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Lo-fi two ways

Zell and Dagne Gorham approach lo-fi songcraft from different angles

Dagne Gorham is one of two lo-fi acts getting a highlight this week. Photo credit: Facebook

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While there's certainly not a dearth of options for your entertainment dollar in the City of Destiny, it can still be reflexive to look at a place like Seattle with envy. A metropolis with an artistic bent like Seattle is, by its nature, positively lousy with shows every night of the ding-dang week. Tacoma, in comparison, goes through its fair share of quiet periods - usually marked by the departure of a scene-defining band or the shuttering of an influential venue. Even keeping in mind that these things work in waves, the music scene of Tacoma can still take on a desolate vibe.

This is not one of those weeks, with several shows vying for my attention, and with little in the way of awe-inspiring novelty to help me to choose which show I'd like to highlight for you, the dear reader. In an act of King Solomon-esque wisdom and sense of justice, I've painstakingly decided to split my column into two halves: we have a dyad of shows getting the spotlight, this week, with each of them offering slightly differing takes on a singular aim.

First up, we have Zell, the latest project from Dylan Treleven. Most recently, Treleven acted as guitarist and songwriter for the Silver Dollars, those lovable scamps that functioned as something like the polar opposite of outlaw country. If Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson were the leaders of one gang in the rumble, the Silver Dollars would be facing off against them, clad in their pristine white suits, bolo ties, and long, flowing hair. Theirs was the country music of people that didn't party quite as hard in the ‘70s.

Zell is a departure from the Silver Dollars, though it fits quite comfortably in the oeuvre of Treleven's previous bands, which leaned towards lean, lo-fi songcraft. The rest of Zell is made up of Quinn Lewington on guitar, Paul Hirschl on drums, and Robert Earl Thomas on lead guitar. On their debut EP, fittingly titled 4 Tracks, Zell benefits from the ambience of tape hiss and warm guitars that come along with recording on 4-track. The effortless hooks and coating of Americana draws comparisons between Zell and fellow lo-fi enthusiast GREENFIELD - which makes sense, as members of Zell go way back with GREENFIELD.

Friday night will see Zell performing at the Valley, with Mirrorgloss and Lobsana also taking the stage. It'll be an interesting contrast to see Zell perform with those two acts, as their analog style juxtaposes with Mirrorgloss and Lobsana's electronica.

Saturday night, Bob's Java Jive will be showcasing another lo-fi group, though one that comes from more the Burger Records school of lightly psychedelic garage rock: Dagne Gorham. It seems unthinkable that I've never heard that doozy of a name before, but here we are. Dagne Gorham is the frontwoman, while Will Gorham plays drums, forming a minimalist two-piece that makes the most of its stripped-down setup.

Like Zell, Dagne Gorham recently released their own four-song EP, Everywhere and All At Once, which is absolutely brimming with a jittery energy that the largely laconic Zell eschews. "Organizer" is all headlong momentum, chugging along with prickly guitar and drums that recall the machine-like precision of the National, and "Thank You" swells with reverb and off-kilter rhythms. Everywhere and All At Once has been released on Youth Riot Records, an up-and-coming Tacoma label that's quickly establishing itself as a home for some of the most exciting punk, metal, and indie rock in the South Sound.

Both of these shows are more than deserving of your patronage, as they signal the ushering in of what might prove to be Tacoma's next period of musical abundance. Get in on the ground floor.

Zell, w/ Mirrorgloss, Lobsana, 8 p.m., Friday, March 3, Donations Suggested, The Valley, 1206 Puyallup Ave, Tacoma, 253.248.4265,

Dagne Gorham, w/ Black Giraffe, Explorers Club, Scorn Dog, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 4, $5, Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843

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