Ben Todd of Lonesome Shack plays the blues. (photo: Tony Kay)

It’s music time, ladies and germs! I’ve got 12 songs for you that will change the way you think about (local) songwriting. From blues artists to rappers to rock ‘n’ roll that will blow your ears back, these are the twelve best songs I laid my own on all month. They’re a collection of the thrilling, thought provoking, jostling, jolting and jeering tracks made by geniuses in our own neighborhood. They’re gifts. So, let’s enjoy them! 

Lonesome Shack, “New Dream”

Ben Todd (aka Lonesome Shack) has fingers like spider legs and a voice like a slow howl through a busted window. He’s a blues musician that called Seattle home for many years but who now lives in the U.K. Our loss is Britain’s gain. Nevertheless, the songwriter has a new record out and the debut single, as you can observe here, is as expert as anything he’s released. 

The Black Chevys, “Sweet Tooth”

This Seattle-based rock band pulses. They’re like lightning and thunder bottled up overnight and released with the morning sun. While “Sweet Tooth” was released about a year ago, it’s something I only recently discovered and it whets my sonic appetite for more from this powerhouse. Go ahead, try to listen to it just once (it’s impossible). 

Lake, “Bury The House”

There’s a wistful nostalgia running rampant through this track. With each lyric, the band is trying to hold onto a cunning spirit that keeps one step ahead. As we listen, we chase the memory of something we can’t quite put our fingers on. And the result is musical bliss. 

The Winter Shakers, “Indra’s Jewels”

Front man Jeremy Shanok is, as the kids say, low-key one of the most talented songwriters in the city. Listening to him is like if Bright Eyes tapped your shoulder in a bar and introduced himself. There’s poetry and attitude to his lyricism and delivery. It’s impactful and, at times, astounding. 

TxR, “Special Ed.”

One of the most jubilant hip-hop artists in the city, TxR is poised for a big 2019. While this track dropped a little over a year ago, it is a new balloon stuck to my own personal musical mind. The buoyant bubble grows and grows, filling with a helium-like exuberance. 

Annie Ford, “Amnesia”

Cities like New Orleans are known for their glorious musical mayhem, their circus and cacophony. But if you can’t make it to New Orleans from Seattle, just sample the songs from Emerald City songwriter (and fiddle player), Annie Ford, who is as inventive, fun and inspirational as they come anywhere. 

The Cosmic Shuffle, “Evil Look”

Emerald City musician, Dune Butler, is at the center of several excellent projects in town, from the psychedelic group, General Mojo’s, with local standout Heather Thomas, to this triumphant four-piece, The Cosmic Shuffle. Part band of geniuses, part progeny of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, the group is a delight to listen to and wonder how their songs might next impact the constellations. 

Click here to listen to “Evil Look” by The Cosmic Shuffle.

Ben Zaidi, “Right Mind”

I don’t remember when or where I came across Ben’s music but listening to it makes me wonder why pop stations haven’t made him a household name. This thoughtful, wistful song combines elements of Kanye and Hozier, two masters of sound. I look forward to much more. 

Young-Chhaylee, “You Are Not Alone”

I’ve loved this song ever since the first time I heard it at a show in Columbia City’s Bourbon Bar. I continued loving it while listening to a lo-fi recording on SoundCloud. Now, there is a new version and I love it even more. It’s like Sam Cooke jumped into 2019 and brought his acoustic. 

The Salmonberries, “Mistakes”

Thirty seconds into the song and lead singer Ray Jay Hall’s voice pops like a flashbulb. The energy from this Seattle rock group fills a room like floodlights and the band’s musicianship inspires feet to mingle and groove brightly. Want to party? Pick up the Salmonberries. 

Click here to listen to “Mistakes” by The Salmonberries.

Macntaj, “Dog”

In the indie rock ocean of Seattle, some audiences don’t get the exposure to rap music that they probably should. But one trip around the sonic block with Macntaj remedies much. His is a confidence mixed with rhythm. And he’s clearly rising up the ranks in the Emerald City. If you want to hear a good emcee, check him.

Dweller On The Hill, “Soldiers of Virtue”

As soon as I heard this song, I thought: What the hell just happened? This is a hit! It reminds me of grunge, Beck and Perfume Genius. It’s a cocktail of much local stardust. There’s nothing more to say: Listen.