MUSIC BOX: Saucy Seattle double bill
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – As a sextet of skinny-jeaned, semi-nerdy song scientists strolled onto the stage in Gillette, Wyoming, for the Donkey Creek Music Festival, I remembered this was to be a neo-soul band out of Seattle. I quickly mind-gathered an encyclopedia list of Seattle greats – Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and contemporary indie-folk bands The Fleet Foxes and The Head and the Heart.
Pickwick launched into a heavy, Sam Cooke-on-steroids R&B sound with high vocals, pounding double keyboards and a drummer that simply just crushed it. Vocalist Galen Disston has a well-tuned falsetto atop a band that brings to mind the Black Keys’ groove, but with an additional four layers.
I later learned Pickwick started out as an indie folk band not unlike The Fleet Foxes until a tour through California when they shelved their older material in favor of a more nostalgic sound. Though the band formed around 2008, Pickwick’s recorded music consisted of a piecemeal series of three 7-inch singles before releasing their debut full-length album, Can’t Talk Medicine, digitally and on vinyl earlier this year. Their very own vibraphonist, Kory Kruckenberg (former bassist for Pablo Trucker), produced the album after winning a Grammy in 2010 for Best Engineered Classical Album.
[Pickwick] comes from the ’60s record label housed in New York where Lou Reed was a staff songwriter, Disston recently told KEXP radio Seattle. “We chose the name because we thought it was interesting that Lou Reed, early in his career, wrote subversive dance music, which is kind of what we do. He wrote ‘The Ostrich,’ which was a crazy garage rock song, with the guitar tuned entirely to one note, almost like droner garage rock. That seems to relate to what we’re trying to do.”
In the fall, Pickwick will be touring with Neko Case as well as Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and Okkervil River.
Opening the show is another talented up-and-coming Seattle band, The Moondoggies. A friend with keen musical observances had recommended that I check out the band because, according to him, they sound like a blend between The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival and My Morning Jacket. Now, with its third album, Adios, I’m a Ghost, a movement into the regional bed of ’60s folk psychedelia and ambient alt-country sounds are more obvious, yet completely fitting. The quartet also is capable of downbeat melancholy aided by three-part harmony.
Pickwick with The Moondoggies, 10 p.m. on Wednesday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $15 at The Rose, Pinky G’s and PinkGarterTheatre.com.
P is for Polyrhythmics
Hard-driving Afro-beat and syncopated, horn-driven funk via septet Polyrhythmics is of the Fela Kuti nature, modernized by an Antibalas-type hypnotic flare, though perhaps best compared to other all-instrumental outfits like The Budos Band. This must be Seattle’s week to shine as these fellas aim to put the city on the map for Afro-beat.
As I dig deeper into both live and one-mic-in-a-room studio recordings, deep grooving, consistent and multi-layered funk define the 60-plus original pieces in equal parts to African influenced syncopation. The end game is tight, talented and titillated dance music in which to shake that ass. Sweaty club music, if you will.
Polyrhythmics, 10 p.m. on Thursday at Town Square Tavern. $5. 733-3886.