This spring we launched Puget Sounds, a bimonthly column highlighting the best new music from around the Pacific Northwest that we may not have covered elsewhere. The two months since its debut have delivered another spate of sizzling new albums from regional acts, including a handful from Seattle-Tacoma’s red-hot hip-hop scene (increasing emphasis on Tacoma).
From established vets like homegrown Roc Nation rapper Jay Park to up-and-comers warranting more attention, here are a dozen new albums that should be on your radar, plus the artists’ next Seattle dates.
(Note: Some songs may contain explicit language.)
This Portland-based, Trinidad and Tobago-born singer has come a long way since spending a youthful summer gigging around Washington with her uncle’s steel-drum band. On her sophomore album, the R&B talent wanders into headier terrain than her more upbeat 2017 debut, “Tease,” with sultry, low-lit vocals adorning drifting down-tempo beats with skittering percussion and deep bass rolls. While tracks like the hushed “Glitch” could still move the dance floor, neo-soul head swimmers like “Betty Rizzo” and “Moi å Moi” are better served as headphone intoxicants.
Daisies, “What Are You Waiting For?”
The life of Olympia’s apocalyptic new wave favorites CCFX may have been too brief, but some of its members have unveiled a sterling new project to help ease the pain. With its K Records debut, Daisies deliver a brighter, immersive strain of synth-pop with hints of trip-hop, house and warming psychedelia. It’s one of the better debut albums this year, not surprisingly considering its members’ track record.
Dark Smith, “Degressive”
It takes all of 10 seconds for Danny Denial’s deep, haunting baritone to sink its hooks in on album opener “Waiting” — a trudging anesthetic for end times that perfectly sets the tone. Denial and the dreamy goth-punk quartet have been gaining local steam, culminating with Dark Smith’s atmospheric debut album, which arrived in late May swirling with hints of shoegaze, post-punk and dissatisfaction with the status quo. Over euphorically scorching guitars, Denial bellows and wails a warning shot to privileged groups in power on the standout “Killer Whale,” a vital and visceral post-punk anthem. Sept. 1, Greenwood Music Crawl
Dave B, “BLEU”
With his fourth album, the proven emcee further bolsters his credentials as one of Seattle hip-hop’s top dual threats, splicing gospel-splashed singing passages into his nasally bars with aplomb. The 10-track introspective journey carries nods to late Seattle luminaries Kari Cash and J Moore, with Dave’s unflappable flow belying the internal tension in his lyrics. The new cuts were even more rewarding, boosted by his live band at a celebratory Showbox release show in June.
Dude York, “Falling”
Not long ago, the Seattle pop-punk darlings were moping through the “Break Up Holiday” on their cheeky 2017 holiday album. Now returning with their third non-yuletide full-length (due July 26 on Hardly Art), the rambunctious trio tackles relationship entries and exits without the excessive trips to the punch bowl. Infectious power-pop hooks stand sturdy as ever, as bassist Claire England and guitarist Peter Richards trade lead vocal and songwriting duties, uniting for impermeable harmonies on tracks like strutting closer “DGAFAF (I Know What’s Real).” Oct. 7, Crocodile (with Bleached)
Following last year’s full-band affair, “Something Familiar,” Hibou’s Peter Michel returned to the self-recording route for his third album, coming July 26 through Barsuk. An understated guitar ace, Michel’s glassy, blissed-out leads swim alongside synth twinkles in his dream-pop tapestries. The ebb and flow of the propulsive closer, “Flood,” is a fitting capstone to another strong effort from the savvy Seattle songwriter. July 24, Chop Suey
Jay Park, “The Road Less Traveled”
With his first full-length project since inking his Roc Nation deal, the local b-boy-turned-K-pop-star-turned-hip-hop-acrobat unabashedly waves the flag for his hometown with a barrel-chested roar. The “Seattle 2 Seoul” emcee’s 17-song effort is loaded with features from local vets like Gifted Gab, Raz Simone, Jarv Dee, Fatal Lucciauno and Nacho Picasso. With a tight grip on the wheel, Park mostly puts his “Sexy 4 Eva” R&B singing aside, instead swerving from after-dark trap anthems to a few boom-bappy head-nodders — save for the sing-rap crooning on “Feng Shui” — flashing a classicist reverence while staying grounded in more contemporary sounds. Park’s double-time raps snake through gleaming, bass-heavy beats, at least until he slips into a few back-end cool-down tracks like a pair of custom silk pajamas. Call it another notch on the belt of this multihyphenate who recently earned the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s Game Changer award for his work as an artist and entrepreneur. Dec. 1, Showbox SoDo
Manatee Commune, “PDA”
Portland-by-way-of-Bellingham beatsmith Grant Eadie returns with an alluring new set, mixing bass music and sun-kissed disco in a blend that feels as cleansing as an alpine lake dip. Vocal cuts like airy single “Famous” come with a not-too-sweet dance-pop appeal, while day-party-starters “Petit Verdo” and the title track are irresistibly carefree. Meanwhile, more downtempo loungers like “Wisteria Loop” are the stuff that poolside daydreams are made of. Sept. 1, Bumbershoot
Perry Porter, “Bobby Ro$$”
With one of the releases we’ve been most eagerly awaiting this year, rising Tacoma talent Perry Porter shows there’s no limit to what he can do with a canvas. The Bob Ross-referencing LP emerged as colorful as the rapper/painter’s palette, with variegated beats and an accompanying color-theory guide matching each track’s moods and themes. Porter’s “dropping heaters for nonbelievers” (though it’s hard to imagine there are many) on the club-ready “Surf — Extended Mix” and flashing his trademark voice-cracking sprints on murky trap banger “Sink or Swim.” A vinyl release through Crane City Music is expected this fall. July 20, Capitol Hill Block Party
Romaro Franceswa, “RO”
It’s telling that two of the best local hip-hop releases this year arrived from Tacoma-area artists, including this gem from the Federal Way emcee whose pen has only sharpened since last year’s “Kiss the Sky” EP. From the ferocious, Kendrick-esque bursts on opening single “Please Don’t Tell My Mama” to the mosh-ready, take-no-prisoners pounder “Riled Up,” Franceswa comes out blazing before downshifting to the vulnerably contemplative “More Love” and “Still Rydin” — a sublime night-sky duet with Ariana DeBoo. July 20, Capitol Hill Block Party
Scarlet Parke, “Flight Risk”
Just in time for summer, this promising indie-pop singer slides in with an eight-song mini album destined for your windows-down singalongs in off-key glory. Fortunately Parke, whose past work had a more soulful, bluesier singer-songwriter vibe, has no trouble carrying a tune while more than capably reorienting herself around the booming bass lines of EDM- and hip-hop-informed pop jams. Still, her old-soul vocal power shines on waltzing soul-pop standout “Night” and tender closing ballad “Never Going Home.” July 20, Capitol Hill Block Party
Summer Cannibals, “Can’t Tell Me No”
The Portland favorites triumphantly reemerge after scrapping a year’s worth of work on another record following songwriter Jessica Boudreaux’s severance from a toxic personal and creative relationship with a prominent Portland co-writer. The fresh start resulted in an empowered, fuzz-punching rocker that finds a snarling, resilient Boudreaux silenced no longer, tackling deeply personal issues with bruising melodies and roaring guitars. July 13, Timber! Outdoor Music Festival