Several groups of artists are putting San Francisco’s Outer Sunset on the map in a big way. One group of affiliates congregate under the tape label Discontinuous Innovation and include names like Toyota and Stucko, among others. Another includes the record label Wave Dweller, and bands Future Shapes, No Vacation, and the increasingly noteworthy Jay Som. Pardoner come from another, overlapping circle, but bring their own flavor — a distinct energy.

The band recently released a self-titled EP, which follows two other EPs and a collection of B-sides. The new songs seem to signal a departure — not to say the other material was underdeveloped, or premature, but there’s a sense that the band has found themselves. The vocals are consistent and stylized, the songwriting is interesting, and most importantly, the riffs stick. Earlier material saw the band laying guitar effects on with a heavy hand, but this new material is more nuanced, even briefly introducing wind instruments to great effect.

Opener “Grave Digger” perfectly displays the band’s strengths, with its plodding rhythm and heavy, tight drum fills. Singer Max’s casual vocal delivery works extremely well when combined with the playful, dark instrumentation. On their self-titled EP, Pardoner sound like the angst-ridden child of Parquet Courts and The Swirlies.


Derek, who handles bass duties in Pardoner, was studying abroad during the writing and recording of the EP, so the band simply partnered with Eva Treadway (The She’s, Plush), whose contributions are highlighted in the drum and bass aside on “Powerfade”. It seems that even the band have noticed the change with the new EP, in a recent interview, they note that although they’re usually sick of their recordings by the time they get them into the world, they’re surprisingly still “OK” with this batch of songs. Catch the band at Oakland’s Sgraffito Gallery next week, and pick up a tape via Smoking Room.

Happy Diving, Provoker, Pardoner, SnoozeSgraffito
July 23, 2016
7pm, $5