Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Cindy – “Discount Lawyer”

Earlier this year SF’s great Paisley Shirt records issued a limited cassette from locals Cindy that sold out almost instantly. The band’s warm flicker of dream pop is rather irresistible and it’s easy to see how the album lured listeners into its woolen womb. While the short run left many wanting the supply has now been reinvigorated with a vinyl issue from Mt.St.Mtn in the US and Tough Love in the UK. The band has accompanied the new edition with a video for opening track “Discount Lawyer,” a cut that’s emblematic of their slow-motion sonic bloom. The band naturally garners more than a few comparisons to Galaxie 500, Slowdive, and Low, but they fit in nicely with a few new gauzy headtrips from Peel Dream Magazine or more closely Mope City out of Australia. Notably, if you’re in the UK you should grab one of these as soon as possible as even the pre-orders are becoming scarce due to a gushing endorsement from Stephen of The Pastels. US folks, that’s no reason to slack, grab one from MSM below.



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Mixtape: Frank Infatuation – Jangle Pop Heirs to the ’80s Underground

It seems only fitting that this latest mixtape should grace the site on the same day that the Strum & Thrum review posts. The compilation and its focus on overlooked jangle-pop provided a seed of inspiration, alongside other notables like Sarah roundups Shadow Factory and Temple Road, Take The Subway To The Suburbs and, naturally, the C86 comp. I figured if we’re going to round some of the gems of our current era up later on, might as well have a good starting point. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this does not have the geographic specificity inherent in some of those. While it rounds up a particular sound of jangle / indie pop, the bands here swing from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand, with stops in the UK. Though someday, someone will have a wealth of opportunity rounding up the sounds of San Francisco in the Aughts/Teens and it will be well worth a listen. For now, this one should find a bit of a crack in the clouds and give you an hour’s worth of bittersweet sunshine.

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Latitude

San Francisco never ceases to throw the pop gauntlet. Whether its jangle-pop, garage sneer, or something less brittle, the town’s weathering their seismic changes, at least in the music sector. The sophomore LP from Latitude works its way into the bloodstream more easily than some of their adjacent compatriots. With a release on Emotional Response, the LP wraps a waft of jangle around ‘80s synth-pop and ‘70s disco hangover. Amy Fowler’s vocals have drawn some larger than life comparisons — with her deep, imploring delivery falling between Stevie and Debbie, though for me it lands in even company with indie mainstay Meredith Metcalf (Music Go Music, Bodies of Water). The songs on Mystic Hotline explore some similar territory with MGM, mopping up the post-disco hangover that the band found so verdant and marrying it with a bit of a post-punk vibrancy that’s rubbery, but rife with the thick, neon glint of keys.

There’s a bucolic restlessness to the album, lounged, yet dreaming of a more conflicted life. The album’s perch between post-punk’s urgency and new wave’s radiant smear gives the album a light tension. The band clearly wants to push towards the rhythmic pulse and angular angst, but they’re not quite as lean and hungry as the genre requires and as such they bleed over into the smudged romanticism of the New Wave queens quite often. The urge to dance is always bubbling below the surface, if not overtly taking the reigns and the thrum snaps Latitude out of complacency. While the band would love to languish in the shadows it’s hard to resist the pull of a propulsive beat and the heat of bodies near one another in thrall to the pulse. The band’s at their best, though, when the slightly nerdy needs of ‘80s pop take over and the synths skew towards arpeggiation and the neon glow squiggles into a discordant shimmy. There’s a gloss here that’s hard to shake, but when the band lets their makeup fade, they’re found out for the endearing pop academics they are.




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The Telephone Numbers – “Leviathan”

Gonna try to squeeze in a few more great Bandcamp announcements today and the physical debut from The Telephone Numbers counts high on the list. The band’s put out a couple of digital EPs previously but “Leviathan” marks their physical debut for Fruits & Flowers, which never steers wrong with their spotless catalog. The title track is a jangle-jilted affair — melancholy with a faraway stare in the lyrics and some lovely background vocals from Morgan Stanley offsetting the song. An absolute swoon of strings opens up the track, making this as full as the band have ever sounded. If you’re looking for a heartbreak best friend today or for the rest of the fall, it seems that The Telephone Numbers have you covered. Nab this one now, physical releases on December 11th.




