As we pored through Marco Collin’s carefully curated list of the 35 Best Seattle Records of 2014 over the last few weeks like everyone else in town who cares about music, we had fun re-visiting many of our favorites from throughout the year, including Cataldo, Hi-Tek Low-lives, Perfume Genius and Graig Markel. His post also got us thinking about some other great Seattle records we loved, which got Marco thinking of five other great records he loved. And we realized we couldn’t let “best of” season pass without highlighting nine more great 2014 Seattle records.
Childbirth – It’s A Girl!
Right from the opening track’s “It’sagirlit’sagirlit’sagirl!” refrain, the debut album by Childbirth feels like a battle cry—one that’s laced with both smarts and smart-assed humor, which may be considered an important record in years to come.
The Seattle band—including members of Chastity Belt, TacocaT and Pony Time—is essentially the Special Forces of Seattle’s local punk and indie community, forming together with a unified voice on the platform of explicit counterculturalism that takes aim at traditional gender constructs and inequality, and the dynamic of the male gaze.
Every female character on It’s a Girl! has the same qualities of being provoked by feckless men. “Sister Wives” covers the misguided paranoia from the internal ranking of sister wives; “Sweet Pea” deals with an uncomfortable courtship. “Marination Station” is based on Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who traversed the nation bedecked in an adult diaper in order to reduce pit stops on her way to murder her unfaithful husband. The premise of the story is so preposterous at first it’s almost funny—until reality sets in and Childbirth forces their audience to consider the infantile description of Nowak, who’d previously been a trailblazer in her field, especially for young women. Childbirth are successful in presenting a modern showcase of what it means to be a woman in 2014 and, honestly, it’s enough to make anyone want to scream. – Cameron Duel
Dreamsalon – Soft Stab
Somehow I missed this record from scrappy punk newcomers Dreamsalon last year (It came out late in the year, so that’s my excuse) and it’s easily one of the best Seattle records of 2014. Soft Stab sounds like an authentic punk record circa ’79, recalling Gang of Four, Suicide, The Fall and even Sonic Youth. – Marco Collins
Duke Evers – Handful of Pennies EP
Duke Evers are stylish dudes playing high energy rock ‘n roll songs that make the girls shake their hips and the boys can still bang their heads to. – Matt Ashworth
Goodbye Heart – Restless Nights EP
I like two kinds of music, music that annihilates everything in its path and music so beautiful it feels like its tearing my heart out and showing it to me. Recent Seattle transplants Goodbye Heart (Nila K Leigh and Sam Ford) fall in to the latter category, having released a perfect 5-song EP called Restless Nights earlier this year that’s full of gorgeous, patient melodies and lovely boy/girl harmonizing over a bed of textured bass and synthesizer sounds. – MA
Check out Goodbye Heart’s debut video
Helms Alee – Sleepwalking Sailors
Apologies to all other great Seattle-area bands, but none of you hold a candle to Helms Alee. If you live in Seattle and consider yourself a fan of music and have yet to see them live, you need to remedy this immediately. There is no single band in America today who does the quiet/loud, beautiful/horrifying thing better than Helms Alee. That’s not to say they sound like the Pixies, but I can imagine this is what the Pixies might sound like had the Pixies started today. Nowhere is this more evident than their live shows, where you have the hulking beast of Ben Verellen switching from nice guy sing-song vocals to Holy-Shit-Someone-Unleashed-A-Sasquatch! screams at the drop of a hat. All of this, of course, is backed by the even more frightening escaped gorilla drum antics of Hozoji Matheson-Margullis, recently featured in Modern Drummer Magazine as an “up and coming” artist. Did I mention an almost angelic voice emanates from her while she murders the drumset? The same can be said of Dana James, who impressively anchors the whole thing down with proficient, solid bass lines, while adding a third vocal flavor. This is the rare band that is clearly a sum of its parts.
Sleepwalking Sailors is Helm’s Alee’s third album, and the best representation yet of the band’s awesome power and detailed precision. Something that has always struck me is their ability to do things with their song structures that truly surprise, yet sound as natural as a Beatles tune. It’s like you get on the roller coaster and you’re just going along for the ride but it’s not until it’s over that you realize you’ve been brutally and ingeniously fucked with, repeatedly. There’s an effortless brilliance to their madness that often doesn’t strike you until it’s finished, probably due to the candy-coated vocals sprinkled on top of it all. They out-Melvin the Melvins on “Heavy Worm Burden,” and out-Pixie the Pixies on “Pinniped.” Sleepwalking Sailors is a milestone of 2014 music. There is nothing like it. – Aaron Semer
Porter Ray – Fundamentals
Porter Ray is one of the most prolific MCs/Producers in the Seattle scene. (I think he’s self released four albums in the last two years or something like that?) Even better: he just signed to to Sub Pop Records through A&R rep Ishmael Butler (Shabazz Palaces) and will put out his Sub Pop debut in 2015! – MC
SISTERS – Diamonds of Gold
Sisters is the brainchild of Andrew Vait (Eternal Fair) and Emily Westman (Seattle Rock Orchestra). This record shocked me by how different it was from Vait’s past work though; this thing is a semi-electro masterpiece that shamelessly embraces hooks. Bravo! – MC
Vox Mod – The Great Oscillator
You’ll never meet a nicer guy in this scene than Scot Porter, so it makes sense that he’s got his fingers in a million musical projects and is joined by so many Seattle musicians on his psychedelic electronic experience called Vox Mod (Adra Boo, Erik Blood, IG88, Whitney Lyman). It’s easy to just get lost in this record. – MC
Whitney Ballen – Falls
How did I miss this on my original list? Falls is one of the most unique sounding (almost theatrical) releases of 2014. I fell in love with Whitney’s high pitched drawl before this record even came out, though. The girl knows her dynamics and turns things up another notch on this record. “Torn” sound like a missing Slint song with a haunting female presence. This easily could have been released on 4AD. – MC
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