Unnovae Nights – Eighteen Individual Eyes

Unnovae Nights - Eighteen Invisable Eyes

As March rolled in and slowly began granting Seattle more hours of sunshine, Eighteen Individual Eyes made sure the city still had a tantalizing taste of darkness. The Seattle quartet’s new album Unnovae Nights sounds like Wild Flag-meets-atmospheric art rock with a dash of nightmarish imagery.

Something sinister seems to be lurking around every corner of Unnovae Nights, but front woman Irene Barber’s alluringly smooth vocals help soothe the potential in a way that harkens to St. Vincent. While the album is packed with song titles like “Octogirl” and lines like “Love for fate. The place and time of death addressed and kept away,” the album avoids being dark in a cheesy way. This isn’t horror punk hokeyness. The interaction between Barber and guitarist Jamie Aaron gives the album a real identity. The coy interplay between their guitar lines on songs like “Tree Farm in the Darkness” builds each song’s tension, and Aaron also provides spot-on background harmonies.

Famed Seattleite producer Matt Bayles has his fingerprints all over Unnovae Nights. He knows how to make a rhythm section (drummer Andy King and bassist Samantha Wood) pop without burying the guitars in the mix (see: Mastadon, Minus the Bear, et al.). Some of the ripping lead guitar tones Eighteen Individual Eyes employ are also instantly familiar for fans of Bayles’s production. While tracks often show glances of math rock influence, they’re never tied down in technicality. These songs have solid cores that would still sound full even stripped down to Barber’s vocals and a single acoustic guitar.

Unnovae Nights is, appropriately, one of those albums that one can hardly imagine listening to in the day. Eighteen Individual Eyes are here to satisfy our nocturnal listening needs. Maybe those extra hours of daylight weren’t so great after all.

Review Score: 7.0

*Original version published on SeattleMet.com.*

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Fiendish Conversation with Kaylee Cole

Via Ben Blood.

My latest Seattle Met Q&A with Kaylee Cole. We talk hugs and the apocalypse. Enjoy.

Check it out.

History Speaks – Deep Sea Diver

Deep Sea Diver - History Speaks

March is a big month for Seattleite Jessica Dobson. She’s the new guitarist for the Shins and hype abounds for the band’s first release since 2007, Port of Morrow, which drops at the end of the month. But Port of Morrow is going to have a hard time measuring up to History Speaks, the first LP by Dobson’s band Deep Sea Diver, just released last Friday.

This isn’t the type of indie rock that’s littered with frivolous guitar bends or buried in reverb. Everything is tight, purposeful—a pop-rock Hemingway story. There’s a precision to the production that ties together an otherwise diverse sound. “Ships” kicks off the album with a coy burst of nautical-themed rock, touching on love lost with metaphors of ships adrift at sea. The playful “You Go Running” calls to mind calypso grooves and ‘80s Latin pop (complete with maracas). “Tracks of the Green Line” is the type of piano ballad some down-on-her-luck crooner would play in a near-empty lounge in a lonely desert town.

Though Dobson is anything but down on her luck right now, her ethereal vocals lend a sad, whiskey-soaked sadness to the ballads. While she stars both on guitar and piano, the rhythm section of Peter Mansen (drums) and John Raines (bass) isn’t shabby either, providing punch on the up-tempo tracks.

While the world waits for that other Dobson album, we can’t wait to see what’s next for the quickly ascending Deep Sea Diver. Until then we’ll just have to keep History Speaks on repeat.

Review Score: 8.5

*Original version published on SeattleMet.com.*

Easy Street Records Founder On Theaster Gates SAM Exhibit From Seattle Met

I checked out the vinyl-based Theaster Gates: The Listening Room exhibit at Seattle Art Museum with Easy Street Records founder Matt Vaughan. He had some interesting insights as a guy who lives and breathes vinyl records.

Check it out.

Pickwick Feature From The Inlander

Musical Metamorphosis

How Pickwick lost its sound and found a soul.

There once was a band from Seattle called Pickwick. They peddled decent but indistinctive indie folk (as it seems most Seattle bands these days are apt to do). The band occasionally ventured across the landmass known as Washington state and was almost immediately embraced by the villagers of Spokane, specifically the sect that holed away in former coffeehouse and music haven the Empyrean.

Well, that band is nearly dead. Today, Pickwick is still intact. In fact, the band is thriving — these days as a soul act. See, while the band found love in this neck of the woods, there was a more important group that wasn’t in love with those old indie folk tunes: the members of Pickwick.

Roughly a year and a half ago, the band had an existential crisis and was on the verge of giving up. Rather than simply throwing in the towel, the guys climbed into a cocoon of self-reflection in hopes of emerging as a new creature.

“We had to really evaluate what we did well as a band and what we didn’t do well,” says guitarist Michael Parker. “We tried to listen to the music we were making as critically as we could, and we all kind of looked at each other and got frustrated with the music we were making.”

“We felt it was pretty derivative of the bands we were listening to at the time: Wilco was a big influence at the time, the first Fleet Foxes record came out, Grizzly Bear put out a record — bands like that,” he says. “We didn’t really hear ourselves in it all that much, or anything that was really all that unique to ourselves.”

The band began implementing drastic changes, which transformed their reserved indie-folk sound into something with a little more soul. Parker says one of their most important decisions was to let singer Galen Disston be himself. Continue reading