Matt Crowley/The AS Review
At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, melodic folksters Breathe Owl Breathe and Seattle trio The Autumn Electric will converge on Bellingham as part of the AS Underground Coffeehouse Concert Series.
Breathe Owl Breathe, who will be visiting Bellingham for two shows as part of their West Coast tour, bring a heavier sound than most folk bands that roll through the Coffeehouse. Having recently completed their fifth album in six years, Breathe Owl Breathe has received high praise from a number of music publications and Web sites, including Pitchfork.com, a notoriously picky music review site.
Guitarist/vocalist Micah Middaugh brings deep, weary vocals to Breathe Owl Breathe, a strange hybrid of fellow crooners Matt Berninger of The National and David Bazan of Pedro the Lion and Headphones fame. Of course, Middaugh’s vocals wouldn’t have the same emotional punch if it weren’t for the other half of Breathe Owl Breathe, Andrea Moreno-Beals, whose tone-setting cello arrangements provide an excellent backdrop for Middaugh’s lyrics.
If Breathe Owl Breathe is “heavy” folk, then The Autumn Electric is certainly on the lighter side. While cello and deep vocals dominate in Breathe Owl Breathe, band mates Michael Trew (vocals, guitar, piano), Naomi Smith (vocals, piano) and Daniel Desrosiers (percussion, various instruments) use guitar-picking and piano in their songs. The band is currently touring throughout Washington and the Pacific Northwest. “Very Soon the Light,” the first release from the band, arrived in 2008 and their newest release, an EP titled “We Breathe the Same Air,” is already creating a buzz in the Seattle music scene.
The Autumn Electric is certainly more “reserved” than most bands that pass through the Coffeehouse, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have just as much to say. Trew isn’t afraid to sing when he wants to, but for the most part relies on a light, storytelling tone in much of their music (think Conor Oberst). Despite this, Trew’s voice often takes the attention away from the other instruments. The guitar and percussion displayed in much of the band’s catalogue, such as “The Farmwife,” “Napoleon’s Josephine” and “Hair,” is used more as an accompaniment for Trew rather than a focal point for the listener.
If your folk appetite is still not satiated, on Friday, March 12, Mark Gunnery and Brenna Sahatjian are set to visit the Underground. Both musicians are members of the Riot Folk collective, an “anti-profit mutual-aid collective of radical artists and musicians.” Gunnery recently released a free album of electronic music, titled “Panopticon,” part of which was recorded in Bellingham. Sahatjian’s most recent release, “Wooden Eyes,” is a demo for Slow Teeth, for whom she sings and plays cello. For details on both artists and the rest of the Riot Folk collective, visit www.riotfolk.org.
As always, the shows are free and open to the public.