Crystal Desert
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Crystal Desert

Seattle, WA | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Seattle, WA
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Rock Post-punk




"Northwest Music Month — Day 20: Crystal Desert"

"Ladies and gentlemen, hello and welcome back to Northwest Music Month 2016, where we’re featuring a different local band or artist for your music discovering pleasure every day during the month of June, to help ring in a summer of local music. Some days these artists could be a regional favorite that’s already got a following, and other days they could be a complete unknown that you’ve never heard of. Today marks the 2/3 point of Northwest Music Month, and today we’ve got a very special one for you. Fans of post-punk and fuzzed-out oddity, listen up, here’s your new favorite band: Crystal Desert!

Fresh out of Everett, Crystal Desert is a beautifully twisted headcase of a local band, and are one of those bands that’s much easier to listen to than try to describe, like great originals often are. A tag that comes to mind is “psychedelic,” which is evident in all the effects and atmospheric flourishes that permeate many of the band’s tracks. “Indie rock” is an easy one, though the band doesn’t feel like the slick, commodified version of indie rock that you often find on the radio, more the genre’s more lo-fi and bracing pioneers. “Dark-rock” could certainly be applied to songs like “Hide Your Eyes from The Shroud,” though the eccentric lead vocals from Ryan Alexander do keep these songs from falling too far into their own despondence.

Various sides to Crystal Desert can be found on the four-way Four Corners split the band released with The Pro-nouns, Asterhouse, and fellow Northwest Music Month featured band Actionesse. In our review of Four Corners, we found that in contrast to the other bands on the bill, Crystal Desert’s first track “Sick of Living,” “features more of a twinkly indie rock vibe to it, with eccentric lead vocals that aren’t afraid to get a bit zany.” The band’s second song on the split, the aforementioned “Hide Your Eyes from the Shroud,” feels like total dark-punk worship, and is one of the best highlights on Four Corners.

If the idea of “evil psych-rock” makes your mouth water (and it should), then Crystal Desert is highly recommended listening. It isn’t often you find a band so versatile and willing to experiment with so many different shades of rock music, and still manage to emerge on the other side with their own distinct voice." - Northwest Music Scene


"The post-punk madness of Crystal Desert – a tight three-piece out of Everett, WA – was a buzzy third course. Vocalist Ryan Alexander was show-stopping, the band’s sound was a bit dejected and dark, with a shimmering layer of psychedelic fuzz. Both Alexander and bassist Christian Smith were like manic zombies, cradling their guitars to the monitors, crafting elaborate waves of pungent atmosphere. Drummer Josh Ihler took off his shirt just a song or two in, destroying the catchy, downer tracks with ease." - Seattle Music News

"Review: DIY ‘Four Corners’ Seattle Split Boasts Big Names, Killer Songs"

"Are you a supporter of local music that likes the idea of a four-way split between some of the most prominent and promising names in local Seattle music, spanning more than just one genre? If you answered no, well, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you answered yes, Four Corners is what you’ve been searching for all your life. Set for release on June 10th, the self-funded and wholly independent Four Corners split will be released to the world, which touts two new songs each from its four contributors, and will be supported by a June 2016 tour all across Washington State.

Local rock bands Crystal Desert, Actionesse, The Pro-nouns, and Asterhouse make up the split, and the split isn’t afraid to tiptoe into various flavors of rock. Asterhouse’s first track is the noisiest and the most free-wheeling of all; the guitars are punk as hell, the vocals are theatrical and emotive, the tune itself loose and catchy. The tracks put forward by Actionesse are less chaotic and are more about the surf-y grooves, shout-along choruses, and ass-whooping drum fills. Crystal Desert features more of a twinkly indie rock vibe to it, with eccentric lead vocals that aren’t afraid to get a bit zany. Think something like Topshelf Records by way of Foxygen. The Pro-nouns are more of your tried-and-true alternative rock, with shrieking lead guitars and the most comparatively easygoing sound of the bunch.

It’s most certainly a versatile set of tracks. “Hide Your Eyes from The Shroud,” the second Crystal Desert track on the split, sounds way darker and more post-punk’d-out than “Sick of Living.” Actionesse’s second track, “Who’s Gonna Wear This,” doesn’t sound afraid to get into a bit of ska-punk, where their other track had much more of a surf rock flair. “Sweet Fragile World” from Asterhouse is an unashamed dance-rock song, with a sturdy 4/4 kick drum and funky guitar passages. It’s an alluring C86-esque dance floor-ready song, with one of the most winning choruses on the compilation. Four Corners closes with an electronically-tinged, multi-phase 11-minute behemoth of a conclusion from The Pro-nouns, easily the most ambitious track of the bunch, and one that’ll turn any skeptics that possess the virtue of patience into intrigued fans.

