It's November 2012, and Seattle Sounds Like ...

Our take on every new local release.


* The Bad Tenants, Eloquent Scoundrels Vol. 1 (out now, self-released, New-school Seattle hip-hop that sports a fun, up-tempo flow. Exploring themes like girls, good times, and game, TBT don't aim to be political or deep; it's just laid-back, easy, beat-driven listening. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR (Sun., Nov. 4, Lo-Fi Performance Gallery)

Black Hat, Spectral Disorder (out now, Debacle Records, Nelson Bean, aka Black Hat, explores some interesting sounds here (especially on the opening track, "#00000"), but they take patience to appreciate. The songs are pretty slow-moving and often don't reach any kind of captivating destination. TODD HAMM

Sonny Bonoho, The Vag (out now, self-released, A couple of previously released tracks and new jams make up this EP, on which Bonoho does his raunchtastic rap/sing thing over a variety of productions. His songwriting seems at its best when he has classically styled rap instrumentals like "Jus Met Her Tonight," "Coogars," and "Attn - $onny Bonoho" to work with, and in those moments he has some definite pop appeal. TH

A Breakthrough in Field Studies, A Breakthrough in Field Studies (11/1, self-released, This quintet twists indie pop-rock to its will. Upbeat and joyous, "Waves on the Ocean" is the type of song that erupts and feels bigger than itself. JOE WILLIAMS (Thurs., Nov. 1, High Dive)

* Chaos Chaos, S (out now, self-released, Asy and Chloe Saavedra have moved on from the precocious pop that defined Smoosh, the band they formed as tweens. Chloe's tribal beats and Asy's whimsical vocals on this dance-rock EP is the duo's most interesting and mature material yet. CHRIS KORNELIS (Sun., Dec. 2, Crocodile)

The Connerys, The Connerys (out now, self-released, Three dudes play four-chord garage rock with distorted vocals and reverbed guitars that give the songs a surfy vibe. The band's energy is high across most of the release, which features "Hit Me!" and later "Bleed Me!", as well as a fuzzed-out cover of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." DAVE LAKE (Tues., Nov. 20, Comet Tavern)

Daughters of the Dead Sea, The Killroom Sessions (out now, self-released, The debut EP from this all-girl West Seattle trio (formerly known as Death's Three Daughters) features '90s-sounding hard rock that veers from Sleater-Kinney ("Runaway") to Vendetta Red ("54 Roses"). The band has a softer side too, like on "Waiting Room," which dials back the tempo to feature a pretty melody, a nice counterpoint to the rest of the release's darker vibe. DL (Fri., Nov. 23, Shipwreck Tavern)

* Tom Dyer, I Ain't Blue Anymore (out now, Green Monkey Records, The latest from this Seattleite is a twisted Americana adventure, a Waitsian take on the blues, particularly in the arrangements and the experimentation with instruments like the bulbul tarang, charango, and melodica. Dyer's baritone holds the whole thing together, preaching a gravelly sermon like Leonard Cohen high on Captain Beefheart—whose "Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)" appears on the LP alongside a Sonics cover. DL

Oliver Franklin, When the Moon (out now, self-released, Psychedelic rock and experimental synth effects rule most of Franklin's first full-length, but the warped guitars are broken up by a couple of slow, piano-driven ballads that showcase Franklin's evocative songwriting and clear vocals, which bring to mind those of Tim Booth from the British rock band James. SARAH ELSON (Thurs., Nov. 8, Cafe Racer)

* Fresh Espresso, Jupiter (out now, self-released, The jokey chorus at the end of opener "Hellen Keller" is a little much, but still fits the grime-meets-high-life style Fresh Espresso does so well. The rest of the five-track EP consists of smashing, synthy P Smoov beats and saucy Rik Rude/Smoov raps that are just as stylish and sexy as the rest of their portfolio. TH

Golden Gardens, How Brave the Hunted Wolves (11/13, Neon Sigh, Blending trip-hop beats with singer Aubrey Bramble's just-out-of-reach vocals, this duo crafts dreamy, gothic guitar-and-synth odysseys that, sonically at least, resemble The Cure circa Disintegration if they had known about shoegaze. ANDREW GOSPE (Fri., Nov. 2, The Mix)

