Tonight in Seattle:  

New Releases

Heavy {local} rotation: Pickwick, Heligoats, Sallie Ford, Wimps

You know what? There is a metric shit ton of good new local music out there right now, leading me to believe that in the statistical history of on-off years, 2013 is going to be an ON. Aside from The Orwells (non-locals, but worth mentioning for the sheer amount of times I've listened to their album these past few months), there's plenty to dig into regardless of your preferred genre: for me, it's the experimental indie.soul sounds of Pickwick, infectious Wimps-style punk, the strangely beautiful songwriting style of Heligoats, and Sallie Ford's modern vintage big-guitar vibes.

Pickwick

Well, we've waited what feels like years now for Pickwick to put out a proper full-length, and we've finally got it with Can't Talk Medicine. Pros: it's so great to finally have studio recordings of "Hacienda Motel" and "Windowsill" after hearing / seeing them at so many shows, and the new-to-me material is excellent and engaging. Standout tracks: Richard Swift's "Lady Luck" gently assaults with a buttery blend of Galen Disston and guest singer Sharon van Etten's vocals; "Letterbox" will get stuck in your head for days and days. Cons: none. While the album tends to sound a bit too clean at times, it's likely just a by-product of embedding live recordings in my mental Pickwick go-to file. Diagnosis: you are in need of this album, purchase immediately. {tour dates / purchase}

Wimps

Let's keep this short and sweet, much like the songs themselves: I can not stop listening to this Wimps demo, specifically, "Repeat" (see video above). The shit is good. The thing about Wimps is that there's no buffer, no... shtick, nothing but the sounds and the delivery. It's almost as if they've all dialed in to exactly what they need and want to be doing musically right now, one of those seemingly effortless phases that's actually the result of a lot of hard work. On top of putting out a great recording, Wimps translates live, putting on a just-tight-enough performance that manages to be equal parts fun and kickass. Don't pass up on a chance to see them, they've got a handful of Seattle and Portland dates coming up. {tour dates / download free demo / purchase LP}

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Sharon Van Etten + Shearwater = best thing on the internet today

We know you know, dear readers, that here at TIG we are not ones to cut-and-paste every press release and email that we receive in our imaginary inboxes -- however, we got one a half-hour ago that's so rad, we literally couldn't wait to share it:

As part of specials being offered for next month's Record Store Day {taking place this year on April 20th} celebraish, Sub Pop will be releasing a limited edition 7" single of Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater doing a cover of 1981's Stevie Nicks / Tom Petty gem, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (!!!!!). You can see the live cut above from their A.V. Club session, and keep an eye on our site as RSD2013 gets closer for more information on what's being released and where to get your hot little hands on it.

{For more information on all things Record Store Day 2013, pop on over here.}

Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "Instant hashtag, V! :) "

Solvents — Ghetto Moon

This is Solvents' least stylistically ambitious release -- and that is a very good thing. The band hasn't gone purely minimalistic in working with Karl Blau for one day in his Anacortes studio; the absolutely luscious violin of Emily Madden honey-drips upon her husband Jarrod Bramson's salty sighed-vocals in a way that could never be described as overly restrained. But the duo are sounding gingerly tight and scrupulously aware of their best qualities in the seven songs that make up Ghetto Moon, and every song could be a gentle giant hit. They've left the cut-and-paste scruff of oblique fanzine rock for cafe troubadour waltz, august vocal melodies partnered with bardic elucidation. And yet not without coy humor ("I'm so obscure, and bitter cool, and long to come undone"). 

The Port Townsend, WA creator-couple have released, over time, a flurry of diverse-sounding cassettes and CDs and Internet-mixes, and their last planned full-length, the appreciated forgive yr. blood, showed they could be a lo-fi Basement Tapes jukebox of styles. Ghetto Moon is much different: it's all stately-gorgeous, if denuded to Jarrod's mellifluous lead vocals and Emily's complimentary harmonies, truly deeply sung melodies that are going to stick with you as much as her lovely fiddling.

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Latest comment by: Zarni de Wet: "Thanks for sharing! This is just beautiful "

Imaginary Liz's Best of 2013 Countdown: Los Campesinos

Los Campesinos by Steve Louie
{Los Campesinos by Steve Louie}

Like Allo Darlin, Los Campesinos are a diligent bunch.  They publish Heat Rash, a seasonal zine complete with a 7" which I am certain keeps their creative wheels moving and their song-writing pens scribbling.  There must be something in the Boddingtons that keeps these two favorite bands pressing new stuff to fill my shelves (for which I can't thank both bands enough). 

