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…)

January 16, 2011

Abbey’s 20 Favorite Local Records of 2010


Damien Jurado ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Our big, written properly, not just a list of The Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2010 is coming soon, really, WE PROMISE. But today I wanted to share my personal favorites of 2010. Also, my number one most listened to local album of 2010 was basically a “Best Of” compilation, so I decided not to include it. If I had though, Carissa’s Wierd’s They’ll Only Miss You When You Leave would be perched near the very top.

1. Damien JuradoSaint Bartlett 2. The MoondoggiesTidelands and You’ll Find No Answers Here 3. The Head and The Hearts/t 4. SI’m Not As Good At It As You 5. Dan ManganNice Nice Very Nice 6. Avians Alights/t 7. Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wivess/t 8. Hoquiams/t 9. Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam BandWhere the Messengers Meet 10. Ravenna WoodsDemons and Lakes

Ravenna Woods ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

11. LemoloSingles EP 12. The Lonely Forests/t EP 13. The LightsFailed Graves 14. What What NowFingers and Toes 15. Baltic Cousinss/t EP 16. Joseph Giants/t 17. Salmon ThrasherWhat Gives and Thrashin’ USA 18. Macklemore and Ryan LewisThe Vs. Remixes 19. Hobosexuals/t 20. Shannon Stephenss/t

Four albums I love that I haven’t had enough time with to make a judgment … my best guess though? Had they come out earlier in the year, they’d be in that Top 20:

The SolventsForgive Yr. Blood Drew Grow – The Comfort Feel EP Le Sang Songs/t Cobirds Unites/t

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

November 30, 2010

My Most Played: November 2010


Avians AlightAvians Alight Chris Pureka – “Song for November” Damien Jurado – “The Ghost of David” and Rehersals for Depature The Head and The Heart – “The Sea Beside MeJon PontrelloYouth is a Train The Lights – EP and Failed Graves Lemolo – The Singles Record “If I Had Known I’d Be Fine” Mix Land of Pines Sufjan Stevens – Majesty Snowbird Kelli Schaefer A Mix for Pablo Escobar Mad Rad – “The Machine” Cobirds UniteCobirds Unite Ted Lucas

November 25, 2010

$5 Cover Seattle Coming December 15th


After nearly half a year of will-it-or-won’t-it, MTV’s $5 Cover: Seattle has an official release date: December 15th. The online mini-series and compendium documentaries follows 13 Seattle bands, including Sound on the Sound favorites The Maldives, The Moondoggies, Thee Emergency, The Lights and THEESatisfaction.

The Lynn Shelton directed project filmed in the blazing hot summer of 2009, is a suprisingly tender and deft love letter to the Seattle music scene, despite its soapy premises. Much to our surprise and relief, we found ourselves wrapped up in the stories at a March screening of the film and impressed by the central role the music played in the movie. And most of all by the earnest affection the camera captured between director and subjects. Even if the stories are fake, this is a slice of the real Seattle we know and love and we are so excited the rest of the country will have a chance to witness that.

In addition to the hour-long mini-movie, over 60 behind the scenes extras and the Amplified documentaries on all 13 bands involved in $5 Cover will begin releasing December 15th.

May 6, 2010

The Lights – “New New” [video]


The Lights – “New New” from Jason Sievers on Vimeo.

When 2010 is said and done, I still think that “New New” by The Lights will be one of my favorite songs of the year.

The first time I heard it on KEXP, I wondered aloud about what vintage treasure the DJ had stumbled on. Its simple, like you’ve heard it a hundred times before and still want to sing along.  “New New,” despite its name does not sound of this era or city;  it’s a lost London classic that found The Lights by magic.  That’s not meant to take anything away from the Lights and their creation … that’s just how good the song is.  It’s the kind of song that  conjures deals with the devil and in my book, “New New” would’ve been worth it.

February 18, 2010

The Lights – “New New”



The Lights have been steadily churning out dirty rock jams locally for a little while now, so it’s no coincidence that the Lights made an appearance in the much talked about MTV drama about the Seattle music scene, $5 cover, directed by Lynn Shelton. Back in 2007 Shelton also directed the video for their song “Setting Sun.”

The band’s newest effort Failed Graves comes out this month on WANTAGE USA, and for their third full-length they enlisted long-time collaborator Erik Blood to produce and mix the record. They way he’s been producing lately you could hardly make a better choice locally. They sent over the first single from Failed Graves called “New New,” and it’s fair to say they’ve plan to tone down their twisted pop sensibilities any time soon (which I heartily support):

MP3: “New New” by the Lights from Failed Graves courtesy of the Lights

February 26th at the Funhouse the Lights are having a record release show with Erik Blood and Partman Parthorse in support. In addition to being a great producer, you’ll recall Erik Blood also earned the #22 spot on our Top 25 Northwest records of 2009 for his own solo release The Way We Live.

March 1st, for a single night, SIFF will be having a local premiere of $5 Cover at SIFF Cinema. Billed as the cast and crew premiere, many of the local bands appearing in this partly true episodic drama about the Seattle music scene will be in attendance, including I’d expect the Lights. Entry is $12 for SIFF members and $15 for non-members and I suspect seating is very limited.

December 13, 2006

Todays News


One of my most listened to bands of the year, Grizzly Bear will be at Neumos with the Papercuts on February 16. Also at Neumos on February 12 will be Camera Obscura with Portastatic.

Chris Walla just released  a track on his site. Sometime he might actually finish a whole album. Sounds like he has plenty of other work to do though.

Spinner features Seattle band The Lights.

In a Seattle related item: Stranger Editor and nationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage was the guest on The Colbert Report last night (YouTube). I was hoping they would talk about how he redefined the meaning of the word Santorum by getting his readers to google bomb a new definition. Or his ITMFA  campaign. No luck on those counts though. Funny nonetheless.