by Sean Jewell ::
Two hotly anticipated albums from Gravel Road & Levi Fuller and The Library will have their CD release party together at Conor Byrne on November 15th. Levi Fuller and the Library’s first full length The Wonders That There Are sees the Ball of Wax boss enlisting a band of gentlemen to back him up on his aeronautical alternative music. If you’ve not seen Levi live, he’s doing things a bit differently, teasing rugged riffs from an acoustic guitar with a wickedly distorted pedal setup. He’s also backed by one hell of a rhythm section, his bass player does that bass player thing pretty well, but also –he can sing! Given Levi’s constant immersion in the Seattle community over the last decade I was amazed that his own musical output came in at what sounds like, well, grunge music. It’s a welcome sound when it settles on the ear, but Levi never lets it rest, pushing the boundaries in every direction. It’s folky, it rocks; musically, and lyrically it does give a sense of wonderment.
The Wonders That There Are begins sullenly, almost consolingly, but it’s not long before all the elements of his group are building on one another and shouting from their glorious, driven sound, “They like you, don’t fuck this up!” The album also casts a sideways eye at roots music; there’s electric violins, banjo picking, jangly chords, and harmonizing forming transcendental, worldly Americana here. One song on the album that always makes me do a double take and check the track name is “Try To See”; it’s packed full of the arrangement I’m talking about. Easy, quiet finger picking, and harmonious lyrics that build into a crescendo of distorted guitar and cymbal crashes –and all the things that make rock ‘n’ roll gorgeous and fun. Levi and the Library do the same thing with the stunning “Say It Again,” a song that repeats the phrase “You know I mean it, when I say I love you, and if you don’t then I’ll say it again” with such a dazzling mantra effect the first few times I heard it I didn’t realize there was only one lyric. You’re going to love it, too.
And how about GravelRoad? They’re grinding hard in 2014. After touring Europe, then traipsing all over the US to blues festivals and wherever the hell else, they’re finally back in Seattle with enough time to grind out some blues. GravelRoad leans on the heavier side of the blues, slogging through distorted, guitar driven rock, delivering dark, exciting rock. They’ve guested for guys like Model T Ford, and caught the ears of their influences, touring through Mississippi hill country to play with acts like Lonesome Shack at Deep Blues Festival 2014 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Their latest release El Scuerpo begins languid and hot as Hill Country blues, full of rhythm and backbeat, but it’s one of those albums that sucks you in then jumps the track, and before you know it you’re off the pavement and onto . . . well, Gravel Road.
It’ll be a night of everything cool about rock and roll, supplied by locals with fingers on strings, and the pulse. Psych-folk group Wind Burial opens.
Top Song: Levi Fuller and the Library – “They Like You”
Bottom Song: Gravel Road- “Lord Have Mercy”