There was a moment in my conversation with Jima, frontman of Seattle band the Purrs, when I expressed how inadequate it is to simply call the Purrs a psychedelic indie rock band. While that might be ultimately accurate, it just doesn't quite do justice to what the band does. Let's take a moment, for instance, to consider the bands that the Purrs have shared stages with: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pearl Jam and Okkervil River, just to name three markedly disparate acts. The Purrs are able to drift among scenes in a manner befitting of their intangible sound.
"I don't think it does a band very much good to just play with bands in your own genre," says Jima. "You're not going to ever be exposed to new sounds, and you're not going to be exposing your band to new people."
While the Purrs certainly do adorn their songs with psychedelic fringe, there are deeper ingrained layers of influences at play, here. On the top level, British post-punk is what most readily pops out, inspiring the comparisons the band has long received to bands such as the Church and Echo and the Bunnymen. Comparisons to the Verve are reductive, but somewhat accurate in the way that the Purrs similarly mine classic rock for inspiration - picking up heavy blues, mod attitude and bright jangle along the way. Meanwhile, the spirit of Tommy James and the Shondells lingers in the background.
Psych rock may not define the Purrs, but the psych that skirts the edges lends a woozy appeal to their music. In the end, maybe it's best to just throw up your hands and say what the Purrs really are: a damn good rock band. -- REV. ADAM McKINNEY