Musical Pairings
I'm frequently reminded of just how lucky I am to live in the Bay Area.  There is an endless supply of excellent restaurants and easy, cheap access to delicious fresh produce at the countless farmer's markets, grocers, and ethnic shops that fill every neighborhood in the city.  Likewise, our music scene is full of history, diversity and is teeming with talent.  Musical Pairings was conceived as a way to connect food with music, the way a sommelier would pair wine with a meal.  Similarly, the "Local Pairings" portion of eating/SF began as a way to highlight some of eating/SF's best local discoveries both culinary and musical, and when Christian offered us an opportunity to share these discoveries with the Bay Bridged, we were honored.  So with this in mind, I'll offer Musical Pairings for two fantastic Bay Area bands whose music brings to mind simple, clean ingredients reminiscent of low-key country living, Bay Area style: Cousin Chris and Birds & Batteries.

Cousin Chris paired with white beans with chard

Cousin Chris (paired w/ white beans with chard)

San Francisco's Cousin Chris’ stunning debut album, Moon Paper, is simultaneously evocative of Elliott Smith and early Modest Mouse records (or at least a stripped down version of MM’s This Is a Long Drive), both of whom are cited as notable influences for Cousin Chris in addition to bands like Do Make Say Think, Leonard Cohen, and the Black Keys. Similar to the way Elliott Smith recorded many of his albums, Moon Paper is the product of the sole efforts of Chris Schreiber, who sings and plays all instruments on the album.  We originally paired Moon Paper with Farina in the Mission.  However, I think this rustic white beans and chard recipe would be an equally appropriate pairing as both the album and the recipe are rustic, warm and earthy.  And Kasey notes that this recipe "is composed of few ingredients--but the right ingredients" and the same could be easily said of Cousin Chris' Moon Paper.

[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/bodf98eepo.mp3|titles=The River|artists=Cousin Chris]
Cousin Chris - The River

On one of Moon Paper’s standout tracks, “The River,” Schreiber’s cold, acoustic strumming is met head on by a slow, sliding honky-tonk guitar riff and sparse, well-placed drumming.  Addressing the alienation resulting from the modern dependency on technology, “Eternal Mind” taps and rolls as Schreiber again makes excellent use of the slide guitar and sparse drum work, this time humming an accent as he laments that the "computer screen has become my own messianic being."  Since releasing Moon Paper Cousin Chris has evolved, and now incorporates a full band: bassist Josh Izenberg and drummer Calvin Kan.  They are currently in the studio working on tracks for their next release.  They've been kind enough to share an exclusive first listen of the track "Mind Is Poor" from their recording sessions in addition to "The River" which appears on Moon River.  You can buy Moon River directly from the band on Cousin Chris' website.  If you are interested in reading the full recipe for the delicious white beans and chard recipe, head over to eating/SF.

[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/6oldcm7jpa.mp3|titles=Mind is Poor|artists=Cousin Chris]
Cousin Chris - Mind Is Poor

Birds & Batteries paired with rosemary baked eggs

Birds & Batteries - I'll Never Sleep Again (paired w/ rosemary baked eggs)

Birds & Batteries are considered by many people to be one of the most promising new local acts in San Francisco. Their latest album, I'll Never Sleep Again, opens with their reworking of Neil Young's classic cut, "Heart of Gold," which has received attention by a few, notable (non-Bay Area) music magazines including Rolling Stone.  Their version begins with enigmatic, slow, stuttering chimes, which abruptly give way to lead singer Michael Sempert's twangy vocals and waves of pedal steel guitar. Less than a minute later, cold synths are followed by trembling, sonically-rich percussion.  Despite the synths, I'd still describe the over-all sound as rustic and warm, and therefore I'll Never Sleep Again would be well paired with this flavorful, farm-in-the-country style baked rosemary eggs recipe.

The song "I'll Never Sleep Again," also employs slow, shining sequences and synths that bleat atop listless pedal steel as Sempert sings: "I'm alive / and I'm wondering / how to stay that way / cause I was young once / I could be young again." Sweeping arrangements and an upbeat melody highlight standout track "Ocarina." Other excellent tracks include the sonic explosion, "Star Clusters," the menacing "After a Flood," and the contemplative "Soft Surveillance."  Birds & Batteries are currently working on their third album, which is scheduled for a release sometime in the near future (Spring 2009). You can pick up I'll Never Sleep Again directly from the band or from iTunes.

[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/8zry2t6jyd.mp3|titles=Ocarina|artists=Birds & Batteries]
Birds & Batteries - Ocarina

About Musical Pairings: Musical Pairings began as a way to combine Matthew's love of music with his fiance Kasey's love for cooking and dining out.  Kasey regularly posts about our cooking and dining out adventures at http://www.eating-sf.com and Matthew pairs Kasey's recipes and reviews with his favorite albums at: http://musicalpairings.blogspot.com. Contact us at Musical.Pairings@thebaybridged.com

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