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A gem of commiseration

Olympia solo project Doubt finds truth in enthusiastically strummed bedroom pop

The Sky Giants provide progressive rock that gets the blood pumping. Photo credit: Facebook

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Sometimes, we want our music to be aspirational. When we're listening to Kiss or Jay-Z or any number of SoundCloud rappers, we want to place our bodies inside theirs, to experience the solo jet planes, endless parties, and the lavish lifestyle that they're brazenly living. This is a paradigm so fundamentally removed from ours that we giddily imagine ourselves as, if nothing else, the enthusiastic entourage to this madness. Other times, when we're at home and contemplating the grinding difficulty of it all, we seek commiseration: we want artists to act as a mirror and reflect back the hardship that defines our lives.

In previous years, we might've had to pursue the lonely music of folks like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith to get our fill of confessional singer-songwriters. These were people who painfully left everything they had to offer on their records, brushing their fingertips against an acoustic guitar's strings and letting the world know just how awfully they felt. They provided albums that people in the know could consume and commiserate with, knowing that someone else in the world not only felt the way they did, but could communicate it in such a heartbreakingly melodic way.

Luckily, the preponderance of home recording has led to more than one generation of artists that are able to bear their souls for very little. Yes, it has resulted in an overabundance of lightly talented people putting their work online for everyone to see, but sifting through this material provides an endless quantity of gems to find.

Case in point: Doubt, the solo project from Robin Zweifel, an Olympia resident and Alabama native. I normally don't like to highlight an artist that is just getting started, because I think it's unfair to the person I'm covering, but Doubt feels like such a fully formed project that I feel like Zweifel will do wonderful things, regardless of whether Doubt continues. Whether or not Doubt continues, Zweifel is an artist I'll follow.

Makin a Sound is a five-song EP of Doubt's music, which leans heavily on the string-band immediacy of mandolin and banjo, augmented by Zweifel's punchy vocals and evocative lyrics. The rapidly strummed songs -- frequently clocking in at under two minutes -- pair well with Zweifel's voice, which plays like a soused and energetic friend confiding in you in the corner of a bar. It's unusual to hear a queer artist leaning on such traditional Americana sounds, even as Doubt makes that sound their own. The finger-picked majesty of "(who am I kidding?)" sounds like the sort of unearthed classic that would be included on a compilation of outsider artists released years after they're gone.

DOUBT, all ages, w/ Penis Menace, Little Trouble Girl, Irene Bowen, 7 p.m., Sunday, Le Voyeur, 404 4th Ave. E., Olympia, donations at the door, 360.943.5710,


If you, like me, want to blast sound into your ears to purge every bit of gross 2018 nonsense from your head, you may be inclined to see the Sky Giants. This heavy progressive rock works like a Neti Pot for your head, flushing all the bad thoughts and snot from out of your stuffed-up ears. Blending psychedelia and pummeling riffs, the Sky Giants is a reverb-soaked treatment for all that ails you. Can you dance to it? Sure. Will it soothe your aching leg? Not certain. What we can tell you is that the Sky Giants will get your blood pumping in a way that no snake oil salesman can.

THE SKY GIANTS, w/ Granite Waves, Old Foals, 8 p.m., Saturday, The Valley, 1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, donations at the door, 253.248.4265,

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