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The best kept secret in music


In the meantime, I’ve got massive praise for the debut album by the Seattle trio Snowdrift, whose female lead vocals and spacious rural sounds evoke northern European farmsteads and long stretches of flat horizons. The eight long ballads range from a kind of Danish psychedelic folk to whacked out provincial torch songs, like in-breds pushing the envelope at a county fare. Get this record from or visit them at - Julian Cope

Seattle's Snowdrift have had their debut album issued on the highly collectible and even covetable Paradigms label in UK. Until now, the bands that have released material on the gorgeously-packaged Paradigms imprint have usually been heavy, drone based-post rock outfits and those that delve deeper into a bit more sinister territory like Wraiths. Snowdrift is a true exception. They are a dreamy, dark trio with cellos, guitars, drums, keyboards, all hovering around in eerily-presented and beautifully structured poetic, ballads that com off as haunting, poetic folk songs from another time that has been hidden, stored away, and is being interpreted only now, through the speech and language of rock. There have been territorial comparisons to Low and some even to Mazzy Star, but this music is something other. Kat Terran's vocals are throaty, they have the ethereal beauty of Over The Rhine's Karin Bergquist but are bigger, more present, they annunciate as well as swell as swoon. Add to this sparse slide guitar, single shuffling snare, and ambient keyboard effects by Derek Terran that enhance the instruments rather than bury them, as on "Outlaw Engineers," something that rather than be high and lonesome in the roots tradition is rather out and lonesome, as if from another space, and out of time completely. "September" begins with ambient sounds, a quietly brushed drum,, and an ominous yet utterly lovely cello; whispering electric piano sounds float in form the mist before the band slips in gear and enters fully. Even when they do, there's no hurry, no permanent place for them in the track. The drums simply shift and shimmer as Ms. Terran's voice, like some ever present spirit comes up form the ether, but it's that voice holding it all together. The instruments and sounds all gravitate toward and away from her in some circling fashion that lends the music weight even as it gains not momentum, but an eerie heaviness that is so darkly seductive and full of subtle warnings that things might begin to fall apart-but never do. These songs are written and shaped according to a melodic sensibility that is not commonplace; the spontaneity is in the emotion in Ms. Terran's voice and in the listener's sheer surprise at the these sounds that never dissipates, no matter how often one slips the disc into the player. One is always left wondering,, particularly near the end of the heartbreaking tenderness in "House Of Cards," or in the literally ghostly sonic structure of Aviary, just how songs like this can be written instead of merely crafted and recorded. IN fact, they suggest that in a live setting, Snowdrift is heavier, the audience and the music coming together in a manner that creates a maelstrom to feed Ms. Terran's voice and gives it an utterance that is spine tingling. The set ends with "track 11," (actually the last of eight songs) that begins with a vulnerable kind of gloominess that suggests a hurt so wide and deep it encompasses the entire world. But something else is at work here too, the complex emotions expressed by cello, guitar, and the electric piano that keeps the drummer moving barely, as a heartbeat for Ms. Terran: "Not the way, not the strain that the storm arrives/but the way that the storm subsides here/Oh there's so much more . . ." And there is. This cut takes the cake as it deceptively appears to disintegrate and builds itself into a fury and Terran wails and begins incanting "Get me off this train/I'm getting off this train/Get me off this train. . . ."as feedback and spiky guitar signatures take over the landscape before it just disappears altogether. This is a remarkable and powerful debut by a truly underground American band who is creating something new from many old things, and shaping them into a sound that is all their own. - Thom Jurek

Locals Snowdrift, sounding like they all bunk together in an echo chamber, bring things down to earth a bit tonight as they diffuse more organic elements into their somnambulist melodies. JOSH BLANCHARD - The Stranger

Snowdrift's new music sounds like their name: beautiful, layered, and smart. Can snow be smart? I guess not. But this band is, and the indiepop they kick out live is somber, nimble, and full of haunting iciness. - Portland Mercury

There's a definite beauty in this album, like that of da Vinci's Mona Lisa, that makes us wonder.

Catherine E. Galioto is Rockzone's Features Editor - Rockzone

The moment I put Kat Terran's Lion & Blue in my disc player I knew I was hearing something special, and repeated plays and acquiring a copy of her first self-titled ep has only strengthened that certainty. Even on first hearing, her songs lodge themselves in my mind. It's hard to figure out exactly what it is about her music that catches me so strongly: her vocals can be rough-edged and can move from sweet to harsh within a phrase; her songs take unexpected turns but also have clear melodies; the ornamentation of the instrumentation around the melodies (and of her voice) can be unusual. The topics of her songs range a lot, too, and they tend to have the allusive quality of lyricists like Kristin Hersh and Tori Amos, rather than straightforward one-dimensional meanings and symbolism of mainstream pop tunes. Because of this I tend to find her songs make me want to pay attention to them, and whether or not I understand them directly, their emotional impression is powerful. (Neile) - Echtophile's Guide to Good Music

