2012 was a banner year for Seattle music. On Tuesday, December 11, one of Seattle's greatest music exports Heart, was finally inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. Later that evening, Seattle's Macklemore performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon while fellow resident Allen Stone performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Former Seattle resident and legendary producer Quincy Jones received a lifetime achievement award that day as well.
The Northwest has produced influential artists like The Sonics, Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Although those artists fit a particular genre, It has been demonstrated year over year that Seattle is more than just a rock town.
The Pacific Northwest offers fans with varied tastes an eclectic blend of music and styles.
Here are seven artists that made a significant impact on the Seattle music community in 2012, as well receiving a lot of attention from media and fans outside the region.
These artists are expected to do big things again in 2013.
Son of a preacher man, Stone grew up in a household where secular music was verboten. Because his father was a man of the cloth, the Seattle blue-eyed soul singer was weaned on Christian gospel and hymns.
Stone’s style mirrors that of legendary soul singers Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Al Green (for whom Stone opened for last year), Stone was never exposed to the artistry of Redding, Green, Cooke, or even Stevie Wonder until later in life.
Let there be no doubt that Stone and company make great records, but live is where one not only hears the brilliance of his vocal prowess, but feels his magic as well. The thing that makes Stone a special artist, aside from his humble charm and charisma, is the ability to create in the moment. Onstage is where Stone makes an authentic connection with his audience through well-crafted songs, performed by cats with solid chops.
Check out the interview with Allen on SMI Radio here.
Last year, the Seattle-based hip-hop power duo, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, did their thing at the Mariners home opener in front of 48,000 baseball fans. Then, at Bumbershoot 2011, they made a huge splash with a stunning performance at Key Arena in front of 12,000 people. Later in the year, Macklemore & Lewis sold out two national tours – packing houses in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and a three-night stand at Seattle’s Showbox, where 3,600 tickets sold out in less than 48 hours.
Move the clock forward a year later to an October 2012 morning, and witness the large banner on full display over Neumos proclaiming that a free Vitamin Water-sponsored “secret show” would be taking place in the popular Capitol Hill venue later that evening. Lines started forming early, and by 5 p.m. the venue was at capacity. A few days later, Macklemore and Lewis launched their massive U.S. Tour.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis produced one of the most compelling records of the year, entitled The Heist. They, along with Mary Lambert, may be personally responsible for helping pass the same-sex marriage bill in Washington with the moving single, Same Love, showing us that music still has the ability to make a social impact.
Deep Sea Diver, led by the tasty guitar tones and vocal styling of Jessica Dobson puts on a fantastic show and put out the exquisite History Speaks. The record is dripping with eclectic tones, and delicious sonic ear candy.
Backed the powerful rhythm section of Peter Mansen and John Raines, Dobsen toggles back and forth between guitar and keyboards and deliveres wonderfully haunting and intense vocal performance live and on record
Offstage Mansen is quite mild mannered and friendly but once he gets behind the drum kit; his inner “animal” (from The Muppets) becomes unleashed. He and bassist Raines, provide a tight and heavy foundation in which for Dobson’s tasty guitar tones and unique vocal melodies to weave in and out and over top of and showcase Dobson’s versatile and rich vocal range.
Check out the interview with Deep Sea Diver on SMI Radio here.
Lemolo is an infectious atmospheric pop / folk duo comprised of Meagan Grandall (voices, guitar, piano) and Kendra Cox (piano, drums). This outfit has an affinity for creating tasty soundscapes and haunting melodies that transport their audience to a beautiful place.
The two kindred spirits started collaborating in 2009 while rooming together in college. Recently, they garnered quite a lot of attention in the music blogosphere and traditional media, such as the Seattle Times and sold out two record release shows at the Columbia City Theater, which served as their record release shows.
They had been bubbling under the Northwest scene, but have been steadily rising to the top, starting with an invitation from Seattle breakout band, The Head and The Heart, to join them on a West Coast tour. This helped pave the way for higher profile gigs at the Showbox, Neumos, Bumbershoot and Sasquatch. Capitol Hill Block Party, City Arts Festival 2012 and a supporting slot for Allen Stone this past December.
Their LP, The Kaleidoscope is powerful, haunting and highly infectious. Based on their musical merits and engaging live shows, it is clearly apparent that Lemolo deserves the buzz.
Check out the interview with Lemolo on SMI Radio here.
Jordan Cook AKA Reignwolf received a crazy buzz this past year starting with a stunning in-store performance at Easy Street Records last Spring and an equally stunning showing at Sasquatch 2012. Mr. Cook is wowing fans with his electric and intense showmanship.
Reignwolf is a one-man tour de force. At Sasquatch 2012 he blew people’s minds and ear drums with his gritty, rootsy and all n’ all nasty guitar pyrotechnics.
When he performs, he uses his body, or pretty much anything he can get his hands on, as well as every inch of the stage and integrates those elements into his performance. At Sasquatch 2012 he even jumped on the shoulders of the stage security guard and used him as a prop.
Reignwolf is an artist in perpetual motion and there is no stage or space that can contain him. This is one wild wolf that can’t be caged and consumes anything and everything in his path. He does his thing live, large and walks a musical tightrope without a net.
The band has come a long way in the past year. Pickwick put on an amazing performance at Bumbershoot 2011 and were one of the bands that folks were talking about throughout the festival grounds and pressroom. This year, the band made the transition to a much larger space at The Sasquatch 2012 Main Stage. The boys delighted the crowd with an electric and funky performance.
Frontman Galen Disston is a soulful, passionate and entertaining singer. He and his tight outfit play with the skill and confidence of seasoned pros.
Like Allen Stone, Pickwick' sound is inspired by the previously mentioned soul legends. The band will be releasing a highly anticipated new record in 2013. This could be the year that the band breaks out in an even bigger way.
For those who have never seen Brent Amaker and The Rodeo live, it is difficult to explain. You have to experience a show to really get it. Amaker and his band combine elements of Broadway, Vegas, and Vaudeville to drive their musical point home. Part performance art, with a hint of kitsch and burlesque thrown in the mix. It could be said that Amaker’s music and live shows are a love letter to a pure American art form, and unique brand of pop culture.
Amaker and his band's music has been featured on cable TV shows. The track Doomed was featured in the closing song of Showtime’s series finale of Weeds on September 26, 2011.
Amaker and the band owe as much of their sound to the likes of Devo, Kraftwerk, and Bowie as they do to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. As far as the visual aspect of their show, the band looks like they very well could have stepped off of the soundstage of a Quentin Tarantino film.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Brent and the boys know how to bring the fun and put together a highly engaging and entertaining product. Brent Amaker and The Rodeo will celebrate the their newest release, Year of the Dragon early in 2013.
Check out the interview with Brent on SMI Radio here.
Other notable acts for 2012 include... Perry Acker, Ayron Jones and the Way, Absolute Monarchs, Philana, Carson Henley, Tess Henley, Cody Beebe and The Crooks, Eldridge Gravy and The Court Supreme, The Stax Brothers, The Grizzled Mighty, The Young Evils, Big Wheel Stuntshow, Daydream Vacation, Fly Moon Royalty, Eclectic Approach, Kris Orlowski, Thee Satisfaction, Impossible Bird, Ben Union, The Fame Riot, Fox and The Law, Eternal Fair, Mycle Wastman, Blake Noble, Father John Misty, Kate Lynne Logan, The Local Strangers, Vicci Martinez and Star Anna, to name a few.
You can read more of my musical highlights here: SMI 2012 Musical Highlights