Seattle Music 2014: Indie Rock Bands

Add these local indie rock bands to your must-listen list stat
My Goodness (Joel Schneider, Andy Lum, Cody Votolato) photographed backstage at Neumos, July 17, 2014

My Goodness

Gateway Band: Soundgarden
This heavy-rockin’ band with a grungy metal edge dropped its full-length album Shiver + Shake last summer to much critical success. In a way, their sound is simple, but don’t let the stripped-down guitar and drums fool you. As with similar-sounding rock/blues outfits (The Black Keys and The White Stripes), the basic blueprint allows for the essentials to come through: raw emotion, a good scream, a clear lyric. Any number of tracks could be your favorite on Shiver + Shake, but we recommend “Cold Feet Killer,” a story of love gone wrong. mygoodness.bandcamp.com

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Iska Dhaaf

Gateway Band: The White Stripes
Duo Nathan Quiroga and Benjamin Verdoes know how to wail—their jarring sound rises from their instruments like a growing cloud of smoke. The band’s music video for “Everybody Knows,” a powerful tableau set in the Vietnam War era, features a cameo by Macklemore, whom Quiroga (formerly of Mad Rad) worked with on The Heist. Drummer Verdoes (formerly of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band) is a talented songwriter in his own right, having recently released his own crooning solo album to critical acclaim. iskadhaaf.com
How would you describe your sound? “Aggressive, bold and fully exposed. At times, a single voice and guitar; others, a layered wall of harmonies. The songs nod to psychedelia and punk in subtle and inventive ways.” —Benjamin Verdoes

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Pickwick

Gateway Band: Tom Waits
Among the many accolades Pickwick has amassed this year is the distinction of providing the opening song in Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths’ new movie, Lucky Them, as well as being backed by the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall. Singer Galen Disston’s voice has a soulful punch—it feels like the sonic equivalent of a night club. Utilizing heavy bass tones and impeccable guitar rhythms, Pickwick is a force that always seems inviting rather than exclusive. At times, it’s as if the Heartbreakers created a secret album with Tom Waits and just now decided to share it with the world. Hear them do their thing at the Chinook Music festival in Naches (9/12–9/14; chinookfest.com). pickwickmusic.com

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Ayron Jones

Gateway Band: Jimi Hendrix
Always conscious of his Seattle predecessors (see: Soundgarden and Jimi Hendrix), Ayron Jones plays guitar-based music that’s a mix of blues and grunge rock. Recently, he worked with Sir Mix-A-Lot to produce his debut record, Dream, and later opened for the great B.B. King at The Moore. It would be easy to compare Jones to folks like Stevie Ray Vaughan—he’s just so good at wailing on an electric guitar—yet to compare him would be to deny his own unique talent. ajandtheway.com

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La Luz

La Luz (Alice Sandahl, Shana Cleveland, Marian Li Pino, Lena Simon) photographed at Cafe Racer, July 16, 2014

Gateway Band: The Ronettes
Singer and old soul Shana Cleveland has been making music in Seattle for years, but recently she partnered up with the Emerald City surf rockers Marian Li Pino, Alice Sandahl and Lena Simon to create the slinky 1960s-girl-band sound of La Luz. There is something ethereal and impeccably gorgeous about this band—a sexy encounter between Dick Dale and Nancy Sinatra—whose phenomenal live shows may include one of the members doing the worm, or the audience engaging in a Soul Train dance, as Cleveland sings, “One thing I’ve found as I’ve moved around from town to town, it’s so hard to get my blood to settle down.” laluz.bandcamp.com

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Smokey Brights

Gateway Band: Fleetwood Mac
Fronted by lanky guitar player Ryan Devlin (who also plays bass in Hounds of the Wild Hunt, page 100), this five-piece band has a down-to-earth presence and musical range from the mellow side of the sonic spectrum all the way to big, bold and rockin’. A little bit Death Cab for Cutie, a little bit Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Brights call Cafe Racer home for gigs and are darlings of Artist Home, the folks who put on the Doe Bay and Timber! music fests. To listen is to be transported to a backyard barbecue circa 1978. Watch for the debut full-length album in November. smokeybrights.com

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Deep Sea Diver


Deep Sea Diver: Garrett Gue, Peter Mansen and Jessica Dobson
Gateway Band: Florence and the Machine
Jessica Dobson fronts this band, which she affectionately calls her “baby,” and Dobson knows good music. She’s recently played on tour with The Shins and in Beck’s backing band. But now she’s giving her full musical attention to Deep Sea Diver, in which she sings like Feist, but plays guitar like Jack White. Her songs can be fun musical jaunts or stadium anthems. Expect the band’s next full-length record in early 2015; in the meantime, acquaint yourself with this divine whirling dervish. thedeepseadiver.bandcamp.com

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Kithkin

Gateway Band: Arcade Fire
The members of this Cascadian forest-rocker four-piece met and began playing together at Seattle University. Their recently released full-length, Rituals, Trances & Ecstasies for Humans in Face of The Collapse, features a layered Kanye West–esque production (bonus: without all the misogyny!), with wild screamsand moans and tribal drums. The key to the record, though, is every band member’s unbridled passion. You can feel their bonds of friendship and love of mysticism emanating through the tattoo of those propulsive drumbeats. kithkin.bandcamp.com
How would you describe your sound? “Treepunk! It’s rhythmic, chaotic music that’s meant to mimic and confront the patterns of death and regrowth in the natural world.” —Kelton Sears, vocals, bass, drums

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The Hoot Hoots

Gateway Band: Franz Ferdinand
The Hoot Hoots released their EP Feel the Cosmos in late 2012 and the big, bright synthy sound—with lyrical references to video games and silly ways to pass the time—charmed the city. At a live show, you might catch keyboardist Christina Ellis dressed in a cardboard robot costume, or the whole band dressed in robes or ’80s sunglasses. What you will most certainly encounter is one of the strongest rock bands in Seattle. They sound like Franz Ferdinand jumping on a trampoline. thehoothoots.bandcamp.com
How would you describe your sound? “Fuzzed-out power pop that works as auditory Prozac.” —Adam Prairie, lead vocals, guitar

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Hounds of the Wild Hunt

Gateway Bands: The Sex Pistols, The Strokes
If Cafe Racer wasn’t their home away from home, the boys from Hounds might just as easily be singing away the days on a pirate ship. The group has groomed its music over the years, but still holds onto the skid-row vibe of its youth. “Ragged all week, yeah, I been ragged all week. I’ve been sewing seams, yeah, I been ragged all week!” they sing in unison on the opening track of their self-titled EP. The band has a boatload of bravado. houndsofthewildhunt.bandcamp.com

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Editor’s Note: It may seem like playing favorites, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Great Um, a great, um, rock band featuring our writer Jake Uitti on bass, Caleb Thompson on vocals and guitar, and Robb Benson on drums. Check out Everybody Now, their newly released 5-track album, for rock ’n’ roll with echoes from White Album-era Beatles to The
Raconteurs. thegreatum.bandcamp.com

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