If you've been in Seattle for the past month, you'll know the weather around here has been more suited for late September than nearly summer. By some force of nature, however, the evening of June 21st, the first official day of summer, turned out to be quite warm. Perhaps the warmth came around to comemorate local band Arthur & Yu's CD release show that night, for their new album, In Camera. Their repertoire of breezy folk-infused indie-pop was a perfect way to kick off the carefree months ahead.
This was not only an important night for them, but also for their label, Hardly Art. A second endeavor for Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman, the label only has one act signed so far, and it's this charming duo. Not only is their music laid-back, but the pair's demeanor on stage was also. Their set went through without a hitch, starting right on schedule and lacking any difficulties. They did play a rather short set though, only taking up 30 minutes of their alloted hour. The two frontmen, Sonya Westcott and Grant Olsen, hardly said a word between songs, besides a gracious gesture to the audience for coming out for the first day of summer and their CD release. No problem there, as less talking means more music. Their back-up band was just that; they were set off to the side, with the edges of the spotlight barely touching them. The highlight of Olsen and Westcott's music is their beautiful vocal harmonies, their voices blending wonderfully together. I couldn't find out if they're a couple or not, but there were a few shared glances between the two which made my heart melt.
What I do know about the band is that they both played music in bands before. Most notably is Sonya's time as a bassist for the band Rogue Wave. Now as the "Yu" half of the duo, she plays keyboard and percussion besides providing vocal harmonies. Story has it, as told in an interview for Seattle Weekly, that Grant found Sonya through the music ads on craigslist.org. What a lucky find that was, as the two have quite a reputation for their great chemistry in their music and as friends. Their moniker, "Arthur & Yu" is reportedly derived from their childhood nicknames.
Openers A Sunny Day in Glasgow set the mood for the evening. Like the headliners, A Sunny Day in Glasgow played a short set, only 20 minutes, starting right on time and barely saying a word between songs. Their music is on the verge of unearthly, with the psych-rock influenced guitar and ethereal vocal stylings. Just before you get too far away, they keep you grounded with a drum beat easy to tap a foot to.
Besides picking up their latest release, you can make Arthur & Yu part of your summer soundtrack by catching them on tour with The Album Leaf starting this month.