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Best of 2015: Top Talent from Tacoma

Posted by January 23rd, 2016 2 Comments »

Ah yes, Tacoma. Another year, another update on music hailing from the spear-point of resource extraction.

This industrial port city 26 miles south of Seattle represents both success and failure in bundles, but T-Town never fails to be an engine for awesome music talent.

Here are some Tacoma music people who are making things happen.

Compass & Knife

File under EPIC heavy shoegaze, Compass & Knife make good music to read adventurous stories to, or maybe brush up on pen and paper role-playing game rules. I can see a movie like The Revenant scored by this group. – Wade Neal

Coma Figura

Coma Figura make soulful indie-rock with an instrumental swagger that contrasts nicely with their contemplative lyrical explorations. Kyle Gootkin’s stream-of-consciousness crooning is countered by Brittany White’s bluesy, no bullshit confessionals. Having more than one songwriter in a band generally leads to good things and this was proven on Coma Figura’s debut LP Company, released in April 2015 on Tacoma’s own, the mighty Swoon Records. Their performance at Big BLDG BASH in June was my personal highlight. – Patrick Galactic

Coma Figura @ Big BLDG Bash 2015 by Jim Toohey for Nada Mucho

Coma Figura. Photo by Jim Toohey.

The Fosdicks

Kick ass RnR/Punk a la The Dictators’ stylee. Bombastic, solid. The Fosdicks live energy is “full beer can.” – Wade Neal

Lo There Do I See My Brother

Lo There Do I See My Brother: progressive, heavy, technical, vast, beautiful. Mogwai’s children let loose at Christmas time to wreak havoc all over town, but this time they fix up the damage and apologize. – Wade Neal

Lo There Do I See My Brother

Lo There Do I See My Brother


I sense a heavy and welcome Yaz presence with this trio, Mirrorgloss. The 80s keep coming back around in different forms, and I keep liking that. – Wade Neal

Oh Dear!

Excellent indie pop a la Built to Spill-ish jangle, who are everyone’s heroes of real guitar music. Nice attic dreams with a little sun.

Pale Noise

Basemint alum Spencer Kelley floors with top notch British glam echoes on his  Some Crude Grace LP – Marc Bolan’s ghost on bongos, with hooks to spare. This is “hi-qual” and by album two is sure to be even better. Tacoma needs an English Disco where Pale Noise can have a residency. Everyone will come out every Thu-Sun to listen and dance, and spin Bowie, T.Rex, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, and Brian Eno between sets. Amen. – Wade Neal

Pale Noise. Photo by Lord Photog.

Pale Noise. Photo by Lord Photog.

Select Level

On the “we know little of them but like them” tip, Select Level is developing a classic yet original 80’s sound, something like late New Order with a heavy dash of Chic.  – Wade Neal

The only image shared by Select Level online ni 2015.

The only image shared by Select Level online ni 2015.

Umber Sleeping

Tacoma’s legendary synth-rock duo own a Roland Jupiter, so that’s pretty much a win right there. Umber Sleeping have been quietly releasing serious vintage sounds every few years for a while now. Plus, they are inspired by particular issues of vintage DC and Marvel comics, and good ones like Sub-Mariner, too. “Why didn’t we call Seaweed Sub-Mariner?,” I mused. “Or Seawall?” – Wade Neal

Umber Sleeping

Vicci Martinez

Forget reality show and industry nonsense, Vicci Martinez’s latest LP is a pop/electronic masterpiece. This is Vicci Martinez packs real punch and emotion, delivered by Vicci’s superb voice. Reminds me of early oughts Kylie Minogue, which I adore. – Wade Neal


Wheelies are like Indian food. While seemingly one thing from a surface-level observation, upon ingestion there are a multitude of flavors and textures that become apparent. While these gentleman clearly have an affinity for garage and hardcore, their recordings (most recently 2014’s excellent Wheelies or Die) show a delicacy and nuance that isn’t as easy to hear live. Pat Doherty’s straightforward sing-song delivery provides a child-like calm among the chaos. A Tacoma institution, these guys are best friends and great people. – Patrick Galactic

Wow, Laura

Wow, Laura are hitting an interesting spot. Intricate guitar work ; I call it noodling. I love noodling. Meat Puppets and early Dinosaur meets a drizzly day. – Wade Neal

Wow Laura

(Wade Neal is the guitarist for Seaweed, Tacoma’s Grand Cinema Asst. Exec. Dir., and Attorney. Patrick Galactis is a Tacoma singer/songwriter we kidnapped and forced to write about music.)

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