Jess Grant, Innocent Invader (out now, self-released, Occasionally grating but mostly graceful, Grant sounds a bit like Elvis Costello, or Anthony Kiedis on stripped-down Chili Pepper ballads. His lyrics are at times overwrought, but his limber sound is admirably unique and adventurous. MIKE SEELY

GravelRoad, Pedernales (out now, Knick Knack Records, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" is the season's first solid drinking song (you'll need a whole pitcher). "Monkey With a Wig," the front side of this single, is sophisticated bar-band blues at its most riffalicious. CK (Sun., Nov. 30, JewelBox/Rendezvous)

Graves33, Banner for Boxed In (11/14, self-released, Graves has always had a knack for making heavy, mood-altering beats, and he's only improved as a producer on his new full-length, dressing up loops until they're engulfing pools of sound. His rhymes still come sealed in his stuffy-nosed monotone, but they've taken on a more personal, direct subject matter (see "Horns of Oblivion"), which has not only made him a more relatable MC, but all the more intriguing. TH (Wed., Nov. 14, Nectar)

Gavin Guss, On High (out now, Fin Records, Guss' second solo album glows with buoyant pop melodies, vibrant guitars, and crisp production; Brendan Benson and Elliott Smith come to mind, as does Elvis Costello, especially on the Mighty Like a Rose–era, keys-heavy "Invent You Myself." GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

* The Hoot Hoots, Feel the Cosmos (11/29, self-released, This quartet's EP is six tracks of joyous pop-rock, replete with analog synth, overdriven guitar, and a singer whose voice occasionally recalls James Mercer's before he started making adult-contemporary music. This is the rare local "power pop" band that actually can write pop songs. AG (Fri., Nov. 29, Barboza)

The Insurgence, Elimi-nation (out now, Innerstrength Records, With the occasional appearance of an umlaut over the u in their name recalling fellow Seattle band The Accüsed, The Insurgence plays a similar hybrid of punk and thrash with socially conscious lyrics, chromatic guitar riffs, and shouted vocals. There's not much melody to be found, but there's not supposed to be. DL

The Januariez, Authentic (out now, Epochalyptic Music, Singer/guitarist J-kNee has a big voice, but The Januariez's debut lacks hooks big enough to really show it off. Stylistically, the band's foundation is funky guitar lines a la "Been Caught Stealing" from Jane's Addiction or Mother's Milk–era Chili Peppers, but without the punk energy that made both groups great. DL

* Kid Simpl, Skylight (11/12, Hush Hush, Soundsmith Joey Butler, 22, has mastered the desirable electronic art of adding texture to sound. Close your eyes, and his music manifests as soft or jagged shapes floating over a dark desert valley, which can feel slow-moving and isolating if you're looking for traditional melody and song structure—but think of it as a journey, and it'll take you to amazing places. TH (Sat., Nov. 3, Vermillion)

Simon Kornelis, Simon Kornelis (out now, self-released, Smooth, guitar-driven folk with nods to Oldham, Young, and Kozelek from the SW music editor's little brother. MDL

*Lonesome Shack, City Man (out now, Knick Knack Records, Recorded live at Cafe Racer a month before the tragic May 30 shootings, Lonesome Shack's driving country blues and psychedelic Americana reveal yet more versatility among the tight-knit Racer crew, a group of UW students and friends who play everything from free jazz to folk. Drummer Kristian Garrard and bassist Luke Bergman (who moonlight as guitar duo Thousands) take a backseat here to frontman Ben Todd's bluesy bawl and gritty guitar, and tracks like the driving opener "White Lightning" crackle with crowd chatter. Elsewhere, "Bad Luck" and "Mushin Dog" electrify with tightly percussive, roots-fueled rhythms. And that wailing, greasy sax on "City Man" is just perfect. GE (Fri., Nov. 30, JewelBox/Rendezvous)

* La Luz, Damp Face (out now, self-released, Shana Cleveland and Marian Li-Pino, both formerly of the now-disbanded Curious Mystery, have a new all-girl quartet that jives surfy, woozy guitar riffs and psychedelic keyboard solos with soft, cascading vocals, making for a genially easy-rolling pop sound. ERIN K. THOMPSON (Tues., Nov. 6, Comet Tavern)

Land of Pines, "Dead Feathers" b/w "Follow the Leader" (11/20, Fin Records, The new single from this hooky and youthful Seattle quintet is a blast of jumpy energy, prettily led by the lucid Kessiah Gordon; on the flip she trades lines and blends with Evan Easthope's pleasingly mild and sandy vocals. EKT (Sun., Nov. 4, Sunset Tavern)

