Best New Seattle Bands of 2012

Music expert Chris Estey helps us pick the best emerging bands from Seattle’s crowded 2012 scene.

This year we recruited local music expert Chris Estey, who writes for music website Three Imaginary Girls, to help us pick the best emerging bands from Seattle’s crowded scene. Here, Estey makes it easier for other up-and-comers by reverse-engineering his chosen bands’ recipes for success.


2 cups ’60s British Invasion rock
1 freshly ground Velvet Underground
Healthy shaving of Big Star
1 sticky creamy center of swirled organic keyboard riffs
1 can of whipped dream pop
1 gallon of good red wine
Stir suavely. Serve tenderly to fans of The Kinks’ ballads; alternately, in a hot sweat to mod soul kids in pin-striped suits and shaggy haircuts.


2 pounds Burundi beat (preferably Adam Ant, or Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy”)
2 ounces world-beat post-punk (such as XTC)
3 chunks of perfect-for-stadium-games chant rock
2 tablespoons African safari spice
Tom-toms and barbecue sauce to taste
For best big-jungle-beat results, grill over raging campfire at midnight while dancing vigorously among friends, wearing feathers and a pith helmet.

Nightmare Fortress

2 shots of Siouxie and the Banshees
1 jigger of Portishead (chilled to icy)
3 cups of Euro-synth stock
12 inches of drum-machine-led remixes, chopped and whipped
1 pair of thigh-high jackboots (as worn by lead singer and nocturnal music scene butterfly Alicia Amiri)
Combine with a generous helping of black fingernail polish, one smoldering clove cigarette and plenty of sultry moping at the lip of the stage.


6 jolts of Talking Heads jitter and joy-filled Afro-beat
3 full servings of harmonizing vocalists from Cornish College
1 cup contemporary choral music
Generous drizzling of Cocteau Twins dreaminess
1 can of stewed Stravinsky
1 cup of sauerkraut (preferably a German label)
Serve on a hearty bed of cubed congas and other percussion. Reserve extra for additional meals; its many delights can be enjoyed again and again.

Special Explosion

3 pounds of Built To Spill–flavored jangle and rhythms
Generous helping of rinsed vocal harmonies
Layers and layers of shredded guitar (look for Neil Young and Crazy Horse)
Marinate in classic rock, with contemporary spices; add something you can’t quite place for the heavy coating. Simmer over extended jams and ladle into all-ages clubs. Garnish with finalist ribbon from EMP’s 2012 Sound Off! competition.

Don’t Talk to the Cops

1 salty MC/break-dancer named “djblesOne”
1 supersweet and bubbly MC named “emecks”
1 saucy veteran hype man and beats-baster El Mizell
Zest of Beastie Boys
Chop beats in pop culture blender set to overdrive
Prepare in a Dutch oven large enough to contain a stadium-bound ’80s rap group or punk rock band. Add flavors of bubblegum pop and cosmopolitan crunk with hundreds of tasty soul, rock and pop samples. Serve immediately to throngs of quirky hip-hop heads.