The Bats of Belfry - Honeyed arcs. Curt Doughty

"Everyone knows the phrase 'bats in the belfry' means crazy in the head. Changing it to 'Bats of Belfry' [makes it] a utopian place," explains Jan Norberg of his band's moniker. "Belfry is your mind; music is inspired in [the] belfry." The Bats of Belfry are a savvy group of songwriters whose music roosts in your head's higher steeples. The fledgling act features a crew of respected Seattle vets already known for sticking to your cranium due to their unusual influences. Frontman Norberg played in defunct duo Gold Rush. Other Bats—Jorum Young, Justin Schwartz, Ryan Kraft, Jason McAllister—were previously members of Cobra High, Vells, and Blessed Light.

Now they've collected around a sound that bends gently between breezy Nuggets pop (or what Norberg calls "a somewhat psychedelic Bee Gees") and heavier, After the Gold Rush–style anthems. Their rock melodies are as richly textured as the celestial harmonies. When multiple members take to the mic, their voices lift the songs into bright, honeyed arcs. Solo, Norberg brings more than a little Bowie to the mix, not surprising since he namechecks the Thin White Duke (and Neil Young) for bringing the "same level of glamour and rock theater."

With only one MySpace page and two shows under their belt (blowing out a speaker at the War Room and opening for the Fiery Furnaces at Neumo's), the Bats of Belfry are quickly becoming a new favorite around town—recording one of the best demos I've heard this year. "We have a fondness for funky bass alongside wiry guitars," says Norberg. "Like [Bowie's] Station to Station, Germanic soul, or Can's 'dark jams.'"

The group also maintains some unusually subtle romanticism. On "Kremlins," Norberg sings of "watching icicles fall" while "nightingale waits for the white girl trapped in these Kremlin walls/damn it all/I should be strong, but I've waited so long/Will she ever call?" Everything about this band places them far from the typical Seattle sphere, as the Bats stay suspended in a haunting Belfry all their own.

jennifer@thestranger.com