There are two surefire ways to get on the radio — write catchy songs, and become a DJ.
Troy Nelson’s doing both, and at this point it’s hard to tell which one he would consider his day job.
Nelson, who has been a disc jockey for popular Seattle college rock station KEXP since 2004, is also making a serious go as a performer with The Young Evils, a pop-laden group that owes equally to the sunny sounds of the ’60s, the dance beats of early new wave, and the hooks of the almighty Nirvana.
The Young Evils, who will headline a free show Friday with The Horde and the Harem at Centennial Park, have turned a corner and seem poised to make waves in the power pop world with Foreign Spells, their four-song EP that hits music outlets Tuesday.
Like on their 2010 debut full-length, Enchanted Chapel, the songs on Foreign Spells revolve around the trade-off vocals of singers Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer. But this time around, the guitars of Nelson and Cody Hurd and rhythm section of bassist Michael Lee and drummer Faustine Hudson are much more tight and forceful, giving the vocal melodies a more sturdy platform to jump off .
“Dead Animals” is the obvious standout of the EP, a 2:30 burst of head-bopping goodness that would fit nicely alongside currently modern alternative hitmakers like Fun and Grouplove. An intro of catchy vocalizations by Mercer over chattering palm-muted guitars line up the dominos, and an up-tempo and irresistible refrain of “Dead animals is what we’ll become” and a perfect run through loud-soft-loud dynamics in the middle section knocks them down.
While Nelson mostly harmonizes on “Dead Animals,” he makes his presence felt vocally during the three other songs, which are more traditional duets with Mercer. He takes a laid-back approach to his verses, which allow Mercer’s voice to add a cutting sweetness to the melodies.
The instrumentation is very Cars-like at times, especially with the pounding drums and sustained lead guitars of opening track “Darker Blue Bayou.” The final two songs, “Devil’s Barricade” and “Touch Town Lovers,” keep the tempos quick, the beats present, and the melodies both sweet and bittersweet.
A pair of Wenatchee-based acts piqued my interest at the locally-run and DIY-centric Sunset Music Festival outside Moses Lake last weekend.Old Gold is doing some interesting stuff that combines dark harmonies and desolate honky tonk chords with drum machines and hip-hop backing tracks, while nine-piece Jip Sea Party’s full-on acoustic assault and excitable stage show calls to mind a more rural Gogol Bordello. Expect a review of Jip Sea Party’s own EP here soon.
Brent Stecker: 661-5222