Exquisite Corps’ divine interventions

Exquisite Corps releases a new record, hits the road and forges its own path

The very definition of an “exquisite corps” of people, really.

The very definition of an “exquisite corps” of people, really.


Catch Exquisite Corps on Saturday, September 20, at 9 p.m. at Witch Room, 1815 19th Street. Tickets are $8 in advance through Dimple Records; $10 at the door. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/excorpsmusic.

Indie rock is a form of music that knows few boundaries. In an effort to squash any remaining limitations of an undefinable art form, the members of Exquisite Corps have built a band that uses two-part harmonies, haunting melodies and strings with great effect.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist and principal songwriter Bryan Valenzuela, the band launched rather organically as a solo project. Over time, Valenzuela worked new musicians into the fold.

“I was just playing around solo and slowly added other members as they became free,” he said.

However, he soon realized less might have to be more. After expanding into a sextet with two violins, the band found it hard to work around the string section’s schedules and eventually downsized to four members.

The current band comprises Valenzuela on lead vocals and guitar plus Robby Dean on drums and vocals, Nathan Webb on bass, and Adam Rice on organ and keyboards. For local events such as their CD release show Saturday, September 20, at Witch Room, the band will be rejoined by original-member violinists Kristin Arnold and Reylynn Goessling.

Exquisite Corps has done things largely themselves. So far it’s been a successful journey that’s included selling out a show at the Crocker Art Museum and drawing nearly 300 people to its 2012 CD-release show. The band’s new self-released album Vignettes follows that independent path. Recorded with producer Ira Skinner at Alley Avenue Recording Studios in Midtown, Valenzuela said the pairing proved to be a good fit.

“His place has a live tracking room which produces great sounds,” Valenzuela said. “I’ve always thought [Ira] had great drum tones and the timing was perfect.”

As of late, the band plays more dates out of town than in, traveling near and far to the likes of Chico and Nevada City. The latter town’s scene, in particular, Valenzuela says, is one to watch.

“A lot of bands from Nevada City are great, including Mount Whateverest and the Soft Bombs,” he said. “There’s a cool scene there.”

2014 is shaping up to be the group’s best year yet. Following Saturday’s release show, the band will embark on a West Coast tour down to San Diego and then head back up to the Northwest for a show in Seattle.

The band, which currently holds a monthly Thursday-night residency at LowBrau, doesn’t have any big projects lined up—though Valenzuela says they’d love to do another Crocker gig.

In the meantime, Valenzuela will continue working on various endeavors. By day, he’s a full-time artist and says he draws inspiration from his work, which includes setting up exhibits for the Crocker Art Museum and working on public-art projects. Earlier this year, Valenzuela won a Leff-Davis Fund for Visual Artists grant—something he says has been a boon to his work.

“I got a $5,000 grant and it’s helped me keep creating” he said.

Sounds exquisite.