Musical Pairings

Interestingly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “hype” as follows: “

[t]o short-change, to cheat; to deceive, to con, esp. by false publicity.”  Interestingly, nearly all of the examples of modern usage provided relate to the music business.  For example, the Sunday Times in August of 1968 stated: “[h]ype is an American word for the gentle art of getting a tune into the pop charts without actually selling any records.  Its methods are various: from the crudest bribery to devious techniques for upsetting the . . . calculations of chart compilers.”  But I don’t feel like this definition reflects the full nuance of the modern usage of the word.  Specifically, my problem with that definition is that it suggests that all hype is deceptive, and intended to short change , and is therefore it is presumably undeserved.  In practice though I think we use (or at least I use) the word as if it is synonymous with “promote” and in a manner that suggests that some hype can be a good thing.

And speaking of well-deserved hype: San Francisco’s Girls have been receiving their fair share of buzz.. And as another blogger noted in a tweet: anyone who says Girls are overrated is kinda wrong about that.  Girls are led by Christopher Owens, a songwriter whose music is both anchored in the psychedelic pop of the late 1960’s, but is also forward looking and thoroughly modern. Although San Francisco is only Owens’ adopted home, he is clearly an artist who understands the Bay Area: Girls’ debut, Album, is a snapshot of San Francisco in 2009. Its a great album to soundtrack summer days spent hanging out in Dolores Park, shopping for records at Amoeba/Aquarius, playing slosh ball in McArthur park, or hanging out and over-indulging with friends in a small two bedroom apartment anywhere in the Bay Area.  In fact, like the city that Owens has adopted as home, each song is like a micro-climate of a greater, cohesive whole, which is to say the result is that songs are sometimes sunny, sometimes foggy, but most are a little of both.

[audio:http://bandstore.matadordirect.com/mp3s/TRUE-013/Girls_Hellhole_Ratrace.mp3|artists=Girls|titles=Hellhole Ratrace] Girls – “Hellhole Ratrace”

Album opens with the buoyantly narcotic “Lust For Life” that features do-wop backing vocals, sunny, jangly acoustic guitar strumming, a sparse percussive backbone including hand claps supporting Owens lyrics: “I wish had a sun tan, I wish had a pizza and a bottle of wine, I wish I had a beach house and we could make a fire every night, but I’m just crazy.” 

Hype is a good thing.  For example, Tartine Bakery in the Mission has received mountains of hype for being awesome (which they are).  So, if you are interested in an indulgent recipe from the much-hyped Bakery, you should head over to eating/sf for Kasey’s post and recipe for Tartine’s Chocolate-Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies. She has been nominated in the Bon Appetit Holiday bake-off for these cookies.  Vote for her here.

Another Bay Area band that has been receiving some positive word of mouth is Man/Miracle.  They just released their debut, The Shape of Things, this month.  It is an energetic and bright debut featuring a powerful collection of catchy melodies and thoughtfully well-written songs. With their debut, Man/Miracle has proven that they are one of the Bay Area’s most promising up and coming bands.

[audio:http://www.manslashmiracle.com/hotsprawl.mp3|Artists=Man/Miracle|titles=Hot Sprawl] Man/Miracle – “Hot Sprawl”

The Shape of Things opens with the vibrant, buoyant tune of “Above the Salon.” A bright, reverb-fuzzed guitar riff fades in and out, building tension with drummer Tyler Corelitz‘s light, terse percussion as singer Dylan Travis croons on the chorus, “there is so much I miss about you.” It is followed by the track, “Hot Sprawl,” which opens with a generally laid-back groove and slow, drawn out lyrics that echo off into the distance, but soon the track grows tense and urgent. Dylan sings “we’ll push back / we’ll snap back into form” followed by a flash of shimmering guitar and rapid drumming before the song snaps back into the laid-back form that they defined at the beginning. An elastic guitar riff opens the track “Up” alongside bouncy percussion and peppy, afloat vocals. “Multitudes” features angular, rigid harmony and stands as one of the album’s nosiest tracks. The boisterous cacophony of “Pushing and Shoving” remains a highlight on the album, although I especially enjoy the Talking Heads-like tune “Other People” that follows it.

This is definitely an album that deserves all of the hype it can receive.  If you aren’t a foodie, you may not be aware of this, but brussel sprouts are one of the “in” foods for Fall/Winter 2009.  Just stop by a food blog and do a search for brussel sprouts and you’ll see what I mean.  Of course, I’d highly recommend the brussel sprouts with bacon and parmesan recipe at eating/sf.

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