Lanford Black, Lanford Black (11/29, self-released, The success of acts like Pickwick and Alan Stone have made soul twinned with twang a hot Seattle commodity. If you find either of those acts appealing, Lanford Black will make you very happy. MDL (Thurs., Nov. 29, Sunset Tavern)

The Local Strangers, Left for Better (11/5, self-released, When Aubrey Zoli sings alone, she sounds like a tolerable combination of Dido and Shelby Earl. When Matt Hart sings alone, he sounds like an infuriating combination of Conor Oberst and Sufjan Stevens. But when they relax and sing in harmony, as they do on the glorious "I Will Let You Down," they sound lovely. When duos sound this good together, there's no need for either member to go it alone. MS (Fri., Nov. 9, Columbia City Theater)

Joey Lyon, What Makes Me Tick (out now, self-released, In Seattle, or anywhere else, anyone who picks up an acoustic guitar bills himself as a songwriter. Lyon manages to stand out by casting his songs against a piano-driven rock template, rather than a folk one. His sound is still developing, but the ideas and melodies are there. AG

* Gabriel Mintz, In Safety (11/13, Fin Records, Gabriel Mintz is a lovable weirdo who makes lovably weird music. His hair is pretty, and so is his voice. His new vinyl single comprises two tracks reminiscent of David Crosby. If Melissa Etheridge decides to have another kid, Mintz should be her sperm donor. MS (Sun., Nov. 25, Tractor Tavern)

Mizz Honey Bucket, American Ho (11/10, self-released, The Lady Honey Bucket (pronounced "bouquet") delivers a screamingly fun record of Ke$ha-like carousing anthems, including a reworking of Cake's "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"; "Nice Gut, Big Package" ("I want a bear with a nice derriere . . . "); and "Baby Got Front," which flips around Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic Seattle anthem. EKT (Sat., Nov. 10, Re-bar)

Mural Gleeous, The Burlap Shuffle (out now, self-released, Flirting between indie folk and spaced-out psychedelic rock, Mural Gleeous is sort of like a shot of your least favorite vodka: painful, but honestly kind of good in a way you can't explain. JW

Nez Lightning, Demos (out now, self-released, If Arctic Monkeys were constantly tripping on LSD and had an unhealthy obsession with math rock, then the end result would be some weird hybrid of complexity and cohesiveness that still wouldn't even begin to rival Nez Lightning. JW

* nice nate, i hate you moshe. (out now, Paxico Records, Up-and-comer nice nate has made great strides since releasing last year's milo., an album that hinted at visions fully realized here. i hate you moshe. is headphone candy for the beat head in need of a fix. Get familiar. TH

The Pharmacy, Stoned and Alone (11/20, Old Flame, The Pharmacy's first full-length since 2010 plays more like a collection of singles than a cohesive album (it includes four songs released on EPs earlier this year), but the new material atones for the repetition with a barrage of bite-sized garage-pop hooks. AG (Wed., Oct. 31, Lo-Fi Performance Gallery)

* Pollens, Brighten & Break (11/6, Tapete Records, No other band in Seattle is doing what this Cornish College–originated sextet is doing, and their debut full-length, a magically transportive swirl of dissonant choral chants, polyrhythmic percussion, and African trance-inspired structures, is a triumph. The chirping opener "Helping Hand" and the swoony "Splinters & Pointheads," which features vocals that sound like birds and bees flitting and buzzing in one big swarm, are standouts. EKT (Wed., Nov. 21, Tractor Tavern)

Proud Wonderful Me, Proud Wonderful Me (out now, Knick Knack Records, A band with a name like this must be either unbearably uplifting or incredibly funny. Luckily, these guys are the latter. Pairing goofy vocals with '70s-reminiscent garage rock, this debut EP is lighthearted and fun. SE (Thurs., Nov. 15, Comet Tavern)

* Princess, Welcome Winter (out now, self-released, Princess comes through with some thunderous, vintage- sounding heaviness here, a feeling that's really driven home by the album's muffled recording. It's all extremely rad, and might be just what you need to get your blood pumping. TH (Sat., Nov. 10, Josephine)

