Portland trio WL (pronounced "Well") released their first full-length, Hold, last summer, but I missed it at the time, and now they're embarking on a spring tour. The group features singer-bassist Misty Mary from Big Sur, guitarist Michael Yun from Detroit, and drummer Stevie Sparks from LA, so they're local, but not local.
The lead single, "You're Not Really Here," which brings the album to a close, is emblematic of the whole as Mary's enchanting vocals drift across the more aggressive instrumentation.
Stevie, who has played with Daniel Lanois and Iron and Wine, has such a muscular style that the three-piece evokes Love and Rockets and Black Moth Super Rainbow more than the usual dream pop/shoegaze suspects, like Lush, even if Mary takes a hushed, Hope Sandoval approach to singing (though David J and Tom Fec can be pretty understated vocalists, too). It's a compelling combination of the soft and the hard, the quiet and the loud, the bright and the dark.
Hold is out now on Prospect & Refuge. Stream the entire thing at The Fader. WL plays Cairo with Chastity Belt and White Poppy on May 2. 8pm, all ages.