Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Chris B's Schmindie News Roundup and it's ensuing comments lit a fire under me to write this little blurb I've been meaning to get out for a while. While some, Chris B included, may feel this way:

I'm regularly asked to define schmindie, so, to me, schmindie is boring indie rock that gets the benefit of the doubt because it's "indie". Generally, if it has guys with beards and/or acoustic guitars, you're probably going to need to wake me when it's over.

I tend to disagree. I totally love me some good ol' acoustic indie-folk rock and I feel like there is so much quality stuff coming out of Seattle right now. For the past year or so, I've often found myself in discussions with other local music lovers regarding the post-grunge Seattle sound and I've heard it called several things: "Campfire Rock", "Trucker Rock", "Beard Rock" and now this "Schmindie" label.

Myself, I believe I've got the perfect term coined for the new genre: "Lumberjack Rock" (which may also be expanded into "Lumberjack Folk").

I'll provide a little more detail on what qualifies as Lumberjack to me:

  • Dudes with beards, the shaggier the better
  • Acoustic guitar presence
  • Flannel shirts and big belt buckles
  • Multi-part harmonies
  • Dirt
  • A band name with some sort of animal or pastoral reference
  • Beginnings or a regional presence in either Washington, Oregon, or Idaho (thereby negating the "Southern Rock" genre)

Prolific local lumberjacks:

Iron & Wine – At my first Iron & Wine show in 2002, I saw a dirty kid walking around the Crocodile with this huge soup-saver beard and wondered to myself why this trailer park guy would be at a show in Seattle. That kid ended up being Sam Beam, the granddaddy of all Lumberjacks. He makes this list because he signed to Sub Pop and practically lives here. Before that show, no one on the Seattle indie-hipster scene was yet sporting the now ubiquitous hibernator beard. I hold Sam Beam personally responsible for every bird's nest beard from Ballard to Belltown to Beacon Hill.

Band of Horses – Even though they moved to South Carolina or wherever, they began here and I don't care what anyone says – they're still a Northwestern lumberjack band to me and always will be. Ben Bridwell's voice makes my heart soar like a hawk. Plus they spawned the equally awesome Grand Archives.

Fleet Foxes – DUH…

Cave Singers – Pete Quirk looks like a dirty trucker. I love him.

Horse Feathers – From Portland by way of Idaho, everyone should go check out Horse Feathers if they get a chance. Their music hoarsely whispers "Gold Rush" and makes me swoon a little bit.

Can you think of any others? Back me up on this, Lumberjack Lovers!