Nevada City, California
Around the time Chris's Austin mixtape posted, he and I began discussing city scenes and debating the varying community of each. Austin, Portland, Brooklyn, Chicago ... we got your responses.
One scene I kept thinking about and discussing with Chris is Nevada City, California. The small town (pop. 3,001) came to be thanks to the 1850s gold rush, and the town has been said to be "swarming with artists and hippies and old prospectors." Swarming. It's best known by Joanna Newsom, the author of that quote as well as two amazing Drag City records.
After listening to Nevada City/Grass Valley artists for a multiple hours, the list was whittled down to these five (in no particular order).
pFork track-reviewed Alela Diane Wednesday. The bloggish-webzine described "The Rifle", saying "the strategic reticence, however, gives the song its particular power as it demands repeat listens."
Just a few weeks back, the Nevada City-native, Portland-transplant re-released The Pirate's Gospel on Portland's Holocene Music label. Chris posted his thoughts on "Pieces of String" back in September, but it's so excellent I'll share it again.
MP3: Alela Diane - Pieces of String
Of all these artists, Mariee Sioux most resembles Newsom: active picking/plucking, distinct tempo shifts and lyrical content with great imagery which borders on the metaphysical.
In this song, much like many on The Milk-Eyed Mender, Mariee Sioux seems to have more lyrics to sing than time will allow. The race to have all words in the desired phrase is one of the refreshing characteristics of a young songwriter.
MP3: Mariee Sioux - Buried In Teeth
This song's percussion intro reminds me of "Jaan Pehechaan Ho" or another notable world music song. The percussion bed provides the song stablity. It's as though vocal harmonies, guitar solos and the song's overall melody weaves into that percussion - sometimes exposed, but most often muted into the song's fabric.
The band will be playing at Cafe Utah in San Francisco tomorrow night.
MP3: Casual Fog - Little Diamond
Kings And Queens
Throughout Devendra Banhart's Cripple Crow, there are guitar tones that I find alluring, from first listen still to today. The October 2005 show proved to me that these weren't studio tricks. Guitarist/producer Noah Georgeson (read below) can duplicate them live. Tracing back Georgeson's musical career led me to the currently paused/defunct band The Pleased (which included Georgeson and Newsom) and their incredible record, Don't Make Things.
That in turn led me to Kings and Queens. Noah and Rich Good share more than just a previous band on their resume; both artists have a passion for crisp 70s guitar tones.
I also have an appreciation for musicians that have an artistic eye. Rich Good seems to also have a designer's eye - all of Kings and Queens' graphics are well shot/designed and he's also the layout designer for Newsom's newest release.
MP3: Kings And Queens - King's Theme
Listening to political music during campaign season is so trite. Listening days after elections isn't.
In addition to his contribution to Kings and Queens, Lee Bob (Watson) is behind Santa Cruz Gospel Choir: War Danzon::, a protest album recorded in San Francisco, the only place for legitimate protest.
In what might the be most applicable lyrical phrase I've heard in a contemporary protest song, Watson mutters, "If we forsake our liberty/For some semblance of security/We become our own enemy."
MP3: Lee Bob - Air Strike Remedy
I'm sure there are many more that I have overlooked. I could do this weekly and probably have enough quality artists for months. Are there any you've found that should be noted?
pFork continues their effort to promote the Nevada City artists this week. In addition to the Alela Diane track review, they've announced there will be a solo release from producer extraordinaire Noah Georgeson titled Find Shelter. Coincidentally, his record will share the same release date as his former The Pleased member and roomie Joanna Newsom. If you haven't heard Ys yet, it won't let you down. [Edit: It seems the Find Shelter release date has been changed. Georgeson's MySpace has the release date as November 28th. ]
MySpaceMp3: Noah Georgeson - "Find Shelter"