Thursday, March 31, 2011

0 SHOW PREVIEW: Smooth Sailing's "xoxo" Record Release Party

4/1 - Smooth Sailing "xoxo" record release party at Sunset Tavern, $8

Over the past two years, there has been a slight grumbling in Seattle’s music underground. Prior to 2009 many great bands had gone somewhat unnoticed, some even puttering out much too soon due to Seattle’s lack of enthusiasm or interest in anything that didn't have a danceable beat or wasn't sad white guy indie rock, so it seemed. It was a dark time for many bands, especially those of the heavy persuasion, who were attempting to get noticed in this city or even pull a crowd to a fucking show on a weekend for that matter. Amazing bands like Madraso, Mico De Noche, even Seattle veterans Akimbo, have all experienced head-scratchingly under attended shows. Two years ago, I attended an Android Hero, Madraso, Dog Shredder, and Lozen show at the Sunset. Amazing bill by anyone’s standards, but there were 30 people there. This is criminal by all definitions of the word.

The good news is we’ve come a long way and the dreary clouds of a lull that seemed to smother any interest in Seattle heavy rock music for over a decade have started to part. Today it’s a different story, at least from where I stand. Without tooting any sort of brass instrument, I’d like to think SRG, with its overtly positive cheerleader tendencies (we have good taste too), has had a small part in at least turning a few heads in the general direction of some exciting and mostly underground music being made right here in our fair city. In general though, there seems to be a building hunger for something different, something with a little more edge and because of this a sleeping giant has partially awoken. The phenomenon can also be attributed to more support from outfit’s such as KEXP and Hannah Levin’s heavy music radio show, but certainly more so to an encouragingly growing number of local rockers who have enthusiastically banded together in support of some excellent local heavy bands. Often I see the same stoked faces and friends out to support this new group of local bands like He Whose Ox is Gored, Grenades, Curse of the North, Ancient Warlocks, Princess, Great Falls, Dog Shredder, and Throne of Bone. Not to mention more known acts such as Tad Doyle’s Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Lozen, Helms Alee, Lesbian, and Sandrider. Dare I say it, there is a community forming and it is slowly but surely gaining new members. Many of these folks are musicians themselves and are out to support their buds, but most (like me) are not, and are just plain stoked on these local bands and the music they are making.

At the forefront of this new crop of Seattle heavies is no doubt a band by the name of Smooth Sailing. On the music side, Smooth Sailing seem to be the rock solid foundation of this new found wider spread appreciation for heavy music in Seattle. People are excited about the band and their music, and rightfully so. Smooth Sailing also personifies this idea of community. Rarely a decent local show happens where at least one of the members of the band isn’t in attendance.

Smooth Sailing debuted sometime in late 2009 after 5 musicians (Chris, Patrick, Ryan, Jake, and Brandon) spent time holed up writing songs and working on their live performance (something not done often enough by new bands) before they even set foot on a stage. I myself did not catch the band live until April 2010 at a show at one of Seattle’s oldest watering holes, the Blue Moon Tavern. By this time they had already added their lighting tech (Timmy) as their 6th member. That first experience has stuck with me over the past year even after having seen the band perform at the very least 10 times since then. The initial thought that swam around my head on that night was that this band was special. After the show I also thought to myself while sticking to one of my only life guidelines -- this awesome new local band Smooth Sailing, the one with not one but two bass players who played different parts, two guitar players that effortlessly traded beautifully intricate then crushing riffs, a drummer that absolutely made the band sound as huge as they did, as well as a light guy who added a dazzling visual element to their live shows -- the one that humorously spilled off the small Blue Moon stage -- they won’t be playing places like this for very long AND were definitely summoned together for a fucking reason.

On Friday April 1st, all of Smooth Sailing’s hard work over the past year and a half will be unleashed as a debut album titled, “xoxo”. For fans, the seemingly long wait is finally over as well. Mark my words all prior expectations concerning the first Smooth Sailing record will be blown to smithereens. It is a memorizing record, start to finish. Each song bleeds into the next forming a brilliantly cohesive listening experience, an idea flawlessly fashioned from the band’s live show. The opening sequence is beautiful. The softly building guitar work, more than anything, elevates the emotion and intensity that follows for the next 30 minutes. Producer Dave Green has done a splendid job of capturing the fierceness of their live set, most prominently the window shaking breakdowns on tracks like “Sunday Morning Margaritas”. To fully grasp how dynamic Smooth Sailing’s music is, you really must listen to “xoxo” with a pair of headphones, not ear buds, headphones. You will hear each player’s contribution as well as get a better idea of the lyrical depth contained in those ferocious screams.

When I say these guys were brought together for a reason, I mean exactly that. They are the musical spark that this town needs, and this record couldn’t have come at a better time. Friday’s CD release party at the Sunset in Ballard gets underway at 9:30pm or so. Also on the bill are Spokane’s Anadonia, Into the Storm, as well as Oven Rake. “xoxo” will be available for 10 smackers. See you there.

Posted by Nik Christofferson


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