Local DIY label Digital Cloud has put together a compilation titled and themed Firsts. It’s stocked with exclusive tracks, seventeen in total, from a mix of San Francisco, regional, national and international bands. It’s an impressive collection for a first compilation from the label, especially the fact that all tracks are exclusive; that’s not something all compilations can boast (ahem).

Digital Cloud is a CD-r label, DIY in the most literal sense. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that a fair number of the bands on this compilation also fall within the DIY aesthetic. Many of the tracks are home-recorded in a variety of fidelities, from lo-fi to hi-fi. That’s not the only way this comp is eclectic. In a span of three tracks, it goes from a piano-based Anglo-American folk tradition-like ballad (Beatbeat Whisper) to a lo-fi casiotone for the marginally melancholy song (Megamoog) to a glitchy electro post rock tune (The Tomatometers). If there was an attempt to characterize this comp, it’d be that it leans toward the lo-fi and songs with Casio-like beats. That’s still leaving a lot of room for variation, I know.

Another thing one notices immediately is the lack of big names. I know a few of these bands, sure, but even as someone that prides himself with being familiar with a lot of bands, I have to claim ignorance on many of these. Just because this doesn’t have your favorite big indie band on it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out; rather it acts to show you new bands once you give it a chance.

The Fits – Sign Language (mp3)


The highlights of the compilation are almost too numerous to list. The Fits’ “Sign Language” is an upbeat organ-and-guitar rocker with a familiar-sounding and catchy chorus. The French-language “Je Suis un Petit Lapin” by Little Naps has lovely-but-campy synths and beats along with a nice female-lead vocals. Messes’ “I was Right” is perhaps the highlight of the comp; a medium tempo fingerpicked guitar lies under a breathy male vocal which is accompanied by a female vocal during the chorus. It’s simple and beautiful. Beatbeat Whipser’s English acapella-turned-piano-folk ballad shows the talents of this talented local group. The final track, The Tomatometers’ “Sunrise_1.0” is a really nice instrumental track that falls somewhere between the melodic electronica of IDM and the minimalism of post-rock.

There’s a CD release show for the compilation tomorrow night:

11/6 Firsts CD release w/ Lady Genius, Beatbeat Whisper, Lamb (JPN), Megamoog, Le Fits, and Little Naps @ The Hotel Utah Saloon, 9pm, $6, 21+

After the show, the comp will be available for purchase, I’m told. Check their MySpace page for further developments.

Adrian Bischoff is the author of ipickmynose, an SF-centric music blog. He is also a DJ at KZSU and the newest contributor to The Bay Bridged. In full disclosure, Adrian knows Natalie from Digital Cloud through their mutual involvement at KZSU and she periodically contributes to the “song obsessions” panel on his blog.