Black Ends, “Sellout” (self-released)
Led by guitarist/vocalist Nicolle Swims, Seattle trio Black Ends recently impressed a large Chop Suey crowd while opening for the Black Tones at the latter's album-release party. Further impressiveness arrives with Black Ends' new Sellout EP. Its four odd rock songs bear a subtle darkness and sense of unease. Swims's guitar seems to be tuned to a cool, strange mode that generates faded twangs and muted chimes while her voice has a downered, Chrissie Hynde-esque nasality that's distinctive. Swims's song structures gently skew in a manner reminiscent of obscure, women-dominated groups such as Quix*o*tic and Oh-OK. I can imagine Black Ends—who include bassist Ben Swanson and drummer Jonny Modes—signing to a respected label such as K or Kill Rock Stars in the near future.
My favorite cut on the EP is "Sellout." It moves with a spasmodic elegance, accelerating and decelerating like those amazing Raincoats and Slits songs from the first wave of post-punk, or maybe early Throwing Muses. The guitar tone is insanely piquant, needling a weird tattoo onto your gray matter while shooting liberal doses of adrenaline through your nervous system. Listening to it over and over, I feel an urgent thrill unlike anything I've experienced this year. "Sellout" is one of the best songs to come out of Seattle in 2019.