It wasn't that long ago that acts like Modest Mouse and Elliott Smith were playing at the Old Fire House in Redmond. Things have changed since the '90s, of course, but plenty of young bands are still getting their start playing the small Eastside concert hall.
That emerging talent is showcased on a new compilation CD, available at any of the OFH's upcoming shows, called POP425. The CD is the senior project of Redmond musician Whitney Ballen, who organized the comp rather than do the usual tree planting or working with the elderly. Ballen recruited the disc's 14 artists (including herself), solicited donations for its pressing, and coordinated its production (with help from outstanding OFH recording engineer Amanda Barron) and promotion.
The album kicks off with lively electro party-starter APOC's "Tetris," a heart-racing dance homage to old-school video games that taps into the furious intensity of the one-man band's live show. The compilation's highlights include the pop rock of Schoolboy Gutbuster's "Golden Blonde," the defiance of Generifus's "Nobody Can Tell Me What to Do," the summer punk cry of Seahouse's "Sleepy Not Sleeping," and the machine music of Masters and Johnson's "Factory Mishaps." The only problem with Ballen's project is the fact that her own song, "Little Secrets," is so irresistibly good that it kind of steals the show, with Ballen's voice fluttering and harmonizing over delicately plucked acoustic guitar—it's her best recorded work yet.
Individually, the tracks on POP425 all offer something special, but taken together, they offer a valuable snapshot of a thriving young music community in bloom.
Fri May 8: Manafest, Braille, Othello at Q Cafe, 8 pm, $7.
Fri May 8: Mania, Wake, Galdr at FBK, 8 pm, $5.
Sat May 9: Ponytail at the Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $10 ($9 w/club card).