The “Get It Right” video from San Francisco folk outfit Hunters. depicts the various stages of a relationship in scenes, including a literally fiery dissolution. The narrative fits neatly with the dramatic, staccato arrangement from the band and Rosa del Duca’s impassioned vocal delivery. The track comes from their 2014 album Treeline, which I reviewed.
Hippo Campus, here with a chase scene that resolves in some serious deep thoughts.
Twin River, here with a chase scene that resolves in some serious feels. I hope this isn’t what it’s like to be a dad.
Mad props to Lily & Madeleine for making their icy, watery video look like the how the despondent, detached “Blue Blades” sounds.
San Francisco has its own brands of garage rock and indie-pop, which is a lot of individuality crammed into a geographically small city (7×7!). It’s the latter sound that Teenager (USA) attends to: the SanFran combination of neo-’50s vocal melodies and rhythms sync up with lush-yet-perky arrangements in “Broke.”
A staccato piano line forms the foundation for a mid-tempo tune that ends up in a swirl of psych guitars, flute, hand claps, and bouncy bass guitar. That description makes it sound like a total psychedelic freak-out, but it’s really not: pop structure reins it in, resulting in a bite-size piece of cheery goodness. Bevan Herbekian’s lyrics relate (eulogize?) a lifestyle of poor economics and rich relationships–something a lot of people can relate to.
Teenager (USA) has graciously allowed us to debut the tune from his forthcoming album The Magic of True Love, which will release later this year. Enjoy “Broke”!
Colorfeels‘ Syzygy is pretty much a primer of indie rock circa 2011: Grizzly Bear’s rustic qualities (“Pretty Walk,” “Be There”), Fleet Foxes’ harmonies (“Mirrored Walls”), Vampire Weekend’s triumphant afro-beat rhythms and textures (“Unplanned Holiday”), alt-country (“Fun Machine”), Bishop Allen’s quirky enthusiasm (the clarinet in “Fun Machine”), Generationals’ perky bass contributions (everywhere) and The Dirty Projectors’ free-flowing song styles (everywhere again). Thankfully, the band eschewed the currently en vogue garage rock recording style for an immaculately clear one.
It’s this pristine engineering that saves this from being a pastiche; even if you’ve heard all of these sounds before, they sound incredibly gorgeous coming from Colorfeels. The clarinet and piano on “Be There” may call up notions of everyone from Wilco to the Beatles, but the sound is so striking that you may not care (or even really notice). This is true of almost every tune — with the exception of “Zenzizenzizenzic,” whose shameless Muse appropriation feels totally out of place. I really enjoyed Syzygy on my first listen, but several minutes later I couldn’t remember anything about it except that I wanted to hear those pretty songs again. And they are very pretty.
After a half-dozen listens with the same ending thoughts (which is saying something — this debut is an hour long), I realized that Colorfeels has no signature. This album is gorgeous and almost infinitely malleable, but there’s not a single thing that screams COLORFEELS WAS HERE!
It should be noted that there aren’t any gimmicks to make it look like the band has a stamp (see aforementioned garage rock). For this they should be lauded; they are not hiding anything. They are what they are, and they let you hear that. That is admirable.
Syzygy is a mesmerizing indie-rock album that wears a lot of masks. Whether or not this was the intent is something only the members of Colorfeels can say. But I would love to see a group of instrumentalists and songwriters this talented explore one area of songwriting more thoroughly and place their stamp on music. It’s comforting and familiar, but there’s more to music than that.
It’s hard to judge objectively something that you are intimately acquainted with. Vocalists have a tough time taking other vocalists seriously, and writers are notoriously hard on other writers. That’s why We Are the City‘s accomplishment with In a Quiet World is so astonishing. They’ve made the piano (something I play on a daily basis) incredibly exciting.
To clarify the staggering worth of this achievement, consider this: you can be the most talented pianist in the world and still not excite me with your work. I can realize it as incredibly talented and enjoyable (i.e. everything in Ben Folds’ canon), even learn to play it. But get truly excited? Rare as snow in San Francisco. Continue readingWe Are The City Unleashes Exciting Indie-rock on the World…
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.