Neck of the Woods Presents
406 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA, 94118
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Equal parts dark enchantment and artful melancholy, the debut EP by Brooklyn-based Selebrities dances between angular synthpop and New Wave atmospherics to distill a sense of captivating lustre.
Ladies Man Effect sees each component of the band's sound work with precision to create a world where dashingly voguish 'summertime gothic' electronic-pop mingles freely with the neon imagination of 1980's New York. Maria Usbeck sings at the point where Siouxsie meets Sarah Cracknell atop intelligently crafted guitar and bass work by Jer Robert Paulin, and the stark, resonant production of Max Peterson.
Rare Times's Don't Stray is one of those songs that you hear at the start of the year and know you will still be playing at the end. It is a near-classic of smooth soulfulness with a despondent late-night ambience, and a hint of the drama that results from the threat of an affair. It was created in Alameda Towers, a warehouse filled with porn studios and sweatshops in Los Angeles, and some of that sepia sleaziness creeps into the song's atmosphere. It was made by a jazz pianist, an electronic producer, a percussionist and a guitarist, and all of those elements are evident on the track, even if its surfaces are so polished it is sometimes hard to tell.
It is probably easier to tell that it is the work of a band influenced equally by kind-of-blue jazz (Chet Baker, say), 1980s/1990s R&B (Keith Sweat is their favourite) and digital disco (Metro Area's self-titled 2002 album is sublimely relevant to the music under scrutiny). Don't Stray – about a man trying to control his impulse to cheat on his girlfriend – also makes us think of the late-night soul-pop of Sade. It has a similar air of languid melancholy. Weirdly, Rare Times don't look like smooth operators or refugees from the suaver parts of London's club culture, they look like an indie band, all vests and shades, GG$ sweatshirts and Levis, straggly hair and scruffy beards. And yet they sound as though they'd resemble Robert Palmer's slightly more debonair older brothers, sipping dry martinis after another night of empty seduction in the penthouses of downtown LA.
No One's Looking Out, the first track on their debut Missionary EP – the first of three to come this year – finds the missing link between mellifluous jazz-pop and chillwave, like Michael Bublé in a bubble-bath with Washed Out. "You know that I'm gonna come back around," promises singer (crooner) Anthony Calonico, adding: "No pressure, don't worry," before ever so slightly losing his cool: "You know that I don't want to fuck around." The urge to share his affections with the female population of Little Tokyo increases on Don't Stray, a deeper foray into downtempo electronic balladry and, at seven minutes and 45 seconds, an epic of etiolated rhythm and sorrow. Immaculately produced, spaciously arranged, it's like the designer apartment of a mid-1980s lothario in here. Slow jam of the year. Nice one, Rare Times. Maybe they can buy some new clothes to celebrate.