I believe that one reason Seattle and the Northwest in general puts out a crap-load of great music is the constant incest between bands. Whereas incest usually creates mutant babies, Grand Hallway is a band where it gives birth to a unique (but not in that “special” way) and lovely sound that encompasses the octet’s orchestral swells on songs like “Blessed Be, Honey Bee,” and the delicate finger picking of “Usagi No Uta” off their newest release, Promenade, out this September.
The band is mainly Tomo Nakayama, formerly of Asahi and Jen Wood Trio. The rest of the lineup includes members from the Maldives, Sleepy Eyes of Death, Widower, and Voyager One. More than this, on their newest album they also had help from Heatwarmer (a band whose songs are such a mash-up of different styles that I continue to see them live just to figure out exactly what the hell I think of it, and have decided, I love it), Cory Gray, and Goh Nakamura.
Grand Hallway’s songs are melancholy, melodically Beatlesque simultaneously Japanese and European, at times sparse and at others dense, but they always hit home in a direct and charming way that brings a listener into the folds of what the Northwest music scene has to offer. Don’t miss them at 3:15 on the Northwest court, Monday of Bumbershoot.
Here’s an acoustic version of “Happy New Year,” one of my favorites off the new album.[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmEEPax6iA0&feature=related]