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Tony Jay

I first caught wind of Tony Jay on a great comp from Rocks In Your Head that came out last year rounding up an essential crop of Bay Area bands. The track there stuck to the ribs, a swooning jangler buried in a blanket of hiss. The name’s a misnomer. There’s no Tony in the flesh, but he exists in the mind of the players, if only to inform the scope of the band’s lament. They create a vision of loner pop that’s scuffed and sullen, yet still saddled with enough hope to soften the edges and let the listener peek into the crinkled diary pages of Tony’s heartsick limbo. The band’s been knocking out singles and tapes for quite a few years it seems, but this new one on Paisley Shirt has the band peaking. A Wave In The Dark gives their vaseline-lensed pop a proper stretch out, adding some heft and dimension to their decidedly lo-fi basket of hooks and harmonies.

The hushed delivery wafts over the speakers with a confessional color that finds the band retreating behind bedroom walls rather than filling out stages. If anything, it feels like this was a tape recorded and left by accident on the high school bleachers. It’s a secret treasure found and played endlessly in the tape deck of a car filled on summer job wages and driven around the outskirts to shake out the rejection of a crush. The songs here are hooked on the K catalog —picking at the delicacy of The Softies and Heavenly, with a touch of Sarah alums Brighter in the mix. There’s been a good glut of jangle-pop that wants to mix the bittersweet with the sun, but it’s nice to feel the cloudy day drift of Tony Jay on the headphones. Some days that sun just won’s shine.




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Kelley Stoltz

This one slipped out so silently I almost did’t catch it. News came out via Kelley’s seldom-used personal Bandcamp and it’s a crushingly scant run. Last year’s My Regime had quite a few nuggets of garage-psych goodness stashed away between the grooves, but this one comes along and swings the Stoltz agenda in a new direction with superb results. Apparently inspired by power pop with a heavy pub tab, a $75 dollar Japanese guitar, and the Jedediah Smith (Jeanines, My Teenage Stride) side-hustle curiosity Mick Trouble — this is not quite the usual fare from the always mercurial Stoltz. He’s never been less than a harbinger of hooks, but usually there’s a debt to Ray Davies-draped ‘60s pop or in the case of the Willie Weird saga, something skewing hard into the R. Stevie Moore cut-out bin. This time he’s lacquered it all down tight, laying out a record that doesn’t dip into his usual wells.

Here the focus is on the elastic snap of power pop that’s just slightly sanded off from the pure punk formula. Think Advertising, The Quick, The Phones, or The Undertones goofing with undeniable effect on Hypnotised. I can see where the Mick Trouble tie-in crops up. Though this is under his own name, it does feel like Stoltz is pulling a persona here. There’s a power chord crimped slacker swagger. Yet, like The Apples in Stereo before him, he can slide on a power-pop pullover but his songwriting can’t help but inject the form with a certain quirkiness that perfects the formula while breaking a few of its boundaries in delightful ways. Stoltz has long been a legend among those sifting the spit-upon ranks of deep cut, skewed pop fodder, but he hasn’t sounded this wholly energized and invigorated for a few records. Front to back this one is possessed with the ‘70s third-set swagger — crumpled like a crudely drawn flyer and stinking of stickered bar bathrooms with no lock. It doesn’t miss a beat and I’m having a hard time keeping it off the speakers.




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The Reds, Pinks & Purples – “I’d Rather Astral Project”

I can’t resist a chance to post The Reds, Pinks & Purples and while the band’s upcoming new LP for Slumberland is still a ways off, they’ve worked up a nice animated vid for one of the myriad singles that have packed their Bandcamp over the last few months. The message in “I’d Rather Astral Project” seems a bit more prescient now with physical shows in indefinite hiatus it would seem more convenient to take up the astral plane as the new venue. As usual the band wraps their wry thoughts in the jangled melancholia that’s made them so steady on the speakers over here. Check out the Jem Fanvu directed vid above.



