A simple man 

Who doesn’t love a house party?

Seattle singer/songwriter David Bazan certainly does; he’s played about 250 of them in the past four years.

“I’ve got it down to a science. It’s different in a lot of ways, but it’s nice,” he said. “You can have a very gritty, authentic interaction with the people who really want to come see you play. It can be a cool, tense feeling, an awkwardness I kind of enjoy. None of them have been bummers.”

His subdued, indie-rock tunes don’t exactly make for the most raucous occasions in such settings; ironically enough, the reverent nature of the intimate, acoustic performances resemble religious hymns during church service. But around 2006, Bazan gave up the Christian themes that marked his early work with Pedro the Lion to focus on more secular ones as a solo musician. A proper debut arrived in 2009 with “Curse Your Branches”; its follow-up, “Strange Negotiations,” came out in May.

With it, Bazan dumbed things down a bit, musically speaking at least.

“I made a concerted effort to make simpler songs,” he said. “I had some experiences that made me wonder to myself, ‘Why are your songs so complicated? Why can’t you convey what you want to convey in two chords?’ It made me happy to be able to do that.”

The result has seen mostly positive reviews, praising Bazan’s continued power as a lyricist who can write from a very real, personal place, as well as his burgeoning penchant for catchy hooks and melodies. In his book, the struggle it took to finish this album represents the opportunity to move forward.

“Several songs feature some guitar riff or lyric I loved, but never found the right way to make them work,” he said. “Some of these are almost 10 years old. It just so happened that all these things that had been floating around finally made sense.”

Sunday’s Opolis stop included, Bazan has given up the living room for the rock club once more, backed by a full, electric band. The party fittingly finds him in the giving spirit, offering a lifetime pass to any and all of his future headlining gigs at each show, as well as a drawing to win the guitar he used on tour. Christmas is coming a little early for a least one lucky fan.

“It’s a little gimmicky,” he said, “but if they’re into the music, that’s just a good value to have. Why not reward it with a laminate pass?”

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Joshua Boydston

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