February 7, 2012

24 More Unmissable Records from the Pacific Northwest in 2011

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helmsaleeweatherhead

 

 

Remember when we said we’d share our list of 25 other unmissable records the first week of January? Whoops. Thing is, the first month of this new year, we were still listening to and falling in (and out) of love with records from 2011. Discovering albums we should’ve shared months ago and finding out what sounded good in summer, didn’t survive snowmageddon. We added and whittled and debated and listened and when it comes down to these 24 albums, all released in 2011 by bands from the Pacific Northwest, we loved.

Here’s what you won’t find on here: records we wrote about in 2010 (The Head and The Heart, Beat Connection, Joseph Giant, Baltic Cousins), just okay releases from bands we’ve loved before, collections of 7’’s made into best of EPs, EPs in general and plenty of records that you loved with your whole heart and we just, didn’t. But, after hundreds and hundreds of hours of listening and seeing these bands live, slightly fewer spent talking about the albums amongst ourselves, we’re confident these are 24 records you’d be remiss to miss from 2011.

Here’s what you will find on here: bands from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Boise. Psychedelic symphonies. Menacing metal. Four-Eyed Soul. Modern R&B. Party Punk. Folk confessionals. Hip shaking hip hop. These albums are self-released, funded by fans and put out by labels big and small. They are debuts and albums that defied sophomore slumps and career defining work. Albums that have been loudly lauded and others who’ve been mostly ignored. Its a sample of what makes being a music lover in the Pacific Northwest right now so exciting, there’s a little something for everyone and we hope you find something you love too.

 

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AgesandAgesAll Right You Restless (Knitting Factory)

Agesandages fills up a room. With no fewer than seven people adding harmony to the airtight, country-funk rock that spins off Alright You Restless, the debut record enthralled me with the desperate joy that permeates its entirety. Playing with the bog of loneliness and defeat, and inviting the world into that dark fold to find comfort in each other, it’s music that offers salve in stomps and hope in runaway choruses. (Kathleen)

Allen StoneS/T (Self-Released)

“I’m sick and tired of soul music looking so clean and proper! Cause my soul… my soul… my soul is just a little big greasy!” This is how Allen Stone introduces himself to the crowd from the stage. Obviously steeped in tradition but not married to its dictates, Stone’s four-eyed soul is unrepentant in both its influences and its willingness to disregard them entirely. Repping the Northwest he’s more than likely on stage in a flannel or Sonics jersey instead of any Detroit mandated button-up uniform like most of his current peers. This un-buttoned attitude extends to the dynamic mixture of straight R&B ballads and kinetic pop and funk on display in this record. If nothing else, just like the live show, Allen Stone represents Stone being unapologetically himself. (Excerpted from Josh’s full October review.)

 

 

 

Case Studies – The World Is Just a Void to Fill the Space (Sacred Bones Records)

It’s plausible to say that every music fan in Seattle cried a tiny tear when Jessie Lortz and Kimberly Morrison decided to end their tenure as The Dutchess and The Duke a few years back. Yet, if any and all knew that Lortz would take the new found freedom and put an album as poetic and gorgeous as Case Studies’ The World Is Just a Void to Fill the Space, I wonder, how sad would we all of been?

I discovered Case Studies during a two week period where I was living out of a hotel room in Dubuque, Iowa. My girlfriend was in the midst of a two-week intensive dog-training course and I’d signed out to drive out there and then “focus on my writing” for two weeks in a thrifty Day’s Inn a few blocks from the Mississippi River. To say the least, the smell of old cigarettes and scratchy linens inspired nothing in me and I found myself grabbing my keys and drifting through the Midwest in a chrome-green Honda Element. The Midwest is a strange, lonely place for a city dweller, and with no destination in mind I’d pick a spot on the map an aimlessly cruise towards it. It was on one of these roads with the green blur of farmlands speeding by in the background, the thin snake of the Mississippi my only landmark, that I not only discovered Case Studies but fell wildly in love with it.

