Review: Blvd Park, ‘The Sound’

I feel like the vaudeville gypsy caravan has rolled into town, much to my delight. Seattle-based six-piece Blvd Park vaunts countless acoustic instrumentations, including guitar, mandolin, trumpet, accordion, banjo, upright bass, and tambourine.  The band’s versatile horizontal structure features multiple lead singers/songwriters (every member sings at some point), always weaving dense, varied male-female harmonies.  This “spaghetti western” acoustic ensemble’s formula and technology is simple, yet they achieve complex results, incorporating gospel, country, doo-wop, jazz, and klezmer elements.  I just don’t have enough eclectic adjective glitter to sprinkle about this bunch.

The Sound, their sophomore album, is equally multifaceted.  Like the band’s California desert “browngrass” roots and named after the watery basins of their adopted Northwest, some tracks are sparse, desolate and hauntingly mournful, others undulating and warm.  The upbeat tracks are downright triumphant and bawdy and joyful, and others build slow anticipation and explode into celebration.  There are toe-tappers, slow-swayers, and wrist-cutters.  You will simultaneously fancy yourself lonesome cowpoke, dastardly outlaw, and cheeky burlesque star.  In a good way.

BLVD Park CD Release Poster 2/9/12

BLVD Park are performers in the truest sense: not afraid to get a little silly, they operate with capable fluidity but maintain a sense of playful carnival-esque flair. They aren’t afraid of vocal ad-libs, fun whistle parts, trumpet flourishes, a capella duets, or failure.  They careen tightly around the turn of gimmicky vs. genuine, but their sincerity always comes across.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy this music just as much as they are enjoying making it.

The Sound is available for download and listening at  Check out their CD release show this Thursday, February 9, at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.

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