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Sean Nelson is best known for his work as the lead singer and co-songwriter for the Seattle-based indie pop band Harvey Danger, which was founded in 1993 and played its farewell show in 2009. The band's first album, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? (Arena Rock Recording Company, 1997/Universal, 1998), generated the high charting "Flagpole Sitta" and eventually went on to sell over 500,000 copies, earning a Gold Record award. After touring extensively, Harvey Danger released another major label album, King James Version (Sire/Warner, 2000), and, after a hiatus, a third, Little By Little... on Northwest independent label Kill Rock Stars. Little By Little... is also available for free download at harveydanger.com. The band has toured internationally, made six music videos, and appeared on several national and regional television shows (Late Show with David Letterman, Late Late Show, Total Request Live, 120 Minutes, among many others). Its music has been licensed to dozens of films, TV shows, and other commercial uses in the US and UK, including as the theme song for five seasons of the British sitcom Peep Show.
Nelson has also recorded and performed with Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Robyn Hitchcock, The Long Winters (of which he was a founding member), Nada Surf, The Minus 5, and others. In 2006, he recorded Nelson Sings Nilsson, an album of songs by the late American composer Harry Nilsson, accompanied by a 25-piece-orchestra. Nelson was also a member of the short-lived side project The Vernacular, along with Chris Walla and Nathan Good of Death Cab For Cutie.
In addition to writing and performing, Nelson spent over 10 years working as a writer/editor at Seattle alternative paper The Stranger, where he is still a regular contributor and holds the title Associate Editor Emeritus. He co-owns a thriving independent record label (Barsuk Records), has taught a songwriting class at the University of Washington Extension, co-hosted Audioasis on KEXP-FM for five years, wrote a book about Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark for the acclaimed 33 & 1/3 series, and had his essay "Dead Man Talking" published in the Da Capo anthology Best Music Writing 2008.
In 2008, Nelson co-wrote and played a supporting role in Humpday director Lynn Shelton's third feature film My Effortless Brilliance, which enjoyed a successful run on the film festival circuit and will be released on DVD by IFC Films in November 2009.[dated info] He has also acted in David Russo's cult film festival hit The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle and alongside Dax Shepard in Kathryn Aselton's The Freebie, which was released in September 2010.
On June 4th, 2013, Nelson released his first official batch of recordings to bear his name, Make Good Choices. Make Good Choices includes playing/songwriting/recording contributions from, among others, Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), Peter Buck (R.E.M./Minus 5), Matt Pence & Scott Danbom (Centro-Matic), Howard Draper (Shearwater), Dave Depper (Loch Lomond, Fruit Bats), Rachel Blumberg (The Decemberists/M. Ward), Adam Selzer (Norfolk & Western), Steve Fisk (player: Pell Mell, Pigeonhed; producer: Nirvana, Beat Happening, Unwound), and others—with Nelson’s nonpareil lyrics, melodies, and voice unmistakably at the center. Sessions arose over the course of several years, between Nelson and his collaborators’ other projects.
(as harmony vocalist, except where noted)
(lead singer, songwriter)
- Make Good Choices (Really Records, 2013)
(lead singer, keyboards, songwriter)
- Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? (Universal, 1998)
- King James Version (Warner, 2000)
- Sometimes You Have To Work on Christmas (Sometimes) EP (Phonographic Records, 2004)
- Little By Little… (Kill Rock Stars, 2006)
- Cream and Bastards Rise EP (Kill Rock Stars, 2006)
- Little Round Mirrors EP (Barsuk, 2007)
- Burn to Shine (V/A Trixie DVD, 2008)
- Dead Sea Scrolls (Phonographic Records, 2009)
The Long Winters
- The Worst You Can Do is Harm (Barsuk, 2001)
- When I Pretend to Fall (Barsuk, 2003)
- Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk, 2005)
- Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars, 2004)
- The Crane Wife (b-sides) (Capitol, 2006)
Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3
- Ole Tarantula (Yep Roc, 2006)
- Goodnight, Oslo (Yep Roc, 2009)
- The Weight is a Gift (Barsuk, 2006)
- Lucky (Barsuk, 2008)
- RIAA Gold Record Listing for Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, retrieved 2010-01-06
- Nelson, Sean, Court and Spark (Google Books), ISBN 978-0-8264-1773-2, retrieved 2010-01-04
- Nelson, Sean, "Dead Man Talking: 'Kurt Cobain: About a Son'" from Best Music Writing 2008 (Google Books), ISBN 978-0-306-81734-2, retrieved 2010-01-04
- IMDb Entry for My Effortless Brilliance, retrieved 2010-01-04
- IMDb Entry for The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, retrieved 2010-01-04
- IMDb Entry for The Freebie, retrieved 2011-04-07
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sean Nelson.|
- Sean Nelson Music Page on Facebook
- Biography and articles at The Stranger
- LAist Interview with Sean Nelson
- Sean Nelson tour diary for Entertainment Weekly
- Time Out NY interview with Sean Nelson