I have this idea in my head that Seattle has seen it all, thus you had better have your shit together if you want to make it in the Northwest. I read the press on the playful garage pop band, The Blakes, and I wonder if Seattle is slipping, or if I have frozen my heart.
The Blakes' new self-titled album opens with “Two Times”, a sexed out garage rattler that is undeniable in its visceral simplicity. I want to love this band, and not just because we share a name. They switch gears into “Don’t Bother Me,” which sounds like any number of post-punk bands. Regardless of the song's over-accessibility, it follows a highly infectious formula. The separation comes with the charming refrain “don’t bother me / I’m caught up in your legs / I don’t want to get out.”
The album opens strong, but quickly slips into lesser songwriting. “Modern Man” and “Vampire” manage to perk up, with the former returning to the scratchy shouting of “Two Times”, the latter going garage grunge pop.
The Blakes scatter some great moments in this record, but it suffers from clean recording. I desperately want it to be loud and grating. From my reading, I've learned that seeing the The Blakes live is an unrelenting attack filled with screaming and ear blisters. No matter how high I set the volume, in my car or on headphones, I cannot picture The Blakes shattering top shelf liquor bottles with their power sound. I am sold that it can happen with “Two Times”, but the band backs off for the remainder of the album.
Until I move west or The Blakes travel to the Midwest, I will settle for fiddling with my volume levels, trying to figure out what I am missing. Each time I listen to “Lie Next To Me”, I get the feeling it is worth the trouble.