Keeping Tracks

9 New Seattleish Albums to Guide You Through Spring

Some psych rock, some 1990s echoes, some new Sub Pop.

By Stefan Milne May 18, 2021

AJ Suede.

Darth Sueder VI and History Repeats and A Dream Within a Dream by AJ Suede

By the time you’re reading this AJ Suede may well have released another album. Or two. (Last year, he dropped six.) On this trifecta of EPs, the madly prolific rapper and producer mixes woozy, sample-laden beats with his typically intricate syllables. Darth Sueder VI is the lighter affair, but on all the results sound arty and smart, a little esoteric but never abstruse: “I be rapping like Picasso paintings / the art talks so I’m not explaining.”

Indian Yard by Ya Tseen

Artist Nicholas Galanin glides effortlessly between mediums: sculpture, installation, jewelry. So it’s little surprise that his debut record as Ya Tseen (out via Sub Pop) shows considerable finesse, and takes an agnostic approach to genre—the neatest descriptor might be indie pop, with bright digressions into R&B, hip-hop, and 21st century funk. Galanin, who’s Tlingit and Unanga , sings frequently about racial and environmental justice. He also enlisted a mighty group of collaborators, including Seattle’s Shabazz Palaces and Stas Thee Boss, who help the track “Synthetic Gods” find a particular, glitchy gravitas.

Jimbo Demo by Enumclaw 

This band—based, as it were, in Tacoma—releases its five-song debut EP this week. It sounds like 1990s depression with some shoegaze and Pavement influences. A couple videos are already up on YouTube and the quartet caught Pitchfork’s and Stereogum’s attention.

Lunatic House by Spirit Award

The record begins with a bass. You know this sound: fuzzy, chugging. Then a falsetto vocal and a splash of bright synths yank you in a different direction. Such swerves happen throughout Lunatic House, the third album from Seattle band Spirit Award. The results sound a little like the Walkmen and Beach House collaborated. Pop hooks abound even as wobbly interludes and reaching vocals tilt the proceedings pleasingly off-kilter.

Danny Lee Blackwell is Nightbeats.

Outlaw R&B by Night Beats

Danny Lee Blackwell’s Night Beats project started in Texas, found its sound in Seattle, then traveled down to California. That peripatetic existence fits a band that sounds like a cowboy dropped a bunch of acid, wandered in the desert, and erupted from a cloud of dust and weed smoke to front a rock band. Think 13th Floor Elevators and fulsome guitar riffs and Sergio Leone soundtracks and, sure, a dash of R&B.

The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania by Damien Jurado

Though it’s been bludgeoned into near meaninglessness by overuse, stalwart is a word built for an artist like Damien Jurado. On this, his 17th album since his 1997 debut, the local singer-songwriter hasn’t just endured: He still sounds divinely dependable. Throughout Monster he hews mostly to the calm, folk pop register of his last two albums—warm bass, quiet guitars, his gently plaintive voice centered—as he follows characters struggling against the world’s crises.


S/T by Antonioni

If you smashed together Roxy Music and Liz Phair, then rocketed this group forward from the 1990s, so it ricocheted off of various shades of indie music—the poppy, the dreamy, the slackerly—you might end up with a group like Seattle’s Antonioni. On its first full-length record, S/T, the local quartet has made an album that, for all its squiggling guitar solos, also offers some languid beauty, particularly singer Sarah Pasillas’s glimmering voice.

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