It seems indie music is experiencing a movement of flannel-clad gents strumming vintage guitars while tugging at scruffy beards. A token petite blonde with amazing pipes singing backup over sweeping, rootsy tales about vagabonds is standard fair. But if you can wade past all the skinny jeans and saddle shoes you will find your way to Hey Marseilles, and you won’t be sorry.
This Seattle-based group is unafraid to throw an instrumental or two alongside heartstring-tugging ballads. What sets Hey Marseilles apart isn’t just the classically trained string aficionados Jacob and Samuel Anderson; it’s also the soul-searching lyrics of Matt Bishop, Nick Ward’s guitar and drumbourine, Patrick Brannon’s trumpet, Philip Kobernik’s accordion and Colin Richey’s drum set.
Originally a trio, Hey Marseilles was formed in 2006. Guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Bishop said in an interview during 2012’s SXSW Festival that they “added musicians until we couldn’t fit anyone else onstage.” Give a listen to their intoxicating 2010 album To Travels & Trunksand try to imagine the sound without all seven; it’s near impossible.
They’ve got a little bit of something for everybody; gypsy-inspired accordion, maudlin jazz trumpet, mournful viola and even a joyful beat here and there. However, it’s not all heartache and missed connections with Hey Marseilles. There is a sense of joy in each note strummed or sung, regardless of subject matter. Take the song “Rio,” a vibrant, hand-clapping exultation of love and optimism sure to make you smile, for example.
Touring now in support of its two-song single Elegy, the adorable new age boy band will make a stop at Cozmic on Friday, May 25. Get there early to catch Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox, otherwise known as the dream-pop duo Lemolo. I have a feeling the pairing will feel a little like having dessert before dinner.
Hey Marseilles plays with Lemolo 9 pm Friday, May 25, at Cozmic; $10 adv., $12 door.
— Jackie Varriano