It starts with “You Folded Up My Blanket Like We Were Already Lovers,” a deceptively upbeat story about love in a car, on the stairs, in a garden. The road will numb you, and my musical selections weren’t cracking the shell, but “You Folded Up My Blanket…” with it’s beautifully simple lyrics slipped in and I played it on repeat, memorizing every word like a smitten teenager. From there “My Silver Hand” squeezed in to the gap, Lortz’s deep, whiskey-soaked voice rising above the simple violin and guitar, the words full of heartbreak and the need for redemption just peppering my emotional core. Somewhere between Dubuque and Hazel Green, Wisconsin, I fell wholeheartedly in love with the album as a whole. I pulled over the car and sat and stared out in to an endless stretch of green and felt lonely and a bit sad and completely won over by everything Lortz was crooning, every simple beat that stretched out from the door behind me. (Noah)

Cave SingersNo Witch (Jagjaguwar)

I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on why or how, but every moment on No Witch seems suffused with joy. Maybe it’s the way Derek Fudesco’s guitar notes dance like afternoon sunlight on the living room wall, or maybe it’s the honest, folksy feel of the foot-stomping energy. Whatever the case, No Witch has become my go-to cheerup album, my foolproof impetus for dancing around the kitchen with gleeful abandon. It’s not that there’s no darkness – “My mind wakes me up every night sir, see devils in my backyard,” Quirk sings on “Black Leaf,” but the bleak and the bright are bundled up together in little boxes of hope. Weather moves in dark patterns, but as Quirk espouses in “All Land Crabs and Divinity Ghosts,” “It’s too big of a world to give up now.” (Brittney)

 

 

 

Constant LoversTrue Romance (self-released)

When Macklemore said “My city’s filthy,” this wasn’t quite what he meant, but as its cover art indicates, True Romance listeners are in for a low-down dirty ride. This album is a tribute to sybarite pleasures of all kinds, from the warm burn of whiskey in your stomach to the red memory of teeth marks on skin, from the hip-thrust of the drums to the thrust of, well, other things. Conveniently, it’s also the perfect soundtrack for the unbridled enjoyment of these recreations. (Brittney)

Dan ManganOh Fortune (Arts & Crafts)

I recently turned thirty. Not long after, I found myself looking back on the 20s version of me and thinking, “What an ass.” 28-year-old Mangan (who, incidentally, is incredibly polite and charming) seems to be going through a similar process a couple of years early, and has done us all the favor of turning it into a delightful album. With endearing honesty and trademark wit, Mangan crafts carefully textured odes and confessionals that reward with every listen. (Brittney)

 

 

See the rest of our 24 unmissable records from 2011 after the jump (more…)

December 20, 2011

The Daily Choice Top 32 Songs of 2011

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The time has come for me to regurgitate an entire years worth of music on to the digital table so you can pick through the mess and see what I liked and possibly find something you missed or something you agree with or something you’ve never heard of and suddenly like.  As usual there are probably a hundred songs that I listened to and exclaimed “this is the best song ever” and then totally forgot to post anything about and also, as always, a lot of the songs tend be picked from the latter part of the year because my drug-addled brain is unable to source anything from the front half.  It’s a good mix this year and I’m proud that for almost 5 years now I’ve had the opportunity to share my thoughts on music on this amazing website with you, our amazing readers.

Happy Holidays!  I can only hope you enjoy:

High Pop – Drip From The Sea Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Walking In Unison Burnt Ones – Bury Me In Smoke Kendrick Lamar – A.D.H.D. Manatee – Mr. Super Ty Segall – Fame/Sufferage City Jacuzzi Boys – Cool Vapours Niilo Smeds – Summer Air King Blood – End of a Primitive Bachelorette – Blanket Koko and The Sweetmeats – Will I Ever Make It To The Ocean Rangers – Xochimilco War On Drugs – Baby Missiles Behavior – Laughing Disappears – Halo The Caretaker – Tiny Gradations of Loss Led Er Est – Lonesome XOXO Ducktails – Killin’ The Vibe

The top 14 songs after the jump.

(more…)

December 14, 2011

Abbey’s Favorite (Almost Entirely Local) Songs of 2011

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Kelli Schaefer ::: photo by Dylan Priest

 

 

Having fallen deep down a used-vinyl sized hole this year, I managed to completely miss most of the national blog buzz bands and mp3s making the press release copy&paste rounds of 2011, those things that so often fill end of the year lists. But considering the immense output from our little corner of the country, I don’t feel I suffered or starved for new songs to keep me company. These are the forty songs from 2011 that were my soundtrack and that I played on repeat. I’m not bold enough to say they are the best songs of 2011, but they are my favorites.

