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Seasons change

Seattle band Señor Fin balances sunny indie pop with restless complexity

Señor Fin’s lush indie pop is the perfect way to bide time until spring is in full effect. Photo credit: Facebook

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It's one of the many odd ways we have of processing music that we arrive at comparing the sounds we're hearing to the relatively ineffable feeling we get from the various seasons. Of course, humans have spent centuries at a loss for words, reaching out into the darkness to say that a certain piece of music is summery, or autumnal, or reflective of winter's frigid solemnity, or of spring's exuberant rebirth. My dad, when deejaying at his local bar in the ‘70s, would just cut to the chase and play a double album where each of the four sides featured ambient sounds befitting their respective seasons.

I first found myself listening to Señor Fin in what I think is the indisputably correct manner: sitting on my front porch in the early blushes of April, getting just a little too warm in my light jacket from a tentatively sunny day, and checking the weather report to find that there's only rain in my immediate future. Señor Fin, a five-piece outfit originally hailing from Denton, Texas, before relocating to Seattle, is the kind of band that seems genetically manufactured to be ideally suited for soundtracking winter's relinquishing stranglehold. Though their initial mode seems to be one of calm indie pop, they soon reveal themselves to be practitioners of more complex styles, with each song playfully exploiting a sense of tension and release: while the sun may shine on Señor Fin, rain clouds are never far away.

Señor Fin is made up of Jesse Miller, Ronan Delisle, Mason Lynass, Jesse Botello, and Cynthia Chiou. Their most recent LP -- with the somewhat tongue-in-cheek title Jazzy -- is brimming with dynamic instrumentation and offbeat compositions, which makes its opening moments all the more delightful in retrospect. "Egoa" starts off the album with a feint toward a twee singer-songwriter vibe, a delicately strummed acoustic guitar and hushed vocals teeing up a song that may be more appropriate on an early Iron and Wine album, before giving way to a lush wall of sound. Yes, this is an indie pop act that recalls bands like Grandaddy, Belle & Sebastian, and more recent groups like Capybara, but it isn't long before they show that they have their share of bite.

After the serene opener, we get "Weed Demon," and while the sweet harmonies haven't gone anywhere, they are accompanied by a fizzy bounce and an underlying sense of itchy anxiety. The gently driving verses give way to destabilizing torrents of crunchy, psych-tinged guitars. As the album title Jazzy may have tipped off, Señor Fin swims in the waters of highly melodic indie rock, but in that mode, they find pockets of progressive rock's experimental excursions. "White Hawk" drifts dreamily along, a somnambulatory crawl that descends into a squall of uproarious distortion by the song's second half. "The Golden Coast" revels in odd time signatures and spindly guitars, like a less confrontational version of the Dirty Projectors' scrambled virtuosity.

For all of Señor Fin's diverting, jazz-inflected detours, the band's heart is clearly pumping hardest when indulging in the sun-dappled breeziness that make up the core of their output. One of their strongest tracks, "Joe Charmers," finds the perfect balance of the band's pop-minded sensibilities and their more restless edge. Señor Fin's closest analog may be the low-key early ‘90s supergroup, the Grays, which featured ringers like Jon Brion (composer of scores for movies like Magnolia and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Jason Faulkner (of Jellyfish fame). Like the Grays, Señor Fin have power pop ambitions, but are just too musically facile to limit their creativity to a simple song. One predicts Señor Fin will continue searching.

Señor Fin, w/ Sawtooth, Wolfgang Strutz, 10 p.m., Thursday, April 19, $5, Le Voyeur, 404 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.943.5710,

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