Five can’t-miss tracks from the Pacific Northwest.
Jesus in the Courtyard King Dude
This is one deep, dark folk song about the deepest, darkest evil sung by the distinctively deep and dark King Dude. A sneak peek of the Seattle artist’s October release Burning Daylight, “Jesus in the Courtyard” is a brief character sketch of a sanctimonious No Man who deals in death, related over two insistent guitar chords and told with a voice black as coal.
Alameda (alternate version) Elliott Smith
In honor of Elliott Smith’s would-be 43rd birthday last month, Kill Rock Stars reissued a number of the hushed Portland songwriter’s albums, as well as a number of alternate versions of Smith favorites. This version of “Alameda” features a clumsy early draft of the song’s finger-pointing chorus, but it also adds a delicate piano melody that gives the song a new dimension. It sounds like empathy.
Walking the Line Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers
Hidden in Old Gold—an EP of cover songs penned by John Prine, Charlie Feathers, Dock Boggs and Janis Joplin—this is the only original by the relaxed country chanteuse Zoe Muth. It is something new that sounds like it’s been there forever. “I’m walking the line,” Muth sings, resigned. “You walk all over me.” If that’s not classic country, I don’t know what is.
Naked Sera Cahoone
The first single from her upcoming release Deer Creek Canyon finds Sera Cahoone more confident than ever. With the help of producer Thom Monahan—and some filters—the sometimes-shy Seattle singer is playing with her beautiful voice, lifting it up without losing her downcast lyricism, or the well-placed banjo line.
Thank You and Goodnight Joel RL Phelps
Despite the title, this song is more of a, “Hello, I’m still here,” from Joel RL Phelps, the songwriter who first gained acclaim with the Missoula indie rock band Silkworm and then the Downer Trio, before falling off the map. This song, released to little fanfare online, follows rumors of a return. Let’s hope so. A slice of grinding guitar rock, lurching melody and belted-out vocals, the track signals that he has a lot left to give.
Pictured above: Zoe Muth.