Musical Pairings

If you are a Bay Area resident or watch a little television, you’ve probably noticed that the Bay Area is a place that embraces the eccentric and unusual.  Even our oddness is somewhat peculiar in its diversity.  This unique offbeat nature plays out in some interesting ways in Bay Area culture.  You see it at elaborately whimsical house parties thrown by tech-industry residents.  You see it in the diverse range of punks, hipsters, and unclassifiables hanging out in Delores Park on pretty much any day of the week.  You taste it when you order creme brulee from a cart or puffed escargo from a truck parked on the side of the street.  For many of the Bay Area’s culinary enthusiast’s this embrace of the eccentric finds its way into home-kitchen experimentation.  Kasey’s watermelon gazpacho and the unique banana bread recipe that includes ginger and chocolate chips that she prepared are perfect examples of this phenomenon.  And you can hear our love of the fringes in the music from the Bay too.  After all, the same geographical area that served as the launching pad for Green Day was also called home by Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, hyphy music, and the Dead Kennedys.  Of course, in that light, bands like the duo Casy & Brian and San Francisco’s Maus Haus are really pretty normal – at least depending on what side of the looking glass you find yourself on.

Maus Haus – Lark Marvels (paired with watermelon gazpacho)

This watermelon gazpacho recipe is a personal favorite.  It is unique in concept, but pleasingly familiar to taste.  Because the primary ingredient is watermelon, it is sweet, but the mint and jalapeno add complexity and spice to it.  Ultimately, it is playful, spicy and a little off-center.  For this reason, it serves as a good companion recipe to San Francisco’s equally “off-center” band: Maus Haus.

When asked by the San Francisco Guardian to identify a film soundtrack that Maus Haus’ music would best match, Maus Haus’ Joshua Rampage suggested the following: “If Wes Anderson had written and directed ‘Alien,’ starring Bill Murray instead of Sigourney Weaver, and turned it into a social-political jag on how we’ve got to find a medium ground, how we’ve been eating too much and thinking too much (or not enough) and getting ready to become puddles of ourselves.” Although one would rightfully suspect that Rampage’s answer isn’t meant entirely in earnest, it isn’t as off the mark as you might imagine.

[audio:] Maus Haus – Reaction

Lark Marvels draws to mind bands Self, Grandaddy, the Silver Apples, Soul Coughting (minus Mike Doughty), and on tracks “Rigid Breakfast,” “Secret Deals,” and “Reaction,” there are even hints of Dayton, Ohio 1990’s style avant punk a la Brainiac. Opening track “Rigid Breakfast” starts with a fantastic sonic freak-out featuring squealing, ominously-spacey synth and warmly tonal and repetitive keyboard rhythm. The second cut on Lark Marvels, “Secret Deals,” is light-heartedly dark and slightly off-kilter, primarily sounding like a sci-fi homage to jazz and 60’s era psychedelic pop both as a result of the instrumentation and lyrics: “stop being a robot, be a regular man.” They are both excellent tracks, and combined they provide a perfect set-up for the rest of the album. Relying on an assortment of drums, synthesizers, electronic toys, flutes, saxophones, bass guitar, and flute, Maus Haus craft a wonderful debut that is sonically compelling and playfully paranoid. Lark Marvels is definitely recommended. Other highlights on the album include “We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down),” “Reaction,” “Irregular Hearts,” and “Dead Keys Drop.”  Head over to the band’s MySpace page to order a copy of Lark Marvels or to stream more tracks from the album.

Casy & Brian – Catbees LP and Non-Fiction 7″ (paired with banana bread w/ chocolate & ginger)

I associate banana bread with childhood. I still have lots of great memories of mom’s banana bread, which of course for many years was the only “good” banana bread.  This recipe probably succeeded in convincing me of the merit of other banana breads precisely because it is so different from traditional banana breads.  In other words, by veering sharply away from tradition, it managed to avoid competition with “mom’s” banana bread, and by doing so won me over.  Casy & Brian take a similar course around traditional punk or rock ‘n roll, and manage to succeed in creating some pretty unique and exciting music for that same reason.

Casy & Brian – Rumble in the Jungle 1974

Casy & Brian are a hyper-punk duo consisting entirely of shout-out-loud vocals, drums and a keyboard (Casy & Brian share/alternate all three responsibilities). Their music sounds like equal parts Screeching Weasel, Matt & Kim, and Moldy Peaches. Their debut album, Catbees, collects 10 primarily animal-themed danceable electro-punk tracks of relentless drums and booming, incessant keys. Vocals are shouted aloud, with lyrics often tripping on top of other lyrics. Live, the formula is explosive and wide-eyed, and to their extreme credit, the album does an excellent job of capturing that energy. The opening track on the album, “Duex Drumbaclots,” serves as Casy & Brian’s musical manifesto, as they declare that: “we made the record that we want to hear.” And on the track “Animal Calls N’ Dancehalls,” Casy and Brian demonstrate an obsession with animals that continues on at least 6 of the 18 minute long album’s 9 other songs, as they sing/shout the lyrics such as: “certain animals dance after hours at the zoo / if a zebra can get down / so can you” atop stuttering, grimy keys and ratatat drums. The whole album is a sophomoric mess in the best possible way, and makes for irresistible dance-punk fun.

Casy & Brian have also recently released a series of 7″s including the first in a series of 7″s titled No Fiction, with the theme being that the lyrics all borrow from non-fiction sources. For example, on my favorite Casy & Brian track, “Rumble in the Jungle 1974,” the lyrics borrow primarily from quotes by and a poem from Muhammad Ali before his 1974 fight with George Foreman: “For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, And throw thunder in jail. You know I’m bad.”  This is an album worth checking out.

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 and Matthew pairs Kasey’s recipes and reviews with his favorite albums at: Contact us at