September 24, 2012

The Daily Choice: Sam Miller – You Need To Hear It


Sam Miller is the combined whole of so many strange and disparate influences. You can hear Tom Waits, pre-cigarette-and-glass-croon. You can hear The National in the deep slow delivery of each line. You can hear Patrick Wolf and Perfume Genius in the theatrical presentation of everything combined. This is Andrew Lloyd Weber turned indie-rock, a song told not just in the musical composition, but in the atmospheric delivery. Sam Miller isn’t your guitar-and-stool singer-songwriter entrancing the crowds of your local granola-lovin’ coffee shop, Sam Miller is a man with a big, gothic vision and “You Need To Hear It” is the first, epic realization of that vision.


January 31, 2011

Sound on the Sound’s Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2010





We’ll be the first to admit this list is arriving, oh, at least a month late. On the other hand, 2010 was an expansive year for Northwest music in many regards and worthy of chronicling one last time with thoughtful and focused intention. So we hope you will see that the extra time we’ve given this piece has led to more in-depth reviews of each release in a way that a December 31st publish date didn’t allow. Hopefully you’ll read one of them and discover a great local record that you missed in 2010 proper.

Unlike some other lists who will cite being on a Northwest label as being a candidate for a “Best of the Northwest” list, ours only includes bands from and making music in the Northwest right now. We’ve expanded to include Vancouver to the north, south to Cottage Grove, west to Forks and east to (at least) Billings, however there’s no denying, our list is heavily Puget Sound area-centered, and mostly Seattle at that. We didn’t pay as close attention to Portland and Vancouver as we should have in 2010, something we plan on remedying in 2011.

With that please enjoy our take on the 25 most significant records we heard from the Pacific Northwest in 2010.




25. Fencess/t

“Clocking in just over 30 minutes, the long-awaited debut establishes it was worth the wait with the first strums of “Girls With Accents,” whose chorus of “I’m fucking up, I’m fucking up everything” is destined to become a teenage anthem. But this album isn’t just for moody teenagers. Fences sings sad songs filled with snide sweetness, self-deprecation and a confessional honesty that hits home to anyone whose been brave enough to admit they fucked up and flawed enough to do the same thing all over again.” [abbey]


24. Wild Orchid ChildrenAre Alexander Supertramp

Were you ever young? Nod your head “yes.” What did you do when you were young? I’m not talking elementary school age, that’s real kids stuff. Let’s focus on the beast that is adolescence. What did you do when you were young? Did you do what your parents told you? If so, you probably listen to (insert conventional musician using complex social analysis matrix here). Were you a bookworm or liked to secretly play with action figures even though you were probably too old for it? If so, you probably listened to Hum. (editor’s note: Hum totally rules…I swear I left the GI Joe’s alone.) Did you get inebriated in the woods behind a strangers house on the beer you kept buried in the ground, then had Roman Candle fights in a neighboring cul-da-sac? Did you go skating at night and drink beer out of your own Vans sneaker? Did you do acid and see thousands of David the Gnomes come parading out of your bathroom as you tried to sleep? If so, you probably listen to Wild Orchid Children.

That’s exactly what this album is like. It’s like lighting your friends’ parents roof on fire by accident then instead of calling 9-1-1, you decide to make Smores on the ashes. The insurance company has its eyebrows raised. Are you an arsonist? You tell them to fuck off go kick rocks. You are Alexander Supertramp. [Phil]



23. LesbianStratospheria Cubensis

Lesbian enjoys buttering up the listener with unassuming riffs at the beginning of their songs. Take the beginning Raging Arcania or Black Stygian for instance. The former being otherwordly while the latter is an obtuse delight. Eventually Lesbian decides your peace of mind is a bad joke and they’re not laughing. Insert weird metal breakdown here. Lesbian does something a lot of metal bands don’t but should. The band will throw in thrashy parts out of nowhere, creating quite the tempo shift. During these “brutal” fits, you would expect conventional usage of blast beats but Lesbian will not cave in to the needs of mundane metalheads across the globe. They stay true to their original outlandish form. After a few minutes of putting your mind in a blender, Lesbian decides that your pain bores them. The magical mushrooms that the band ingested before they decided to fuck-with-you-for-the-fun-of-it have worn off. They decide against taking you to Harborview because you don’t have insurance. They suture your skull back together with rusty, mostly heavier gauged guitar strings. That’s exactly what listening to this band is like. A prime example of this occasionally interrupted mayhem is the album’s title track. [Phil]


