Seattle’s Smokey Brights Offer Melodic, Warm Vintage Rock

16 Jan

Happy New Year! It’s been busy the past few weeks, but I’m back. My first blog after the holidays is about a five-member indie rock band from Seattle named Smokey Brights and the new album, Taste for Blood.

The band formed approximately four years ago and in interviews, the bandmates talk about how close they’ve become. At the core are headman and lead vocalist, Ryan Devlin. Devlin is married to vocalist and keyboardist, Kim West. Other members include: James Weston Vermillion on bass and vocals, Michael Kalnoky on lead guitar and vocals, and Nicholas Krivchenia on drums.

The band’s closeness has made songwriting for Smokey Brights a true collaborative effort. While Devlin may come up with a lot of the ideas, he says the band truly builds the songs piece by piece in their practice sessions.

Whoever gets the credit, the lyrics are often intriguing and the melodies are excellent. The band has used the label “warm, vintage pop” on its Bandcamp page, and that’s spot on. There’s something about these songs that makes them instantly familiar, like you’ve heard them before from a previous musical era. That’s intentional. Smokey Brights wants you to quickly become comfortable with the music, and then they plan to take you out of your comfort zone with unexpected lyrics or musical treatments.

One of the best parts of the Taste for Blood album is the lack of sameness from one song to the next. Each track sounds fresh and different. The opener, “Taste for Blood,” is really great indie pop-rock — with a killer bass line and rhythm track underlying a melody that’s sure to get stuck in your head after a few listens. Devlin sings a strong lead — and the band incorporates warm harmonies and nice guitar riffs where needed.

The next track, “Catacomb,” has a bit more of a reverb rock sound, with organ or synth creating a tension underneath.

Track 4, “If I Can’t Change your Mind,” changes the direction entirely. This is fabulous blue-eyed soul with a hint of blues-rock. Again, the musicianship is excellent and there’s a throwback feeling to music from the early- to mid-1970s. “Baby Marmalade” offers the opportunity to hear West demonstrate her vocal prowess on the lead, together with great harmonies with Devlin in the choruses.

Finally, one of the coolest tracks is the closer, “Creep,” excuse me, I mean “You’ve Got It All Wrong.” Whether it was intentional or not, there’s a lot of Radiohead’s “Creep” in this melody. Again, Devlin and West are amazing on the harmonized vocals — and Kalnoky’s guitar work is extraordinary in places.

Taste for Blood is a great start to a new year in indie music.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: