Thursday, January 30, 2014

Latest Local Music - Fractal, Beautiful Machines, Cash Pony, Moetar and Atomic Ape... and Mirthkon!

There is a huge amount of good original new music that is looking for an audience. Most of what I listen to is from bands you've probably never heard of, so I'm going to share some updates and some local gigs that are happening over the next few days in the SF Bay Area. I encourage you to go to the gigs and buy a CD, or buy the album online to support local musicians. There is a Facebook group for Bay Area Prog rock that's worth tracking.

Earlier this week Fractal released the first track of a free album of improvisations. They plan to release the tracks on soundcloud around once a month. It's hard to categorize what they sound like other than excellent musicians composing instrumentals in real time. They tend to have interesting sound effects, looped phrases and are known for using odd time signatures. I've been a non-playing member of this band since they started, helping in various ways including naming this album "Fractiles".

I've been meaning to write this for a while, and my deadline is that tonight (Thursday Jan 30th) there is a gig including Beautiful Machines in San Francisco. I can't attend, but I do have their first album and have been listening to it a lot over the last few months. They write songs with influences from 80's synth-pop bands, and remind me of Japan or Duran Duran perhaps. Their bass player Van is one of my favorite local musicians, he used to play in Headshear and has a unique and interesting style on fretless bass. Here's a trailer for a video of Animammal from their album "Disconnect :: Reconnect".

On Saturday I will be in Oakland for a gig with three of my favorite local bands. Please come along!

Moetar are a pop band with a unique sound that blends jazzy female vocals and prog rock instrumentation into some very commercial sounding songs. They don't sound like Muse, but if you like Muse I think you will like Moetar. They have a unique mix, and I've played their first album regularly over the last year or two. Their second album has been recorded and is due for release soon. I've seen them live several times, and try not to miss a gig, they are awesome and deserve to be a big hit. Here's a video they made for Butchers of Baghdad from their first album From These Small Seeds.

Cash Pony have played with Moetar several times, and I bought their CD at a gig, then just kept playing it. It's an interesting mix of instruments, with a bass sax and an electric sitar on some songs. It's interesting uptempo pop songs, and they have a very smooth sound on the CD, but I can't figure out what to compare it to. Take a listen to a live version of 1000 Layer Curry Dawg and get their Carpal Tunnel Vision Quest album.

Years ago, there was an amazing local band called Estradasphere. They released several albums that I still listen to regularly. They have dispersed, and the guitarist Jason Schimmel has a new band called Atomic Ape with a new album, Swarm. I haven't heard them before, but am looking forward to seeing them live for the first time on Saturday. Here's a rather dark video of them playing for a radio show.

Update - I just found out that on Feb 15th MirthKon and Secret Chiefs 3 are playing a gig in San Francisco. Not yet sure if I can make it to attend. Yet another of my favorite local bands, intensely complex virtuoso playing. Matt the bass player in Mirthkon is also the keyboard player in Moetar. If you like Frank Zappa you'll like MirthKon, and you should give the video below a listen.

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