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Category Archives: Album Reviews
Seattle Peach claims major hipster bragging rights for this album. I started boasting that this record would be a massive success way back in summer 2011 after a video for “Vanessa” showed up in my inbox. In researching this cherub-voiced young productionist, I found her biography as compelling as her weird-kid synthpop. When the record was finally released, I was overjoyed to be correct in my predictions. The quirky, dark wave musings of this eccentric Canadian have been absolutely trendsetting–both musically and in the fashion world.
One of Seattle Peach’s most intensely anticipated albums of the year, with what seemed like about a million push-backs for it’s release date. Chromatics did not disappoint with their drearily pensive and heart-wrenchingly beautiful follow up to Night Drive. I swear that this record saved my soul throughout this year’s Sasquatch festival insanity. The sweet melancholy of Ruth Radelet’s voice over the band’s gently whimsical accompaniment makes for a deeply honest confessional; a breath of fresh air when you feel like you’re suffocating.
I didn’t catch wind of this record until it had been out for a while, but once it’s melodies finally vibrated through me and into my inner ear, I just wanted to play it over and over again. Infinity repeat. Seattle Peach is a little bit obsessed with this album. The imagery that vocalist Megan James plays with in her lyrics is so dark and at times extremely gory, but her delivery is very playful and angelic, the juxtaposition is to die for. And Corin Roddick’s beats are the kind of beats I would want to make if I had any sort of musical talent: dreamy and soft with subtle danceability. If I were to choose a number one favorite album for this year, this would be it. I die.
Some sneaky internet savvy on my part made this debut record from Poliça one of the very first albums I heard this year, and I was immediately hooked. This was the album that prompted me to start keeping track of the best records of the year in an iTunes playlist, and this was back in January, just a few weeks after the first of the year. It’s place on that list has held strong throughout the year, and deservedly so. The enchantingly percussive accompaniment to Channy Leaneagh’s haunting echo is a superior combination, and the group is miraculously able to reproduce this fairly accurately in live performances as well. These guys are no joke. The success of the album is just a testament to their remarkable talent.
Although the preferred genre tag for this record (as with many of the other albums on this list) may be “dark wave,” I like to call this kind of music “spook-pop.” This band is especially spook-poppy. I mean, the lead singer, Robert Alfons, literally sounds like a ghost, and really this whole record sounds like it should be playing in a dance club in the afterlife. It’s disco for the dead. This is the first full-length release from the Canadian duo (Toronto has been killing the synthpop game lately), and rumor has it, they should be releasing another dance record for goth kids early next year.
And now for something completely different! I found the steady liquid flow of Bear In Heaven’s I Love You, It’s Cool comforting and relaxing this year as seasons changed from one to the next. With elements of experimental rock and psychedelia, it’s wonderfully non-confrontational background music. That’s not meant to sound insulting. It is balanced in a way that allows for the wondering of one’s mind, making it ideal for walks through the city, a pleasing accompaniment to going about your day.
If you’ve picked up on a theme in this list of favorites, it should be fairly obvious that this record would show up sooner or later. Crystal Castles have laid the groundwork for similar artists to emerge and are responsible for my discovery of some of the newer artists on this list. They are what came before! And the momentum hasn’t slowed with the third album. Crystal Castles continues to subtly shape shift, while still staying true to their essence. They seem to be getting better and better at composing albums rather than just songs, and Alice Glass continues to enchant and mystify as she bounces between timbres of siren and succubus.
While I do find enjoyment in the earlier recordings from this Swedish balearic beat duo (the nº 2 and nº 3 full-lengths), it was with the release of the Kills mixtape that I was just completely slayed by the apathetic melancholy of jj’s sound. This EP seems to bridge the gap between the two styles, signifying a synthesis that Seattle Peach is swooning for. Vocalist Elin Kastlander’s sedated meandering and bratty punchlines cast a street smart attitude across the sparkling swells of the production. The contrast is lovely.
