Death Songs Returns to S.B.
Mutiny Studios Brings Portland Rockers to the Mercury Lounge
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: This Thursday, Mutiny Studios is kicking February off with a bang… literally. The Santa Barbara-based concert bookers — and offshoot of S.B. folk rock outfit The Mutineers — are at it again, this time with an out-of-town lineup that’s certain to stir up some in-town excitement. The bill, aptly being dubbed “The Portland Party Bomb,” boasts sets from two of PDX’s hottest up-and-coming acts. Thursday night headliners And And And are currently standing at the epicenter of the P-town music scene, thanks in no small part to their area alt-weekly. Back in May, The Willamette Week named And And And Portland’s Best New Band of 2011, ranking the group well above blog darlings like Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Wild Flag.
The reason (at least in part): the live show. This ragtag team of six delivers the kind of high energy, high spirited sets that call to mind epic house parties and DIY punk shows. Sonically, though, And And And is a bit more evolved; they mix chaotic, swelling pop structures with an all-over-the-place delivery style, calling to mind a more lo-fi Modest Mouse. It also stands to mention that co-frontmen Nathan Baumgartner and Tyler Keene possess two deep, theatric, and commanding voices, not to mention registers that immediately conjure thoughts of head Talking Head David Byrne.
On the flip side of And And And’s eclecticism is Thursday night supporting act Death Songs. While their list of influences is undeniably far reaching, this duo creates a sonic palate that’s slightly easier to define. The brainchild of former Shaky Hands members Nicholas Dellfs and Justin Power, Death Songs dabbles in lo-fi music with big atmospheric flourishes. Track “Let This Body Go” is a prime example; a mix of quiet acoustic strums and bombastic saxophone interludes. Equally of note is the pair’s love of percussion. On record and in person, they employ all manner of beat making instrumentation — tambourines, hand claps, drum kits — to create a sound that’s equal parts tribal and early American roots music.
In a recent email interview, Dellfs revealed Death Songs’ influences to be just as wide ranging as you’d guess, name dropping everyone from “Walt Whitman, Otis Redding, [and] Nina Simone” to “The Boss, Talking Heads, The Clash, Fela Kuti,[and] Towns Van Zandt.” (And trust me when I say we’ve leaving out plenty more.
As for the band’s über cryptic name, Dellfs explains: “I realized one day that all of the new songs I was writing were about death; death of the body, death of an identity, the potential death of misery. I also was reading about Native American death songs, which was a person’s finally song. I thought by giving my music such a title it would help me try and make the songs as best as they could be.”
Death Songs and And And And play a 21+ show at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta) on Thursday, February 2 at 9:30 p.m. The show will also be simulcast on KCSB 91.9 FM between 10 p.m. and 12 midnight. Call 967-0907 for info. And visit independent.com/deathsongs for our full interview with Dellfs.
ALSO THIS WEEK: With the Santa Barbara International Film Fest already off to a roaring start, this week brings a smattering of cinephile-approved listening parties. First up, this Thursday, February 2 find the sisters-turned-bandmates of shoegaze rock outfit Skyline Pigeons headlining a night of music at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) alongside S.B.’s Naked Walrus. As an added SBIFF bonus, bandmate Roxanne Teti will be premiering her short film, Diner as part of this year’s fest. It screens on Friday, February 3 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art at 7 p.m. For show tickets, visit velvet-jones.com. For screening info, visit sbiff.org.
And on Saturday, February 4, S.B. indie experimentalists Gardens & Villa take to the stage at the Lobero to deliver a live, never-before-heard score to F.W. Murnau’s classic 1926 silent film Faust. This one-time-only live set is sure to be one of the festival’s highlights, so be sure to snag seats early. Non-SBIFF pass holders can visit newnoisesb.org for info.