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Originally published Friday, September 15, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Night Watch

Vendetta Red ends, Sirens Sister beckons

Zach Davidson is hunkered down at a booth in West Seattle's Corner Pocket, a hideaway that — the bartender swears — was once...

Zach Davidson is hunkered down at a booth in West Seattle's Corner Pocket, a hideaway that — the bartender swears — was once a morgue.

This is rather fitting, as Vendetta Red, Davidson's almost-famous band, is dead. Six feet under in Emo Cemetery. Pushing up cyber-daisies since Davidson shocked his fans in March, announcing on VR's heavily trafficked MySpace site that "it's time to put vendetta red to bed."

Yet this is not a wake for Vendetta Red, and Davidson is hardly mourning. The vivacious singer clinks beer bottles with Jeff Rouse and toasts a promising new project. This week, Sirens Sister releases "Echoes From the Ocean Floor" on the Control Group, a small, local label.

Most bands would give their right amp to be on a major label, getting national attention; Davidson has been there, and done that, enjoying — sometimes — a few years on Epic Records, which put out the last two Vendetta Red recordings.

And then he walked away from it, to start all over again from scratch.

"This is where as an artist I want to be," said Davidson, a California native, in Seattle for nearly a decade. "This is the kind of environment I want to be playing in, with these kind of people. ... This band is so easy, so fun."

"We really work well together," said Rouse, formerly in Alien Crime Syndicate. Sirens Sister began late last year. "After our first practice, we had three or four songs."

Where Vendetta Red was an easy-to-classify emo-pop band, Sirens Sister is harder to pigeonhole, with echoes of '80s bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, Duran Duran and even early U2. You can really hear the latter's influence on "Should've Known," a big, anthem-y song.

That song was probably the audience favorite of the band's Bumbershoot appearance. Playing at EMP's Sky Church, Sirens Sister was polished and self-assured, looking like a unit that had played together for years. This is not all that surprising, as bass player Rouse and guitarist Leif Andersen were in Vendetta Red for that band's last tour; drummer Ben Libay is the sole newcomer.

The central focus is Davidson, a dynamic singer with terrific range, big-time stage charisma and Roger Daltrey looks.

Offstage, he is an easygoing, unpretentious dude (to use a term he favors) who looks more like a surfer-slacker than a rocker. He has his long, curly hair pulled off to the right side of his head, and wears a T-shirt, jeans and flip flops. But when he is on stage, he transforms into a dynamic leader, taking young audiences off on a ride into rocked-out fantasies.

Vendetta Red's seven-year trip satisfied some of his own fantasies. "It had run its course — we had accomplished all our goals, getting on the radio, getting on MTV ... " With the backing of Epic, songs like "Shatterday" and "Silhouette Serenade" did indeed catch radio and MTV play.

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Best and worst things about being on a big-time label?

"The best thing is you know your recordings are going to come out. The worst things is having to work 10 times as hard as you did before, on every little thing. People say they'll take care of things, but they don't."

Taking care of his own business, he has had no trouble getting local airplay and shows. KEXP and KNDD have featured Sirens Sister, and the band performs 8 p.m. Saturday at the Crocodile Café ($10), next Friday at Redmond's Old Fire House and Sept. 23 at Fremont's Oktoberfest. The biggest challenge now is to get a national tour together, without the help of a record company — and without trying to ride on his last band's reputation.

Davidson doesn't even want to have "former Vendetta Red" on fliers. "It's a totally new band," he says. "I can't stunt its growth."

One thing he likes about Sirens Sister is that his bandmates don't hesitate to give him a reality check. "These guys'll tell me, 'Yo, you went for the bronze on that one.' " Meaning, he didn't go for the gold.

The excitable Davidson says he welcomes the criticism, because he has set a high bar for himself: "I want to be the best singer in the world — I want to wail, shatter glass!"

• Boston post-punk vets Mission of Burma — an early-'80s band that broke up for years, recently reunited — and Kristin Hersh's 50 Foot Wave visit the Crocodile at 10 tonight ($15).

• The electro-pop Decibel Festival continues at Chop Suey this weekend, with Claude Vonstroke and Jacob London at 10 tonight ($12), then Subtle and Seattle laptop-meets-improvisation Plan B at 10 p.m. Saturday ($15).

Decibel Fest DJ's will also be spinning at Barca, Neumos, Bad Juju Lounge, Broadway Performance Hall and the Baltic Room throughout the weekend. For complete schedule — including after-hours action at Neumos — and ticket info, visit www.dbfestival.com.

• Bay Area artists DJ Shadow and Lateef — freaky-creative beat maker and cracklin' rapper — jam out at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Showbox ($30).

Tom Scanlon: tscanlon@seattletimes.com

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