Three Imaginary Girls

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

Remember the days when Asy and Chloe's manager (the girls' dad) gave home burned CD's away of the girls' latest recordings?

Now Smoosh is signed on Barsuk, they have adoring fans of all ages and they're touring with the Eels. Our little hometown band is all grown up. But don't fret, they're still not grown up enough to drive. But they are old enough to rock!

Heh heh, don't fret. It's funny cause they don't, because they don't have a stringed instrument in the band. I think I just made Char-worthy pun!

Anyhow, all bad puns aside, tonight was like an episode of duos gone wild. Barsuk Records can lay claim to an imaginary first: I don't believe we've ever attended a three-band bill that featured only six musicians. Not only that, but all three duos were also related (Smoosh are sisters, and both Viva Voce and Mates of State are married couples), and all are new signees to Barsuk. It's like the indie-rock goodness cosmos were aligned, and TIG was ready: of course, with a duo of imaginary girls.

No real relation, of course. Just an imaginary one.



Seattle live music fans: hasn't it been amazing watching the Smoosh sisters (Asy and Chloe) grow up? Watching them at 14 and 12, I feel like an old school fan — as imaginary friend Heather Hydra proclaimed mid-set, "I've loved them since they were like, eight!"

Freshly signed to Barsuk with a sophomore release due out in June, the girls really have grown — both in height (I'm pretty sure they're both taller than I am now) and in musical abilities. Chloe hits her skins harder, Asy's voice has grown strong and confident, and their songs have evolved into more sophisticated tunes. What was once precociousness is now undeniable prowess; if we don't have Asy and Chloe action figures before those two get their drivers licenses, I for one will be disappointed.


iva Voce. Photo by Brian Teutsch. Married in music and in life, Kevin and Anita Robinson relocated from the south to Portland and started the band Viva Voce which is Italian for "by word of mouth". They've had songs featured on WB's hit television program One Tree Hill and were just signed to Barsuk.

One would think a two-piece would have a thinner sound than the traditional 3+ popular bands of today, but any would-be holes are expertly filled. Anita plays with a ferocity that is shocking coming from such a wee seemingly sweet exterior.

While drumming, Kevin started playing a kazoo. A kazoo! On a few songs he plays acoustic guitar along with Anita's electric and he played the bass drum. Overachievers.

Viva Voce definitely sound huge, astonishly huge for just two people, and they filled Neumos with their brand of fuzzy space harmonies {their brand equals lots of "Bah-bah-bah" harmonies behind alternating male/female lead vocals, sound samples I'm thinkin' (since I couldn't figure out where that bass guitar sound was coming from), a drummer who also managed to play acoustic guitar, kazoo, and cowbell and still made time for witty stage banter ("Thank you, Will Ferrell, for destroying the cowbell"), and the most unassuming, petite woman playing absolutely blazing effing guitar solos. That lady even makes a two-necked guitar look cool. Note to Kevin: I would totally marry her, too.


She's an amazing solo guitar player. When she broke out the double neck guitar (see picture) she became the woman my buttrock dreams are made of.



I didn't know you had buttrock dreams, Char…

Mates of State. Photo by Brian Teutsch.It's been years since I've seen Mates of State (since 2002's Our Constant Concern, if memory serves). It's good to see that Kori and Jason still gaze at one another as dreamily as ever. I worried that the years of marriage and the rigors of the road might have taken their toll on the lovebirds, but noooo. Clearly, these two are relentlessly happy, and their energy immediately invigorated the crowd. The excitement in the room was palpable; you could feel the crowd responding to their renown onstage chemistry, delighting at watching the two of them belt out their ferocious brand of pop. I bet at least five new couples hooked up at that show, and two others rekindled old flames. That's just the way that Mates of State makes the indie rockers roll.

Though I've only heard a few tracks off Bring it Back so far, I can tell that their latest record is even more fabulous than Kori's new bleach-blond hair. I have no idea how those two manage make such good music, look fabulous, tour, and raise a new baby (daughter Magnolia is a recent MoS addition and even makes a cameo on the new record).

Mates of State. Photo by Brian Teutsch.For those of you that could only take small doses of Mates of State's hyper harmonies in past albums will find yourself addicted to their toned down easier to digest new release, Bring it Back. One thing that hasn't mellowed out is their unabashed love for each other. I kept expecting him to throw up his drumsticks and meet her mid-stage for a makeout session. Romance, romance everywhere!

Speaking of love… we love Mates of State, we love Barsuk, and we love you. Stay tuned for the Bring it Back album review.