With all due respect to their respective bands, Ultimate Painting are, well, the ultimate. The London-based duo of James Hoare and Jack Cooper formed after their other bands (Veronica Falls and Mazes) went on tour together. The two quickly found a shared love for '60s music, and began to collaborate in Hoare's home studio after the tour had ended.
Now on their second album (the excellent Green Lanes which came out this summer on Trouble In Mind Records), Ultimate Painting further hone their prowess: Hoare and Cooper's vocals chime together tighter than ever before, and their wildly-expressive guitar lines find new ways to sync up.
Seattle's own Zebra Hunt opened the show, who are just sounding better and better every time I see them. Walking up to the Vera Project that night, I heard music echoing through the Seattle Center corridors. "Aw, they're playing Polaris for pre-show music," I thought to myself, as I sprinted down the stairwell. Nope, turns out Zebra Hunt had just started their set, but their melodic style definitely calls to mind college-rock bands like Miracle Legion and The Feelies. If you're wondering why we don't have any photos from their performance, what happened was, the drummer complained about a light shining in his eyes, and since the band had set-up in the front lobby (the first time I've ever seen a band perform there at Vera Project, actually), the lights were all on one circuit, so you turned off one, you turn them all of. Zebra Hunt proved that night they can perform quite solidly in total darkness.
Without the same percussionist vision impairments, lights came back on for Ultimate Painting, who kicked off their set with three tracks from their self-titled debut, including the title track, er, also titled "Ultimate Painting." Whatever, they just really like those two words.
The set also included Green Lanes single "(I’ve Got) The Sanctioned Blues" (a former KEXP Song of the Day), and another KEXP fave "Central Park Blues," whose jangly guitar and rapid-fire vocal delivery led an excited audience member to yell, "Play it again!" once they were done.
Ultimate Painting's set of laid-back pastoral-pop was so good, I'm bummed more Seattleites didn't come out for it. Cooper said the boys will be back stateside in 2016 (albeit on the east coast), but hopefully at the rate they're cranking out albums, they'll be back in Seattle (and in the KEXP studios) soon.
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