You have two chances this weekend to catch Seattle’s pop rockers, Red Jacket Mine.
The band is performing at 10 p.m. Friday at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, 129 E St. in Davis. Local synth-pop band Contra opens the show at 9 p.m. This show is for the 21-and-over crowd and costs $5 at the door. The band is also playing at 10 a.m. Saturday at Armadillo Music, 205 F St. in Davis. This is a free, all-ages show in support of Record Store Day.
“We’re doing a short run of shows, going from Seattle to San Francisco, doing as many in-stores along the way as we can,” front man Lincoln Barr said in a recent interview. “It’s fortuitist that April 20th is Record Store Day.”
Red Jacket Mine is touring in support of its latest album, “Someone Else’s Cake.” With its power-pop melodies and savvy lyrics, the songs will appeal to fans of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Nick Lowe.
“That’s certainly no accident,” Barr said. “That’s the kind of thing we dig.”
The smooth bass line and keyboards on “Listen Up” recall Steely Dan.
“I’m a big Steely Dan fan,” Barr said. “That’s the song that started the whole record. It got the whole ball rolling. It usually takes a song or two to spark the direction of the album.
“Around that time I had a pretty serious sinus surgery,” Barr added. “I couldn’t sing for a period of time. It was not a pleasant experience. The potential to not be able to sing again was scary. I could play guitar and was tinkering around and that’s how ‘Listen Up’ came about.”
An active band in Seattle for the past eight years, Red Jacket Mine has put out two full-length albums and a couple of 7-inch records leading up to “Someone Else’s Cake.”
“Around the time we started writing this record in late 2010, we had a couple of line-up changes. With the guitarist and bass player leaving, it left us adrift for a period of time,” Barr said.
“Going through line-up changes put things in perspective,” he said. “I’m proud of the first two albums but they’re not really songs to be enjoyed but songs to be admired. I wanted to write songs that were fun to play live. I wanted a record that’s engaging.”
He certainly achieved that with “Someone Else’s Cake.” From the horn-laden “Better to be Broken than Blind” to the organ and guitar skank of “Novelty’s Gone,” the album is full of memorable pop songs. Not only are the songs great but the recording is crisp, clear and full.
“I gotta hand it to our producer, Johnny Sangster,” Barr said. “He’s responsible for making it sound so great.”
What’s the Seattle scene like?
“Honestly, I wish we were part of a scene,” Barr admitted. “I wish there were more bands I felt a kinship with. There are a lot of great bands from Seattle and a lot of people we like to play with. But what we’re doing is not in step with the trend. There are a few bands, like The Trip Wires, who have that pub rock, Nick Lowe kind of vibe.”
At the same time, Red Jacket Mine doesn’t mind standing out.
“I grew up in Mississippi and our drummer is from Missouri, so our background is not Northwest at all. I feel like that’s apparent in our music anyway. It’s not easy to throw us in a larger bucket.”
Being a touring indie band is not easy these days.
“It’s getting harder and harder to sell stuff at shows, which is your bread and butter for a touring band,” Barr said. “I’ve noticed over the last five years a drop-off. It’s difficult to convince someone that they want a physical product of anything.”
But Barr isn’t complaining.
“It’s hard to maintain just playing music; we all have day jobs. But it goes get a little easier every year. We take a little less money out of our own pocket each year, so that’s progress. It’s not the rock-n-roll dream, but it’s good enough.”