Four Corners is the sort of release that makes you happy to be in such a vibrant music scene. While some parts of Four Corners may not be easy to digest in the traditional sense, it’s a delectably formidable collection of tracks. Each of its contributors brought their A-game for this one, and you can hear passion oozing out of every orifice throughout every song. After listening through the split a handful of times, Asterhouse emerged my favorite of the bunch, but this comp isn’t about seeing who can outshine the other, it’s more about playing off each other and generally kicking ass." - Northwest Music Scene

"Review: ‘Four Corners;’ Bands Hit High Dive Saturday"

"Crystal Desert’s contributions are gritty and wonderfully herky-jerky. Ryan Alexander’s vocal delivery is snotty, fiercely apathetic (he makes it a thing), and filled with white-knuckled strain. When, in “Sick of Living,” he sings “my favorite thing about sobriety / is that sobriety burns,” it’s filled with searing sarcasm and topped off with a rage-filled scream. “Sick of Living” is dark yet triumphant, and features a bass solo near its end that will embed itself into your brain in a very good way. “Hide Your Eyes From The Shroud” is also catchy; the only downer is that it ends too soon (thank goodness for the repeat button). Joshua Ihler’s drumming on the track feels instinctual and a bit predatory as well." - Seattle Music INsider

"Fisherman’s Village ’16: Winning"

"The Bait Shop stage, which was situated at Tony V’s Garage and was curated by The Stereo Wire, was host to a bill stacked with local bands peppered with Seattle stalwarts. Sundries anchored Friday night’s lineup, their blues-punk sound pairing perfectly with lead singer/guitarist Sadie Ava’s emotionally saturated vocal and lyrics. Playing directly before Sundries was The Skyemonkey, a guitar-drum duo that played hard and fast, with Timothy Hill delivering his own rich vocals and animated stage presence. But it was Everett’s Crystal Desert that took home the crown for performance of the night, their angular punk and physically twisted delivery coming across like a musical kick in the teeth." - Seattle Music Insider

"Battleme’s Explosive Return"

"Everett Music Initiative showcased a great lineup of mostly local bands at Tony V’s Garage last Friday in Everett for Crystal Desert’s EP release show, and the cherry on top was Portland’s hard rocking Battleme. Crystal Desert, The Moon Is Flat, and Johnny Lee Ledford may have been playing support to Battleme, but each of these three bands played strong sets of their own as the Everett scene continues to make headway.

Ledford started the night off with a retro look and more than a dollop of Bowie homage. He pulled off this interesting panache of an image smoothly, with the guitar chops to back it up. The band has been getting progressively more confident, stronger sounding, and tighter with each gig they play. Bassist Blake Lewis and drummer Thys Ferwerda may not dress the part as Ledford does, but their musical support is solid. It’s no surprise that they will be heading to SXSW this year, and it won’t be a surprise to find them on the bill for the upcoming Fisherman’s Village Music Festival.

Kirk Rutherford‘s latest outfit, The Moon Is Flat, expands on what worked best in his previous band, Shark The Herald: dirgey, psychedelic, building jams. Their soundcheck even seemed to morph into part of their set, with ambient noises waxing and waning, with the band members playing sounds off of one another. Rutherford is the unassuming focal point, standing front and center, eyes downcast. Yet, as he fed off of the growing energy of each song, he became animated, attacking his guitar and thrashing his head, lost in the music. Fringe from his DIY poncho was flying everywhere. The Moon Is Flat had gathered a decent sized crowd by the end of their set, and they were swinging their heads as well. This is another band that shows consistent improvement each time they perform; it’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of their current recording sessions.

Crystal Desert’s new EP, What is Crystal Desert?, is snotty, punky, and great. Punky, but the three songs all clock in at over four minutes, which lends a whole other dimension to the music. The songs fold and bend through several movements like a sort of mini-opera. Crystal Desert’s fans were definitely in full force as the venue filled up for their set. The band’s live show added yet another layer to the package as all three members gave an energetic performance. Ryan Alexander contorted himself in ways that would result in a sprained ankle in most other people, and his vocal delivery varied between nasal sneers and throat-searing screams. Alexander hunched protectively around his guitar even as he would throw his body to the floor with it. Drummer Josh Ihler‘s face was obscured by a mass of curly hair as he furiously played, and bassist Christian Smith kept things anchored even as he, too, rocked out. It was truly a great performance, and yeah, we will be seeing more of these guys in the future, too.