While this list is not enumerated, my very favorite song of the year, Kelli Schaefer’s heart-aching-to-the-point-of-breaking “Gone in Love,” is at the top with some other absolute favorites. “Gone in Love” is a song that has not lost its emotional wallop despite hundreds of listens and many live performances over the last 12 months. And every time I see Kelli sing it, I can’t stop my chin from quivering. “Gone in Love” isn’t just one of my favorite songs of 2011, it is one of my favorite songs.

That’s hardly true for every song on this list. Every year has its one-hit wonder and I have no shame in saying I played the hell out of 2011′s. Whether its a song that stays with you for decades or a song you only blast until the end of the year, I hope you might discover a new favorite of your own by taking a listen to some of mine.

 

 

“Gone in Love” – Kelli Schaefer “Before the Night is Gone” – Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers “Montezuma” – Fleet Foxes “Letters” – Lemolo “I’m Not Leaving” – Big Sur

“I Found You” – Alabama Shakes “I’m Losing Myself” – Robin Pecknold / Edward Droste | download “Father’s Clothes” – Grand Hallway “Leaves, Trees, Forest” > “Rows of Houses” – Dan Mangan “Boys” – Bryan John Appleby

“The Round” (From the Basement) – Pickwick “Park” – Radiation City “Twins” – Gem Club | download “Mute” – Joshua Morrison “My Silver Hand” – Case Studies | download

The rest of my favorite (almost completely local) songs of 2011 (more…)

August 22, 2011

Case Studies “Lies” [video]

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Case Studies new video for “Lies” (filmed by talented local photographers — and now videographers — Kyle Johnson and Andrew Waits) is full of lovely Seattle summer days and ladies and is a perfect distraction from whatever mundane Monday tasks you’re in the midst of.

You can catch Case Studies live this Saturday at The Sunset where they’re opening for The Soft Hills and The Curious Mystery and all for just $8.

August 2, 2011

My Most Played: July 2011

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Dolorean ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Dolorean – The Unfazed (yes, again) Gardens & Villas/t Bryan John Appleby – Fire on the Vine Dillard & Clark – Through The Morning, Through The Night Richard Swift – “Broken Finger BluesStrong Killingss/t Shenandoah Davis – The Company We Keep Case StudiesThe World is Just a Shape to Fill the Night Radiation CityThe Hands That Take You Wild OnesYou’re A Winner EP PDX Pop Now! 2011 Comp Charles Bradley – “Stay Away” (Nirvana cover) Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son Fly Moon Royalty – s/t Lemolo – “Letters” Pickwick – “Window Sill”

June 16, 2011

The Daily Choice: Case Studies – The Eagle, Or The Serpent

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We all mourned the loss of The Dutchess and The Duke.  I wore black for a week and spent too much money on an elaborate funeral procession that ended with me throwing the ashes of a burnt D & D record in to an open sewage grate.  The grieving has come to an end though, and Jessie Lortz holds the flame that will lead us from the darkness.  Case Studies, Sir Lortz’s new solo project still holds on to the twangy edge so beloved on the first Dutchess and The Duke album, but where I’m The Dutchess … was a rip-roaring affair, here Lortz taps in to his inner Leonard Cohen.  Simple guitar, simple drums, simple harmony, all tightly wrapped by Lortz’s pained lyrics of longing and love wanted and love lost.

There are more than a few songs I could’ve chose from this amazing album, but “The Eagle, Or The Serpent” will do for a start.

Case Studies album The World is Just a Shape to Fill the Night will be released by Sacred Bones on August 16th.

Case Studies – The Eagle, Or The Serpent

June 8, 2011

My Most Played: May 2011

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Lemolo – “Letters” (live at KEXP) Dave Bazan – Strange Negotiations (especially “People“) My Goodness – s/t and Live at KEXP Radiation City – The Hands That Take You Case Studies – “My Silver Hand” Kevin Murphy – “The Grieving KindGold Leaves Grand Hallway – “North Cascades” Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Dirty Radio Sonny Smith’s 100 Records Volume 2: I Miss The Jams

March 21, 2011

Case Studies – “Daggers” [video]

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Case Studies: Daggers from Case Studies on Vimeo.

