SH alum moves along in music world with new act, album

Sean C. Morgan

Andy Wylie (Slaght) has had a busy summer, playing an eclectic selection of folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll with touches of punk following the release of a new album, “Mournography,” as “City Bear.”

Wylie, 27, is a 2004 graduate of Sweet Home High School who lives in Shoreline, Wash., located north of Seattle. He has been writing and recording music since high school as a singer-songwriter and with full bands.

He left Sweet Home in 2006 for the Seattle area, where he formed the rock band Church for Sinners, playing guitar and singing with his brother Ben Grim (Slaght), who played bass. He spent four years touring with the band, releasing an EP and a full-length album and touring the West Coast two or three times, including a stop in Sweet Home.

Church for Sinners members have moved on to other projects after difficulties following the release of a full-length album.

It took a while to put the album out, Wylie said. When it was supposed to come out, the label lost its distribution and didn’t support it or the tour. It was up to the band to book gigs after that.

That’s when he started playing solo shows as City Bear, a situation where he had to rely on only himself.

Wylie recorded his first City Bear record and released it in February, he said, and then he played a few shows around Seattle. Among gigs, he played the Tillicum Arts Festival, and after joining Vito and the One Eyed Jacks earlier this year, he performed with them on stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle in a set that included a couple of City Bear tunes.

“Smaller shows, I’ll do them by myself or one or two other guys,” Wylie said. Larger shows, he brings in more musicians. He and Vito have a bank of musicians they draw from for shows.

Now, he’s getting ready to head into the studio for a second City Bear album and a live album with Vito and the One Eyed Jacks.

The current album included songs written since Wylie was 15 years old through his time with Church for Sinners, along with newer songs, creating the eclectic selection.

Recording it, he and his producer would lay down a scratch track and give it a listen, he said.

“We’d just listen and see what the song wanted,” adding bass here, an accordion there, whatever was meant to be in the song. The album features several other musicians as needed on each track.

“I like the album a lot,” Wylie said. “It takes some leaps. I’m having more fun than ever just because I’m in a space where I can do a lot of different things.”

One minute it’s in the piano of “Mediocre Love Song,” and the next it’s moving right into rock territory, with a lot of folkiness.

That’s where the second album is headed, more “folky” and less rock, Wylie said.

Besides City Bear and Vito, Wylie is about to start two more projects, one playing bass with Gotcha, a friend’s son’s band, an ambient electronic group, something way outside Wylie’s comfort zone. He’s also getting ready to put together a new band with his brother Ben and a couple of members of the Gruesome Boys, a band that toured with Church for Sinners.

City Bear is available through iTunes and at citybear.bandcamp.com as MP3, FLAC and more. Compact discs and streaming are also available through bandcamp.com. The digital product is distributed by Psycho-A-Go-Go Records.

City Bear may be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BearArmy.

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