22. Language Arts & Def DeeGravity

Though it was a tough choice (a really tough choice) between the two full length albums LA put out this year (the other being Roll With The Winners with producer Blu-Ray), it may have been the warm feeling of nostalgia that surfaced while listening to Gravity that kept it on repeat for such a large part of the year. LA is arguably the most lyrically sound MC in the area code, from street-side cyphers to formidable entries on wax, and Def Dee’s classic east coast style, lowest-fi production, the sixteen tracks feel timeless. [Todd]



21. Baltic Cousinss/t EP

“I’m the same as I was that day…” – Break Bread

It’s like they were there, but they weren’t.

All of us can reach back into our past and select a day. Depending on which day we take hold, the meaning and the outcome of those moments would be different. Close your eyes and think for a second. What day did you choose and would you change anything about it? Did you say the right things? Did you make the right decision? Has anything about you changed from the brief moment you selected? Is regret a shadow that follows you constantly even though we never see the sun around here?

The self-titled demo released by Baltic Cousins resonates heavily with those who hear it. There is not much to their bare approach to songwriting. No bass. No keys. No additional percussionist. This Bellingham supergroup doesn’t need the bells and whistles of the current dog and pony show that is indie rock. What Baltic Cousins lacks in number of members or presentation they make up for with remarkable honesty that is manifested in both lyrical and musical form. [Phil]


20. Frog EyesPaul’s Tomb: A Triumph

My husband suggested the following review for this album: “Weird, but worth it.”

Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph is an intricate concerto of noise, Bach for the rock and roll era. Seemingly influenced by everything from Dinosaur Jr. to Baptist preaching, this record is a master class in bringing together a slew of disparate influences into a harmonious – if not particularly melodic – whole. Sometimes delicate, sometimes rushing and rattling like a runaway train, Paul’s Tomb is a howling journey through frontman Carey Mercer’s brain. [Brittney]


Read the rest of our Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2010 after the jump (more…)

December 16, 2010

Abbey’s Favorite Songs of 2010


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 10, 2010

The Curious Case of Perfume Genius


At the end of every year the national music media seems to choose one Seattle artist to include in their end of the year lists and summarily ignore everything else released from our cloudy corner of the country. This year, the token “Seattle album” on every major best of list hails from Mike Hadreas, better known as Perfume Genius.

It strikes me as interesting that Perfume Genius will be what 2010 Seattle is know for nationally when it comes to music, because he had so little interaction with the Seattle music scene. Hadreas started nationally, signing with Matador before being discovered locally, playing sold out shows in the UK and NYC. Hadreas only played a handful of Seattle shows in 2010 with stops at venues like The Crocodile and most recently, Healthy Times Fun Club. In a city that is steeped in local identity, Perfume Genius wafts above it all, a ghostly ether not tied to geography.

People can cheer that there’s a local record getting love on these national end of the year lists, but I won’t be. That is not to say that Perfume Genius is undeserving of the accolades or attention he’ll be getting this December from the likes of Pitchfork, NME and Stereogum. Learning is a devistatingly lovely album, filled with songs like the exposed nerve that is “Lookout, Lookout.” But when I think of music in Seattle in 2010, it won’t be Perfume Genius who I remember, no matter what the big blogs say is “best.”

December 6, 2010

Best of Guest List: Kyle Johnson’s Favorite Albums of 2010


Perfume Genius ::: photo by Kyle Johnson

For the past few years we’ve been lucky enough to have one of the most talented up-and-coming photographers in America contribute his thoughts on the best of the year sonically and on film. And for the past three years we’ve sang Kyle Johnson’s praises (seriously, he’s brilliant) and every year we discover an album we love from Kyle’s border-less choices. (This year, we’re thanking him for Warpaint.)

Kyle has just started sharing the fruits of his latest project: “Portraits of Seattle” featuring intimate looks at the faces and people of Seattle who inspire him. Check out the first portraits of artist Jessie Edwards on Kyle’s blog and then check back regularly to see who else he’s captured.

We’ll be sharing Kyle’s favorite photos (from other photographers) soon, but here are his favorite albums of 2010. This list is not enumerated, but it is loved.

