Every summer has a soundtrack, and if you live in Seattle the track listing is especially vibrant. Our thriving local music scene is more diverse than ever, with an ear-opening variety of sounds including neo-folk, indie rock, psychedelic, dream-pop, hip-hop and retro soul. To give you an earful, arts and culture editor Brangien Davis handpicked 17 songs for this year's mixtape—all recent releases by local bands—that will make your summer swell. *Starred bands are playing the Capitol Hill Block Party (7/26-7/28).
ALBUM: Brighten and Break (September 2012)
SONG: “Helping Hand”
NOTES: With its infectious chorus and clickity-clackety drumbeat, this winner from new choral trance pop band Pollens gets the limbs leaping.
ALBUM: Pretend to be Brave (March 2013)
NOTES: “On the day that I turn 33, I’ll be eating nachos but not with my mom”—one of many endearing lyrics from this strummy indie rock band.
ALBUM: Fallen Giants (March 2013)
SONG: “Fallen Giants”
NOTES: Yummy, drummy goodness drives a nature-vs-industry message on this title track by Seattle’s self-proclaimed “Cascadian youth tribe” who cranks out thumping, bewitching rock.
ALBUM: Remable (January 2013)
SONG: “Super Hang Loose”
NOTES: The title of this song is your summer mantra—and its burbling electronica rhythms and fiery guitar riffs will propel you through even the cloudy days.
BAND: Fly Moon Royalty*
ALBUM: Dimensions (May 2012)
SONG: “The Birthday Song”
NOTES: Seattle’s exciting electro-soul duo goes pleasingly retro on this sweet track that inspires slow dancing in the sand.
BAND: La Luz
ALBUM: Damp Face (September 2012)
SONG: “Clear Night Sky”
NOTES: It’s so hard to pick just one song from this irresistible new Seattle band! The dreamy tunes put a fresh spin on retro surf rock and suggest lazy nights by the seashore.
ALBUM: Can’t Talk Medicine (March 2013)
SONG: “Window Sill”
NOTES: This suddenly ubiquitous Seattle band has gained fans for its fresh and groovy approach to soul music. The completely catchy hook on this one obscures the bummer lyric.
BAND: Hey Marseilles*
ALBUM: Lines We Trace (March 2013)
SONG: “Bright Stars Burning”
NOTES: The pop-orchestral indie band’s much-awaited second album proves it’s no flash in the pan. Or as this song says, “Under bright stars burning/we’ll make our own ending.”
Photo: Hayley Young
BAND: The Redwood Plan
ALBUM: Green Light Go (February 2013)
SONG: “My Pocket Island”
NOTES: Fans of The Go-Gos and Kim Wilde will adore the punky fast beats mixed with synth accents put out by this feisty new group. Bonus: This song is about a rock from an island.
BAND: Vox Mod*
ALBUM: Syn-Aesthetic (April 2013)
SONG: “Life Forms”
NOTES: The newly popular electronica master crafts super-chill synth sounds overlaid with guest vocals. This one features Irene Barbaric and recalls Julie Cruise and 1990s pop-electronic band Hooverphonic.
BAND: Jherek Bischoff
ALBUM: Composed (June 2012)
NOTES: One of the legion of Seattle musicians creating whole albums in their basements, Bischoff’s loungey orchestral pop is so good he got David Byrne to sing on this cut.
Photo: Angel Ceballos
BAND: Rose Windows
ALBUM: Sun Dogs (June 2013)
SONG: “Heavenly Days”
NOTES: Summer should be nothing but Heavenly Days, so use this track to summon them. This new band is winning fans fast for its unique psychedelic freak-folk sound.
TRACK: http://www.digitalwell.washington.edu/dw/1/51/01/017e7c14-9061-456b-912f-4fd2b1b2bf40.MP3 found on this page.
BAND: The Cave Singers
ALBUM: Naomi (March 2013)
SONG: “Easy Way”
NOTES: The roots-rocky, strummy vibe of this track shows exactly why The Cave Singers are so endlessly easy to listen to.
ALBUM: An Anxious Mind (January 2013)
SONG: “Away with the Boys”
NOTES: These Anacortes-based indie rockers band charm with lyrics such as “I could spend a lifetime with you, but your mama’s basement can’t fit two.”
BAND: Sean Nelson
ALBUM: Make Good Choices (June 2013)
SONG: “Make Good Choices”
NOTES: Known for his ‘90s band Harvey Danger, Nelson is back with a new solo effort that proves he can still rock a sweet sound (and stinging lyric), as heard in this upbeat break-up song. “Breakin’ down my esprit de corps was your most beloved chore.”
ALBUM: Dormarion (March 2013)
SONG: “Ghosts and Creatures”
NOTES: Dreamy nerd-singing over a sweet drumbeat punctuated with a catchy pop chorus—just a few of the reasons to fall in love with Telekinesis.
ALBUM: Wednesday’s Children (June 2012)
SONG: “So So So”
NOTES: This British-invasion influenced young band crafts pretty dream-pop that makes you want to get dolled up and go dancing.
Photo: Jacob Rosen