Seattle’s Curious Mystery takes psychedelic rock to a more adventurous place.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
For Nicolas Gonzalez, one of the founding members of the Curious Mystery, psych rock is more slippery than it was in the 1960s.
“Psychedelic is a funny word to use nowadays because it’s not a specific sound anymore,” he says. “It’s music influenced by a state of mind… just because something is psychedelic doesn’t mean that it’s a throwback to ’60s music; the same drugs are still around and people still experiment.”
Gonzalez says the drugs aren’t as pivotal to his songwriting process as they once were. But at moments they can make all the difference creatively.
“Drugs can give me a different angle on things,” he says. “If I have some guitar parts that I’ve been working on for a while and can’t figure out an arrangement, sometimes smoking some helps me try something I wouldn’t have.”
But it’s the versatility of the Curious Mystery – playing Thursday at the Alternative Café – that takes their sound into new territory. The eclectic tendencies apparent on tracks like the spacey “Black Sand” or the droning “Hot Port” can be traced to a range of early influences.
“I grew up with a lot of Spanish music because my parents are from Chile. Also, a lot of Latin jazz, Indian music, tango and country,” Gonzalez says. “For six years I played violin and upright bass in my school orchestra.”
Gonzalez taught himself how to play guitar and started collecting “weird” records from around the world. The band formed in 2005 when the Texas-born Chilean moved to Seattle to get way from the conservative Lone Star State.
After hooking up with co-founder Shana Cleveland – the middle-American offspring of blues and country musicians – the Curious Mystery unfolded.
“Night Ride Reeling,” one of the tracks from their sophomore LP, We Creeling, is a good example of the new psychedelic doors they’re opening: It’s poppy yet slightly lo-fi and there are elements of garage rock fused with string orchestration, piano, and a four-part harmony. Cleveland’s lead vocals – which have been likened to those of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Cat Power’s Chan Marshall – are mesmerizing.
“There’s a lot of studio weirdness [on the album],” Gonzalez says. “I try to write songs that we don’t play exactly the same way twice.”
In December, the Curious Mystery will record two 7-inch albums with indie legend and founder/owner of K Records, Calvin Johnson (Kurt Cobain had the K Records logo tattooed on his forearm). Johnson also has plans to remix one of the band’s tunes for his International Pop Underground compilation album.
“It’s crazy that a legend is going to remix one of our songs,” Gonzalez says.
Openers The Black Lodge bring acid-pop hooks with garage rock flavoring similar to Surfer Blood and Wavves. On one of the P.G. trio’s newest tunes, “Bedside Manner,” there are interludes of heavy guitar riffs that evoke early – ’90s shoegazer. The Black Lodge’s Carlos J. Gonzalez (vocals/guitar), Jake Williams (bass) and Christopher Lyman (drums) may have just started out, but their prove they have the fundamentals to become a dynamic draw in the local music scene.
THE CURIOUS MYSTERY and THE BLACK LODGE play 7:30pm Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Alternative Cafe, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside. $5. 583-0913.