Stream: Deep Sea Diver’s new album Secrets

Plus, track-by-track reviews from Britt Daniel, Ben Gibbard, James Mercer, and more


    This Friday, Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver will release their new album, Secrets, via their own High Beam Records. Ahead of the release, the record is streaming in full below.

    Band mastermind Jessica Dobson has a plentiful resumé all of her own as a touring member of The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Beck’s band. Secrets, however, is the effort that will solidify Deep Sea Diver as a formidable project in its own right. Unlike past EPs and their 2012 History Speaks full-length debut, this new album is propelled forward by Dobson’s newly ferocious guitar work.

    “I tried to take a step in the direction of having — I don’t know if ‘jarring’ is the right word, but more in-your-face guitar tones,” Dobson told The Stranger in an interview. It was a little scary for me at first. It felt untamed. Even rehearsing — it has taken me a lot more time to be able to sing them and play those parts at the same time. On the first record, it felt very manageable and safe. This one isn’t.”


    But don’t take her word for it — or even ours. Underneath the stream, read a track-by-track review by some of Deep Sea Diver’s musician friends including Spoon’s Britt Daniel, The Shins’ James Mercer, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, Blake Mills, Delicate Steve, and more.

    Ben Von Wildenhaus on “Notice Me”:

    “Notice Me” sounds like a lost track from Rumors played by King Crimson. They put a smooth 6/8 blues guitar riff into some kind of meat grinder that churns out quantized robotic staccato riffagery. It’s 6/8 against 4/4, sure, but it doesn’t hurt your brain. At its heart still beats a Bob Welchian west coast groover under the leathery skin of a Steve Howeian scorcher. This kind of pop song deconstruction is something “the Diver” does well. They turn muscular, brainy riffs into accessible, catchy songs. It’s prog dorkery that elevates, rather than destroys, traditional pop song craft. But at the end of the day I’m mostly offended there’s no raging sax jam.


    Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) on “Wide Awake”:

    No matter how well they record this song (and they recorded it beautifully), it will never compare to how noisy and fun this track is going to be live. Tonally and rhythmically, it harkens to LCD Soundsystem’s best moments. It’s hard for me to not imagine the band smashing their instruments with joy at the end of the song. I would love to hear “Wide Awake” in a John Claude Van Damme movie while he’s working out and getting better at something like kung fu or mind control.

    Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) on “Creatures of Comfort”:

    I’ve been sitting in from my computer for the better part of an hour listening to Deep Sea Diver’s wonderful new track, “Creatures of Comfort.” The page has been blank until about 30 seconds ago when I wrote the preceding sentence. It has been through this exercise that I’ve learned there’s a reason I became a songwriter and not a music journalist; I seem to completely lack the ability to write eloquently about such a beautiful song.

    It’s by no means Jessica Dobson’s fault. She certainly fulfilled her end of the bargain by constructing a soaring chorus I find myself singing acapella to no one in particular through the streets of Capitol Hill. I keep saying to myself, “damn, this song fucking rules!” but that’s not the kind of thing one can write into a track review. You gotta come with something far less caveman that that.


    But I’m afraid that’s going to have to do today because it’s the most honest statement I can muster about “Creatures of Comfort”. Sometimes loving a song is just that simple; You put it on repeat and completely fall into it until there’s no thinking, just experiencing. Over and over. Tearing us apart with our own two, own two arms.

    Delicate Steve on “Secrets”:

    “Secrets” has some guitar parts that remind me of clouds. The bass reminds me of an ant colony. There are even some guitar parts that remind me of ants. I listen to Secrets and I hear clouds and ants. And I am happy.

    James Mercer (The Shins) on “Great Light”:

    Well, the thing about “Great Light” is that it’s so fucking gorgeous you want to cry. That doesn’t happen often. At times it no longer seems to be a goal deemed worth striving for in the pop world. But that’s a tangent I don’t want to go down. I’m honored to have been asked to communicate something meaningful about this gorgeous work but it’s really too much to ask.


    It’s a song that touches a listener with profound sadness. The melancholy that comes from recognizing some universal, perpetual desire. Musically and lyrically it’s just fantastic. You’ll just have to buy the damn record.

    Britt Daniel (Spoon) on “See These Eyes”:

    Jessica Dobson is pure rock and roll but you can feel heaps of elements coming together on a song like “See These Eyes”. Is it gonna be a fun ride? The introductory organ swell and synth riff might make you think that’s where this is headed til you get to the vocal, which goes for serious depth. Is it a confession? Is it a condemnation? Is it a rock song? Is it for dancing? You listen and you tell me. Truthfully I don’t know and I like it that way. The troopers in Deep Sea Diver have been kicking around in the corners of the public’s awareness for a bit now, here’s hoping this record gets them on some front pages soon.

    Pure Bathing Culture on “Always Waiting”:

    Sarah Versprille: Rose quartz, white christmas lights in a backyard, 1996, driving at night in western NY state in the winter, the part of your heart that cocks it’s head to the side to ask you a question when you look straight at it.


    Daniel Hindman: Sick bass playing.

    Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) on “It Takes a Moment”:

    Full disclosure: I like anything that has an overlarge hi-hat sound and anyone who pronounces a schwa as though it were the letter i, as in “momint.” I like sections of songs where it’s just a melody with no chords but the melody had better be good which luckily this one is. I like it when you’re sure you like a song because of its rawness and its ugly lo-fi guitar and then as your thought is finishing up you realize the song actually has a lush string orchestra on it. But I predict you will like it too.

    Brian Blade on “Body on the Tracks”:

    There is this feeling of entering a dream sequence from the first sounds of “Body on the Tracks”. Unable to judge what year it might be and the sonic invitation that stirs my curiosity. What comes next? The beautiful questions that might not have answers or that only time will tell by continuing to listen. The rhythm keeps you swaying side to side and back and forth until the motions become a circle, actively surrendering to the moment. I am inspired and challenged by the lyrics, “I’m holding on to the one I love/ Quit trying to wait for some day that never comes.”

    There are some things that remain secrets between me and God or between me and the one I love, but I won’t be keeping the songs from this album to myself. I think that music lives outside of time, just sweeping through the air, descending at the perfect moment for the ones with an open ear and an open heart to receive the secrets. I should go now and make a mixtape that intertwines John Coltrane and the Beatles and Giuseppe Verdi and Deep Sea Diver.


    Blake Mills on “New Day”:

    When piano becomes it’s own accompaniment in verse two, I smile with a feeling of relief. Up until then, the song’s quarter-note frame belies its underlying complexity. With almost kora-like 32nd notes, the piano anthropomorphizes, and becomes decidedly more self-sufficient than in the first verse.

    Another satisfying juxtaposition is in the lyrics of “New Day”, which succinctly convey this person’s complicated emotional world. The lines, “There’s always a reason to forget you ever crossed my mind … I know it’s a new day though nothing has changed” hit inside cleanly and keep resonating for a good while after. It’s precise music.

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