Seattle Got Twang

King of Heartache (Will Records)
The Souvenirs

By J. Bamforth

Even after living there for a year, the city of Seattle never ceases to amaze me. When most people think of Seattle, images of the Space Needle, thousands of coffeehouses and espresso carts dotting the city and Bill Gates easily come to mind. Musically, the Emerald City is best known for starting the "Grunge" movement: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and the gods of flannel-clad kids everywhere, Nirvana. No one would even dare believe that progressive Seattle would span a country band, but now it is a reality.

The Souvenirs' style is not strictly country. Their sound travels back to the old country of Roy Orbison, western swing, honky-tonk and good, old-fashioned rockabilly. This is what a cynic might call another attempt by a modern band to go retro in an attempt to cash in on nostalgic old-timers and trendy kids. I refuse to believe that about the Souvenirs only because they call pull off retro without sounding facetious.

The band formed in Seattle, but all of the members come from places where the idea of the cowboy has not yet fallen into the mothballs of history. Members hail from Pocatello, Idaho; San Manuel, Arizona; Missoula, Montana; plus Marysville and Granite Falls, Washington, towns that we Easterners have never heard of and couldn't find on a map if our lives depended on it. All of these locations, with their slightly different tastes in Country & Western music, contributed to the Souvenirs' sound. This leaves us with an unusual sound as a band, and an equally unusual collection of sounds on the album.

I must recommend this CD for everyone who loves all things retro, country fans and anyone with some money to blow that is looking for something new and different to add to their collection. The Souvenirs' debut CD is fantastic proof that their is more to Seattle than coffee and grunge, and makes a better gift than a bronze Space Needle paperweight.