Smokey Brights

It was Christmas 2010 when Ryan Devlin (guitar, vocals) and Kim West (keys, vocals) first sang together. As the two approached their first holiday season as a newly-formed couple, they looked at their woefully underfunded bank accounts and their long list of family and friends. Gift cards and baked goods weren’t going to cut it that year. The two decided to combine their mutual love of music and record a few of their favorite non-holiday-holiday songs to create a CD as a DIY gift. Distributed to a few dozen friends and family, this lofi collection of covers contained the seeds of what would become Smokey Brights.

Flash forward to 2017, the two are are still singing. Now married, they’ve been recording and releasing music as Smokey Brights for six years. The couple’s North Seattle home, crammed full of thrift shop treasures and vintage instruments, is a constant bustle of songwriting, demo recording, BBQs, and band practice. Song ideas are shared over morning coffee and sketched into notebooks in the curiously small, window-less dining room at the center of their home, crowded with a 50s jukebox, a Wurlitzer 200A electric piano, guitar holsters, and the upright piano West grew up learning on, complete with a well worn sticker marking middle C.

The same vintage pastiche that adorns the band’s home is echoed in their songwriting. Make no mistake however, Smokey Brights aren’t old time revivalists or retro rock fetishists. The music is not fixed in any sort of idealized era, but instead playfully borrows from anything deemed interesting. “Their sound is a warm combination of charmingly lo-fi and charmingly retro; they’re willing to go simple and DIY, crank up the psychedelics or maybe play with ’60s spy-movie tones just for the fun of it. They’re about finding ways to enjoy the ride and remembering we’re all in it together.”- That Music Magazine.  The result is a re-spinning of old fabrics: a dusty record bin eclecticism, a multi-faceted reimagining of pop culture.

Once songs are flushed out on guitar, piano, and voice, they make their way downstairs to the band’s wood-paneled practice room and take on new shapes and grooves at the hand of the full lineup. Jim Vermillion (bass) and Nick Krivchenia (drums) have been brothers in rhythm for the majority of their adult lives, playing in bands since they first met studying music at Evergreen State. Mike Kalnoky (lead guitar) provides unpredictable and experimental guitar lines that float deftly above this rock foundation, making the songs both deeper and stranger. Smokey Brights have been a collective unit for six years, growing tighter as friends and music makers along the way while releasing two full-length records and several 45s.

On their newest effort, Come to Terms (Freakout Records) Smokeys have worked closely with with British producer Sam Bell (R.E.M., Minus the Bear) to capture their most crystallized batch of songs yet. Come to Terms contains four songs about fresh divisions and the social chasms these divisions leave behind. Divisive politics, broken hearts, and absent dialogues are all brought to the surface and socially exercised. Though it’s is an airing of grievances, Come to Terms is not a record of despair, but instead invites the listener to snap out of it, start moving, and to rise above. In the final track of the record, The Other Way, West and Devlin sing, “This is not the time to turn your back on what you see. Find the strength in you, and I will find the good in me.” Smokey Brights will be touring in November through the West Coast and South West, and will be on the road extensively in 2018 in support of Come to Terms.

Full Band 2 - Yunkin Keophomma

Full Band 3 - Yunkin Keophomma

Kim and Ryan 3 - Yunkin Keophomma

IMAGES: To download images, click above. Photo Credit to Yunkin Keophomma.


KEXP Song of the Day!
“Come to Terms” Single Premiere
Freakout Records