Thursday, March 26, 2009

point juncture, wa and u.s.e

I'm failing you all horribly. I apologize for that. And while I would like to think I have many readers that are just hanging on my ever last word, I know that this is not that case, and in that way I slightly feel better about the situation.

Okay, so here it is, I have two Pacific Northwest bands I would love to share with y'all. Let's start with some indie rock, shall we?

Point Juncture, WA - a four piece indie rock outfit that oddly enough hails from Portland, Oregon, not Washington state - released their 3rd album titled Heart To Elk this past February.

Now I'll admit, I was first tipped off to this band through it's showcase as one of KEXP's song-of-the-day picks (which if you haven't checked out KEXP, please please do). Number 9 on the album, Melon Bird, with it's commanding bassline and trash can drums, opens slowly. It's a whole minute and 20 seconds before you hear Amanda Spring's voice glide into the mix. My first impression was how much it emotionally sent me back to the 90's. Something about it transported me back to 7310 16th NE. It was as if I was 11 on a Saturday afternoon and my dad had 107.7 The End turned way up as I played Where In The World Is Carmen San Deigo? on his laptop - something that almost always required his assistance. I don't care what the box said, that game was way too hard for a 4th grader!

Once Tasted Ever Wanted summons the likes of The Cardigans with it's candy sweet female vocals and horn clad chorus. This album feels open, it has a spaciousness to it that allows for all the weird and not so weird sounds to find room. Recorded in the basement of their house, you can hear the damp, rainy cold seep into the songs. That's not to say I think that this album feels dark because it doesn't. And maybe I'm saying this because I grew up in the Emerald City, but there is a peaceful element to all that grey.

That's exactly it; Kings Part II feels like a rainy day. The drums sound like rain pattering on the roof, the slow strumming of the acoustic guitar call upon Spring’s simple yet silky words. Nothing left to do but stay inside and read Presidential Ambition ;)

Melon Bird - Point Juncture, WA
Once Tasted Ever Wanted - Point Juncture, WA
Kings Part II - Point Juncture, WA

Okay, now switching gears completely, let’s talk some U.S.E – aka United State of Electronica.I don’t what it is about Seattle but apparently we like to foster bands that feel compelled to incorporate our country in their name (i.e. Presidents of the United States of America). How patriotic. I think…..

At a cursory glance U.S.E. is just another Daft Punk rip-off. Kids jumping on the bandwagon of what Thomas and Guy-Manuel started 10 years earlier.

But as I delved deeper into their album shades of Tahiti 80 - Climb the Wall (Umbrella of Love) - and VHS vs Beta - Open Your Eyes - began to shine through.

And what separates them from the pack is the sense that it’s just this group of kids that love a good dance party who won’t let the gloominess of the typical “Seattle sound” - enter Kurt Cobain, Elliot Smith, even Death Cab to some degree –get them down.

I can only imagine what one of their shows would be like. I’m super jealous that they played one of the christening shows for the new and improved (well I still need to see about that) Crocodile Café. Sometimes I really hate LA.

I still have some reservations concerning U.S.E.’s self-titled album. It has some pretty cheesy moments. Take Emerald City. I’m completely in love with the chorus (even if the lyrics are a bit amateur) but the verses are something to be desired. And while some of you may think I would love any song that chants “Emerald City” over and over again (punctuated with “I love it”/ “We love it”) may this prove you wrong.

But than again, I am the master of well-crafted cheese. The next time you see me cruising down the 10 I just might be pumping my fist in unison with my fellow Seattleites.

Ultimately I can’t deny a band trying to make something just plain fun.

Climb the Walls (Umbrella of Love) - U.S.E.
Open Your Eyes - U.S.E.
Emerald City - U.S.E

If you like what you hear head over to where you'll find their entire album for free/by donation.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad at least one of us can sit down and read "Presidential Ambition" for sport. I've barely finished "The Cat in the Hat".