review and photos by Philip LaRose
I started the year off right by going to Neumos on Wednesday the sixth for an all-local lineup of four bands with great promise: Beehive, Noddy, CMYK, and Library Science. Noddy was new to me, the other three I was already familiar with, so I knew I was in for a good show and they all delivered.
It’d been a few years since I’d last seen Library Science, so it was quite a revelation to hear what the band, now a trio, has been up to. Although their music is still rooted in dub, they’ve expanded their sound by moving toward electro house, a more upbeat and danceable style. Songs like “Do It To It” had a Daft-Punk-like anthemic quality, while “Pat Down” was slinkier and sexier. Besides developing their musical style, they’ve also improved their backing videos, which now incorporate live-action footage and look more polished. That was slightly offset by the still-awkward air they had between songs, but they just need a little more confidence in their performance; certainly they have every reason to be confident in their new songs, which were great.
I first saw CMYK a couple years ago playing as a trio called The Long Ranger, and they’ve since added a drummer along with changing their name. What hasn’t changed is their cool electro-pop music and fun show. Lead singer/guitarist Ted showed off some great dance moves -- though no breakdancing, as he’s done in the past -- and jumped down offstage to sing from the audience. Keyboardist Sylvia added sweet vocal harmonies as well as a fine turn on lead vocals; the second guitarist and drummer did a great job rounding out the sound. CMYK were playful, sexy, and soulful, a good combination for the dreary grey Seattle winter evening.
Noddy is a new project of Man Plus frontman Jared Mills, playing synthesizers and singing; he was joined by an additional synth player [KEXP's own Reese Umbaugh] and a drummer. Noddy had a darker, more synthrock feel than the other bands in the lineup, something like Gary Numan sweetened with a spoonful or two of sugar. At that, it was still a rather bittersweet sound, a bit upbeat for goth but sometimes not too far off. Just as the music was darker, so apparently was Jared’s mood, but despite the bit of sourness in his banter, I still enjoyed the performance. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Noddy.
Beehive have been one of my favorite local bands since I first saw them back in 2006. The duo of David, on guitar and vocals, and Alethea (aka Butterfly Beats), on keyboards, programming, and vocals, mix rock and breakbeat electronica to create some great dance music. One reason I love the band is that they continually play around with their music: it’s alive every time they play, not something static. This playfulness showed in a reworked introduction to “Better Than Lies” and an improvised coda to “Joseph and Mary”. Meanwhile, “Games” showcased their talents for working together, with its catchy piano riff, hot slide guitar, and lovely vocal harmonies. They finished by repeating “Better Than Lies” to get the club dancing, and while I’m not a fan of repeating songs like that, it did bring the evening to a fun conclusion. Beehive are working on new material, and I’m eagerly waiting to hear some soon.