Perfume Genius – Learning Das Racist – Sit Down Man Warpaint – The Fool Damien Jurado – Saint Bartlett Flying Lotus – COSMOGRAMMA Truckasaurus – Quarters No Age – Everything in Between Past Lives – Tapestry of Webs Fences – Self Titled Shabazz Palaces – Self Titled


Das Racist ::: photo by Kyle Johnson

November 8, 2010

The Daily Choice: VHS Jam Session


I carelessly left my computer at home in San Francisco this weekend and my parents, East Germans I’m sure of it, are reticent to allow me to download “virus harboring” software on to their brand new computer.  Thus, I’ve sifted through the last few weeks of music I’ve shunted to the side with the “reserved for daily choice” sticker on it to find a selection of videos that made my nipples hard and my neck hairs stand on it.

Perfume Genius, with his wispy voice and delicate lyrics already has me in a fairly constant state of tear duct explusion. You mix that with Neil Young’s “Helpless” and I’m doing that uncomfortable sob where snot is pooling in your hands and you feel like you might puke.

This was captured at some recent concert of his in some place dark, and I love when he asks the audience to sing along. He’s just so nervous:

The National’s new video looks like a sneak peek for some teen heart throb magazine. But “Terrible Love” is such a goddamn great song that I find myself fascinated by the slightly boring clips of them walking and talking to fans and yelling and such. Sometimes it just confuses me. They’re playing in a bank and on a bridge with people filming them, but that’s not in this video. I’m confused, somebody hold my hand and pat me gently on the toosh.

And finally, the black and white mish-mash video that is Deerhunter’s “Helicopter”. This album has been weakening my knees lately, thus this video, as one note as it is, stands out with vibrancy.

August 18, 2010

The Daily Choice: Perfume Genius – Your Drum


I’m on a video streak these last few days, and I have no real impetus to stop.  Something about just immersing myself in visual imagery fits my sort of torpid demeanor right now. Especially when the song surrounding those flickering images is so beautifully depressing.

July 13, 2010

Perfume Genius – “Mr. Peterson” [video]


There’ll be no “Best So Far” lists or posts here on Sound on the Sound this year, you’ll just have to wait till the end of the year for that kind of compartmentalization. But if we were, Perfume Genius’ “Mr. Peterson” would be perched near the top of my list. I’ve been a fan of the song since Noah shared it as a mysterious Daily Choice back in March, but it wasn’t until Pitchfork posted this video and named “Mr. Peterson” a Best New Track that I learned Perfume Genius is actually a local act. Scooped by Pitchfork on a band from the (206)? I’m a little embarrassed, but knowing the seductively sparse track is home-grown more than makes up for it.

“Mr. Peterson” is all minimalistic piano (that still manages to have a melody with a hook) and fragile, if not fully broken vocals, the song is a haunted whisper. Though the melody is simple, the song is anything but. Thematically “Mr. Peterson” is complex, at once sad, sweet and sinister. Its meaning hides in the shadows, never fully revealing itself, is this a love song? A funeral ode? A confession of abuse? Could it be all three? There’s something dark and deadly hiding in “Mr. Peterson,” despite its harmless folk facade.

It most reminds me of Sufjan Stevens’ “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”, another sad but sweet sounding song that I fell in love with before fully comprehending the story it told. A song, when you really hear the lyrics you think, “How do I love a song about a serial killer / a likely inappropriate relationship between a child and old man?” And for me, it’s all about the dichotomy the songs present and how they seduce you into thinking it’s one thing, when it’s really another, much like the men at the center of both songs. And when you realize you’ve been duped, the impact is devastating.

You can find “Mr. Peterson” on Perfume Genius’ Matador released album Learning and you can stream it in its entirety on his Myspace.

March 5, 2010

Another Daily Choice: Perfume Genius – Mr. Peterson


I find myself so often times stuck in a rut(?) of drone-y fuzz, and sharply punctuated garage rock, and thus when I a simpler bit of music catches my ear, I’m almost required to post it.  Pitchfork turned me on to this Perfume Genius project by Mike Hadreas (a man I know nothing about) and the puddle underneath my feet is slowly growing bigger and bigger as a melt down in to it.  It’s reminiscent of The Mountain Goats and Daniel Johnston in it’s unchecked waver and . It’s an epically told story of just about nothing.  But Hell, when your nothing consists of Joy Division, weed, and a lovely man named Mr. Peterson, you’re contracted by the state of piano ballads to write a somber jingle.

Perfume Genius – Mr. Peterson