Five can’t-miss tracks from the PNW.
Judging from the band’s eerie, creaky, lo-fi Americana, you’d never guess HBS are the initials of one Hunter Benedict Shepherd, aka Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd. “Collide,” from HBS’s LP In Deep Owl, is sad and spacious, like Tom Waits meets the Church. Even as it swings into revved-up blues-rock, the whole album carries a wounded, endearing vibe.
The Avett Brothers with Chris Cornell “Vanity”
Scott Avett and Chris Cornell both lived in Seattle once, but we never thought the two would meet. “Vanity,” performed live on Fallon in September, makes some sense—the Avetts were in a rock band before going bluegrass and have long cited Nirvana as an influence. Compared to Cornell’s ragged yarl, their vocals sound choir boy-ish.
Longstanding Portland heavymeisters Grails show their chooglin’ chops for the first two minutes of this eight-minute track. Then—phew—it’s back to sublime beauty and ominous grandeur. Taken from Black Tar Prophecies Vol’s 4, 5 & 6, a compilation of experimental songs previously released on limited vinyl, “Self-Hypnosis” is an ambient-rock epic from an enigmatic, evolving band.
Dex Amora “Who I Be”
Millennial rock bands are obsessed with ’90s alt-rock, so it’s no surprise that Millennial MCs would get down with ’90s-era Native Tongues. But 19-year-old Minneapolis-to-Seattle transplant Dex Amora excels beyond his inspiration. This butter-smooth statement of purpose bumps sweetly over a stoned-soul beat by Parisian producer Mr. Troy.
40 Acres “Yo That’s That Shit”
Here’s a throwback to ’90s dance music known as Big Beat and perpetrated by the likes of Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers. “Yo That’s That Shit” is a neutron bomb for thedance floor—or football stadium. It builds tension via the titular vocal sample and a swagger that’s far more playful than today’s cookie-cutter EDM.
Pictured above: Dex Amora