Seattle’s soulful new outfit Vicious Petals marks the release of “Main Street Lights” at the Sunset on Saturday, Aug. 27, while singer-songwriter Chris Staples also has a new album, “Golden Age,” which he’ll play from on a Virginia V cruise Sunday, Aug. 28.
Whether they’re evoking roadhouse blues or the poppy charm of ’60s doo-wop, new Seattle group Vicious Petals has made a statement with its debut (self-released) album “Main Street Lights.”
Driven by frontman Cooper Smith’s searing guitar work and the propulsive energy of Ayako Okano’s masterful, classical piano skills, the album is full of emotional, mature songs like the anthem “Treachery” — music that sounds like nothing else being produced in Seattle right now.
9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; $10 (206-784-4880 or sunsettavern.com). The Echolarks and Tape Stacks open.
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, on the Steamship Virginia V (board at 860 Terry Ave. N., Seattle); $40-$70 (206-624-9119 or virginiav.org).
The impetus for the band was an easy friendship Smith and Okano struck up while working at a local music shop. As they became closer, it only made sense to start working on a music project together.
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“It was this very insular thing between the two of us,” Okano said. “It kind of ballooned into this huge thing where we have a four-part horn section and we got really excited having all these different arrangements and having the tools to do it.”
There is a true joy to the album, which was recorded at Bear Creek Studios by Lumineers producer Ryan Hadlock and Jerry Streeter, who has produced Brandi Carlile. (The album’s horn section will be on hand Saturday.)
“I have been surprised in a really, really wonderful way,” Smith said of the recording process. “The folks we play with — life is busy, but we have a lot of devotion in these cats. It’s really humbling. It’s cool to see your best friends really respect and love the music you’re doing.”
While “Main Street Lights” is characterized by joy, Staples’ new album is soaked in regret. This isn’t surprising, since a laundry list of things have gone awry in Staples’ life recently, from diabetes and a bad breakup to a bicycle crash that left him drowning in debt after he required hip surgery.
So forgive Staples if his sixth full-length solo effort, “Golden Age” (Barsuk Records), seems to ruminate on better days, before finally admitting that things have been rough. Whether it’s the engagingly upbeat title track, where Staples seems to decide that his heyday “wasn’t all that great,” either, or “Times Square,” which quietly reflects on better days spent with a long-lost love, Staples spends the majority of the album trying to talk himself out of a funk.
It’s a somewhat dismal but ultimately rewarding journey that ends with a small hint of optimism as Staples admits on the subdued “Diary”: “I don’t want to look back with regret, I just want to hold on to what we got.”
That is the hard-earned wisdom of anyone who has had a bad year and lived to tell about it.