, two new young members of the Gang, boldly rep West Seattle with their hazy, bass-happy boom-bap. This year’s Folklife will provide a rare opportunity to see the Moor Gang super-squad fully assembled, Wu-Tang style. Knowing how strong these artists’ powers are individually, this show should be a damned riot, asserting the crew’s position as Cascadia’s most promising hip-hop heroes of tomorrow.
3 I White Poppy
Hometown: Vancouver, B.C.
Birth Date: 2012
Best Song: “Wish and Wonder”
Favorite Ice-Cream Flavor: Cookies and cream Aqua Socks or Flip-Flops? “Flip-flops out of the water, but aqua-socks when fording rivers.”
#1 Summer Blockbuster of All Time: “Everytime I get asked about movies I’m a deer in the headlights– I just can’t answer movie questions.”
Playing at: Levitation Fest, Vancouver, B.C.
If you like your music to sound like it was recorded to a cassette tape and left out to bake in the sun for a decade or two, Crystal Dorval’s lo-fi ambient psych-pop outfit White Poppy is for you. The music created by the Canadian multi-instrumentalist, producer, and visual artist crackles and glows with a static drenched hum, buoyed by trancy vocals that sound like Enya floating through outer space (but not in a terrifying, Sandra Bullock-in-Gravity kind of way). White Poppy started making waves in 2013 with a self-titled LP that was hyped by Spin and Nylon and landed her an opportunity to tour Europe. Dorval’s follow-up full-length, Natural Phenomenon, due out this June on Not Not Fun, sounds even hazier and more blissed-out than her last, which makes sense given that it was recorded on a farm. Vancouver’s Levitation Fest—the very first Northern iteration of Austin, Texas’ ever-popular psych fest—is the perfect place to catch Dorval for the first time. White Poppy is the kind of summer music fit for blowing bubbles, watching butterflies flit by, and, appropriately enough, attempting to levitate.
4 I The Librarian
Hometown: Squamish, B.C.
Birth Date: 2005
Best Song: “Horizon”
Favorite Ice-Cream Flavor: Chocolate-chip cookie dough
Aqua Socks or Flip-Flops? Flip-flops
#1 Summer Blockbuster of All Time: “White Christmas, of course!”
Playing at: What the Festival, Dufur, Ore.; Bass Coast, Merritt, B.C.
Andrea Graham has been making a name in the Pacific Northwest’s EDM scene for a decade now. But it’s about time everybody caught on to what the DJ/producer is up to. The bass music she creates as The Librarian eschews easy dubstep drops for sophisticated rhythms that hit you just as hard in the head as in the gut. In 2013 she joined the West Coast Lighta! Sound crew, full of “deep bass pioneers”—a spot she’s more than earned after touring the dance-festival circuit on big tickets like Shambhala, Burning Man, and Symbiosis Gathering, even making it as far as Costa Rica. As a curator/co-founder of the Bass Coast festival, Graham has been a fundamental pillar of a Northwest dance scene that seems ready to explode any minute now as Cascadia’s all-natural-minded, granola citizens finally start to warm to electronic music and, well, dancing. You timid Northwesterners: Put on any of The Librarian’s excellent hour-plus bass mixes and you’ll be gyrating in no time.
5 I Manatee Commune
Birth Date: 2013
Best Song: “White Smoke”
Favorite Ice-Cream Flavor: Maple walnut
Aqua Socks or Flip-Flops? “Aqua socks—I love the idea of having them on for an entire summer. I’d wear them all day just to see if anyone cared. Wear them in the grocery store, off at the club, strut them around a five-star restaurant.”
#1 Summer Blockbuster of All Time: “Top Gun, undoubtedly. Best soundtrack ever.”
Playing at: Sasquatch, George, Wash.; What the Festival, Dufur, Ore.; Camp RAHH!, Samish Island, Wash.
To say Manatee Commune is great for outdoor listening is to taunt the gods of the obvious. The project’s sole member, Grant Eadie, after all, makes music using the outdoors as his key instrument, going so far as to claim that he is “one with the spruce.” Taking a distinctly Cascadian approach to chillwave, Eadie prominently samples birds, river streams, wind, and a forest of other natural elements, layering them on dance beats, flittering synth lines, live violin, guitar, and drums, all played by him. Watching the man perform, jumping from instrument to instrument, is like witnessing a druid feverishly concoct potions in a woodland laboratory. People are noticing, too; Eadie was a finalist in NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest (even though he didn’t win, he’s become an NPR darling), and was just invited to play at Bonnaroo in addition to three Northwest fests this summer. Manatee Commune is poised for a very quick ascent up the Northwestern dance/EDM trail that his Bellingham superstar peers in ODESZA have been blazing all around the world the past two years. If you don’t believe me, check out his 2014 LP Brush and try not to vibe on all the verdant electronic overgrowth. E