Throwaway Style: Little Star Examines Love Through Isolation on Even In Dreams

Little Star // Photo by Matthew B. Thompson

Little Star // Photo by Natalie Eagan

Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, every Thursday on the KEXP Blog.

“Don’t tell me that I’m wrong about the word intimate,” Portland indie rock outfit Little Star’s Daniel Byers calls out on the title track to the band’s latest EP, Even In Dreams. The steady pulse of bass and the watery reverb of guitars wash underneath Byers’ vocals. The way its recorded sounds like it’s meant to be blared and bounced off of bedroom walls – the soundtrack to laying on your bed and staring at the ceiling. When Byers sings about intimacy, there’s a solitary longing in his voice. This mixture between being misunderstood and lonely can be suffocating, but the way Little Star interprets it turns it into something elegant.

“Providence,” the opener on the EP, begins with a proclamation: “I recognize repetition. I don’t do it better, I don’t do it different.” It’s a poetic way of describing and accepting monotony. Some find it hard to be by themselves, others thrive in it. On this song, Byers more-or-less accepts his fate but it sounds like it’s more out of exasperation than anything else. He twists the knife even more later in the song when he repeats the phrase, “Things move on.” It’s the self-realization that maybe you’re the problem and you don’t think you’re going to be able to change. That’s a pretty desperate place to be. Even as Byers croons, he throws in “I miss you a lot.” He’s accepted being miserable, but that doesn’t actually make things any less miserable. Even the thuds of the drums underneath the rush of synths echo the longing of the lyrics and the drawn out melody.

The lyrics on the EP were written in collaboration with Portland visual artist Molly Schaeffer. There’s something beautiful about the thought of people coming together to write about being alone. Not just with Schaefer and Byers, but with the band as a whole. Every note of music building together, sounding out from each musician, to recreate the sensation of feeling isolated from the rest of the world. That’s where the core of Even In Dreams really embodies.

With only four tracks and clocking in at 11-minutes, the EP comes and goes rather quickly. But that short amount of time feels immersive. Every second, every word, and every note exudes the same feeling of isolation. The description on “Jacks” of leaving the window open even though it’s cold outside and bunching up the covers on your bed feels familiar to anyone who has shared that lonely feeling (you know, most of us). It’s those quiet moments we share only with ourselves with a feeling running through your whole body that you can’t quite put words to. It’s known only to you, even if we all have our own versions of what that actually is. Little Star tap into these elusive emotions on Even In Dreams and return with something truly stunning.

Even In Dreams is out tomorrow, Jan. 12, via Good Cheer Records and Hidden Bay Records. You can stream the EP in its entirety over at Various Small Flames.

New and News

Ashraf Hasham Named New Executive Director at The Vera Project

The Vera Project, Seattle’s iconic non-profit all ages venue and arts space, shared some exciting news this week as they’ve named Ashraf Hasham as their new executive director. Hasham come to the position with a wealth of youth and arts experience, including serving as the Director of Partnerships & Programs at Seattle’s TeenTix and on the Seattle Arts Commission and Arts Education Advisory Council. But not just that, he’s a long time patron of The Vera and has attended shows there since he was a teen himself. This is a big win for The Vera and the local arts community as a whole.

The Last Artful, Dodgr Shares Music Video for “Oofda”

Portland rapper The Last Artful, Dodgr and producer Neill Von Tally share another video from last year’s essential Bone Music for the standout track “Oofda.” The shivering beat and Dodgr’s aching croons are great enough on their own, but these striking black and white visuals help elevate the song even further. It’s the artistic, cinematic scale that these two artists deserve, feeling like something out of Cannes with the swirling shots and breathtaking cinematography.

CHARMS Share Video From Final Performance with Keyboardist at Kame House

Last summer, Seattle noise punks CHARMS put out one of the best albums of the year with Human Error. The one thing that can out-do the visceral, clamoring sounds of the record is actually seeing the band live. While the band is on somewhat of a hiatus since the departure of their keyboardist Josh McCormick, video has emerged highlighting the trio’s final performance at Kame House last December with the Human Error lineup. Filmed and edited by the band’s longtime projectionist Kevin Blanquies, the video gives a pretty on-point depiction of what it’s like the experience the band’s ferocious live performance, psychedelic visuals and all.

BlkSknn Drops Second EP, Disconnect

In Throwaway Style’s 2018 preview, I mentioned Seattle rapper BlkSknn‘s new project as one of my most anticipated of the year. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long. The EP, Disconnect, dropped yesterday and showcases the promising MC taking a sonic detour from the jubilant sounds of his first release, Small World. It’s a change he pulls off remarkably well, with his low and steady voice over a darker set of beats. Sprinkled throughout are spoken word interludes in which BlkSknn waxes poetic on feeling disconnected from the world and culture around you.

Live and Loud: This Week’s Recommended Local Shows

Jan. 11: Taylar Elizza Beth, LA (Language Arts), All Star Opera, SUS MUSIC at The Rendezvous

Jan. 12: Spirit Award, Snuff Redux, Belgian Fog, and Happy Times Sad Times at Chop Suey

Jan. 13: Noel Brass Jr at Beats and Bohos

Jan. 13: Project Pablo, D. Tiffany, and DJ D.DEE at The Beaumont Studios (Vancouver B.C.)

Jan. 14: KEXP’s 18th Annual Expansion MLK Unity Party with Sharlese, Kid Hops, Masa, DJ Alex, and Riz at Columbia City Theater

Jan. 15: Terrance Brown, Marshall Law Band, Ta7J, LEX at Substation

Jan. 17: Cock & Swan Julian’s Sword Listening Party and Only God Forgives Screening at Northwest Film Forum

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