A review roundup of six Seattle bands — including The Cave Singers, So Pitted, Gazebos and Tangerine — releasing albums this week.
Six Seattle-based bands are releasing albums on Feb. 19, close enough to Valentine’s Day that we decided to review them all today.
Gazebos, “Die Alone” (Hardly Art)
This debut from local four-piece Gazebos features singer Shannon Perry, who Capitol Hill scenesters might recognize from her previous band, Butts (now Wimps). “Die Alone” is more whimsical than Wimps’ hyper-literal, slice-of-life “Suitcase” from last year. It bases whole songs around gibberish phrases (“Ere Specka”) or couplets like “springer spaniels playing poker / pick your nose and eat the boogers” that seem like inside jokes. Remarkably, however, Perry’s formidable pipes and penchant for odd vocal contortions sell it, leading these nine songs in all sorts of unexpected directions. Jam-packed with colorful choruses and flanger guitar effects, they find their niche somewhere between the super-technical glam-rock of the ’70s L.A. band Sparks and the indie doo-wop of label mates Shannon and the Clams — a solidly entertaining listen for those who like their pop music a little off-kilter.
Deep Sea Diver, “Secrets” (High Beam)
Seattleites who think they haven’t seen Jessica Dobson need to think back to the last time they saw Beck or the Shins. If you saw Beck at Bumbershoot in 2008, she was the one wielding the sexy red guitar. If you saw the Shins at Sasquatch! 2012, she was the one playing six strings and singing backup alongside James Mercer. Deep Sea Diver is what she’s doing when she’s not supporting someone else.
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The band’s new album, “Secrets,” bounces from straight-up pop and dream sequences to extended bouts with New Wave-flavored synthetics. This is Dobson’s band, but not really a solo project. The songs are built around the drums as much as they are the guitar, but considering that the band’s guitarist (Dobson) and drummer (Peter Mansen) have exchanged wedding vows, it’s understandable.
Deep Sea Diver plays Neumos March 16.
So Pitted, “Neo” (Sub Pop)
Sure, for the last decade, Sub Pop has been known for its adult-rock fare, moving armloads of LPs from Fleet Foxes, The Head and the Heart and Beach House. But the label built on the backs of TAD, Soundgarden and Mudhoney has never abandoned the heavies. So Pitted’s hard-rock irreverence (they plucked their name from a surf video on YouTube) comes through on the Seattle trio’s latest, “neo,” chock-full of relentless hardcore, pulsating punk and headbanging rock. The ironic angst baked within their crunch isn’t going to sell the way their aforementioned contemporaries have, which makes the music all the more refreshing.
So Pitted plays Everyday Music Friday, February 19.
The Cave Singers, “Banshee” (Jagjaguwar)
The Cave Singers’ new album “Banshee” is a competently executed bit of indie rock, but maybe that’s the problem with the Seattle band’s fifth studio effort.
Things start off promisingly enough on “That’s Why,” which features a bass-driven riff that sounds like something Crash Kings or Cold War Kids might come up with. But the song doesn’t reach much of a crescendo or climax and musically doesn’t seem to have much to say.
“Lost in the Tide” provides a moment of tender sweetness but before too long, the songs by former members of Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hint Hint and Cobra High start melting into each other. While “Christmas Night” works as a single, the disappointment comes when you realize how restrained and bereft of energy the song is.
That low-key energy level pervades the album, which doesn’t have a truly bad song on it — a solid collection that likely will not make a lasting impact.
The Cave Singers play Neumos Saturday, Feb. 20.
Owen R. Smith
Rabbit Wilde, “The Heartland” (self-released)
Bellingham string band Rabbit Wilde pumps up banjo, harmonica and cello with thumping percussion, conjuring a revival meeting crossed with a hoedown. “Daughter of the Sun,” with bowed cello, is a sweet love song and “Summer Hotel” has a Lumineers thrum. This band has a lot of good melodic and arranging ideas but they are not well focused. The sleeper star may well be Miranda Zickler, whose bluesy vocal on “The Long Way Down” and intimate paean to enduring love, “Easy, Dear (The Light)” slip inside the ear like a welcome breeze.
Rabbit Wilde plays Nectar Feb. 20.
Tangerine, “Sugar Teeth” (Swoon)
Seattle trio Tangerine — sisters Marika and Miro Justad, plus Toby Kuhn — makes wonderfully infectious ear candy — tart and sweet, like its name — about young love. The band’s music has been characterized as surf pop, but has hints of R & B and good-natured ‘80s New Wave rock. The title track of this smartly-produced, four-song EP features Marika Justad’s breathy, sexy vocal floating in a bath of atmospherically reverbed guitar. “Sunset,” a hard-driving, eight-to-the-bar rocker, features a warbling hook brilliantly tossed back and forth as a guitar line, vocal lyric and wordless vocal. Nice writing! “Tender” twangs and “Wild at Heart” sneaks in a twinkling, Afro-pop guitar line. This band has legs.
Paul de Barros