Gareth Campesinos ne Paisey recently told NME that the band would be returning to work on the follow-up to Hello Sadness in early 2013, adding: "We try to take as little time between albums as possible. If we're not recording or touring then we'll have to get proper jobs. There's no reason to take a couple of years between albums."

That's as good as saying "Hey, Imaginary Liz, please keep room on your Best of 2013 list for our new album!" to me. I can't wait for my ears to bleed from the Sonic Youth slash Bright Eyes slash Hefner slash Bis slash Yo La Tengo slash Beat Happening magic they create.  Maybe they are feeling nostolgic and will draw from their debut album, like Thermals are doing on their 2013 release?

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Imaginary Liz's Best of 2013 Countdown: Tullycraft

Tullycraft - Lost in Light Rotation It's no secret I have an inside scoop on what goes on in the Tullycraft camp, so I've actually have heard this whole album. A hundred times. Because I just can't stop listening to it.

I was a fan long before I infiltrated their compound, so it's been extra hard to keep from quoting lines and exclaiming about how much I love it. But now that cover art is finalized and a release date has been set, I CAN!

The new album, Lost in Light Rotation, will strike a chord with newbies and longtime loves alike. This time around, Tullycraft has given us an album that is more concise and concentrated with relentless indie-pop guitar and vocal twists that will make you spin on the dancefloor until you drop. 

The result is a set of songs that have the hutzpah of "Our Days in Kansas," the demureness of "DIY Queen," a touch of the electro-craft of "We know You're Cute You Told Us," lo-fi rockeries of "Josie," and that doesn't even include a descriptor for the recently released single, "Lost in Light Rotation" {on 7" vinyl on Magic Marker (US) / Fortuna Pop (Europe)} which you can highly rotate on soundcloud.  There's a video for this single making the rounds (and posted below) and there's an added bonus: the 7" includes an exclusive b-side - a cover of Yazoo’s "Bad Connection."

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Latest comment by: Steve Robinson: "So jealous that you have such an in to the band. I bought the limited cassette, but can't seem to find the vinyl for sale on Magic Marker's website. Fingers crossed Tullycraft will play a show soon (when I'm not out of town)!"

Imaginary Liz's Best of 2013 Countdown: Math & Physics Club

For the last few months the boys of MaPC have been teasing us with photos on their Facebook page of them recording at K Records' Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia. Just last week, February 11, 2013 to be exact, they posted a photo with the caption "Finished mixing the new album today - woohoo!"  To me that sounds like new MaPC songs are just a couple moons away! 

But, these things sometimes take time so I'm not sure when the record will be done or exactly how many songs will be on it (is the above photo a complete tracklisting?) or what it's going to sound like, but with MaPC, you know it's going to be twee-licious

I was able to pull a couple details from the group about the new record.  It's going to be titled Our Hearts Beat Out Loud and the cover art will be designed by Tae Won Yu, the amazing designer most lovably known for your favorite Built To Spill cover art and super sweet illustrations that you can put in your Buy Olympia shopping cart.

Sidenote: I bet I'm going to love the songs "It Must Be Summer Somewhere" and "Our Own Ending."  Any gut feelings on which songs you'll love the most based on the song title?

In the meantime, we can all meet at the Tractor Tavern on February 24 when Math & Physics Club open up for Ocean Blue.  We can grill them for details then!

Until that time, we can just stare at the above tracklisting and listen to my favorite song from their second album on repeat, "We're So DIY":

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Hey Marseilles — Lines We Trace

Lines We Trace opens up suddenly, with all kinds of ache laced through the echoes of a well-worn Andrew Bird album, cut beautifully with strains of Matt Bishop's unmistakable vocals. It's a powerful track ("Tides"), the line I would trade ten thousand days / for one more hour with you immediately vaulting the listener into a pile of Polaroids, to sift through the sweet nostalgia of every relationship they ever had that didn't quite work out. As sudden as the physical start of this album is the realization that Hey Marseilles has matured, with a new depth to their composition, yet with that familiar I'm-telling-this-story-right-to-your-soul songwriting that we've come to know and love.

For those who have gotten by these last few years on live shows, the occasional single release, and 2008's To Travels and Trunks; Lines We Trace is the equivalent of a new apartment in a town you love: you know the roads around it like the back of your hand, but you've never seen the sunlight through the windowpanes quite like this. Everything that's wonderful and familiar about Hey Marseilles is present -- a profound earnestness, those unmistakable chord progressions, the orchestral swells and pitches -- but delivered with new perspective, more wisdom, and perhaps the sight of a first laugh line in the bathroom mirror.

