Summer Pop Perfection

Racetrack comes to the B-Side.

Bellingham, Wash., has become an incubator for the new wave of pop sounds that are currently taking the nation by storm -- sounds spearheaded by giants Death Cab for Cutie and followed by up-and-comers like Idiot Pilot. This small city has become notorious for producing acts that are accessible, that you cannot help but smile while listening to. Racetrack, one of the newest pop trios to come out of this Northwest locale, is following in the footsteps of their predecessors while making a few prints of their own. Spokane audiences will be able to bear witness to the rise of Racetrack on Friday night at the B-Side.

This forceful power-pop trio is made up of Meghan Kessinger (vocals, guitar), Jackson Long (drums, vocals) and Chris Rasmussen (bass, vocals). Long and Rasmussen's rhythm section provide the powerful background beat, which allows Kessinger to bring crunchy, overdriven guitars as a perfect companion to the genuine and sweet vocal crooning exhibited in every song. Overall, the sonic style that comes through is much like a softer version of the Thermals with the female-dominated vocal style of Rilo Kiley.

For Racetrack's first full-length, City Lights, the band enlisted the help of Chris Walla, guitarist for Death Cab and the production master responsible for engineering albums by the Postal Service, the Velvet Teen and Nada Surf, among others. The result of the band's eight-day recording odyssey is a sincere 10-track debut full-length album, which neatly captures the group's fresh, upbeat sound.

The album, released on Bellingham label Skrocki Records, has received widespread acceptance from like-minded listeners and has climbed charts on college radio stations nationwide. The two strongest tracks, the irresistibly catchy "One Step Forward" and "City Lights," have the potential for success on the commercial airwaves as well.

Though the band has only been together a short time, Racetrack has toured extensively, building a resume and achieving positive word of mouth by sharing the stage with acts such as Built To Spill, the Posies, Carissa's Weird and Aveo. Also, through relentless touring, they have played in such rock 'n' roll temples as the Fireside Bowl in Chicago, the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, the Hotel Utah in San Francisco and basically every venue in Western Washington.

Joining Racetrack at the B-Side will be Typical Ace and locals La Cha-Cha. Typical Ace is another native Bellingham group that grew from the Western Washington University campus and produces sounds reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World.

Need a little feel-good music to kick off your summer? Here it is.

Racetrack and Typical Ace at the B-Side on Friday, June 17, at 9:30 pm. Cover: $5. Call 624-7638.

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