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Pacific hymns: the definitive hipster playlist | Untapped USA

Hit the street with these sounds of the counterculture.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Immersion in Seattle’s music scene begins minutes after disembarking at Sea-Tac, town’s worldwide airport, which homes a retailer dedicated to the file company Sub Pop. In 1988, the then shoestring Sub Pop Records launched Nirvana’s debut single; it subsequently turned as synonymous with Seattle as Motown is with Detroit. Opening our hipster playlist is Nirvana’s fourth single, Smells Like Teen Spirit, launched three years later. It turned a large hit throughout the world, igniting the rock phenomenon that may remodel Seattle, a hitherto obscure enclave in America’s far north-west, into an epicentre of cool.

Previous generations of Seattle musicians took with no consideration that they might have to depart their hometown in the event that they wished a profitable profession. Arguably the best electrical guitarist of all-time, Jimi Hendrix is up subsequent – he was born and raised in Seattle, though solely found fame after moving to London.

Right now, Seattle’s music has by no means been so wealthy or various. Witness the distinction of Fleet Foxes’ Sun it Rises, a craving choral-Americana hymn to frontier spirits, with avant-hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Shine a Light hails from their futuristic twin Quazarz album – launched in 2017 by a sure indie file label with its personal airport store.

Portland has turn out to be famend lately for its ultra-progressive attitudes – as satirised by the comedy sequence Portlandia – however the metropolis’s hippy roots have lengthy attracted free-thinkers from throughout America. Emerging from town’s early 90s underground rock scene along with his disarmingly catchy dark-folk confessionals was Elliott Smith. Here, we hint the Texan native’s troubled quest round Portland in Needle within the Hay.

Other musicians who rocked up in Portland included feminist trio Sleater-Kinney, fashioned within the Washington state capital Olympia throughout the mid-90s, by guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, alongside drummer Janet Weiss. From their 2015 comeback album, No Cities to Love confounds the adage that radical voices mellow with age – or, within the case of Portlandia co-creator Brownstein, fame.

Next up, we have the Shins, who fashioned in New Mexico however turned Portland residents following their 2002 breakthrough hit New Slang (as featured within the movie Garden State). Then, Laura Veirs – who was referred to as to town by way of Colorado and the midwest to craft her contemplative modern-folk tapestries – provides a revelatory model of the Grateful Dead tune Mountains of the Moon, from her newest album the Lookout.

The Grateful Dead had been, in fact, a flagship band for 60s counterculture. From San Fran, tremors from the Summer of Love rippled up the west coast of the US – after which across the world. While the Dead had been busy soundtracking Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, the 1967 Haight-Ashbury scene’s business powerhouse was Jefferson Airplane, a comparatively simple folk-rock band till the recruitment of siren vocalist Grace Slick. Her vocals on White Rabbit – with its exhortation to “feed your head” – alongside different songs, reminiscent of Somebody to Love, helped the tracks turn out to be anthems for the ages.

A decade later, the punk revolution was beneath method, and San Francisco’s North Beach district harboured the newest manifestation of town’s nonconformist heritage: the Dead Kennedys. They deployed caustic satire in songs like California Über Alles to debunk mainstream American tradition and politics.

Our penultimate observe is Why Won’t You Stay, by considered one of San Francisco’s best songwriters, Mark Eitzel, chronicler of town’s luckless and heartbroken for the previous 30 years – each with legendary band American Music Club, notably on Everclear (Rolling Stone’s Best Album of 1991), and in his newer solo work. Eitzel’s lachrymose voice is the proper accompaniment to a Mission bar crawl.

Carrying town’s freak flag proudly into the current day to spherical off our playlist are Thee Oh Sees, a twin-drummer psychedelic juggernaut led by wild-eyed John Dwyer – proof that San Fran isn’t merely a spot, it’s additionally a way of thinking.

For extra inspiration and to ebook your journey to the US, go to ba.com/usa


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