Alaska's music scene is officially in boom mode. Whether it's a band of Alaska expatriates, a group fresh off a high-profile opening stint or one of the state's most popular live acts, Alaska musicians are churning out fresh new albums. Portland-based Animal Eyes, Anchorage's Termination Dust and Seward's Blackwater Railroad Company are just a few of the bands with new releases. Here is a quick look at seven new albums from Alaska artists.
"Where We Go"
Portland-based with Alaska roots, Animal Eyes released "Here We Go" in May, continuing a transition into a more experimental, unpredictable sound. But the layers of harmony and audio accouterments don't overwhelm the songs, which are absorbing and expressive.
Listening experience: A long stroll through an existential hallucination
Essential track: "Mushroom Hunter," a Super Mario-tinged pop ballad
More on the band: animal-eyes.squarespace.com
Blackwater Railroad Company
The Seward-based quartet has built a reputation as one of the state's most popular and dynamic live acts. "Nenana" brings that appeal in album form, showcasing the band's narrative songwriting, firmly welded harmonies and toe-tapping tunes.
Listening experience: An engrossing campfire tale in stereo sound
Essential track: "Life On The Farm," with emotive peaks and valleys.
More on the band: blackwaterrailroad.com
Hundreds of Alaska music fans experienced the music of Termination Dust last weekend when the band opened a pair of dates for Modest Mouse. "Familiar Eyes" is at least an equally as effective showcase of the group's brand of indie pop that's alternately breezy and raw.
Listening experience: A carefree summer on the run, from parties to partings
Essential track: "Boy," a pop tune with jangly guitar and a Motown feel
More on the band: facebook.com/terminationdust
The Dirty Hands
The Dirty Hands move seamlessly between blues styles and rock in "Girdwood." The band captures the essence of the genres with brash vocals, smoldering guitar, a diabolical horn section and the occasional wailing harmonica.
Listening experience: A barrelhouse romance that goes down like a shot of cheap whiskey
Essential track: "I Lied," a Rolling Stones-esque regretful romp
More on the band: thedirtyhandsak.com
The High Pets
"Born In A Cave"
The High Pets debut release, "Born In A Cave," offers a bit of everything in the rock registry: a little punk, a little grunge and searing vocals by Becky Griffin, all driven by taut guitar riffs and shredded solos.
Listening experience: A high-heel high-kick to the side of the head
Essential track: "Rock'n'roll," a fun and frenetic track to jump-start the album
More on the band: thehighpets.bandcamp.com
String of Lights
"String of Lights"
Splendidly simple, Anchorage songwriter and instrumentalist Heather Stewart takes plaintive folk songs and makes them lush in "String of Lights." Jazz and classical influences are incorporated with the help of a who's who of Anchorage musicians, from Big Fat Buddha's Matt Brenna to Kat Moore of Super Saturated Sugar Strings.
Listening experience: Nostalgic and haunting, like a visit to a Civil War gravesite
Essential track: "Rusted Tracks," is stark with penetrating harmonies
More on the band: stringoflightsmusic.com
"We Marry In The End"
Duo Rodolfo Chavez (guitar) and Rayne Rabe (piano/guitar) formed two years ago in Anchorage as Saturday Cinders. "We Marry In The End," is short (five songs) but diverse, with elements of Latin music and beats, brooding guitar lines and dynamic vocal interplay.
Listening experience: A romantic interlude that's both playful and sincere
Essential track: "We Marry In The End," provides tightly clinched harmonies a soaring hook
More on the band: saturdaycinders.com