Quite a while ago I wrote about my love of the 2nd record by a band called Summer at Shatter Creek. If you know anything about me by this point, you know that I deeply love music that creates a haunting atmosphere in tandem with poetic words. A deep John Lennon vibe is all over that Summer at Shatter Creek record along with lyrics that resonate deeply. It was somewhat of a surprise to learn that the mastermind behind that project, Craig Gurwich, had relocated to the Seattle region and was launching a new project called Secretary (I just might have one of the 1st Secretary stickers). I was absolutely thrilled when I 1st heard the tracks posted to Secretary’s website a few months ago, and now that I’ve played the physical copy of the EP more than I’ll admit to – the verdict is in. Masterful, genius, classic, gem, tour de force – look up any of these words in a thesaurus and list “Secretary’s debut EP” next to them.
The end of Summer at Shatter Creek signaled the beginning of Secretary, the new band founded by Craig Gurwich (vocals, guitar) and Em Malich (bass, vocals). Originally based in Southern California, the duo built and modified instruments, looking for (and finding) that timeless quality that would resonate with an audience. Relocating to the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, to be exact – they set about adding pieces to the band and the lineup now adds Max Mcsimov (guitar), Jill Zirkle (guitar, vocals), and Jack Chandelier (drums). Chemistry can be a funny thing – either a band has it or they continually try to find the missing piece (or pieces). That isn’t a problem with Secretary – they arrive fully formed with tunes crying out for radio play on Modern Rock stations. Emotive singing, guitar sounds that recall those early records on Sun Records, and atmosphere that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Radiohead record. I’d call that a record worth listening to.
playing the game..(EP breakdown)
The Only Ones – steady beat and melodic guitar strumming open the EP, vocals enter the mix after just 15 seconds or so. Quivering emotion, holding back just a bit. Killer bass and haunting back vox enter around the 1 minute mark and the track just continues to build from there. “we are the only ones / looking up at the stars” – perfect chorus to a perfect song. If the Seattle sound of 2013 is melodic modern rock that bleeds emotion, then Secretary should be the poster child for the movement.
I Know It’s Wrong is my personal favorite off of the EP. If the opening guitar lick doesn’t entrance you with its seductive, melodic ways maybe Craig Gurwich’s heartbreaking falsetto laced vocals will. “I know its wrong / to…play the game”. Another song that sucks you into its world and doesn’t let go for the entirety of its 4:26 running time. Clean guitar sounds (though distorted towards the end) with an atmosphere that would have sounded at home on Radiohead’s The Bends.
Words isn’t a cover of the hit song by The Monkees (though I would have welcomed that). Instead it is brooding piece that is anchored by an incessant bass riff. The guitar licks provide a catharsis of sorts, a counter point to the controlled atmosphere. Is it OK to talk about Pink Floyd? I hear a bit of a David Gilmour vibe on some of these riffs. Vocals snake around the guitar riffs, slipping into falsetto at key junctures. Perfection.
It’d be a disservice to call this a promising debut EP – it exists as a grand statement of intent, 3 tracks perfectly executed. If this is a sign of what the full length is going to sound like, we are all in for a treat. You can check out the band via Bandcamp and head over to the band’s Social Network page. I’ll be looking forward to the next release from Secretary.
Verdict: I Know It’s Right