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Galore

Been really enjoying this scrappy, scruffy dose of post-punk from San Francisco’s Galore lately. The band’s hitting on the same intersection of influences as Aussie upstarts Primo!, Terry, and School Damage but they add a dose of sweetness that’s sometimes sanded away from those outfits, perhaps bringing them most in line with the windswept charm of Parsnip. The band employs an austerity that cuts through the fat of pop and hits straight onto the bone. Jangled and jostled, nervy, but emotionally raw, the band’s eponymous LP also draws a crooked line between Look Blue Go Purple, The Pastels, and Talulah Gosh. The songs are catchy without cloying, crafting hooks that knock around the brain but won’t latch completely due to the rough edges. Each go round with the album lets them stick in a different nook of consciousness and if feels just right.

They sweep from strums and the lilt of jangles that populate much of the album to the sonic shrapnel of “Cucaracha,” and the bent tin twist of “Lydia,” executing the switch without so much as a skid on the pavement. They make the juxtaposition feel natural like the flow of an 80’s college station. The songs crunch confessionally, detailing days spent lolling in the bed, creature comforts, dashed hopes, and sneaking suspicions. The bubble-wrap snap of drums skitters in the background and the bass feels like its just getting its land legs back on more than a few songs. The whole record comes together in a lovely slump on the bed — conflicted, content, confused, and catchy. It’s holding up a long tradition of jangle n’ bop that doesn’t quite fit into the boxes that folks want to try to stuff ‘em into and Galore comes out shining all the brighter for their refusal to take shape.


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Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network

It feels like this album from Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network has been sorely overlooked in the lead-up to its release. Its a damn shame because the ex-Oh See has put together an album that pushes her range far beyond the garage and psych roots attached to her. Within Oh Sees Dawson always provided the light to the rest of the band’s brooding dark — washing in areas of harmony and humility to the band’s rhythmic furor or blood-spattered psychedelics. On Ballet of Apes she’s filtering through the frames of folk and jazz, lounge and a hopeful strain of soul. Her songs crouch and coo, then open wide and soar. The album is bruised but resilient and its some of her best work in any context.

As for those lumped into her Mothers Network, Dawson has assembled a rather enviable crew. The backing musicians range far and wide, picking up friends from New York, San Francisco, and Melbourne. The Mothers Network are at any time Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Mike Donovan (Sic Alps), Shayde Sartin (Fresh & Onlys, Flying Canyon), Mike Shoun (Oh Sees, Peacers). Then as the album slides into its latter half Dawson pairs with RSTB faves Sunwatchers for a bout of jazz smolder that slips beyond the veil of light and into a space that’s inhabited by smoke and smudged by hot coal chemical interactions. The band and Dawson make a particularly potent pair and here’s hoping that they might make it more of a regular occurrence. Highly recommend digging further into this one again and again.




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The Telephone Numbers – “Pictures of Lee”

As I mentioned Friday was a hectic day with the feeds flying fast, but if you were looking in the right places there were plenty of gems to be had. This new single/digital EP from The Telephone Numbers is just such a gem, so let’s rewind and take a listen. The band’s popped up here before and its a new one from Glenn Donaldson (The Skygreen Leopards, The Reds Pinks and Purples) who’s hooked up with a few more SF janglers to create some pristine and perfect pop in this absolute shit year. Sometimes all you need is a crisp jangle, earnest harmonies, and a good dose of swoon and everything just melts away for 3 minutes or so. The title track off of the single garners this kind of appeal. Its a such a crystal clear moment in sound that everything relaxes for a moment and just soaks in the West Coast sun for a few suspended minutes. The rest of the tracks spar between the melancholy shuffle of “Curtains Close,” the late-afternoon sidle of “It’s Not All About Your Life,” and a cracking cover of Alec Bathgate’s “Run.” Just like their last single, there’s a lot to love here and the band’s poised to be one’s to keep tabs on as these singles sneak out.



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