The easier it becomes for bands to record their own material, the more difficult it is to get noticed. Think about it: If anyone can potentially release an album without the assistance of a high-powered label or producer, you need to put out A-plus material if you don't want to get lost in the shuffle.
It's tough keeping up with everything that's coming out of the Inland Northwest — it seems like four or five new local discs pop up on my radar every week — but here are a quartet of recent regional releases that I think are definitely worth checking out.
The Dirty Moogs: ...And Now for
Something Completely the Same
It shouldn't be a surprise considering their name, but Boise's the Dirty Moogs stack synths atop synths atop even more synths on this new 7-song EP of bright, playful dance pop. Filtering the retro disco-funk of Midnight Vultures-era Beck through the blips and bloops of 8-bit instrumentation, the band's impish sense of humor really shines through here, from the Back to the Future references on opening track "Carrie Ann" ("She only wants me for my DeLorean") to the jam-band jabs on the bittersweet breakup song "Pretty Susie" ("I've been working day and night / So you can stay home and watch The Facts of Life"). Streaming on Spotify; available for purchase via iTunes.
Folkinception: Great Northern
Since they formed in 2011, Folkinception has become one of those local bands that effortlessly bridges the gaps between generations: Go to any one of their shows and you'll see everyone from kids to grandparents digging on their polished brand of Americana. Great Northern is the sextet's second full-length, and it boasts a wider sonic palette than 2014's Tower Mountain. The whole album is as rootsy and rustic as you'd expect, with a country twang always bubbling just beneath the surface. But it's as beautifully produced as any professional pop album, with the lofty vocal harmonies, plinking piano and fiddle parts receiving equal attention in the mix. Pick up the album yourself when the band performs at the Nest in Kendall Yards on Aug. 9. Streaming on Spotify; available for purchase via iTunes.
Indian Goat: 1
The newest project from Blackwater Prophet's Garrett Zanol, Indian Goat continues that beloved Spokane band's predilection for gritty, feedback-heavy rock 'n' roll, and they do it with just a guitar and drums. Zanol and Travis Tveit dole out riffs and beats so heavy that it's hard to believe there's only two of them, but their songs occasionally veer into dreamy, stoned, slightly bluesy territory that recalls the best of '60s psychedelic rock. The duo are coming out of the gate swinging furiously with their ferocious debut EP, aptly named 1, which clocks in at around 26 minutes and is certainly not lacking in stylistic confidence. The band is releasing the EP through local label Resurrection Records, and you can purchase a copy on cassette following their Saturday night set at the Observatory (15 S. Howard). Streaming on Bandcamp.
The South Hill: Half It All
There's an airy reverie hanging over the debut LP from this Spokane quintet, and it's the kind of album best played through headphones while you're sprawled out on a lawn as the summer sun sinks. The South Hill certainly owes a debt to contemporary acts like Iron and Wine and Bon Iver, but perhaps even more so to the rock of the post-Woodstock era; even the cover of Half It All, designed to look like a worn and dog-eared vinyl record sleeve, carries a twinge of nostalgia with it. Most of the album consists of gentle, folky ballads, but songs like "Bigger Plans," "Ddr" and the live cut "Travelin' Song" bring the uptempo shuffle. Streaming on Spotify; available for purchase at theshouthhill.com and via iTunes. ♦