Sitting down to write about Olympia's Broken Water, I'm tempted to get stoned first. Listening to the 3-piece and their fuzzy, shoe-gazing drone-rock, I'm nostalgic for contemplative thoughts that roll with the crescendos and crashes of the music. But I don't have to get stoned. They take me there anyway. With mesmerizing vocals - both male and female - and sometimes heavy, sometimes sweet guitar riffs, Broken Water has an almost grunge-pop quality. But not quite. They are too busy being their own sound.
Former Weekly Volcano music writer Jason Baxter, who now does publicity for Sub Pop's sub-label, Hardly Art Records, contacted us about Broken Water's newest album, "Tempest," which came out Tuesday.
"This is a big moment for the band, and I anticipate Tempest we'll be getting lots of national attention," he wrote in his e-mail, adding that he knows "The Weekly Volcano has given a lot of love to Broken Water."
And while we have, it's not without the influence of our readers, who voted John Hanna's, Abigail Ingram's and Kanako Pooknyw's band Broken Water, "Best Indie Band," in our Best of Olympia 2012 issue.
I contact Broken Water via Facebook, and ask how living in Olympia influences their music and what strengths stood out when making "Tempest."
Pooknyw, Broken Water's vocalist and drum master, replies from the road.
"Living in Olympia there is lots of time for band practice, lots of rain, and lots of artists/musician/community time," she says.
"With "Tempest," we were able to have our band retreat on the beach and develop our songs, and we were more comfortable with our abilities," she says. "We have a pretty solid team."
A solid team, indeed. "Tempest" is great. The first single "Drown" is lovely and psychedelic. It's fuzzy, it's groovy, and has amazing female vocals. The second single, "Underground," is equally awesome, though quite different. If "Drown" is a journey through a sleepy, choppy dream, then "Underground" is a journey through a rushing river; fast, grungy, yet still a little dark and heavy. Hanna is on vocals, harmonious and driving.
The rest of the album is worthy of multiple plays; exceptional when paid full attention, yet totally satisfying as background music.
And you don't even have to be stoned.