Back in 2011 with the release of its 7” vinyl Myths, the only defining quality that distinguished the Seattle-based Pickwick from the cluttered Pacific Northwest indie folk scene was lead singer Galen Disston’s buttery vocals. “We were conscious of our songs being very derivative, very wannabe,” Disston says. Since then, the sextet started writing songs collaboratively, brought in Americana, blues and soul influences and has successfully stepped out from under the neo-indie umbrella that so many Seattle bands are huddled beneath.
Pickwick’s first full-length album Can’t Talk Medicine — recorded in the house that the band shares — brings soul and blues rock back to the Northwest in a big way. Relying less on acoustic guitar skeletons, the album incorporates heavy drums, beckoning organs and, of course, Disston’s distinctive voice. Disston, who Seattle Met recently crowned “the best singer in the Seattle music scene,” drives the record’s sound with his explosive, longing bellows. Songs like “Window Sill,” which embarks on the inner workings of an unraveling mind, and “Brother Roland,” which holds elements of self-loathing, are Disston’s way of channeling his troubled inspirations, Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan. “In truth I’m a very satisfied, happy person,” he says. “But the lyrics came from me idolizing these people who are totally sick.”
While Can’t Talk Medicine deserves a listen, it doesn’t fully demonstrate the unrestrained bravado ever present at the band’s explosive live shows.
Pickwick plays 4:30 to 6 pm Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Equinox Real Estate/KLCC Stage at Eugene Celebration. See eugenecelebration.com for ticket info.