July 3rd, 2008
Man, did anyone really see this coming? This folk revival here in Seattle? How the hell did all this happen? I guess these things just kind of transpire cyclically, with the universe, alongside karma, just beneath reincarnation. I guess. But there is one label that inextricably links all of them. If you scoured through my CD purchases over the last few years, you’d notice a hard-line leaning towards basically anything Sub Pop has so much as breathed on. Of course, in addition to the folkier stuff I mention below, this includes the more non-acoustic bands of Wolf Parade, No Age, Sleater-Kinney, CSS, Foals, the Helio Sequence, Kinski, and the Thermals, to name a lot.
To be sure, much has been written here and other places about the “bearded folk” resurgence taking the local scene somewhat by storm, at the base of which said label proudly stands. (Although, I’m pretty sure stellar Sub Pop signees Sera Cahoone, Jesy Fortino (Tiny Vipers) and New Zealand’s the Brunettes, who can all be included in the “folk” macro-genre, would balk at that categorization.) The least hirsute of the bunch, The Shins, sort of got the ball rolling, and Band of Horses exploded in a similar way, not to mention the quality of Grand Archives‘ SP debut. The newest act, and perhaps the most promising—Fleet Foxes—has just released an astonishingly brilliant LP to follow up their equally-moving Sun Giant EP. (I haven’t even mentioned the label’s early 90s forefathers—egad! If you see head honchos Jonathan Poneman or Megan Jasper moving into waterfront property, don’t be surprised.)
But if you’d been to one of the Foxes recent shows, currently combing their way through North America, you might have been exposed to another 60s revivalist group from our musical mecca, the Dutchess & the Duke. The band, however, won’t be releasing their first record with Sub Pop, but rather with the label’s “independent” subsidiary, Hardly Art, home to other soft-rockin’ outfits like Arthur & Yu, Le Loup and the Moondoggies. The D&tD, a recording duo and a performing quartet, will collect many comparisons to the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Mamas & the Papas, maybe Joan Baez—ever heard of them? These references are probably warranted, but there is a certain melancholic mood to their unique, rollicking ghost-folk. Captivating the listener with endearing and lovelorn harmonies, courtesy of longstanding pals Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison, the simplistic tunes set themselves apart with Spanish guitar, maracas, tambourine, flutes, and sparse drumming. You might as easily have your heart strings frighteningly tugged as be caught dancing barefooted in your kitchen. Songs for sunny days and troubled times. Get the picture? Well, if not, there’s another one below, along with their first single “Reservoir Park”.
She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke is out July 8th on Hardly Art Records.