Friday, September 01, 2006
I was going for an Adam and the Ants kinda retro thing. Did you just say 'blouse'?

Some By Sea - (These) Actors and Actresses, They'll All Die Soon.

Some By Sea - The Winter Rush.

"There's something about the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps it's being overshadowed by towering evergreens that instills a modest reverence for beauty. Perhaps it's the evergreens remaining ever green under the gusts of snow which keeps hope alive. Perhaps it's the cradling of cold coast and the Rocky wall. Whatever the causes, the Pacific Northwest has played womb to some of the most skyward, heart-wrenching, and gentle pop music of recent history."

So said Brent Dicrescenzo back in 2000 in his review of Death Cab For Cutie's We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes, which is probably my favorite record by my favorite band in the world. I think there are a lot of people who don't like Brent Dicrescenzo as a writer; his high-concept creative writing reviews were the sort of thing that made a lot of people despise Pitchfork, but the paragraph I've quoted above demonstrates the talent he has. No fancy gimmicks, no time-travelling George-Washington-listens-to-Supergrass cuteness, just a simple description of my favorite place in the world. What he says is not only an accurate portrayal of that part of the world, but his musical analysis is right on, too. I first read that review about 5 years ago, and when I went to Western Washington University in 2004, I realized how accurate DiCrescenzo was. That insight is the reason why I've still got his last ever 'Fork review saved on my computer, an ill-advised but brilliant Gonzo take on the Beastie Boys To The 5 Boroughs that no longer exists in original form on the Pitchfork archives due to the numerous entirely fictional claims it makes on interactions he had with various people associated with the Beastie Boys. Journalistically stupid, of course, but great reading.

Anyway, this post is about Washington State and Some By Sea, not my liking of Mr. DiCrescenzo's writing. In his review, an odd time capsule from a period when Death Cab were another really good indie act rather than Seth Cohen's Favorite Band and The Guys That Are At The Vanguard Of A New Indie Niche Market, DiCrescenzo pretty much nails not only DCFC, but the musical direction of a good chunk of bands from that region.

The trademarks of the Northwest sound continue to be cherubic eunuchs on vocals, crisp production, slow rollercoaster melodies, and tales of crushes and the crushed. Built to Spill, Elliott Smith, Quasi, Sunny Day Real Estate, and even Modest Mouse and Caustic Resin, to some extent, all revolve around this central axis of Northwestern pop. In two short albums, Death Cab for Cutie have firmly established a stylistic nexus from which all of these bands spoke. Like history in reverse, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes documents the proto-Northwest sound as a footnote to a decade of tranquilizing rock.

I love that sound, which is lucky, because like the guys says, the Pacific Northwest is loaded with acts like that. Perhaps it could be argued that Seattle is the reason we have the New Indie Niche Market, except I'd need to think that through a bit more extensively before I commit to it as a theory. Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Some By Sea is a band who, it turns out, broke up a few months ago, a fact I only found out tonight while I was looking up some links in preparation for this post. It's a real shame, because I really liked these guys. They're one more out of hundreds or thousands of groups in the Seattle area who all make this kind of indie pop that sounds almost exactly like the photograph illustrating this post, but luckily, Some By Sea did it really well. Gorgeous melodies, crisp production, great lyrics that chronicle the lives of 20-something college kids as effectively as all those UK voice-of-the-yoof acts cover Chav culture (or whatever) or your favorite rapper describes the hood, except the indie acts do it such an unassuming manner that no-one notices.

I discovered Some By Sea through the brother of a very good friend back in WA - he (the brother, whose name is Tomo) was in another great, now-defunct Seattle indie band, and I guess his band was friends with Some By Sea (they get a shout out in the liner notes, anyways). On my second last day in America, I told Tomo that I wanted to buy his band's record, because I love what they did, and he not only refused to let me pay for it, but gave me Some By Sea's album, too. I guess he figured I'd like it, which was an accurate surmisal. Thanks, Tomo!

That album, which these tracks come from, is called Get Off The Ground If You're Scared, and I strongly recommend it. You can buy it here, if you like. I'm not sure how much money they'd be making on it, because the liner notes look hand made, and are absolutely gorgeous as a result; thick card with cut out windows and little sketches accompanying the lyrics all on expensive-feeling paper. Any profit margin is probably absorbed by packaging costs.

Some By Sea also have a second album, called On Fire! (Igloo), which you can get here, and although I haven't heard it yet, I'm going to order it, so if it's good, maybe I'll put some more stuff up. It's a real shame actually - this one came out on Sidecho records, and though I've never heard of them, it seemed to be a step up for the band, one which they unfortunately not do get to capitalize on. Anyways, check out the track, check out Some By Sea's MySpace, and enjoy your musical excursion to the Pacific Northwest, wherever you are.

P.S. The title is a complete non-sequitur. This sounds nothing like Adam and/or the Ants



Posted by Jonathan on Friday, September 01, 2006 at 9:03 AM |

(sadly?), I remember that Beastie Boys DiCrescenzo article in its original form quite well. What a hilarious wonderful beast of a non-review that was!

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