Parenthetical Girls

Unconventional is probably the most succinct way of putting it. Obsessive, eccentric, indulgent: they're all equally fair. If Parenthetical Girls have learned anything over the course of their bewilderingly unorthodox discography, it's that they are—for richer or for poorer—a necessarily singular pop group. It's a peculiarity that they've learned to embrace—a single-minded conviction that pours itself over every corner of their latest album, Privilege*.

Having taken pop extravagance to its logical conclusion with their critically acclaimed, orchestral pop opus Entanglements, Privilege* finds a newly emboldened Parenthetical Girls giving the orchestra their leave—a brazen reinvention as immediate as it is inspired. Returning to its core membership of vocalist/creative director
Zac Pennington and producer/arranger Jherek Bischoff (composer and collaborator with David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, Xiu Xiu, etc.), Privilege* retains the group's signature ambitions—visceral intimacy, camp austerity, lurid eloquence—while confidently embracing the perfect pop pastiche their previous records only alluded to. Anchored by Pennington's distinctively lilting vibrato, Privilege* is a cascade of grim particulars and gallows humor—an unflinching treatise on privilege, indiscretion, betrayal, sex and class politics, failure, and resignation. This is Parenthetical Girls in fighting trim: unbridled, unambiguous, and with a new creative candor that's felt in both its words and music.

Originally recorded and self-released as a sequence of five self-contained, extremely limited 12" EPs (each heroically hand-numbered in the blood of the group's members, and available only through direct mailorder) the ambitious Privilege series was a grand and unequivocally impractical achievement. Privilege* condenses the 21 recordings of the original series to a single, 12-track, remixed and remastered statement of purpose: a bold, strikingly cohesive pop clarion call that further solidifies Parenthetical Girls' place amongst the most surprising and uncompromising pop groups at work today.

Quotes:

"With Privilege, Parenthetical Girls have forged what is arguably one of the most astonishing works of pop songwriting in this or any other year—a record that rubs shoulders with the upper echelons of pop music's storied history, and very probably the angels themselves. Arguably."—Britt Daniel, Spoon

"Music is pointless. Life is meaningless. Death is rushing towards us constantly. Everything is falling apart. Still, Privilege by Parenthetical Girls has emerged from the chaotic void and taken the form of a raft."
—Phil Elverum, Mount Eerie

"Privilege is riveting… [like] a dream of walking on a foot-long fluffy cashmere carpet, or flying thru the monster size, ice cream-shaped cloud."
—Satomi Matsuzaki, Deerhoof

"We never meant you any harm."—Parenthetical Girls

Naming their sophomore album Developer is a bold move for the still-young band Social Studies. But it is as apt a descriptor as you're likely to find for how the sound of this San Francisco-based five-piece has flourished, matured, and, yes, developed over the past two years.

The band - led by Natalia Rogovin (vocals, keys) and Michael Jirkovsky (drums), who were joined in 2009 by bassist Jesse Hudson and guitarist Tom Smith and this year by second guitarist Ben McClintock - has already won a loyal fan base thanks to their arch take on modernist pop as heard on 2010 release Wind Up Wooden Heart. Social Studies has become a force to be reckoned with in concert as well, transfixing audiences at the CMJ Music Festival, SXSW, and Noise Pop, and bringing their unique energy and spirit to stages shared with TuneYards, Wye Oak, Lotus Plaza, Thee Oh Sees, Dodos, Ramona Falls and many more.

Now, on their new album, the goal was to strip things down to the basics, straighten out some of the more jagged lines of their previous work, and put the focus more on texture and mood. "Before, we were rebellious. We fucked with things just because we wanted to push limits and boundaries," says Rogovin. "Developer is a more adult record. We tried to explore sounds and draw out parts to write more moving and focused songs."

They enlisted the able ears and hands of engineer and co-producer Eli Crews (Tune-Yards, Deerhoof, Thao & Mirah) who helped hone this new barebones attack as well as reflecting the excitement of their stage show. On Developer, all the pieces have come together perfectly. The clear-eyed production helps bring out the dark, sexy heart of these ruminations on life, love, pain, and pleasure. The themes of the album are as complex as the songs are streamlined. "The album is about art, but it's also a cinematic exploration of those turning points in life that you didn't see coming and didn't realize were important until much later," says Rogovin.

Lead single "Terracur" calls the bluff of a headstrong friend threatening to leave, while "Away For the Weekend" turns the tables to justify a departure: "Ever discover another that makes you feel good, you always feel right/ the notion of fleeing the corporeal being/Just run to your other life."

In Developer, Social Studies has succeeded in evoking a set of feelings and emotions that will linger with listeners long after the last notes have faded away. Warm, cold, or downright chilling, there is a connection between the personal and universal that the band taps into through a set of fearless and gripping songs.

Laura Weinbach (of Foxtails Brigade)

The Hollywood Hills-born daughter of a cult filmmaker and sister of offbeat stand-up comedian Brent Weinbach, Laura grew up in a musical household that embraced eccentricity. Her next-door neighbors were circus contortionists with emus and fang-toothed monkeys as pets and her childhood activities included snail hunting and spying on celebrity neighbors like Slash, Ice-T and Larry from Perfect Strangers. While her mother, an accomplished pianist, taught the children piano, her father had a more unique approach to musical education:

“When I’d get in trouble as a kid, my father would punish me with cassette tapes,” Laura recalls. “He would make me mixes of all his favorite jazz singers like Billie Holiday, Blossom Dearie, June Kristie and Edith Piaf and tell me that if I could learn all these songs and sing them back to him just like they did on the recordings then I could go out and play with my friends. I’d run to my room and start memorizing. When I was done, I’d sing them all back to him through a little Pig Nose amplifier that we got at a garage sale.”

The method paid off. Much later, these same songs would form the core of Laura’s repertoire as she busked the streets of Paris, her home for half a year. Eight years of classical guitar training along with literature and music degrees from UC Santa Cruz were coming to fruition. Likewise, her off-beat childhood and post-graduate experiences as a substitute teacher would provide a wealth of ideas for compositions of her own.

Laura started Foxtails Brigade in 2006 with her friend, violinist Sivan Sadeh. She moved to San Francisco a year later, playing every club and street corner and she could find. It wasn’t long before the city started to notice. She quit her day job as a substitute teacher in 2009 and has been a full-time performer ever since, sharing stages with Jane Birkin, Laura Veirs, Zee Avi, Stornoway, Faun Fables, and Chris Garneau amongst others. She has collaborated with a number of talented musicians in Foxtails Brigade, including cellists Jen Grady (Emily Jane White, Adam Stevens), Lewis Patzner (Mates of State, Tim Kasher), Joe Lewis (Os Beaches, F-Pod B-Pod), and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Pollock (Citay, Bob Saggeth). Her most recent musical partner is violinist and arranger Anton Patzner of Bright Eyes and Judgement Day.

$10.00 - $12.00

Tickets

Advanced Tickets are available online until 5pm on the day of the show and a reserve of tickets are generally available at the door that night, unless posted on the Starry Plough website, Facebook and Twitter pages as sold out. http://www.starryploughpub.com

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Parenthetical Girls, Social Studies, and Laura Weinbach (of Foxtails Brigade)

Thursday, March 7 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Starry Plough