Friday, December 22, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Night Watch

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:

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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