Speaking of locals, a few NW bands recently have released noteworthy music. Seattle's the Set are a year-old band whose debut disc, Lo-Fi Mummy, is "best heard with headphones and has small clicks in between tracks," according to frontman Nick Abraham. It's a collection of delicate indie pop, floating along on minimal electronic distortion and intimate recording techniques. The occasionally vaporous vocals sound so close it's like they're being whispered in your ears late at night, and the instrumentation is just as diaphanous; everything comes together in cobwebs not too distant from Grizzly Bear's gauzy dreamscapes. The band occasionally clears the haze a bit, though, kicking up the pace with harmony-laden rockers like "Port Monkey" or strumming cosmic campfire songs like "Cube Swamp." (You can e-mail the Set at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Panda and Angel are another lo-fi local act, but the third track on their debut eponymous CD is sheer sugary shoegazer bliss. "Dangerous" flips dynamically between ebullient distortion (á la Autolux) and toned-down admissions of feeling feverish about a long-gone lover, cresting in gorgeous waves of distortion. Much of the rest of the disc is more tempered, though, welding somber vocals to tear-stained instrumentation. Touchdown Eagle's Carrie Murphy's low voice glides over acoustic, electric, and computerized instrumentation, thanks to Josh Wackerly (who worked with Jenn Ghetto on her latest S release, a distant peer to this record) and other musicians, including Sera Cahoone (Carissa's Wierd). (More info at www.pandaandangel.com.)
On a completely different side of the music spectrum, there's nothing melancholy about the Old Haunts' debut full-length, Fallow Field (Kill Rock Stars). The basement-party distortion and histrionic, rusty-nail vocals give the band a very raw rock edge. And yet there's none of the spill-the-beer bombast of most local garage punks in their sound--in its place is a spookier sensibility (fitting for their name) and a slight drone pulled from drinking at the same well of inspiration as bands like the Wipers and Dead Moon.
And then sometimes the name just says it all. When you call a record Balls Deep, as local boys Mico de Noche recently did their new disc, you know the sound's gonna be some Cro-Magnon heavy rock--bludgeon you with the club, drag you by the hair, dirty-fisted stuff. Which is exactly what these guys sound like. Mico may be a duo, but they're a voluminous mass together, reminding you that it usually takes four guys to make the commotion they create with two. They're at the Fun House this week, on Wednesday, April 27.
Odd moment of last weekend: hearing A Frames blasting through the speakers at an Urban Outfitters store. I guess along with faux turquoise bracelets and faded Rolling Stones shirts, the Seattle trio have really arrived. Or at least someone at that Portland store has good taste.
And Flaming Lips fans, take note. The band's The Fearless Freaks documentary--spanning the eclectic musicians' long and illustrious career--shows at Northwest Film Forum starting April 22 (see Stranger Suggests, page 41 for more info).