Musical Pairings

Two descriptive words that come to mind when I think of the Bay Area are the words ‘vibrant’ and ‘upbeat’.   I can’t imagine there are many people who have ever visited here who would disagree with the assertion that the Bay Area is constantly pulsing with energy, optimism and creativity.  Personally, as a transplant to San Francisco,  and also as a well-seasoned traveler, I’m aware of few places in the word that are so progressive and so enthusiastically forward-looking.  In part, it is probably for this reason that so many artists, musicians and culinary visionaries have historically chosen to call the Bay Area home.  And musically speaking, the continuation of this tradition is evident in the number of diverse bands, musicians and songwriters working to carve out their niche in the Bay even as you read this.  For this post, I am highlighting two Local Pairings previously covered on eating/sf that demonstrate the Bay Area’s vibrancy and upbeat nature: Here Here and Geographer.

Here Here – The Boy With An Orange (paired w/ fish tacos with spicy salsa and marinated onions)

The lush seven piece chamber-pop group, Here Here, is arguably one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets. Their debut release, The Boy With an Orange, features full-bodied compositions, vibrant arrangements, and an upbeat sense of enthusiasm that is perhaps unsurprisingly representative of the Bay Area.  The Boy With an Orange’s opening track, “5678,“ is a whimsical intro featuring playing children whose voices melt and blend into an upbeat piano melody and lead singer Christian Lyon’s gentle, but majestic vocals on the second track, “You Sold Your Shadow.” A minute into this track, Lyon is met by a rich, warming violin as the song builds into a dramatic, swirling multi-instrumental composition.

[audio:|titles=You Sold Your Shadow|artists=Here Here] Here Here – “You Sold Your Shadow”

The next track, “Trainwreck,” opens with bluegrass-like banjo picking that flows into ornate, and richly textured indie-pop. One of the albums highlights, “Moving Up North,” is another example of orchestral, chamber-pop that bridges the gaps between bands like Beirut, Arcade Fire and Pinback, and features swirling acoustics, a soothing violin, and layered vocals. It is unusually lush for a debut album, and yes it is frequently both “vibrant” and “upbeat.”  On Musical Pairings at eating/sf, we originally paired Here Here with Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.  And even though, I normally associate fish tacos with San Diego, I think this album also pairs well with Kasey’s recipe for fish tacos with marinated onions and spicy salsa.  Like The Boy With An Orange this recipe is lush, richly textured, vibrant and upbeat.

Geographer – Innocent Ghosts (paired with blueberry cake)

San Francisco’s Geographer make music that can be described as “pictureseque.”  In fact, rarely does a band’s music sound so tailored for use in the dramatic scene in a movie. Rarely does a band sound so perfectly cinematic. But Geographer’s Innocent Ghosts is just that: cinematic. Geographer is led by Michael Deni, whose emotionally-rich, warm voice provides a fantastic set up for the pulsing, exhilarating music created by celloist Nathan Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher. If you find comparisons to other artists helpful, I’d place Geographer somewhere between Sun Kil Moon and Coldplay. Opening track (and lead single) “Can’t You Wait” opens with a flurry of synth and a simple, shimmery guitar melody elevated by Deni’s bright vocals. The song quickly builds rhythm and erupts into an upbeat, dancey, feel-good cut.

[audio:|artists=Geographer|titles=Rushing In, Rushing Out] Geographer – “Rushing In, Rushing Out”

This is an upbeat and vibrant album of pitch-perfect indie-pop. Although the entire album is infectious, I especially recommend (aside from their first single – “Can’t You Wait”) the tracks “Rushing In, Rushing Out,” “Leave,” and “Asleep.”  We originally paired this album with the postcard-perfect Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, California.  And although Kasey’s blueberry cake recipe may not be as cinematic as Geographer’s album, it is every bit as sweet and enjoyable, and it is guaranteed to make you feel vibrant and upbeat.