Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, hello and welcome back to our third annual year-end daily countdown, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Follow the #100Bands100Days hashtag on Twitter to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician that perhaps you haven’t been turned onto yet, and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. Today we’re bringing things back to the moody city of Seattle for one of the local scene’s favorite rising acts, and one of the city’s signature bands, Bleachbear!
If you asked us to summarize what Seattle sounds like in just one band in its scene, after some careful consideration, we would probably say Bleachbear. Seattle music comes in many shapes and forms, but the music penned by the pop-rock trio does wonders in blending two of the most prevalent styles of music in the Emerald City: guitar-driven ethereal dream pop music, and jangly, pleasant surf rock revivalism. The band was formed in 2012, and in the time since their formation, the band has been no stranger to local renown, earning praise from the likes of the Seattle Times and Seattle Weekly (whom named them Seattle’s “Best Underage Band”), and recently being featured on KING 5. With not a whole lot to their instrumentation outside of guitar, bass, drums, and the light use of keyboards, the trio endears themselves to the listener through the harmonies of its three members, as well as the charming vocals of singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Tigerlily Cooley. Cooley’s sister Annabella brings steady drumming to their tracks, while their cousin Emiko Gantt rounds out the trio with groovy bass lines and the occasional keyboards that add nice sonic divergence to the band’s sound, which often sounds like the musical equivalent of a blurry, low-exposure Polaroid picture of one of the best nights of your life.
However, underneath the band’s cheery exterior and cuddly sonic atmosphere, there lies somewhat of a dismal feeling that makes releases like Cowboy Movie Star, their latest record, especially compelling. Seeing as the band is comprised entirely of teenage members, it should come as no surprise that the music has a predominantly youthful sound to it, and it perfectly captures both the joyousness and crushing melancholy that come from early adulthood, while conveying these clashing emotions in such a way where those just looking for some pretty, lovey pop-rock can put on a Bleachbear record and find it just as comforting as those looking to one of their records to soundtrack a night of sad and lonely longing alone in their room. On Cowboy Movie Star, the trio enlisted legendary Seattle producer Kurt Bloch to help achieve a rawer and grungier Bleachbear. The album is home to some of the most memorable tracks to come out of Seattle rock this year — “Boy,” “Circus,” “Somium,” the beautifully ballad-like “Waltzing in the Dark” — and despite it being on the short side, Cowboy Movie Star is an engaging and enthralling listen from beginning to end.
If you’re a sucker for elegant and light rock music that may be more than meets the ear on a first listen, the bleak, but gorgeous sonic world created by Bleachbear is where you want to be.
You can follow Bleachbear on Facebook and Twitter, and keep up with them through their website, bleachbear.com. You can listen to and purchase the band’s music at bleachbear.bandcamp.com. Watch the music video for “Somium” below.