Fences and Perfume Genius are going to have to get to work if they want to continue their reign as Seattle’s preeminent singing sad-bastards in 2011, because Jesse Lortz and Case Studies are making a compelling case for crying with each new song.

December 16, 2010

Abbey’s Favorite Songs of 2010

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Sharon Van Etten “Love More” ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

If my 2010 was a mix tape (or a couple mix tapes as it were), these would be the tracks. These were the songs that were my most frequent and adored companions of 2010. They’re the songs I’ll know the words to for the rest of my life. They’re largely local, though my favorite song of 2010 hands down, no questions asked, comes courtesy of Sharon Van Etten. I’ve listened “Love More” at least a hundred times more than any other track. I still think in just over 5 minutes, Sharon Van Etten manages to accomplish what most artists spend a lifetime trying to attain: perfection.

This list only covers my favorite songs released in 2010, though many of my most cherished discoveries and companions weren’t born of 2010. (A list not specified by date of release would include a lot of Carissa’s Wierd, Baptist Generals and early Damien Jurado.) Speaking of Damien Jurado, he’s noticeably missing from this list, despite releasing one of my favorite records of 2010. Why? Because Saint Bartlett is an album, in full and despite a hundred listens, I couldn’t single out one song as a favorite and saying “all of them” seemed like a cop out. Also, you won’t see “Airplanes” by Local Natives, “What Took So Long” by The Moondoggies or “Vanderlyle Cry Baby” by The National on this list, though they were doubtlessly favorites. That’s because they made my lists for 2009 … that’s what you get for being ahead of the curve.

p.s. I say “favorite” because I can’t say these are the best songs of 2010, my listening isn’t broad enough to make such a statement, but I hope you find something you love all the same.

My Favorite Songs of 2010

* “Love More” by Sharon Van Etten | download song| * “Down in the Valley” and “The Sea Beside Me” by The Head and The Heart |watch video | download song| * “It Just Makes Sense to Me” and “It’s a Shame, It’s A Pity” by The Moondoggies | download the song | * “Ghost of the Beast” by Kelli Schaefer | watch video | * “Go Back to Virgina” by The Maldives | watch video| * “Song for November” by Chris Pureka | Download the Daytrotter Session| * “War” by Le Sang Song | listen to song | * “King on the Throne” by Drew Grow | stream the song | * “Live There” by The Lonely Forest | download the song | * “Unico” by Avians Alight | stream the entire debut album | * “It All Comes Right” and “Spider” by Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives | watch video | * “Finish With Starting” and “Neck Bones” by Hoquiam | watch the video | * “Not a Problem” by S

* “New New” by The Lights |download the song| * “Road Regrets” and “Pine for Cedars” by Dan Mangan | watch the video| * “Otherside” (Remix) by Macklemore and Fences | stream the song | * “Excuses” by The Morning Benders | watch video | * “My Silver Hands” by Case Studies | listen to the song| * “Fara” by Baltic Cousins | listen to the song| * “Albatross” by The Besnard Lakes | download the song| * “Night Might” by The Strange Boys | download the song | * “Never Wanted You” by Dave Bazan | watch video| * “Right Angle” by What What Now * “Mr Peterson” by Perfume Genius | download the song| * “Grey Wizard” by The Sandwitches | download the song|

* “Who Loves” by Lemolo * “Days in my Room” by Nick Jaina | watch the video | * “Penthouse Lover” by Hobosexual | listen to the song| * “Grow” by Land of Pines | stream their debut EP| * “Shades of Blue” by Luke Stevens |stream the song| * “Nothing But Our Love” and “Simple Girl” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. | watch the video | * “Ex” by The Mallard| download the song | * Stumbling 22nd St.” by Moon Duo | download the song | * “Love is All” by The Tallest Man on Earth | watch the video | * “Crows” by Cousin Dud | download the song | * “Girls With Accents” by Fences

December 9, 2010

Case Studies: “The Eagle or the Serpent” [video]

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There is no denying The Dutchess and The Duke are going to be dearly missed. But if the above is what fills the void and if “The Eagle or the Serpent” and the magnificent “My Silver Hand” (available on their Facebook) are the type of songs Jesse Lortz keeps writing as Case Studies, we think we’ll be able to cope.