Four Artists for a Fourth Birthday | By Ethan Maffey
Happy Birthday LYED!
Ask Emily Poncetta what she likes about music and she might respond with:
“[Music] is always there for you when you need it. Music can take a bad day and make it better.”
It’s clear that she gets it.
Those were Poncetta’s words to me when I first wrote about her blog, Let Your Ears Decide at its tender age of just 3 months old back in July of 2012. In those days I was brand new in my role as music editor for an alt-weekly newspaper in Bend Oregon and I was desperate to take my readers into the world of non-mainstream music and was attempting to build a coalition to assist me in my efforts.
What Poncetta really got when she gave me that quote is that most of the time, it’s easier for music to make a bad day better if it’s—brace yourself—written and sung by someone who has gone through the kinds of things you are rather than just a voice singing another person’s song because it has a catchy hook and will sell records.
Call it the Indie-music bandwagon or hipster snobbery; call it whatever you want, there’s no denying that throughout the post-Beatles decades, there have always been people hungry for something more than what radio tries to spoon feeds the masses.
That’s where LYED comes in.
Over the last four years Poncetta has challenged LYED readers to listen to music a little different than what gets barffed out on the radio.
I still remember the first artist I ever discovered because of LYED. Sure it might have been a recommendation in jest—Poncetta was pointing out a Phoenix rip-off band to me—but it led to a trip to Seattle’s The Vera Project to see Sweden’s The Royal Concept and ultimately one supremely fun night.
Back then LYED was built upon a simple Blogspot template and a logo drawn by a friend. Stories—while queueing up wildly creative and great music for readers to listen to—were typically quick multimedia posts of YouTube videos or embedded playlists and photos from concerts were usually of the cell phone variety. But Poncetta’s knack to fill the pages of LYED with the kind of music worthy of her readers’ money, time and energy shined.
Now, four years later, LYED is all grown up and I’ve lost track of all the gems learned about by following Poncetta’s blog.
Let Your Ears Decide has been transformed into a sophisticated, hip directory of today’s best indie music with it’s very own URL. That cute first logo—pictured above—gave way to something a little more dignified. (Although I’ll always love the throwback headphones) Poncetta has developed her chops as a photographer and has even landed interviews with artists that she idolizes like Daughter’s Elena Tonra. Through industry relationships, LYED also routinely has ticket giveaways to Southern California’s hottest shows and the site’s Facebook page boasts nearly 2000 likes. (I remember when Poncetta was cheering for 300)
What Poncetta has built simply by following her passion should give anyone, no matter their area of interest, confidence that following the path of least resistance, i.e. doing what you love, leads to success.
So happy fourth birthday Emz and LYED! You’ve earned the ride!
In honor of LYED’s four-year anniversary, I’ve put together a quick playlist of songs from four of Seattle’s best up and coming bands.
• Two albums into her youthful career, Seattle’s electro-songstress Briana Marela is finally catching on; having landed a spot at this year’s SASQUATCH! Music Festival which reserves a cache of stage slots for regional acts. Marela employs a bit of looping with some of her vocals and synth work not unlike the intricate compositions of Alex Schaafs’ Yellow Ostrich. She shadows the melancholy nature of some of Schaff’s music as well albeit with splash of prancing hopefulness. Marela’s sophomore release, All Around Us, hits a homerun with the track “Take Care of Me” which uses 90’s video game synth beats to build an Autumn-like love song.
• Another Seattle band two albums into a promising career is gritty punk pop group Wild Powwers. With grunge tendencies that occasionally bleed 1990’s band Silverchair’s booming and gravely guitar, Wild Powwers punchy rock sound envelops the tortured yet sweet vocals of lead singer Lara Hilgeman. Truly rooted in the classic sound that made Seattle music famous two decades ago, Wild Powwers blazes through songs on their 2016 release Hugs and Kisses and Other Things.
• Perhaps the most well-known band in this list is Deep Sea Diver fronted by guitarist and vocalist Jessica Dobson. Although Deep Sea Diver released their sophomore album Secrets earlier this year (noticing a trend here?) Dobson has been a staple in the indie music scene for a while now having worked with artists like Beck and Conor Oberst. She also toured as a guitarist for The Shins during that band’s re-imagination in 2011 and 2012. But on Secrets with Deep Sea Diver, Dobson and company—which includes her husband Peter Mansen on drums—have released a collection of near orchestral synth rock tracks that strike a voyaging chord. The same sultry vocals from their debut album remain, but are surrounded by just a bit more darkness than the band offered on their debut album which included the pop-centric “You Go Running.”
• The final artist on the list—and first with barely a debut album under their belts—is Seattle electro-pop duo Crater comprised of Ceci Gomez and Keesiah Gordon. In true Seattle fashion, these two managed to compile a string of rainy, yet racing tracks for their album Talk to Me So I Can Fall Asleep, released earlier this year. In fact, several of the tracks seem the perfect embodiment of the band’s moniker sounding eerily like the musical equivalent of destructive aftermath. Highlights include R&B inspired “Habits Die Hard” and the rock infused “Sick Sad World.”
You can find Ethan Maffey on Twitter, Instagram, or in the crowd at a show somewhere in Seattle!