* The Quiet Ones, Version Suicides (out now, self-released, These 10 covers span a spectrum of rock from Blitzen Trapper to Steely Dan, but small touches—like the dreamy pedal steel on Gram Parsons' "A Song for You" and the melodica on R.E.M.'s "Find the River"—remain devotedly faithful to the original. GE (Tues., Nov. 13, High Dive)

* Sam Russell, The Year of the Cow (out now, self-released, Ever wonder what would happen if David Bowie cut an acoustic album? Thin White Duke sound-alike Sam Russell provides the answer—and it's gorgeous and haunting, the optimal soundtrack for a dark, rainy night when the chips are down. MS

*Stephanie, One Glove (11/13, Couple Skate, Rigid dance-punk drumming, effects-laden waves of guitar, Wil Adams' theatrical vocals, and songs equally likely to break into scrappy rave-ups or extended jams: These are just a few components of Stephanie's sound, but none fully encapsulates it. Genre signifiers aside, the quintet has carved out a unique aesthetic on this Erik Blood–produced album, their full-length debut. The band refers to its sound as "swirl," and it sounds like little else in Seattle right now, so perhaps that's the best description; these six tracks sparkle and thrash in equal measure, building imposing post-punk monoliths out of nebulous swaths of sound. AG

* Ken Stringfellow, Danzig in the Moonlight (out now, Spark and Shine Records, Notes of Posies-style power pop and sweeping '70s rock a la Big Star ("History Buff") mingle amid a range of twangy pedal steel, synth effects, and vocal play. Such a genre buffet could come off contrived, but here each song finds its rightful place in a seasoned pop drama. GE

Union Street Orchestra, Dangerous World (11/4, self-released, Syrupy emo pop from Kirkland that's heavy on piano- and acoustic guitar–fueled breakdowns and wide-screen horn and string arrangements. Singer Peter McMurray successfully apes Ben Gibbard's vocal delivery but, as evidenced by clichés like "You're the beauty to my beast," not his lyrics. AG (Sun., Nov. 4, Chop Suey)

Usury, The Benefits of Traveling Alone (11/6, self-released, There are some clever ideas on the latest from Seth Sommerfeld's DIY folk-punk project, like "All My Favorite Singers Have Stolen All My Best Lines" (even if the concept was cribbed from an Alkaline Trio lyric). But Sommerfeld's speak/sing delivery just isn't strong enough to hold the songs together, especially in such a stripped-down format. DL

Vinca Minor, Capital of Sorrow (11/6, Second Shimmy, Matt Menovcik's songwriting largely lives up to the sorrow in his second album's title: ponderous, self-serious ballads augmented by synthesized strings and his ever-straining voice. AG (Tues., Nov. 6, JewelBox/Rendezvous)

* Edmund Wayne, Edmund Wayne EP (out now, self-released, A breathtaking album of mellow, serene, and inspiring alternative folk. On "To the Bugs on My Ceiling," vocalist Curt Krause manages to elicit the mood and stylings of Andrew Bird with the magnitude of Radiohead. JW

J. Wong, The Statue of Corrupted Endeavor (out now, self-released, This singer/ songwriter's first full-length builds on the Pacific Northwest folk canon with expressively tender, finely arranged tunes like "I Just Can't Do It," recalling the soft-spun melodies of Joshua Morrison and Damien Jurado. GE (Wed., Nov. 7, Tractor Tavern)

Zarni, Zarni (out now, self-released, Zarni de Wet, the keyboardist/singer from Campfire Ok, goes solo on this EP, which sees the singer/songwriter dabble in emotive, Grey's Anatomy–ready ballads and jangly pop. MDL (Thurs., Nov. 1, Tasting Room)


Love and Death, Between Here & Lost (11/19, Tooth & Nail, Though heavily rooted in the sounds that pushed Korn to such success, ex-Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welsh has pieced together an album that's addictively honest and instrumentally superb in its own right. JW

The O.C. Supertones, For the Glory (11/6, BEC, This Orange County, Calif., Christian ska band has created a unique sound that's both heavy and light, with upbeat brass, rough punk vocals, and a clear Christian message throughout. JW

Underoath, Anthology 1999–2013 (11/6, Solid State, After 14 years and seven studio albums, Underoath is calling it quits. This anthology is stacked, with songs spanning from their 1999 debut Act of Depression with vocalist Dallas Taylor all the way to 2010's Ø (Disambiguation). JW

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