Locals Only Artist of the Month: Hey Marseilles
Seattle has long been a frontier town that attracts musicians who want to invent and reinvent – from Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain to the next unnamed musical star. While the sound may change from decade to decade, the Northwest’s music scene is as vibrant as ever. And here at The End we feel it’s important to help put our homegrown talent in the forefront by giving you a taste of our cities musical richness.
Five miles south of downtown Seattle is the neighborhood of Columbia City—a leafy stretch of old brownstones and new condos which, according to local legend and loosely interpreted census data, boasts the most diverse zip code in America. Not far from Columbia City's main drag, amidst a swirl of languages and colors and food and accents, sits a 100-year-old, two-story house that's home to the world-weary, six-piece orchestral-pop ensemble known as Hey Marseilles.
World-weary in spirit if not in practice: Hey Marseilles first won hearts across the US with its 2010 debut, To Travels and Trunks, an album that reveled in the education and inspiration only globe-trotting exploration can provide. With Matt Bishop's lyrical wayfaring abutting an instrumental palette that embraced folk tradition—accordion, strings, and horns; gypsy, Gallic, and classical—To Travels and Trunks gave musical voice to the universal longing for unfettered freedom. NPR called the record "sublime and heartfelt."
The 12 songs on Lines We Trace represent a band steady enough in its sound—poignant, panoramic, unreservedly gorgeous—that it can expand beyond it. The string section that hums throughout "Elegy"—quintessentially sweeping, Hey Marseilles style—shifts into finely composed abstraction for the song's final minute. Colin Richey's skittering rhythm on “Bright Stars Burning” is a gentle breakbeat, a sly nod to atmospheric drum 'n' bass. "Madrona" and the album-closing "Demian" are HeyMarseilles' first fully instrumental songs, a pair of echo-laden piano-and-cello dirges that are simultaneously solemn and sumptuous. "Dead of Night" trots along on an almost-funky, waltzy swing and gives the album its titular lyric, trumpet triumphant as Bishop sings, The lines we trace have a thousand ends/We’ll count the ways we can’t begin/And stay in our homes, remain on our own…
Put another way, as Lines We Trace suggests, sometimes you don’t have to go far to find a meaningful experience. Sometimes the comfort of the familiar is all you need to grow.
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