Artist of the Week: Grand Archives

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The new self-titled album from Grand Archives has a feel very similar to another Sub Pop group, Iron and Wine. The two have separate styles, yet both play slow folk tunes that maneuver through a ghostly desert soundscape. Iron and Wine employs soft vocal harmonies and mandolins to do so, while Grand Archives uses repetitive lyrics and reverberating melodies. Many like to make the even more descriptive comparison to lead singer and guitarist Mat Brooke’s former group, Band of Horses. This is especially fitting, as Brooke’s genuine artistic qualities carry over to this new project.There are two Mat Brooke ‘signature sounds’. One is the reverberating vocal style that creates such a lonely feel. The other is the grandiosity of rhythm in the construction of the songs (a la “Band of Horses’ – ‘Funeral’”). Though, in this album it is much brighter and more intimate. A good example of this phenomenon is the song that brought this album a bit of recognition, “Sleepdriving,” which received a place on Pitchfork Media’s “Forkcast Playlist.” Other great tracks include “Index Moon,” “George Kaminski” and “Breezy No Breezy,” a folk dub instrumental sounding like something from a Coen Brothers film.

Exactly where did Sub Pop go to find these folksy diamonds in the desert? Seattle of course! Brooke assembled the necessary pieces in September of 2006, but the group didn’t finish the album until after they had been through three separate studios. There was no trouble; they simply needed the necessary instruments for any group…flugelhorns, for example. It appears that the third time is the charm. Producer Ben Kersten (Arthur & Yu, Dntel) and Mat Brooke have brought together the respective talents necessary to make this album so unique in its simplicity. This is a very promising sign of things to come.

For good reason, Grand Archives seem to be acquiring blogger-praises and fans with each venue they play, but as you can see below they’re keeping things mostly local for the time being:

2/19/08 @ 3:00pm – KEXP 90.3 FM – Seattle, WA
2/19/08 @ 7:00pm – SONIC BOOM (BALLARD) – Seattle, WA
2/20/08 @ 7:00pm – TRIPLE DOOR (1st SHOW) – Seattle, WA
2/20/08 @ 11:00pm – TRIPLE DOOR (2nd SHOW) – Seattle, WA
2/21/08 @ 6:00pm – 107.7 THE END – Seattle, WA
2/27/08 @ 7:00pm – AMOEBA RECORDS – San Francisco, CA
2/28/08 @ 9:00pm – INDEPENDENT – San Francisco, CA
2/29/08 @ 9:00pm – TROUBADOUR – Los Angeles, CA
3/1/08 @ 9:00pm – CASBAH – San Diego, CA
3/2/08 @ 9:00pm – SOLAR CULTURE GALLERY – Tucson, AZ
3/4/08 @ 9:00pm – HI-DIVE – Denver, CO
3/6/08 @ 9:00pm – PICADOR – Iowa City, IO
3/7/08 @ 9:00pm – 7TH STREET ENTRY – Minneapolis, MN
3/8/08 @ 9:00pm – SCHUBAS – Chicago, IL
3/9/08 @ 9:00pm – SLOWDOWN – Omaha, NE
3/11/08 @ 9:00pm – DAN’S SILVERLEAF – Denton, TX
3/12/08 @ 9:00pm – LOLA’S – Fort Worth, TX
3/13/08 @ 8:00pm – SXSW – Austin, TX
3/14/08 @ 8:00pm – SXSW – Austin, TX
3/15/08 @ 8:00pm – SXSW – Austin, TX
3/18/08 @ 9:00pm – RHYTHM ROOM – Phoenix, AZ
3/21/08 @ 9:00pm – DANTE’S – Portland, OR

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