Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twain Harte - A Sunny Place For Shady People + S/T EP

Speaking of talking about local music, let's fast forward a bit. In about, I'd say, 2007, a band called Twain Harte was created by three guys in the area. What was made in the process was surprisingly phenomenal math rock, a genre that I admit I know very little about other than a handful of big names and a few obscurities. Two members switched off on bass and guitar in between songs during their sets. The drummer remained stationary. All members possessed musicianship not seen often in these parts. Probably some of the best live sets I've seen, too; everyone was always dancing and having a good time. I don't want to put down a predictable list of similar bands for two reasons: one, because most of those bands are very overrated, and two, because Twain Harte did well enough not to sound like a cut-and-paste version of them. While, yes, the similarities are apparent, A Sunny Place For Shady People is focused more on upbeat, happy (despite the subject material) and fun feelings with a punk edge. They obviously had as much fun creating their music as they did performing it.

It was a shame to see them break up considering how honestly talented they were, apart from a few botched performances that should be expected from, let's be frank, a group of teenagers. I don't know what the front members are up to, but I know Logan, the drummer, is playing in a couple bands here and there. This band was playing shows in Livermore at the about the time that the "music scene" was on life support. As they disappeared, so did (most of) the other bands, and the last remnants of our venues and shows.

Twain Harte - A Sunny Place For Shady People + Self-Titled Tour EP Mediafire
Twain Harte - MySpace

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Songs - All Branches, No Trunk

I started going to shows when I was about twelve, when my town still had a "scene" and shows still went on every Friday during the summer. I saw so many no-name bands that I couldn't possibly name them all, which says something about my memory and my lack of nostalgia-driven flyer collecting. There were very few bands that really caught my attention during those years, but Love Songs were one of them. Love Songs is a band that is criminally underrated in the Bay Area punk scene, which is a surprise considering the vocalist/lead guitarist is Craigums from What Happens Next? and Your Mother fame (one of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of meeting by the way!) I don't doubt that their popularity has waned - their shows seemed to have shrunk down a bit in size since 2004 - but they haven't let that get to them. They're still just as good, if not better, after all these years.

Their first full-length All Branches, No Trunk is, in my opinion, their best material: thirteen catchy, humorous pop-punk tunes about love and testicle shaving (among other things) told in the best, most upbeat way possible. "Sweet-ish" in particular is a memorable track for these reasons, but then so is every other song on the CD. The only thing that tops this record is their live show, which happens to be one of my favorites six years later. This band is just fun; there's no better way to put it. Did I mention the Weird Al influence?

This CD is apparently out of print, but it was on 625. Don't fret about that though, because Love Songs happen to have a new record entitled Another Guaranteed 40 Minute Music Set (a blatant reference to a Bay Area radio station for the curious) out on Little Deputy Records. This includes a bunch of new material as well as a few old songs that have been re-recorded for the next generation. If you dig this, you'll dig that even more.

Love Songs - All Branches, No Trunk Mediafire
Love Songs - MySpace

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Memorize - S/T CS

In slight conjunction with my previous entry, here is another shoegaze obscurity that I got on a whim. Memorize are from Oklahoma City, and I have no idea how I found these guys other than mindless browsing through Last.FM pages. I just so happened to stumble upon them and their MySpace one night, and I was blown away completely, particularly by their track "Wave." I ordered their tape immediately and since then it's become one of my favorites. It may be of interest to the reader that this band sits alongside fellow Oklahoma City denizens on a label called DIY United.

Sadly, I haven't seen any movement from this band despite hearing of a possible full-length in the works from a band member on Last.FM, when I still had an account. But that was long ago, and that full-length may very have drifted into the void. A real shame, but four songs is better than none at all.

Memorize - S/T CS Mediafire
Memorize - MySpace

Friday, February 12, 2010

Whirl - Demo

It's not often that I will buy a band's demo on a whim and be really impressed. This is one of those rare cases. Whirl are a new shoegaze band from Northern California (right in the neighborhood for me) that until a couple weeks ago I had never heard of. I still don't know very much about them, but I do know that this two song demo is very good. Balancing between catchy and haunting should be difficult, but this band seems to pull it off with ease. Most of the comments regarding this band's sound are that they aren't playing anything new or groundbreaking, but so what? If you ask me, neither are most shoegaze bands of today; the point, however, is that this particular tape is doing it right. It's not genius, but it's effective; it's a good sign of things to come. I'd really like to see this band go places.

I recommend that you don't just take my meaningless word for it, though, and that you check this band out. Below is a download link for their demo provided by the band from their MySpace, as well as a link to their MySpace.

Whirl - Demo ZShare
Whirl - MySpace