Grave Babies “Crusher” (Hardly Art): Painful-to-experience, one-note art can be good. But it doesn’t come to you. You have to go to it. That’s the situation with local goth/pop/noise trio Grave Babies. The band goes all in with “Crusher,” its debut album for local label Hardly Art, with 16 tracks of guitar, synthesizer, drums and vocals seemingly shouted by a zombie through a megaphone. It will give you tinnitus, but certain stretches are lovely. Mid-album tracks “III” and “No Fear” are standouts — ambient goo and fist-pump rock — and the beginning has tough, flavorful cuts “Over and Underground” and “Slaughter.” Like the other songs, they are awash in noise. But there’s a Zen spirit, and a bubble-gum heart.
The Thermals (Sub Pop): Around the turn of the millennium, Portland pop-punk band The Thermals did a stint opening for future-platinum-selling Bellingham act Death Cab for Cutie, pounding out jams through blown-out practice amps. Those were good old days. Death Cab represented indie rock to the world then, with a soft and literary zig. But the Thermals zagged furiously and rocked hard, with clever/simple music that brought balance to the genre. Eventually, the band ran out of good songs. But those first three records — “More Parts Per Million,” a second one with an unprintable title and “The Body, The Blood, The Machine” — are Pacific Northwest rock classics. Sub Pop has rereleased them all on vinyl.
Hey Marseilles “Lines We Trace” (Onto Entertainment): Columbia City’s Hey Marseilles is a contender if you’re looking for a local rock band to break out in a significant way in 2013. The band’s new album,“Lines We Trace,” due March 5, owes a large stylistic debt to The Decemberists, a chart-topping acoustic band. Commercial licensing checks ought to be in their future. And if not? They tour. Add the involvement of local label/management company Onto Entertainment — currently managing platinum-selling neo-folkies The Lumineers — and all the pieces are in place.
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Note: Hey Marseilles plays Friday at the Showbox at the Market.
Andrew Matson: firstname.lastname@example.org