Rocket Queen: Ahead of the Curve

Five reasons 2010's off to a two-fisted start.

We're not even a quarter of the way through 2010, but already a wealth of strong local singles are popping up regularly on my playlist. Here's a sampling of a few you may have already heard and some that will no doubt enter heavy rotation in the near future.Hoquiam, "Moclips" from Hoquiam (St. Ives)By his own description, Damien Jurado's project with brother Drake reflects not only the geographical and climatic ambience of the small Olympic Peninsula town the siblings grew up in, but their childhood memories in general. Hoquiam is expectedly thick with shadowy and occasionally disturbing themes (Drake is a self-admitted horror-film buff, which no doubt colors things a shade or two darker), a sonic palette that thrusts brighter moments like the sunny, handclap-laced "Moclips" into stronger relief.Past Lives, "Paralyzer" from Tapestry of Webs (Suicide Squeeze)Tapestry of Webs is a solid, diverse collection of compositions that stretch the creative abilities of everyone involved—especially vocalist Jordan Blilie, who has to wrap his distinct vocals around a broad range of musical approaches, including dub-punk explorations, shimmering pop interludes, and slow-simmering rock rave-ups. The latter is the shape of opening track "Paralyzer," a gently building commencement that hovers and crouches behind the strum of a single guitar string and repeated rim shots before cracking wide open with quivering, distorted guitars and Blilie's anguished refrain "She came out of nowhere!", repeated as the whole piece inches toward a climax that's somehow both raw and ethereal.S, "Wait" from im not as good at it as you (Own Records)Amid the excitement of last week's announcement that local label Hardly Art would be releasing a Carissa's Wierd "best of" compilation this summer, European label Own Records unveiled im not as good at it as you, a beautiful batch of new songs from former Wierd member Jenn Ghetto. Though the majority of the album's dozen tracks are executed using Ghetto's preferred eight-track home-recorded style, opener "Wait" is a collaborative effort with two of her former bandmates. Mat Brooke (formerly with Band of Horses, now with Grand Archives) contributes delicately picked banjo and haunting ukulele, while Sara Standard lends warm layers of violin to Ghetto's wistful declaration of patience for what sounds like a chronically tardy lover. S plays an in-store at Sonic Boom Records on Capitol Hill on Thurs., April 8, the same day as the record's stateside release.Narrows, "Recurring" (split 7-inch with Heiress on Deathwish Records)The latest project from hardcore icon Dave Verellen (formerly of Botch) and Ryan Frederiksen (of the now-defunct These Arms Are Snakes) exhibits a menace and muscle reminiscent of those two projects, but is undeniably its own brutal beast of a band. Verellen barrels out of the gate sounding like a highly animated zombie from the postmodern horror flick 28 Days Later, just back from the grave and dangerously voracious. The guitars initially bristle with similar bloodlust, but gradually protract and melt into a delightfully molten sludge. Narrows has a slew of European dates set for this spring, but nothing on the docket for Seattle at the moment. The band is currently sifting through options for potential producers to record its second full-length later this year.Absolute Monarchs, "Killing the Old" from Absolute Monarchs (self-released)Opening with a clatter of drums and guitars that ricochet from the jarring sound of an industrial alarm to a bright, brisk jangle and back to a downright erotic chug within 20 seconds, the second song on Absolute Monarchs' four-song EP is a delicious mind-fuck (is that a goddamn glockenspiel tinkling in the background or an auditory hallucination?) that's over in less than two minutes but leaves deep track marks behind. The bassless new project of guitarist Shawn Kock (formerly of Das Llamas), guitarist Miki Sodos, vocalist/keyboardist, Joel Schneider and drummer Mike Stubbs is going to be one to watch in 2010. Absolute Monarchs play the Comet on Fri., April

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