It’s been a good year for female vocalists, as far as Seattle Peach is concerned. Romy Madley-Croft’s pleading performance on “Angels” is simply heartbreaking, and throughout the entirety of the album, each and every note she sings is delivered with such soulful emotion, she’s able to touch upon a space that feels powerfully personal. I didn’t expect to be so drawn to such sad music, but the xx kind of fall into the “happy to be sad” category of music that is both tragic and hopeful at the same time. It makes for perfect rainy day music during these bleak, quintessential Northwest downpours.
I fought the idea of putting Beat Connection in my favorites of 2012. They made my list of favorite albums of the summer a few month back–it hardly seemed fair to put them on this list, too. Well, give these boys a prize because the more I whittled my list down to the records that truly got the most airplay on my iPod, it couldn’t be denied that The Palace Garden was in extremely heavy rotation ever since it’s release. It’s a blast sonic sunshine! The uplifting, tropical sound instantly inspires infectious smiles. It is my yin to the xx’s yang. And I love it so much.
Local dark wave quartet, Nightmare Fortress, first sparked my interest when I saw them play at Barboza as part of Second Sight Fest last spring. My first reaction was “This exists?! In my town?!” and I have since seen them play like ten times or something–even traveling down to Portland to see them open for Tearist. Their first EP is like a tasty little nibble of what’s to come–deliciously dark and fuzz-heavy dance tracks, sewn together with singer Alicia Amiri’s expertly spooky wails.
More spook coming straight from Seattle, this selection comes in the form of take-no-shit witch house trio, Crypts. This album doesn’t go down as easily as Nightmare Fortress’ record. Vigorous mid-tempo production is punctuated by Steven Snere’s animalistic cries, raging full throttle through the dystopian landscape of this album. This is music let out of its cage. It doesn’t make for an easy listen, but it does make for a thrilling one.
Are we noticing a trend here? Yeah, that’s right. Another spooky local group. This time of the synth pop oeuvre. The Tempers are “The Monster Mash” on repeat, but sexier and drunker and with more awesome. Corina Bakker’s theatrically witchy wail incanting the vocals over her sibling’s dancey grooves is like candy for Seattle Peach. Front row at their shows, I full on fan-girl freak out, singing along with every word and dancing like a maniac. Long live the Tempers!Tweet
Body Language — Social Studies
This 2011 full length from Body Language has been blissing me out in all of my ray soaking endeavors this summer. Laying out in the park, chilling at the beach, late afternoon beers on the front porch, and backyard BBQs alike, the laid back, grooving chillwave tunes on this record have served as a soundtrack to the summer. I can’t hear the first building bars of “You Can” without instantly mellowing out. Ms. Angelica Bess’ vocals are a dream and swirl over the synthy beats with complete and utter simpatico. The band is releasing a brand new EP on Sept.18 and I am literally jumping up and down and clapping my hands with glee.
Beat Connection — Palace Garden
Um, I think this band is one of the greatest bands in existence. There, I said it. I really wish that now that they have Tom Eddy singing for them full time, he wouldn’t sing live on the songs that weren’t originally his vocals on record. It changes the songs too much and I hella miss all that Surf Noir stuff. However, this record is just tear your hair out and immediately start weeping kind of good. The boys are growing up, and, damn, they are going in the right direction.
Pictureplane – Thee Physical
Another record from last year that I have had on repeat all summer long. This album wakes me up. The 90s house influence in Travis Egedy’s beats is so booty shakingly delicious, I can’t help but move my body when I turn this on. I deeply regret missing this show when he came through town, and hope he returns to the city this fall because losing myself to this music in a humid mess of party kids is exactly what I want to be doing on a dark, cold, rainy night.
Icky Blossoms — Icky Blossoms
I got my hands on this record immediately after I found “Babes” posted as a free download somewhere on the internet, and became curious about this promising new electro trio from Omaha. The first few opening synth riffs on “Heat Lightening” sucked me into the album, and it has been a go-to ever since. I definitely have my favorite tracks from this record (the two aforementioned titles included), but it’s “Sex to the Devil” that just slays me. The first time I heard it, I was instantly dreaming up a vogue performance and drag show for this sultry and glamorous song. Maybe that has more to do with my deep seeded desire to be carried off stage by devastatingly handsome, half naked men? Maybe. This would be the perfect song for that, anyhow.
