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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 13, 2012 at 7:07 AM

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Album review: 'One Glove' by Seattle band Stephanie

Stephanie "One Glove" (Couple Skate Records)

After a few years of festivals and mixtapes, the Cairo scene — artists who swarm a small Capitol Hill storefront — is delivering great albums. The wheels hit the road earlier this year with "The Feeling" by Naomi Punk, which reinvigorated grunge rock for a new era. Now we have "One Glove" by house band Stephanie, six danceable songs that build to multiple climaxes and dissolve into ambient goo. You can call it post-punk, new wave or no category at all. But you cannot call it boring.

Wil Adams' hallucinatory singing style jumps out right away, a dramatic croon/bellow that feels not unlike watching a bird learn to fly. Synthesizers twinkle and drums pound around him on anthems like "Undercover" and "Blinding Light," where Adams drifts in and out. On those highlights especially it makes sense why the band calls its music "SWIRL." The sound is many and one at the same time. And then we must consider the other lead singer: the guitar. "One Glove" stabs itself into existence with Andrew McKibben's electric hook on "Lucid Dreams," treated so the notes are shrill and harsh. Later in that song, his guitar roars across the African veldt. It's scary. McKibben has a cool style. But the notes sound precisely the way they do because of Erik Blood, the Seattle producer behind experimental local hip-hop groups Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction. He produced "One Glove" and understands the band perfectly. He knows McKibben's instrument needs to be loud to make its point. Adams' singing requires a certain echo. Matt Lawson's keyboards should be chintzy. Bassist Ian Judd and drummer Robert Wolfe need to be rubbery and thwacking to make the grooves work. And on "One Glove," it all works.

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