Call it fate, call it fortune, call it the all-wise guiding-goddess Hand of Rock 'n' Roll, because any way you cut it, Gazebos was meant to be. Ever since the motley quartet of Seattle music-scene lifers came together in 2014, Gazebos has been a shining beacon of the city's live-music landscape, their performances raucous and cathartic and hilarious, uniting the tribes under a banner of unabashed and unabridged fun. Now—finally!—Gazebos have an album out, their debut for Hardly Art Records, and nobody will be surprised that Die Alone is not the existential bummer the title suggests. Gazebos rages against the forces of post-millennial, pre-midlife anxiety and Die Alone is the soundtrack.
Which isn't to say it's a church picnic: Die Alone is more complex than simple genre tags or clichéd descriptors allow. The band coined the phrase "whoa-pop" to describe their music and they say they're not mad at the term "prog-punk." Also consider that the album includes a cover from the Grease soundtrack that'll thrill the indie-rock theater-nerd contingent, such as it is. Chalk up the sonic free-for-all to each member's long and eclectic legacy of creative endeavors. None of these people has ever sat still very long.
Singer Shannon Perry has been in bands all her life (including Butts and Katherine Hepburn’s Voice), and is one of the Northwest's most sought-after tattoo artists. Guitarist TV Coahran runs the weirdest karaoke night in Seattle, named after his record label GGNZLA, and for the past few years has toured, performed, and collaborated with lo-fi legend R. Stevie Moore. Shane Herrell played guitar with critical darlings the First Times, then switched to bass for Gazebos and Bread & Butter, his good-times choogle-rock band. Drummer Jordan T. Adams, typically shirtless by song two at Gazebos shows, comes from cult-fave bands Spurm and Monarchies. They're all well-seasoned performers, they've all orbited each other's bands in and out of Seattle for close to 20 years, and they're all Cancers (except Shane: Capricorn).
Given the band's collision of interests, Die Alone's manic diversity makes perfect sense. These songs are patchworks of parts conceived individually as demos and woven together collectively during sessions in Coahran's basement—which is also where the album was recorded on 8-track with Seattle garage-rock guru Kurt Bloch as engineer. No song sounds like another and yet the album sustains a dizzying, alluring vibe.
It hits you right from the start: Is that Perry singing backwards on opener "Just Get High"? Her vocal delivery is bewitchingly unpredictable, the band stretching the song around her like bubblegum. "I Don't Wanna Be Here" is the album's punchiest track, clocking in at two minutes thirty seconds, Perry venting some serious girl-power angst; dig the woozy flange on Coahran's guitar throughout. Perry further philosophizes on "Sauna" and "Blend," swerving between her brassy mezzo-soprano and an intense speak-sing mode. "Ere Specka" is a nonsense phrase of Perry's own devising but, with her vocals buoyed by Coahran's, the hiccupy chorus makes its meaning clear. In Grease, Rizzo the proto-feminist Pink Lady sang "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" with an empowered elegance that presaged Gazebos' smoldering update (and yes, that's a Rizzo tat on Perry's neck).
If Gazebos has a mission statement, it comes in album closer "Boys I Like." On the surface it's a song of unrequited romance, but deeper down it’s about living and loving every moment to the fullest. Perry sings, "I'm dying right now/you're dying right now/every single one of us is dying/together alone right now." Yeah, we're all gonna die—it's the one fate nobody escapes. We're all gonna Die Alone, and like Perry sings, that's fine. Somehow, coming from Gazebos, that news doesn't sound so bad.
"[Shannon Perry's] voice is like its own strange percussion instrument, bouncing off at odd angles on the edges of the beat, switching between melody and spoken-word intervals." -- The Stranger
"Whereas so much rock 'n' roll focuses on the shame of life's lowest moments, Gazebos let you know that hitting rock bottom isn't so terrible." -- The Portland Mercury
"Self-proclaimed 'Whoa-Pop,' Gazebos pack a powerful punch with singer Shannon Perry’s infectious coos and yips." -- KEXP
"Contagiously fun." -- City Arts Magazine