Night Beats — Night Beats
God, I live for the dreary sass of the electric guitar in Night Beats’ sizzling psychadelic rock. This album has been perfect for the ride home from the beach, when I’m sun drunk and ready for a cool, quiet lay down in the house for a bit. It’s also, for fairly obvious reasons, the perfect accompaniment for late night porch talks, chain smoking cigarettes, and drinking cheap beer. And, like most music I love, it makes you want to dance.
La Femme — La Podium #1: La Femme EP
This is the one and only record I can get my hands on from this amazing surf rock band from France. With only four tracks to get down to, I am always salivating for more by the end of the album. I have no idea what they are singing about, but I don’t care. I am having a great time, bopping around my bedroom to these fantastically spooky, tropical electroclash tracks. This record makes me feel fly when I’m getting ready for a night out, or cruising through the city with my shades on, feeling that summer heat all over my skin. It’s perfect mood music for bringing out your inner badass.Tweet
Seattle Peach got her hands on the self-titled debut full length by Crypts (local witch house rockers and general bad asses) a few days ago, and if I had to use just one word to describe it I would say: incantatory. The record is sublime, gritty and grimy and even a touch abrasive at times. I keep expecting the hard hitting beats and fuzzy wails to illicit outbursts of ritualized dance summoning forth malevolent spirits hellbent on darkening the hearts of all. This is not your granny’s dance music (unless of course your granny is a pagan priestess, then I bet she already has this record).
Some songs bleed with yearning, while some songs splinter with deafening angst. Some songs seem very, very sad, notes like tears streaming across a rhythmic face. Some songs sprawl lustful, like wide open legs. Most songs are all of these things at once, a complex web of penetrating emotions. The whole of the album is a pensive journey that quakes and quivers with addictive undulation.
Everything about this record lives up to Crypts’ full potential as musical artists. Sometimes when I’ve seen them play live, there have been technical issues that have caused this already unpretty music to dissolve into a bit of a mess. The beauty of this recording is that Crypts are 100% in control of their sound, and the results are divine.
Crypts will celebrate the official release of their new album with Chelsea Wolfe at Barboza on September 9. $10 advanced/$12 at the door. 21+
Seattle locals, Bright White Lightning, have been quietly putting together Bad Teeth, their debut EP, and laying relatively low in the local scene. With the release the new record, the raucous chiptune trio is ready to get out of the studio and onto the stage, and have a number of shows coming up in the city this summer. Bad Teeth is unique in the sonic landscape in Seattle, in that these rock n roll tech geeks are as obsessed with vintage technology as they are with sound. The 8-bit influence is potent and driving, while the melodic rock softens the songs into palatable little ditties. Punk rock informed pop riffs lace the bleeps and bloops together into a fun, frivolous, dancey good time.
Your first chance to catch the band live and in person, which is rumored to be a full on audio/visual experience, will be this Saturday, June 30 at the Rendezvous. Doors are at 9PM, 21+, $5 cover.Tweet
For the first year ever, Seattle Peach is doing a best-of list. I even made a little mixtape to share with you all!
Here are the records that were the most dear to me this year. In no particular order:
This two disc dreamscape is as close as it gets to being my favorite album of the year. I first heard “Midnight City” at Pinky’s Up on the HG Lodge rooftop when Eric Grandy dropped it during his guest DJ set. It was so good that I totally dorked out and Shazamed it on my phone. My anticipation for the album’s release sparked an outright obsession with M83′s entire catalog. Anthony Gonzalas nailed it with his 6th full length release. “Intro ft. Zola Jesus” will forever bring me back to hopping on the back of a motorcycle in front of the Black Lodge at 2AM, and cruising into the crisp coolness of the autumn night, and that show at Neumos was probably the best performance I heard all year.
This album may have single handledly carried me though the crippling darkness of the first few months of this year. The soaring roar of the vocals as they glissade over the twinkling texture of the music constantly inspired me to curl up on my comfy, overstuffed leather couch, heat on full blast, pen or pencil in hand, and create. The melancholic serenity of the album’s sprawling tracks seemed so poignant in Seattle’s lingering grey and seemingly everlasting drizzle. When I first saw them play at Chop Suey and discovered that they could immaculately recreate the choral vocals found on the album, I was floored. These guys are geniuses.
