Last week, Seattle’s Jesse Sykes and the Sweethereafter celebrated the release of their latest album, Marble Son, at the Showbox at the Market to a small but adoring crowd.
Toronto-based band The Sadies, donned in sharp Western attire, started the night’s music with a set full of instantly impressive guitar-work and a song-writing genre that was consistently hard to categorize –- they jumped between head-banging twang, bluegrass finger-picking, a more surf-type rock and, my personal favorite, the classic (dare I mention the word “Spaghetti?”) Western. Seriously though, think Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy soundtrack sped up and on full-blown speed -– this stuff was really fun to watch.
Judging from the several crowd members I conversed with, most people had not heard Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter’s Marble Son, out just out last week. The album features a heavier sound and more forthright guitar-work by left-handed lead guitarist and co-writer Phil Wandscher, which translated wonderfully into the live setting. Although the Showbox was much less than capacity, Jesse and co. were certainly warmly received by those in attendance.
Jesse Sykes herself is a mysterious and wondrous character, always looking around and often up at the ceiling as if half-scared/half-in awe of her current predicament. She comes off as a creature of the past, a total hippie of the Janis Joplin-era. She even rambled like Janis used to, commenting on the importance of lighting (“Can you turn these lights down, man?”), how love should be more important to the 24-35 year-old demographic, and her paranoia of walking in a busy city like Seattle. Curiously enough, I agreed with a lot of what she said.
The whole set featured double-percussion which provided a nice messy backdrop to Wandscher’s soaring guitar solos. In previous albums, Sykes’ sweltering and smoky vocals led most songs, and an absence of sorts was felt without these in the forefront. In contrast, this new album fills these absences with Wandscher’s guitar-work and, man, is it a breath of fresh air to hear songs like “Pleasuring the Divine,” which they played second in the set, a track full of forceful, anxious percussion, an edge-of-your-seat lead guitar line, and a bass-line that makes you sing along with it.
The set included several other highlights, including the acoustic slow-burner “Be It Me , Or Be It None,” a song she played after her rant on the importance of love. The lyrics, sung in a creepy, haunting tranquility cite “Why we ask ourselves/if the feeling’s real/be it me, or be it none for now/be it you, or be it me some how.” On the whole, this album deserves several listens, and her and her band’s live energy is not to be missed.
In fact, you have another opportunity to catch her live on August 21 at Easy Street Queen Anne for a FREE in-store performance!