Behind the stacks of vinyl at Streetlight Records rouse the gritty sounds of Pickwick.
This Seattle band performed a free show on March 7 for Santa Cruz record-store patrons before taking the stage at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall in Felton later that night. These were among the first stops on Pickwick’s premiere coast-to-coast tour, where they will promote their debut LP “Can’t Talk Medicine” — released March 12.
Pickwick is what happens when indie-rock melds with the reverberation of neo-soul, creating sounds that frontman and 2004 UC Santa Cruz alumnus Galen Disston call “dirty and garage-y.” Disston’s superbly soulful vocals intertwine with the instrumental musings of ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll. Their vintage sound is nuanced by the musical manipulations from vibraphonist and Grammy award-winning musical engineer Kory Kruckenberg. In addition to Disston and Kruckenberg, the six-man band is composed of drummer Alex Westcoat, keyboardist Cassady Lillstrom, bassist Garrett Parker and guitarist Michael Parker.
Since their formation in 2008, Pickwick has gained popularity in the Pacific Northwest, placing the band directly on the Seattle music scene map. Their current success is due largely in part to the receptiveness of the Seattle community.
“It just felt like there was something up in the Northwest,” Disston said. “Seattle takes chances on bands.”
The band’s 2011 compilation EP entitled “Myths” landed them among Seattle’s best current musicians. NPR also listed them among the “5 Artists You Should Have Known in 2011.” Since then, Pickwick has played festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Tex. and Washington’s Sasquatch! Festival.
Pickwick’s most recent endeavor is their nationwide tour to promote the band’s debut album, “Can’t Talk Medicine.” The multifaceted album, which was recorded in a living room, is seen as a collection of every band member’s different musical style and influence, Disston said.
With a nod to their eclectic approach, “Can’t Talk Medicine” showcases the band’s fine-tuned, sharp and soulful vibes and is accompanied by an almost natural grittiness. The dark, more heavy-hitting sounds featured on “Brother Roland” and “Halls of Columbia” are complemented by the refreshing “Letterbox” and end-track “Santa Rosa,” which showcase harmonies similar to infused indie-folk Americana. The album also includes notes of gospel organs and an eerily nostalgic interlude entitled “Myths.”
The debut album isn’t the only place where the band’s energy can be felt — these impassioned musicians also know how to awaken an audience and preach the sounds of Pickwick on stage. The Seattle band will have the opportunity to share their music with upcoming performances across the United States and Canada. The tour features stops ranging from San Francisco, Austin’s SXSW Festival and New York.
“We’re thrilled [to be going on tour],” Disston said. “This is the first time that we’re touring the East Coast.”
After their show at Don Quixote’s on Thursday, Disston — who was covered in sweat and expressed nothing but gratitude toward the audience — said he was happy with the way the show went. With the excitement of a North American tour ahead of the band, he said Pickwick’s kineticism will surely continue with every stop on the tour.
“We don’t really know any other way to do it,” Disston said. “We really can do this night after night.”
“Can’t Talk Medicine” was officially released on March 12. You can purchase it at your local independent record store or at pickwickmusic.com