I heard this record for the first time on vinyl when a friend of mine got a copy of the limited edition release in the mail. We put it on the record player, and listened to it in the soft dimness of the camera obscura he’d built in his bedroom, watching the people outside hurry by on the ceiling. “Julius” sends this remarkable swelling sensation into my chest everytime I hear it, and seeing it live at the Crocodile was nearly orgasmic. I was devestated by the news that they’d lost Ryan Biornstad, but reports from recent shows have promised that the old songs still sound the same. Their show at the Crocodile with Champagne Champagne is all I want to do on New Years–it would totally be the perfect musical conclusion to this year.
The only Seattle band on this list, Beat Connection carved out a very special place in my heart with the release of Surf Noir. It is arguably the most critically brilliant album I’ve heard this year. I saw them for the first time when they performed at the Laser Dome with USF, and hearing “In the Water” at that show was like falling asleep and waking up in a fantastically wonderful film adaptation of your life. Dozing on an airplane headed to NYC with this record on repeat, I realized just how magnificent these guys are. The album became one of my go-tos over the summer and the living room dance party we had to it after their show at the Crocodile during Decible Festival was a glorious bookend before the coldness of fall settled in.
After being the last of my friends to get on board with Neon Indian fever and getting into Psychic Chasms late last year, I jonesed for this album like crazy when I heard it was slated for release. I needed something chipper, upbeat and feel good in my life, but it had to be intelligent at the same time. Seattle’s indian summer turned into a Neon Indian summer for this peach after Era Extraña finally came out. The cover art captures the sound so succinctly–the sun sets behind the lights of the city, setting the world on fire in a golden blaze.
Before I caught wind of the new record, “House Jam” (a track off of the band’s 2008 release, Saint Dymphna), had made it onto my spring and summer playlists, so I was giddy with excitement when I found out they had put out a new album. Eye Contact rocked me way harder than Saint Dymphna–Gang Gang Dance goes so much harder flushing out their strengths. Pulling together an album that is not only strong cohesively, but contains a number of tracks that can stand on their own, the record displays some much welcomed growth and improvement from this group. Lizzi Bougatsos’ vocals are chilling and haunted, and when coupled with these bangin’ spaced out beats, the sonic alchemy is divine.
Yelle kept this peach fit this summer–I lost track of how many dance parties Safari Disco Club served as the soundtrack to. Pounding the pavement on the way to work, looking down the nose of a 10 hour Friday night shift never seemed quite as daunting with this record blaring in my ears. I have no idea what Julie Budet is singing about in a one of her songs, but whatever she’s saying sounds good to me. It’s brilliant feel-good pop music, and the most fun ever to practice your fake French to while singing along in the shower.
My friends and I got our grubby little paws on this album so far in advance that I almost didn’t realize that it even qualified for this list (thank god for the internet!), but Underneath the Pine more than deserves its spot in my top ten. “New Beat” caught my attention immediately and totally changed the way that I was listening to music–it’s so grooving and laid back, but comes with a shoulder shaking beat at the same time. This record gave me something that I didn’t realize I had been looking for, and opened me up to what the kids these days are calling chillwave.
This record soothed and relaxed me this fall when I travelled to Mexico to visit the home my father built on a beach somewhere in the jungles outside of Puerto Vallarta. Sullen and romantic, this album electrified all the right synapses as I lounged, alone and pensive in paradise. Something about about it captures sonically the way that transitional time between summer and winter (which always falls just after my birthday) felt emotionally. It quieted the chatter in my head and eased me into a space where I could just exist, enjoying the privilege of tropical heat on my skin.
Every time I hear Bon Iver, it just makes me wanna fucking cry. He turns me into such a girl, it’s stupid. His self-titled release reminds me of romantic movies, whispered intimacy, and desperate pleas in the rain. It reminds me of a star-crossed love affair that never quite happened. It reminds me of every beautiful moment you’ve ever had. The emotional swell is so intense. Perfect for late at night when taking a long hot bath or trying to get laid, this record can assist in the creation of new, everlasting memories, and help you remember old ones.
