Jessica Dobson started playing shows around her native Southern California when she was 17, and life’s moved fast in the decade since. Deep Sea Diver was originally a solo project, just Dobson singing along to the bold sounds of her electric guitar. That changed in 2006, when Dobson was in Seattle recording the songs that would become her first EP,New Caves, with producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes), and met a barista named Peter Mansen at Fremont’s Lighthouse Roasters. Mansen, a Seattleite by way of Tacoma, had formally been the drummer of the post-rock outfit Eyes of Autumn; through persistence and after a few rejections, he eventually became Deep Sea Diver’s drummer and, in 2009, Dobson’s husband. The two married in a California ceremony and taco feast during which Mansen accidentally shot his groomsman in the leg with a pellet gun, in a way heralding the couple’s upcoming shared life of adventure and unpredictability.
2009 was also the year that Deep Sea Diver released theNew CavesEP, opened a summer tour for Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, and officially recruited a third member, Dobson’s old friend from Long Beach, bassist John Raines. In the meantime, Dobson’s professional cachet got a boost after she was invited to join Beck’s band as lead guitarist and toured the U.S., Europe, and Japan on his Modern Guilt tour, including an appearance on theLate Show with David Letterman. Dobson returned to late night TV in August of 2009; she spent the month touring as a bassist with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and appeared with them onLate Night with Conan O’Brien. In 2011, James Mercer named Dobson the guitarist of his new lineup of the Shins, along with Richard Swift, Joe Plummer, and Yukki Matthews. Following appearances onLate Night with Jimmy FallonandSaturday Night Live, Dobson will spend much of 2012 touring with the Shins for their latest record,Port of Morrow;
Despite her success as a moonlighter, Dobson remains primarily committed to her own band. By December of 2010, Dobson had had enough of Southern California; she and Mansen relocated to Seattle. With Raines, they wrote a taut live wire of a song with Raines called “Weekend Wars,” the first of a series of new material that would become Deep Sea Diver’s first full-length,History Speaks.Dobson had toyed with the idea of ditching the band name and just using her full given name for the project; ultimately, the collaborative process of writingHistory Speaksdecided her against it-the songs belonged to Mansen and Raines as much as they did to her.
History Speaks,which features guitar work from Sean Walker (the Delta Spirit) and percussion from former Tom Waits drummer Stephen Hodges,took a cross-country journey to completion-it was recorded in Long Beach with Matt Wignall (Cold War Kids, the Delta Spirit), mixed in Seattle by the band’s close friend Luke Vander Pol, and mastered in New York by Paul Gold (Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors). The resulting record, which hit #1 on Bandcamp the day it was released in February, is too unique and far-reaching to categorize. Some songs, like the title track, are slow washes of contemplation (“History speaks, and I’m still listening”); others, like “You Go Running,” are live wires of happy energy and movement. Propelled by Dobson’s uniquely boyish, bawling vocals, it’s an intricate, carefully orchestrated type of pop and guitar rock that can’t be compared to anything else being made in Seattle today.
Wild Belle is the new duo of siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman. The two have weaved in and out of each other’s musical lives for years sharing records, tapes, sounds and experiences. Wild Belle marks their first official collaboration, finding their sound rooted on a tropical island where rocksteady rhythms, disco beats and soulful grooves shine down steadfast and abundant.
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