Jessica Pratt’s voice is something special, a breathy, elfin coo that calls to mind Marc Bolan’s spirited yelp as well as Vashti Bunyan’s inward-facing whispers, channeled through Pratt’s own wry, observational tone. “I see you standing wasted alone in my mind,” she sings directly on opener “Wrong Hand,” but such a line doesn’t feel bitter coming from Pratt’s mouth, as if it’s a gentle warning rather than a harsh truth. “People’s faces blend together like a watercolor you can’t remember in time,” she sings with precision at the outset of “Game That I Play.” Her guitar playing feels nimble yet immediate, leaving in missed notes in the one-take-sounding, stark and lo-fi “Strange Melody,” while her intriguing fingerings and tunings seem to draw inspiration from Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, though the way she contorts her voice from a floating, teetering high register to a disconcerting low feels entirely unique. The songs themselves are allowed to meander, though never indulgently; rather, On Your Own Love Again feels exceptionally well edited, its serpentine arrangements remaining relatively coiled. “Game That I Play” manages to sneak in a stunning second movement while keeping the song trim at just over four minutes. And she doesn’t overstay her welcome. At just more than half an hour, Pratt ends her second album leaving you wanting more, turning over her curious phrases and mystical voice to uncover their secrets, especially on one of the album’s final and best songs, “Back, Baby”—its pensive breakup lyrics like “your love is just a myth I devised” sting softly amid loping, seaside acoustic guitar. On Your Own Love Again is gorgeous through and through, and it’s easily one of the best albums of this early new year.
Out Feb. 17
A Place to Bury Strangers are known for their high-volume shoegaze played with custom-built guitar pedals, but new album Transfixation is said to be more experimental. The first single, “Straight,” sounds a little like Spacemen 3 jamming with Battles, with a frantic beat and strange noises rounded out by Oliver Ackermann’s cool delivery. We’re so down.
Cocktails play a whimsical, harmonic, fuzz-and-synth-laced brand of power pop with boy/girl harmonies that harkens back to bands like Imperial Teen, The Rentals and that dog. They bring the catchy, garagey goods in healthy doses on their debut album, Adult Life, which is out now. Catch the band live at Amoeba SF Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. and get a FREE Converse Rubber Tracks split 7” with Windham Flat, who recently played Amoeba SF as well.
We took a minute to speak with Patrick Clos, frontman for Cocktails:
Have you guys seen the nature of the SF music scene change along with its changing demographics? Are kids still coming to rock shows?
Patrick Clos: For sure. There definitely used to be a lot more like local, scuzzy guitar rock/garage/psych type bands playing around and such, but you know how it goes—there’s no longer rooms for like $500/month and such. But still, between here and Oakland, there’s no shortage of rock bands.
Jack Name – “Waiting for Another Moon”
Last week we shared noisy space-rocker “Watcher Talk,” from L.A. lo-fi maestro Jack Name’s new album, Weird Moons, which came out this week via Castle Face. Sample another track via The New York Times’ T Magazine, featuring Name’s weary vocals singing existentially about the cycle of life, death and boredom over trumpeting synths. Check it out and the rest of Weird Moons if you’re into the likes of Ariel Pink, John Maus and older White Fence (of which Name was once a member).
|Robert DeLong live at Amoeba SF Feb. 20, 2013|
The first show of the season will feature EDM artist Robert DeLong. We know from the livewire show he put on at Amoeba Hollywood that this isn’t a show to be missed, as DeLong trades between setting off various sequencers, playing the drums and getting the crowd riled up for his electrifying anthems. DeLong’s latest album is Just Movement.
Prior to DeLong’s performance, Tom Vek will take the stage. The British singer/songwriter uses post-punk beats and electronic noise for a unique sound on albums like last year’s excellent Luck. Also opening the show will be Southern California’s QUITAPENAS. The band combines Afro-Latin beats with tropical-psych guitars and Spanish-sung vocals for a SoCal-style mashup that feels natural and is a lot of fun to listen and dance to.