So Audio, Video, Disco isn’t quite as good as † was but, it is damn good. I admit I was hoping for more back to back bangers, but you know, as a very wise man once said, you can’t always get what you want. These guys did an amazing job marketing their album and building up the hype leading up to it’s release, but when the finished product finally came out, I was a slightly underwhelmed. After allowing my initial disappointment to subside, I was able to appreciate this record for what it is–a brilliantly executed dance album.
Fuck yeah, witch house! Amirite? I first googled Salem after I got an ecstatic recommendation from Bryce Brown, who plays an integral part in Crypts, a Seattle version of this emerging spooky electro phenomenon. I was henceforth introduced to witch house, which ever satisfies my craving for something dark and creeptastic, something weird and dreary. With grimy beats and lots of heavy distortion, I’m Still in the Night was the perfect little bite-sized snack I needed to tide me over while I wait for the next full length release.
Tomboy is one of those albums that I didn’t really listen to that much over the last year, but when I revisited it in the fall, I wished that I had listened to it more in the early part of the year just as the frigid stillness of winter was beginning to thaw into the soggy mess that would be our never-ending spring. The record is uplifting and cheery without ever going over the top with the whole sunshine and rainbows bit. It has a driving energy to it that provokes a productive burst. I’ve been playing it around the house lately when I’m doing my chores–it’s meditative and motivating, and I love the lazy swagger on “Last Night at the Jetty.”
Be sure to fan Seattle Peach’s Soundcloud page, as there will be more mixes coming your way in the future. I can’t wait to hear all of the music the new year will bring–the interweb has been buzzing with rumors about some of my favorite bands and festival season is shaping up to look pretty good next summer. Keep your RSS feed tuned to Seattle Peach, as we keep you posted. Peach out!Tweet
Seattle Peach blew town for the Big Apple last week, and had Beat Connection’s most recent album, Surf Noir, to keep me company on the journey. The album is soooooo good, I listened to it three times in a row straight through before switching it up. Listening to Surf Noir put my mind at such tranquil ease, my stress melting away after all of the nervous excitement of navigating SeaTac. It’s such a cohesive record–it reads like a film script and offers a distinctly visual and atmospheric listening experience. It’s not traditional surf music, of course, but it is definitely beach music, each track capturing the mood and tone of different sea side adventures. This is no California beach party. It touches on something remote and a bit unexplored, more like a tropical getaway on an island off the coast of Thailand or maybe Bali.
Surf Noir opens with “Sunburn,” developing the atmosphere of the album with some lackadaisical surf rock twang on the guitars. But it is less like a beach party, and more like the state between asleep and awake that you can find yourself in while sunbathing or the romantic sensation of walking down a beach and letting the waves roll just over your toes. The album is full of this romanticism and idealism–the pulsing falsetto repetition of lyrics and gull cries in the effects on “In The Water” create moments like a make out scene. It is all so very picturesque–like dancing in the waves, or skipping your hands just over the surface of the sea, cutting through the water molecules with your fingertips.
The briefness and quiet of “Wild Heart” is like a moonlit hike in to a secret spot, transitioning the listener into a new emotional space. “Theme From Yours Truly” resonates somewhere between bliss and a bitter-sweetness, like your last night in town with all your new friends. The down tempo beat of “Fresh Touch” is darker, more introspective and exploratory, an adventure in some sea caves or maybe discovering that river of gas deep under the ocean’s surface in Mexico. This track bleeds seamlessly into the obvious hit of the record, “Silver Screen,” which is so subtle and grooving, the pieces of the melody so immaculately sewn together.
“Motorway” teases the listener with a disjointed intro, robotic vocals, a little vocoder distortion and lots of high end, preparing us for the dreamy finale, “Same Damn Time.” This song would be the scene where the rich tourist and the impoverished local share their first kiss under the low twinkling of white party lights and the flickering flame of tiki torches. It pulls everything together in a beatific bow, creating a kind of conclusion, but leaves you wanting more. So you do what I did, and listen to the album thrice over.
Surf Noir can be purchased via iTunes or at any of Beat Connection’s upcoming shows. They are one of Seattle Peach’s most highly recommended acts playing Capitol Hill Block Party this year, so don’t miss out. These young bucks are going places.Tweet