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Four bands hit Real Art with music that nearly smothers you in cathartic waves

Oceans Are Zeroes create maximalist, shimmering indie rock that threatens to swallow you whole. Photo credit: Cassie Zimmerman

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For a lot of us, when we're young, I think it's a fairly common experience to absorb music in a very surface-level way. Your parents play you songs, which tend to be upbeat and inoffensive, and you latch on to certain sentimental songs, but the notion of music achieving a sort of transcendence is still something that wouldn't naturally occur to you. If I had to guess, I'd say that most of us tend to start appreciating the breadth and depth of music's innate emotionality right around the time we start approaching puberty. Just as everything is heightened and made more complicated, in this time, so, too, is music. We learn the capacity for music to inspire introspection, to stoke rage, to soothe wounded hearts, to expand consciousness.

If you're lucky, once you've discovered music's ability to awe, that feeling never quite leaves you. I'd hate to go back to a life where music couldn't hit me at my deepest level. And, while a tender ballad or a muscular punk track can both affect me in different ways, I tend to find myself most susceptible to songs with an enormous sound. Maybe it's the formative years I spent listening to Phil Spector-produced songs, but I will never not be drawn to bands that sound big enough to drown out everything else in my life. This can present itself in different ways, and several of those presentations can be found in the bands performing this Friday at Real Art. 

Black Ocean Temple began its life as a solo project for local music mainstay Nate Daley. After recording an album's worth of material on his own, Daley recruited brothers Jason and Joshua Ott to make Black Ocean Temple into a proper, full band. Their brand of psychedelic rock is impactful and eminently melodic, drawing on touchstones like David Bowie, T. Rex, the Beatles, and more recent groups like Tame Impala. Finely textured and unpredictable, Black Ocean Temple's music is made for immersive distraction.

Describing themselves as post-emo, Dearheart bring the sort of confessional songwriting and bombastic guitar rock that may transport you to your teenage years when life felt so overwhelming (or to your current life, when things remain stubbornly overwhelming). Soaring vocals and relentlessly cathartic melodies align in songs that seem to be constantly reaching crescendos. Though their solitary release, the Temporary Emotions EP, is labeled as being a collection of demos, they've clearly engineered these songs enough to achieve their desired highs -- mixed, though they are, with crashing lows. It's tempting, for some, to dismiss anything that deigns to attach an "emo" tag to itself, because that can dredge up memories of early ‘00s posers, but Dearheart have the talent to win over naysayers.

Idaho band Oceans Are Zeroes trade in music that nearly swallows you up in waves of anthemic indie rock. Judging by the singles they've released thus far, there is no going home for this group -- only going big. Even "Inside," which is relatively sedate, envelops the listener in dreamy reverb before building to a eruption of a climax. This is maximalist, shimmering indie rock that may be best experienced on headphones. 

Time will tell whether Timothy Robert Graham, the final act on the bill, fits into the rest of the bands' wall of sound, but his first single off of his forthcoming new album showcases a singer-songwriter with a gift for compact compositions, getting in and out in a snappy two minutes of Spoon-esque R&B. And, guess what? There's more than enough room for that, too. Whatever sinks its way into your mind, heart and limbs is an invaluable commodity for a pent-up society.

DEARHEART, OCEANS ARE ZEROES, TIMOTHY ROBERT GRAHAM, BLACK OCEAN TEMPLE, 7 p.m., Friday, May 4, all ages, $7 ADV, $10 DOS, Real Art Tacoma, 5412 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma,

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