It hasn’t been the most direct route to stardom for Seattle’s Great Waves, but becoming the first confirmed band for Bumbershoot 2010 isn’t a bad start. The band recently became the winner of Seattle’s underage “battle of the bands” Sound Off. The competition is reserved for groups 21 and under and has served as a launching pad for bands The Lonely Forest, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head and Schoolyard Heroes. Winning this competition is a clear testimony as to how the band has transformed from the middle school portable where they started rehearsing outside of Seattle to an up-and-coming Bumbershoot ticket.
Starting out as the Matirns, the band started out as a group of high school friends who broke up when they headed to college. The summers brought them back together with the desire to build a fresh sound from scratch, so the alt-country Great Waves came to be.
With influences such as 2006 Sound Off winner Lonely Forest, Soundgarden, and Death Cab for Cutie, you wonder where the band’s alt-country genre comes into play. But the folksy, somber voice of lead singer Ashley Bullock (think Regina Spektor gone country) added to the depressing fiddle and melodic mandolin make it a folk lover’s dream. The Soundgarden influence becomes apparent and brings the most unique sound of Great Waves with the mix of Will Holmes’ Chris-Cornell-inspired vocals and guitar mixed with the melancholy Bullock’s voice. The title track of its first EP, “Blue Blood” is the perfect example of the mish-mash of Holmes and Bullock and a sample of the mix of distorted guitar mixed with mandolin and violin that make their sound stand out.
After Blue Blood, Great Waves is planning a second EP in April. The band may soon release a full album, but it is still searching for that niche sound. While Bullock’s melancholy voice is more suited for depressing tracks such as “Untitled,” Great Waves gets more attention from its more upbeat songs like The “Moon and the Gutter”.