Lots of you are probably pretty obsessed by now with UK label Paradigms and pick up pretty much everything they release. Always interesting, gorgeously packaged, and Snowdrift is no exception.
Veering dramatically from their drone/metal direction, Paradigms have dug up another dark treasure from the Northwest, this time from Seattle. The label mentions Low and Mazzy Star and Amber Asylum and those are pretty good starting points. Imagine a moody shuffling post rock, with moaning cellos, shimmering guitars, sort of laid back and smoky, with occasional squalls of subtly blown out psych, but for the most part sort of drifting and slithering dreamily. The focal point is definitely the vocals, female, dark and throaty, a rich velvety croon, perfectly matched to the warm shimmery musical backdrops. A sort of post rock slowcore pop... one could definitely imagine these guys and gal on the radio, maybe even MTV, the dark moodiness just accessible enough for regular folks, but dreamy and dramatic enough to keep it interesting. The songs are fairly conventional, but they are often wrapped in decidedly unconventional layers, be it a thick swaths of shimmering strings, a fuzzy rumbling drone, some clattery abstract ambience. Cool stuff for sure. - San Francisco's Aquarious Record Store

There are moments of pure genius on Kat Terran's debut album, Lion & Blue. She's got an incredibly powerful and elastic voice that holds back just enough for you to sense the anger and drama lying beneath, always threatening to burst out. It's a voice that complements her music wonderfully.Lion & Blue is an album of medieval violence filtered through contemporary indie folk, subtly using traditional European folk music as a springboard for tackling American singer-songwriter styles. Assisted by guitarist Derek Terran, she carves out violently calm songs which may remind you of Cat Stevens's child-like naivety, Nick Drake's pastoral folk and Mark Hollis's expansive silence. But when it comes down to it, Terran's songs are something completely unique. She is an amazing songwriter. Kat Terran proves she has it in her to become one of the most exciting artists folk music has seen in quite some time.’ -Stein Haukland, Ink 19 magazine’ - Ink 19 Magazine

I received a CD by Snowdrift, and the cover came enclosed in a protective plastic sleeve. Looking at it, I thought it was one of those die-cut/embossed cardboard covers, but instead it was an envelope, folded and sealed. I had to, oh damn, damage the cover in order to get to the music. I was alright with that, I had hoped if the group were making the effort to produce something like this, one should make the effort to take a listen. I'm glad I did.

This Seattle band play the kind of solemn music that would appeal to fans of The Cowboy Junkies, Wilco, or early 70's/pre-DSOTM Pink Floyd. The first time that moved me was the music itself, and the recording. You can hear the music, and you hear that breathe in the studio. Not sure if this is an analog recording (the liner notes don't state this), but as they play you tend to hear the music and the musicians move. It makes the hair on your arms stand up.

Some might say that it sounds a bit like Mazzy Star but the difference is that the lyrics are much more coherent (at least to me they are). Their MySpace page lists them as being psychedelic. It's not psychedelic in the late 60's sense, but it's definitely music for the mind, kind of like Jefferson Airplane hanging out with David Crosby if they were new artists hanging out with Natalie Merchant, Amy Lee, Engine Kid, early Sunny Day Real Estate and some kid with a mean ass Mellotron. What I like is how sometimes the vocals of Kat Terran move into the distance, as they do in "Catalina". The effect moves into what sounds like someone going through a tunnel and losing the radio frequency, only to come out on the other end and find that her voice has disappeared. As the band play, she comes back as if she's speaking right behind you, and it's a chicken skin moment.

One could listen to this as a whole and be overwhelmed by how dark and soothing it sounds. One could also take elements from the songs and listen to it in an abstract manner, and it works like that to a degree, but they would be missing out on a lot of the intricacies these guys put into every element of these songs, from the gentle touch of the drums, that slide guitar that seems to stretch as long as forever, and the vocals that compliment the sounds so well. A very remarkable piece of work.
- John Book


"Snowdrift" (debut LP: Paradigms Recordings (UK))
- international podcasts and radio (including local station KEXP)

Ball of Wax-volume 6 NW indie music compilation CD
song-'dayside' (remix)

KDVS- UC Davis Radio Station 2006 Compliation CD
song-'katalina (remix)

"The Bird-Tree EP" (3-song EP: self-released)

Kat Terran released a CD in 2003, prior to joining snowdrift, her CD 'Lion and Blue' was promoted by AAM and played nationwide on college radio.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Snowdrift formed in winter of 2004, and signed to Paradigm Records (UK) with their debut full length in 2006. After 3 years of ambitious touring and playing a constant schedule of shows, they have bunked in for the winter to write and record their second release. They will be back on the stage in late Spring and touring the west coast again Summer 2007.

Snowdrift has loaded in and loaded out from venues such as Spaceland in LA, The Crocodile in Seattle, Smalls in Detroit, to Milwaukee's Cactus Club, and many more points in between.