The one strange thing about the night was that once Crystal Desert’s set was over, people seemed to evaporate. Which was unfortunate, because Battleme put on an exceptional performance, and it was one that people will most likely not see again. Frontman Matt Drenik had broken his guitar the night before while playing in Seattle, so he was left simply manning the mic. This resulted in a completely different experience for concertgoers. Those who’ve seen Battleme previously, are probably familiar with how frenetic Drenik is on stage with his guitar. Being freed of that instrument brought his showmanship to epic levels as he commanded the stage. He jumped, danced, grooved, and swung his mic relentlessly, all with an insane amount of swagger. Those that stayed behind for Battleme had quite a treat. They were serenaded. They shared conversation with the band. The whole thing was sort of crazy in a wonderful way. Lead guitarist JJ Eliot played like a veteran guitar god; heck, all of the band members played all out, sounding at times like live MC5 or Stooges. There was definitely a sense of disappointment at the less than stellar attendance, but Battleme funneled this into pure rock energy and gave back one hundredfold to those present. Pick up a copy of their new album, Habitual Love Songs to catch an inkling of what it was like. But honestly, you had to be there. And lucky you if you were." - Seattle Music Insider

"The Grizzled Mighty, Battleme headline at The Cannery"

"The Everett Music Initiative did it again with an incredible lineup at The Cannery last Friday night. It was the first of two nights operating under the moniker The Feast, and night one rocked.

Local band Crystal Desert may be fresh-faced, but they played expertly, with a sound that benefited from guitarist/vocalist Ryan’s ragged-sounding vocal and punk-grunge riffs. Born of Ghosts followed. With each performance this band seems to grow tighter and more epic sounding. Jonathan Schmidt’s guitar playing was a particular standout on this set, which ended with the usual “Joyful Noise” and requisite yacht captain antics." - Seattle Music Insider

"Crystal Desert sears and burns"

Crystal Desert’s dark-ass, garage-goth punk is what we’ve all been needing for a good long while. Ryan Alexander’s bleak worldview is a painful yet rewarding shot in the arm for what ails us in an ailing world: life sucks, so let’s give life the finger. The delivery system for this is swift and punishing: Alexander twists and flails, twining his fingers up through his unruly mop to expose his gaze on the crowd before ejecting a scream into the mic and falling away again. Drummer Joshua Ihler is a shirtless head of hair that delivers his hits relentlessly and with force. Meanwhile, Smith acts as Alexander’s foil, pushing when the other pulls, and yelling into the mic when the other is caught in rock throes.

There were hints of this band’s merit a year ago, but it took the addition of Smith to turn Crystal Desert into what it is today, and it’s fucking glorious. Their cover of The Wipers’ “No Fair” was released just last week, and their live version was raw and full of energy. The closer, “Sick Of Living,” contained another sliver of Smith’s wit as he dove into the famous bass solo from Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” before laying down his usual solo for the song (which is just as catchy, btw). - Seattle Music Insider


(Translated from German)
"Today I give myself time the latest work of Americans of Crystal Destert to heart. Black Summer 1 is the tape, which is decorated with two songs.

Are more singles the band will be published over the summer 2016 and one may certainly be curious about what there still may bring as the other works. Cool concept definitely!

"Monolithica" is the first song, which is just under 6 minutes. Sound samples sound a bit after syfi Film Music initiate the cassette. Thereupon are guitars that are very heavy post-rock and even quietly held drum, inserted. In this behavioral-melodic level, the band remains first. The singer sings and the music gets a very psychedelic character. Then silence. Now, the band decides to insert a slightly higher gear. This is, however, quickly not intercepted. However, everything harmonizes very well with each other, a mixture of Stoner, Psych rock and post rock opens up the audience. But in the last two minutes of the song takes again to ride on, from the song is shouting and the instruments are making a gloomy way through the passable sound wall that has arisen up to this point.

"Nightmare" is at first very Desert Rock moderately over. The singer's voice is then rather modest and somewhat dahingerotzt, but this fits very well in the image of the band. From minute 1:50 of the song is again more slowly, it is the singer screaming vocals. The last-minute alternate slow gloomy, and Rockige Part.

The title of the first single fits definitely a grim mixture of Psychodelic / Stoner / Post Rock and Desert Rock perhaps a good portion of gauze. Who can do with these genres something should give the Americans time attention, it's worth it in any case! - Trvefrykt Zine


What Is Crystal Desert? - EP
February 2016
Four Corners: A Split
June 2016

September 2016



     Crystal Desert is an alternative garage rock trio whose elaborate songwriting and manic live performances bring their moody post-punk sounds into new artistic territory.

     Christian Smith’s hostile and distorted bass tone (think Slint and Shellac era post-punk) serves as a counterpoint to guitarist/vocalist Ryan Alexander’s tripped-out and moody britpop-meets-Nirvana sounds. Paired with drummer Josh Ihler’s more bright and contemporary style, this trio embraces their complex profile through a more experimental songwriting process.

     Originally from Everett, WA, the band has made efforts throughout 2016 to bring their “evil psych rock” aesthetic to the whole Pacific Northwest with an abundance of live shows and recording projects. In 2016 they released an EP “What Is Crystal Desert?”, a Seattle compilation “Four Corners: A Split” with a coinciding tour, and a series of dark and garagey singles “Crystal Desert Presents: BLACK SUMMER.” They are played on 1077 The End and 90.7 KSER and were recently featured in a KEXP’s Audioasis Presents show with Fauna Shade.

Band Members