Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, every Thursday on the KEXP Blog.
In their relatively brief tenure as a band, Boyfriends existed as a singular post in Seattle's underground rock community. Sure, there were a lot of herky-jerky, freewheeling, fun post-punk bands poking around the city — by and large, there always has been — but Boyfriends possessed an intangible quality (an "it factor," if you will) and a handful of really great tunes. Last year's self-titled record expanded upon their stellar 2016 single "I Thought We Had Plans," Gang of Four armed with glitter bombs. As bands are often wont to do, bands break up, and in the wake of Boyfriends' dissolution, Spesh has proven to be a worthy successor with their debut album Famous World, out now on Killroom Records.
The album is a slight broadening of scope and emotional richness; stepping out of a dingy, poster-shellacked basement with pipes hanging too low overhead and outdoors, with the overcast skies of a familiar rainy city overhead. Familiarity is a relative term, but I'd like to imagine most people with an intermediate grasp on 20th Century guitar music has spent at least a little time in a Manchester of their own imagination. Because I think games of Spot the Reference are mostly an incredibly boring way to engage with music, I'll save the things I hear to myself.
(But if you're dying to know, there are more than a few bands that come to mind, including but certainly not limited to Vauxhall and I-era Morrissey, a little Happy Mondays, even a light dash of Oasis as far as swagger goes.)
No single style dominates the continents of Famous World. "Teflon" opens the album with a bold new-wave stunner that may have cracked the Top 40 in 2004; its immediate successor "Tomato Rose" approaches the same status as an indie club hit with its atmospheric synths, dreamy guitar, and lyrics about sado-masocism. "Orange Man" skitters and pushes forward as a declaration of protest (but not necessarily a "protest song" in the now-cliche sense; most songs are in protest of something in our current political climate) spindly guitars and images of fascists and guillotines. Peaches is referenced without cloak on "Olympic Mango." "Leaves" and "P.A.R.K.A." stand on the rockier end of Brit-pop, the latter revolving around the refrain of, "They sing with words and we sing with feeling."
By the time the rainbow glow-stick dance of closer "Divine" shuffles out of view, the afterglow of the Famous World is left beaming bright, even through the morning fog and pitch-black night the album conveys in other spots. It exists as a fabulous showpiece of lust, frustration, stoner humor, confidence in the face of the days that test a person's spirit, and nostalgia for something distant and misremembered.
Seattle Office of Film and Music Survey Extended Until November 21st
Do you work in some capacity in Seattle's music industry? Did you mean to take it and happen to miss the deadline? Good news, the deadline is now extended until November 21st. Take the survey here!
Gigs4U is Seeking a New General Manager
Gigs4U, a wonderful resource for helping musicians find live performances, is on the lookout for a new General Manager. This person would be responsible for managing and supervising all of Gigs4U's music programs in the Puget Sound area, and would ideally possess a variety of skills to keep up with the tasks required of them. Read all about the position here.
The Vancouver punk quartet's debut album is 18 minutes of hysterical and endlessly catchy punk music with a sometimes blistering, sometimes melancholy feminist spirit.
On a special Friday edition of Throwaway Style, Martin Douglas explores the new album from the Seattle grunge (not "neo-grunge") trio.
The Seattle trio's thrilling full-length debut is a musically omnivorous act of rebellion and exploration of style.