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Latest comment by: Kim: "I cannot wait to hear this entire album. "

Imaginary Watch This: A Breakthrough in Field Studies' "Waves on the Ocean"

My talented friend Jon Wooster keeps breaking my heart (but in all the good ways) with his new musical adventures, and one of the adventures I'm loving the most is A Breakthrough in Field Studies, who released this video for "Waves on the Ocean" and a full-length LP last year ... (I am just fucking lame and haven't remembered to post it until now).

Anyway! Yeah. ABiFS is rocking my knee-socks off with this power poppy tune, and I definitely need to get my butt out to see them live soon! Have you guys seen 'em? I think they're fantastic. 

{See A Breakthrough in Field Studies play at The Tractor Tavern on Tues, Jan 22 w/Daughters of the Dead Sea, The Steveadore, and Mannequin BBQ for only $6!! Doors @8pm. 21+} 

Looking back at the best of 2012

As is the case for years past, best of 2012 lists for this Imaginary Girl are rarely about standard operating procedure -- ranking the best X number of albums in specific order, with exacting reason, is just not my jam. Taking the time at the end of the year to look back at how it all went down is more of an overarching retrospective for me: it's about the shows, the photos, the moments, and the tracks that made up how it all looked and felt, and how I'll remember it for years to come. Sort of like an A/V mixtape that I'll put on the shelf with this year's label on it.

With that said, here's what stood out for me for the past eleven-plus months, with 'best' being a relative term, of course:

{Nada Surf at the Tractor / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Nada Surf at The Tractor by Victoria VanBruinisse

Best show: tie, Nada Surf at the Tractor and the first night of Jeff Mangum at the Moore

Even if either night of the Jeff Mangum show at the Moore back in April medium-sucked, it would probably go down in the year's best-ofs anyway -- simply because of the fact that it's Jeff Motherfucking Mangum and Holy Shit, Dude Did A Tour That We Never Thought We'd See. But as anyone who went knows, neither night even came close to medium-suck: I did prefer night one to night two, but both performances were staggeringly impressive and downright incredible to witness. Plenty of bands put on plenty of good shows in 2012, but when I reflect on things I loved about this year, that first night absolutely takes the cake -- it managed to transcend from Super Incredible Performance to bordering on Show-Related Out-Of-Body Experience.

So how could something like a Jeff Mangum show tie with a Nada Surf performance, you ask? I know. I've been asking myself the same thing and it just... does. Nada Surf graced us with a few performances this year, and it's likely that most folks went to the show at the Neptune in March -- but a few hundred of us were lucky enough to get tickets for the February show at the Tractor, where the band destroyed a sold-out room with one of the tightest four-piece performances I can recall in semi-recent history. For me, it ranked up there with some of my favorite Wrens shows, and knowing my allegiance to the Wrens as you do, you know that's a pretty big statement for me to make. Perhaps it was the recent obsession I'd had with listening to "When I Was Young" and the impeccable timing of the show being a few weeks into said obsession, or maybe it was just something in the air that night -- but whatever it was, the combination of all of it left a wonderful sting of a mark.

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Single Spotlight: The Purrs' "Rotting On The Vine" b/w "You, The Medicine and Me"

Seattle's melodic and menacing The Purrs have a new 45 single out, their first for esteemed new local label Fin Records. It arrived on this past December 4, 2012 into record stores, the mailboxes of bedsit-basement vinyl hoarders, and dingy drug fronts all over Seattle (what, you think that store on 1st just sells "hats"? Just kidding about that).

It's a limited edition, hand-numbered on clear-colored vinyl with a sweet inner sleeve, the new songs a tantalizing if speed-bitter taste of an upcoming full length. None of the packaging would matter of course, if the Purrs weren't still delivering the bad-for-you goods, and on these two tracks they do. Jima (bass and vocals), Jason Milne (guitar/backing vocals), Liz Herrin (guitar/backing vocals), and Craig Keller (drums) are like a garage band invited to play the Sweet Sixteen party of the daughter of Dennis Hopper's character in Blue Velvet; he thinks of 'em as a rock band for the kids, but any straights will be a little disturbed by the beat menace. They'll dance but make sure no one chloroforms them from behind and drags them off for black market slavery.

The A side, "Rotting On The Vine," swirls and thrashes about a young lady whose world is becoming infected with worsening paranoia, in the midst of impulsive consumption -- classic '60s anti-capitalist material, but not uncompassionate. Jason sings about identifying with the protagonist, who though kept in gated protection can feel their status in the world slip away ("don't try to fight it / just relax"). I hang on the juxtaposition of scattered half-remembered scenes tossed into a druggy binge of lead guitar and go-go boot bass. A good old 19th nervous breakdown bomp, with enough mystery ("and so's your sister") to entice multiple further playings. 

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Latest comment by: Christian Fulghum: "Thank you for the beautifully written review about a fabulous record! "