Seattle – Two local indie bands filled Neumos with a celebratory atmosphere the other night when SISTERS and Motopony performed their hearts out to the packed venue.
It’s amazing to watch a band grow over the passing of time; what’s even more amazing is when you recognize how much they’ve evolved over the course of two months. I first caught SISTERS back in July for Best New Bands at the Capitol Hill Block Party, and they captured my attention then. While their music is still filled with complexity and unique compositional arrangements, their timing has become tighter, their loops and layers impeccably produced, their sound fuller and richer, and their audience bigger. The past eight weeks has seemingly increased their fan-base from a solid couple dozen to large pockets of in-the-know Seattle music lovers, which was great to see.
Their new release, Diamonds of Gold, is a five-track compilation laced with captivating vocal layers, synth, polyrhythms, and heartfelt energy. The doo-wop handclaps and “Shoop” vocals on opener “Green” are instantly attention grabbing. Kicking off their performance with the track, SISTERS certainly captured the audience’s ear – and didn’t let go the rest of the night.
With multi-instrumentalists Andrew Vait and Emily Westman seamlessly transitioning back-and-forth between drums, keys, and vocals, the duo never let the energy waver. On “Back 2 U,” Vait opens with warbly 80’s synth and a pure falsetto, before gliding into a gritty, yearning voice in the chorus. It’s a bouncy, catchy ditty – a standout on the EP.
“We’re Mean” contained funky synth and pleasantly dissonant harmonies, while “Chickens Fatten” featured Baroque-like keys, courtesy of Westman, and strong tabla percussion, via Vait, both creating an interesting aural experience.
My personal favorite song off the EP is “Buzzard,” which has echoed in my ear since I first saw SISTERS perform it at CHBP. It’s a hauntingly beautiful, elegantly crafted track with soaring vocals, pulsating rhythm, fuzzy synth, and an incredible sonic build.
SISTERS is a treat to see live. Watching Vait and Westman showcase their talents on the various instruments and bask in each other’s presence onstage (you can tell they truly enjoy their musical partnership) is an experience where the audience can’t help but feel like part of the family.
Headlining the night was Motopony, a group of Tacoma and Seattle natives including Daniel Blue (vocals, guitar), Forrest Mauvais (drums), Mike Notter (guitar), Terry Mattson (bass), Andrew Butler (keys), and Nate Daley (guitar). With a self-titled debut album that came out in 2011, the six-piece outfit quickly garnered attention. And with their recently released EP Idle Beauty (on eOne Music), Motopony continues to be a band to watch.
It’s a beautiful amalgamation of folk, indie and pysch rock, blues, and electro-pop. “It’s kind of all over the place, but I think it reflects where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and what we’re in the process of becoming,” says frontman Blue.
Taking the Neumos stage, Blue was a vision in an American flag kaftan. He had an understated swagger, a captivating stage presence, and a heck of a voice on opener “Get Down (Come Up).” The song’s infectiousness, sonic build, and soaring vocals made it the perfect choice to kick off the set.
The indie vibe of “About A Song” to the bluesy psychedelia of “Buffalo Medicine,” both off Idle Beauty, allowed the set to ebb and flow while remaining cohesive. With tracks new and old, Motopony showcased their strong music sensibilities and ability to blend genres, making for a great performance.
Motopony continues to tour throughout the fall in support of Idle Beauty, and plan to release their second full-length album with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Heartless Bastards) next spring.
With degrees in journalism and music, Caitlin’s written for Paste Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and MajoringinMusic.com. She loves cheese, laughing at GIFs of corgis, road trip sing-alongs, and connecting with people over good beer and good music.