Best New Seattle Bands

The local musicians, singers and songwriters that keep us moving.
Posted December 05, 2011
Poulsbo band Lemolo

Alt-Country/Folk
Case Studies

Sounds Like:
Leonard Cohen meets Fleet Foxes

First Album:
The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night; released in August

The story:
Hipster hearts broke last year over the disbanding of The Dutchess and the Duke. Thankfully, Jesse “the Duke” Lortz (and friends) didn’t wait long to pick up where D&D left off. Case Studies rekindles his signature “campfire punk,” but with a new, more stripped-down, Leonard Cohen–style sound, primarily featuring vocal harmonies and guitar. Set up more like an art project than a traditional band, Case Studies also showcases Lortz’s visual art, which he calls “by-products of the songs I’ve written.” (See the diorama on the cover of The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night as well as jewelry Lortz designed for a small number of limited editions.)

 

R&B/Neo-Soul/Hip-Hop
Fly Moon Royalty

Sounds Like:
Janelle Monáe meets Santigold

First Album:
Fly Moon Royalty
; released in February

The story:
Composed of vocalist Adra Boo and DJ/producer Emcee Action Jackson (shown above), Fly Moon Royalty emerged early this year on Seattle hip-hop label Sportin’ Life Records. FMR’s sound—also tagged electro-soul—blends Jackson’s electronic arrangements (and raps on a few cuts) with Boo’s powerful vocals (laced with a seductive vibe, thanks to her roots in the burlesque community) to create catchy hooks and soulful rhymes. The duo embodies an old-school hip-hop and R&B vibe with the energy to turn any crowd into a Soul Train–style dance party. reverbnation.com/flymoonroyalty

Rock
My Goodness

Sounds Like:
Fugazi meets The White Stripes

First Album:
My Goodness; released in April

The story:
My goodness, do we love these guys! Guitarist/vocalist Joel Schneider and drummer Ethan Jacobsen (above) are the duo behind this explosive sound. From the first beat, My Goodness’ music grabs hold and roars through your body like a sonic thrill ride. Previously in different bands, the pair teamed up last year to play music they had been keeping to themselves—music that reflects their take on goodness. The band’s blend of rock, blues and punk has a gritty, garage attitude with a classically trained finesse. Like Seattle indie label Sarathan Records (which reportedly signed My Goodness halfway through hearing the band’s second song), we, too, were instantly hooked. mygoodnesslovesyou.com

Dream-Pop
Lemolo

Sounds Like:
A mix of Feist and Florence and the Machine

First album:
Lounge Light (EP); released in April, 2010

The story:
Seattle has been smitten with the ladies of Lemolo (the name comes from the duo’s favorite road in their hometown, Poulsbo) since first meeting them last spring. This year, we fell head over heels after the pair recorded a KEXP In-Studio live performance, and dazzled summer crowds at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Doe Bay Music Fest and Bumbershoot. Meagan Grandall’s mesmerizing voice (she also plays guitar and keyboards) casts a welcome spell, while Kendra Cox—Lemolo’s other half—keeps the rhythm rolling on drums and keys. The songs are sweetly simple, yet profoundly moving. At press time, we were eagerly awaiting the debut full-length album, due out any minute. lemolomusic.com

Watch:

 

Electro-Pop
Beat Connection

Sounds Like:
Moby meets New Order in an underwater dream

First Album:
Surf Noir (EP); released in April

The story:
Part of Seattle’s emerging chill wave scene (which is just what it sounds like), Beat Connection struck a visceral chord with the serene soundscapes on this year’s debut EP. University of Washington students Jordan Koplowitz and Reed Juenger are the boys behind the beats, concocting dreamy synth-pop that layers drum machines, electric guitar, synthesizers, sampling and effects. Gaining momentum since late 2010 via a live on-air performance at KEXP and a deal with U.K. label Moshi Moshi, the pair is finishing up 2011 with a national tour. The infectious, happy music is both beautiful and hypnotic, instantly whisking the mind away to a sunny beach vacation—something particularly precious to a city so often sequestered in gray gloom. myspace.com/beatconnexion

World
Polyrhythmics

Sounds Like:
Fela Kuti with a James Brown twist

First Album:
Labrador; released in June

The story:
An Afro-Cuban-funk orchestra from Seattle? You bet your congas. The Polyrhythmics formed in early 2010 and released a (now sold-out) self-titled EP. This year, the debut full-length Labrador (fan-funded through Kickstarter), was quickly signed to Chicago distributor Dusty Groove and began distribution in July. In November, the band released a 45 (7-inch vinyl single), “The Imposter,” on Canadian label Kept Records. The eight-piece powerhouse brings together elements of Afro beat, samba, funk and jazz to create a global, infectious groove that’s wholly its own—and the catchy horn harmonies and fierce yet fluid rhythm section might just make your ears sweat. tip: Members of the group also play improvised jazz under the moniker Unsinkable Heavies. polyrhythmics.com

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