CROSSING OVER: It’s no surprise to hear that the members of Alcoholic Faith Mission feel inspired by the Canadian indie-rock scene. The six-piece band immediately draws comparisons to Canuck chamber pop acts like Stars, Broken Social Scene, and Arcade Fire. Their records are slow-building epics, composed of tracks that layer instruments on top of instruments and benefit from a choir of harmonious voices. Take, for example, recently released single “Running with Insanity,” which gallops along emphatically, booming bass drum, hand claps, accordion, and tambourines helping to push the whole thing to its big dramatic finish.
Formed in 2005 by Copenhagen music makers Sune Sølund and Thorben Seierø Jensen, the band already has four albums worth of tunes and touring under their belts. Stateside, though, these six are just beginning to feel the buzz building. This month, they unveil Ask Me This — their second U.S. release — through Old Flame Records.
The band’s name, derived from an Apostolic Faith Mission sign that Sølund and Jensen ran across early on in their relationship, is an ironic look at the way “alcoholics really need booze, and religious people really need religion,” Jensen explains. “Anything taken to the extreme is not a good thing.”
Falling in line with their namesake, Alcoholic Faith Mission’s music is a harmonious blending of styles; there are classical elements, pop flourishes, baroque structures, and, fittingly, nods to both folky bar ballads and church-bound gospel numbers. On Ask Me This, Jensen explains, a handful of composers acted as the band’s muse.
“We were very inspired by Philip Glass and Eric Whitacre,” said Jensen. “We wanted to go back to a more acoustic element. The last couple of records—the EP and the album before it—we used a lot of synthesizers, and we kind of wanted to tone that down a bit.”
Live, though, the band is interested in anything but toning it down. Onstage, players’ voices and instruments mix and mingle, creating a presence that’s as likely to envelop a room as it is to incite a sing-along. “We definitely tweak stuff a little bit,” Jensen laughed. “We won’t play to [backing] tracks, so everything you hear is live. It’s fun, though. We have it down.”
This Tuesday, May 15, at 8 p.m., Alcoholic Faith Mission headlines an all-ages show at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) with opening act You Won’t. For tickets and info, call (805) 966-9328 or visit alcoholicfaithmission.eventbrite.com.
AND THERE’S MORE: Also this week, Muddy Waters Café and Mutiny Studios join forces to throw their first Backyard Art Bash. On Saturday, May 12, from 3-10 p.m., Muddy’s back parking lot will come to life with live music, food, and loads of artists and vendors. Gracing the outdoor stage are S.B. bands Howlin’ Woods and One Perfect Crime, Lompoc act The Luck, and Portlanders And And And. For info, visit facebook.com/mutinysb. And this Thursday, May 10, SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) continues its Local Rock Showcase series with yet another top-notch bill. Starting at 8:30 p.m., The Portion will hit the stage alongside S.B. rockabilly crooner Nate Latta, area indie band Comfort Machine, and Lompoc blues-y psych-rockers Saint Anne’s Place. On Sunday, May 13, SOhO welcomes the return of jazz chanteuse Jessica Fichot, who stops by town in support of her just-released sophomore effort Le Secret. Drawing inspiration from her French/Chinese/American background, Fichot’s catalogue is an eccentric blending of gypsy jazz, bossa nova, and twangy folk, imbued with her soulful voice and quirky instrumentation. (Think toy pianos and oh-so-Parisian accordions.) The show starts at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and info for both SOhO shows, call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com.