While the Seattle music community continually cultivates new talent, few young Northwest bands have experienced as steep and rapid a trajectory of success as The Head and the Heart.
The five twentysomethings met a little more than a year ago during a weekly open mic at a Seattle bar. Chemistry was instant, and a collective love of classic folk harmonies (a la Crosby Stills Nash and Young) was evident, as was a natural knack for fortifying melancholic Americana sounds with the bright, powerful structures of pop songwriting. Collaboration was also quick, and the group released its self-titled debut in July, where it proceeded to sit atop local charts for weeks. A little more than two months after the album's release, the band has vaulted from its open-mic origins to opening for Vampire Weekend at Seattle's 2,800-seat Paramount Theater.
When I initially heard an advance copy of the record in late June, I was less than a minute into "Down in the Valley" (the band's first composition) before I knew I needed to book The Head and the Heart immediately for an in-studio session on Audioasis, KEXP's long-running local music show. Capturing the band just as its wave of success was rising made for one of the most memorable in-studios I've experienced.
Co-frontmen Josiah Johnson and Jon Russell traded lead roles with equal elements of grace and swagger, while silver-throated vocalist and violinist Charity Thielen wove her contributions in seamlessly and pianist Kenny Hensley kept everything buoyant with his Beatles-esque keys. Percussionist Tyler Williams is the band's secret weapon, pushing everything forward at precisely the pace a song calls for, whether it's the gentle rasp of an egg shaker or a roof-rattling snare drum. And while the songs (particularly the sing-along dance-floor driver "Lost in My Mind") are exceptionally well-conceived and their execution nearly flawless, what makes this session moving is the obvious comradery among the band's members and the euphoric sense of anticipation underscoring it all.