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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Maldives

posted by on August 1 at 15:17 PM


The thing about the Osmonds was that they were neither a little bit country nor a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.

The Maldives probably never bargained for being mentioned in the same hemisphere at the Osmonds, but here we are. Screw the Osmonds! The Maldives are A LOT country, A LOT rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s clear that Seattle is a hotbed for kickass alt-country music. Why this is the case I don’t know; the dank and mountainous Northwest is a far cry from the dusty, desolate flats of the Midwest or the humid hills of the South. I’d wager it’s a blue collar thing. Seattle is historically a working class town, and the Maldives—and the Moondoggies, and the Cave Singers—play a form of working class music. Plus there’s the Tractor Tavern, which is reknown across the West Coast for hosting this kind of music, so there’s built-in support for it.

I saw the Maldives (pronounced MALL-deeves, it’s an island chain in the Indian Ocean) at the Tractor a couple months back as they twanged their way through a mesmerizing set. Well balanced between hard-rocking Drive-by Truckers grit and waltzing Band-ish traditionalism, they rolled along with a nuanced sound provided by fiddle, weepy steel and gentle acoustic and scruffy electric guitars, rich organ, and some accordion, plus a smart, subtle rhythm section. Singer Jason Dodson—looking much like the mustachioed Jason Lee from My Name is Earl—has a helluva voice, striking, clear, and bright like the full moon on a hot August night. He belted and crooned, singing of undying affection, misplaced dreams, family ties, and sailboats. The crowd swayed along.

There’s something about country that, like blues and reggae, resonates with a potent and undeniable truth. It’s folk music. In the right hands, it tells the story of a people. And even here in Seattle, thousands of miles away from the plains and the Opry, the Maldives do it right.

They play the Tractor on Saturday, August 4 before heading off on a two-week West Coast tour.

Hear some music at the Maldives’ Stranger Bands page.

RSS icon Comments


Awesome choice jz. The Maldives have such a big and satisfying sound...and they're nice guys too!

Posted by E | August 1, 2007 11:12 PM

jonathan, did i ever tell you that one of my studio projects was to mix down a bunch of maldives songs?

Posted by ewald | August 2, 2007 3:45 AM

"alt-country?" Don't you mean "indie-americana?" :) Thanks for showing some love to that side of the scene, whatever you call it. It IS a big part of the Seattle landscape. The Stranger really needs to bring back the roots/americana column ... (Drunk by Noon - Border Radio)

Posted by yep | August 2, 2007 9:43 AM

@3--doh! yeah, "indie-americana." or maybe "indie-roots"--though i guess thats something different:

Posted by jz | August 2, 2007 10:17 AM

Nice jz, had not seen that. It's an interesting take on it, but what a hopeless task, this categorization. I haven't the slightest notion anymore what "indie" really means. I think it used to mean simply 'independent of label (or at least major label) support.' Anymore, it seems like it has to denote a certain attitude, or refers only to punk-influenced music.. or young, "new" music. If indie still means independent, then the question is independent of what? 'Roots' and 'Americana' at least suggest some connection to older folk/blues/country which are kind of uniquely American.

I don't envy your job, which is largely to describe one language - music - with another - written words. Something is usually lost in translation. Doesn't it drive you nuts?

Posted by yep | August 2, 2007 11:18 AM

yep--nah, its pretty fun, actually. im a geek like that. it only drives me nuts when im misunderstood, which is the feedback im getting from another piece in this weeks section:

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