Seattle bands that had a very good year
This has been another remarkable year for Seattle music, bulleted by the rise to national prominence of Death Cab for Cutie. While Ben Gibbard and company had a hit album ("Plans," sales of around 800,000) and multiple TV appearances, a bigger surprise was the out-of-nowhere surge of another Ben-led band, Ben Bridwell's Band of Horses.
Fueled by rave Internet reviews, "Everything All the Time," the Band of Horses debut CD released by Sub Pop, is near the 50,000-sales figure, quite impressive for a previously unknown band. Bridwell recently fled Seattle for his homeland of South Carolina, where he is tinkering with yet another lineup — Band of Horses has undergone several radical changes in personnel in the past year, most notably the departure of Mat Brooke (Bridwell's former Carissa's Wierd compatriot).
While Death Cab-like popularity is rare, there are several other Seattle bands that just might make a Band of Horses-like run in 2007.
Here are just a handful who made big steps in 2006:
• Fleet Foxes — a young band with a psychedelic sound echoing the '60s — busted out a stunning, Phil Ek-produced demo that marks them as the Next Big Shins.
• Mixing fight-the-power words and bouncy beats, Blue Scholars — next performing at Neumos Dec. 30-31 — became unofficial union leaders of the budding Seattle hip-hop scene. Common Market, Macklemore, Cancer Rising (the High Dive, New Year's Eve) and several other Puget Sound hip-hoppers are looking to break out next year. Then again, our smart, solid crews might not be superficial enough for the mainstream.
• The Emergency added an "e" to become Thee Emergency, and added many followers with its over-the-top stage antics and high-energy blues/funk/rock jams. This is the kind of band that should play well on the road.
• The Trucks — an electro-pop, all-girl band with Peaches-like naughty lyrics — rolled down from Bellingham, picking up eager musical hitchhikers.
• The Whore Moans emerged as the next Murder City Devils. (And if you think that name is offensive, you probably won't care for the Vomiting Unicorns, either.)
• The talented, charismatic singer BreEllen Loughlin, formerly with Kuma, launched Daylight Basement ... then, a few months later, went solo.
• The (name withheld) released a mature, startlingly potent album called "Diamonds and Dirt," climbing up to a level high above most local garage-punk rockers. (As one of the three members is an employee of The Seattle Times, we try not to mention [name withheld] much, to avoid charges of favoritism.)
• Choklate won followers with her — can you smell this one coming? — deliciously sweet soul vocals. She sings at 9 tonight at Chop Suey ($10, $8 with canned food).
• Panda & Angel, with Josh Wackerly's playful compositions and Carrie Murphy's spine-tingling vocals, signed to the indie rock world's revered Jade Tree Records.
• Brian Standeford hatched Tall Birds, an adrenaline-pumping psychedelic rock band formed when his once-promising Catheters fizzled.
• Dolour offshoot the Kindness Kind, just getting out of the blocks with its blissful, coy pop, plays at 9 tonight at Jules Maes ($5).
• Other welcome newcomers: the quirky Tiny Vipers (signed to Sub Pop); hilarious and dance-friendly Huh-Uh; country-pop dazzler Kristen Ward; quietly-mesmerizing Johanna Kunin; Rolling Stones disciples the Purrs; and charged-up, teen-age rockers the Lonely H (from the Olympic Peninsula) and Skullbot (from Stanwood).
Other local-band news:
• Jeremy Enigk, the mysterious, brilliant Sunny Day Real Estate/Fire Theft singer, re-surfaced with a strong solo album. He sings from "World Waits," Chop Suey Dec. 30-31.
• Modest Mouse landed Johnny Marr, formerly with the Smiths. New record coming soon.
• Reggie Watts left Maktub fans in the dust, heaving his prodigious creativity into the comedy world.
• Jenn Ghetto emerged after a two-year, post-Carissa's Wierd absence, laying the foundation for a new S album
• Shatterday: Vendetta Red is dead. Singer Zach Davidson quickly launched the U2-inspired Sirens Sister.
• The Murder City Devils reunited to rock out at the excellent Capitol Hill Block Party.
• Juno also briefly reunited, for radio station KEXP benefits.
Tom Scanlon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company