L.A. indie pop heroes So Many Wizards take the stage at The Echo tonight as a four-piece rather than a three-piece band for the first time, opening for wonderful britpop weirdos Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The show's at 8:30 p.m., and it's 10 bucks. Buy tickets here.
Frontman Nima Kazerouni started So Many Wizards as a solo project in Long Beach around late 2008, recording the Tree EP. Drummer Erik Felix from neighboring San Pedro came aboard shortly thereafter and the two started quickly evolving the sound.
Since then, the band added third member Frank Maston and now have added Geoff Geis of local goodies Pizza! and Big Whup. It's a long way from back in 2009, when Kazerouni played live while old TVs rigged with LCD screens played his backup parts.
“The vintage TVs really threw people for a loop, which was cool, but it got old fast (super fragile and hard to set up),” Kazerouni explains. “These days, as the bands grows with members and hence new sonic possibilities, focusing on honing those possibilities is the primary goal.”
Last year they released the EP Love Songs for When You Leave Me, with the song “Nico,” a big swooping love song featuring Kazerouni's angelic vocals floating over a simple two-chord progression and drum machine. This year they released the Inner City/Best Friends 7” with “Inner City,” a fun pop explosion that doesn't really sound anything like the inner city. It sounds like a bunch of kids running through a park and making up songs as they go along, which kind of sums up So Many Wizards' pop whimsies in general. (Check out the creepy video for forlorn ditty “Best Friends” below.)
One thing I've always liked about So Many Wizards is how dissimilar they sound to, say, the Smell scene. Caffeinated indie pop isn't necessarily what one associates with L.A. music, and it's all the more welcome for it.
“The L.A scene is healthy with virtually every kind of cross genre mixing,” Kazerouni says. “All those styles have definitely influenced So Many Wizards for the better. It's a beautiful thing.”
Besides the TV thing, evidence of Kazerouni's creativity can also be found in the band's physical releases, which have been handcrafted. Both the Tree EP and Songs for When You Leave Me look like books, with Tree EP kind of like an elementary school sketchbook, while Love Songs looks like a thicker volume, some all-important novel tucked away on a shelf. Inside, it's a small sketchbook with a space, as it says on their website, “to put all the stuff that's close to your <3.” Adorable, sure, but it fits their twee aesthetic to a T.
“Hand-making the first EPs ensured that every single one I made had a personal touch and people really dug it,” Kazerouni says. “The handmade personal touch on things will always be there in some form.”
Kazerouni says the band has finished recording music for a new LP, so keep an eye out for that!
Meanwhile, the show tonight also includes experimental pop duo Gauntlet Hair, who don't yet have a full-length out, but you can check out some songs via MySpace. I just did, and I have to say, I'm pretty blown away by their epic scope. Also appearing will be cute local jazzy garage band The Young Rapscallions, you can check out their tracks here.