The Soft White Sixties

The Soft White Sixties

The Soft White Sixties. The words summon up images of a simmering incandescent radiance, the kind of brilliant glowing light that bathes everything it touches with a genuine heartfelt passion. It’s a perfect band name to describe the swaggering, propulsive sounds of the San Francisco quartet that chose it to describe their music. The words may have a nostalgic, psychedelic aura and while those elements are certainly present in the music, the band transcends any specific era and style. Their music will jolt you out of your seat and get you singing along with its feel good energy and explosive rhythmic drive.

“We considered a lot of names for the band,” says lead singer and main lyricist Octavio Genera. “Something about Soft White Sixties really appealed to us. We just really liked the idea of light, of something that lights the place up.”

While there are hints of the 60’s in the sound of the band, their music draws upon the entire history of 20th century pop without ever being self-consciously retro. The band members all have wide ranging interests that allow them to build upon what’s come before to fashion their own uniquely modern brand of rock, music with so much heart and soul that it defines its own category. Call it Romantic Rock if you like, tough but tender songs that deal with the uncertainties of love and relationships with uncommon compassion and honesty.

In the last two years, The Soft White Sixties have built up a considerable following with the power of their live shows. They’ve captured that excitement on Get Right., their first full-length recording. The record was put together in five days with the help of producer Jim Greer (Foster the People), who also played Moog Cordovox on “Rubber Band.” The arrangements veer from burnished pop to soulful ballads, with hints of funk, Motown and reggae surfacing at times. “We’re a rock band at heart,” guitarist and keyboard player Aaron Eisenberg states firmly, “but our focus is on the songs. We don’t think of them as being in any particular genre or limit ourselves in terms of style or instrumentation.”

A gritty synthesizer line opens “City Lights,” then the drums of Joey Bustos and the bass of Ryan Noble lay down a driving surf-like beat augmented by Eisenberg’s chiming guitar accents and gritty, staccato Farfisa stabs. Genera’s syncopated vocal accentuates the urgency of a late night in the city and the dubious pleasures of self-destructive behavior. Noble’s forceful bass and Bustos’ double time backbeat drive “Lemon Squeezer” before the song drops into a brief dub reggae interlude that adds considerable tension to Genera’s desperate plea for release.

“Up To The Light” is a tough mid-tempo R&B stomp with hints of funk and British glam in its rollicking beat. The band’s rich vocal harmonies are also on display as they sing about the frustration of trying to reason with someone who refuses to budge from their stubborn ways. The band’s dark vocal harmonies give “Rubber Band” an ominous carnival-like atmosphere that fits the nightmarish lyric, while Genera’s emotional delivery takes the poignant ballad “Roll Away” into deep soul territory with hushed drums, guitar and piano keeping the focus on his tension filled performance. This smooth, emotional ballad was cut live in the studio with no overdubs. Its quiet delivery makes it a moving, stylistic departure from the rest of the record. “We spent about 10 minutes learning the song and figuring out a simple arrangement before tracking,” Eisenberg says. “The version you hear on the record was the 2nd take.”

Other standouts include “I Ain’t Your Mother,” a blend of bayou rock and Motown; the heartbroken lament of “You Are Gold,” which bridges the Atlantic with a beat that recalls Memphis and London, and “Treat Me,” another simmering ballad of thwarted love. The album’s dense instrumental mix and the brightness of the vocals intensify the themes of light and darkness, romance and frustration, desire and confusion that swirl through the music on the album. Ultimately, the album is about the struggle to restore balance – to get right.

The Soft White Sixties started playing together in 2010. The one thing they had in common, in addition to their love of music, was a connection to drummer Joey Bustos. “Joey was the talent scout that brought us together,” Genera says with a laugh, explaining the web of relationships that led to the beginnings of the quartet.

Bustos was playing in Link 80, a popular East Bay ska/punk band, when he was 13 years old. Ryan Noble was in a Central Valley punk band and, when they opened a show for Link 80, he became friends with Bustos. Eventually, he moved to the Bay Area and became the lead singer for Link 80. After he joined, Bustos quit to play in Street To Nowhere, just before Capitol Records picked them up.

“While all that was happening, I moved down to San Francisco to start a band,” Genera says. “I’d been in college bands when I was at UC Davis, but I knew if I wanted to go anywhere, I’d have to relocate to a city that’s more music friendly. I’d been writing songs with a friend of mine and one night, while we were playing at a party, Joey walked up to us and said, ‘I’m your drummer.’ We started jamming together and we clicked.” Bustos told Genera that they needed a bass player. “He said he knew the perfect guy and introduced us to Ryan,” Genera recalls. “Ryan’s able to pick up any instrument on hand and play it, so he joined up.”

“I saw The Soft White Sixties a few times in San Francisco, after I moved to The City to study film at SF State,” says guitarist and keyboard player Aaron Eisenberg. “I’d messed around with guitar and drums as long as I can remember, but I became more obsessed with music and playing guitar near the end of high school. One night after a Sixties show, Joey came up to me and said, ‘You should be in our band.’ He didn’t know me, but I wanted to be playing shows, so I joined up. It didn’t take long to realize it was exactly what I was looking for.”

“We’d all been in bands, and left bands, looking for the ideal situation,” Genera says. “The Soft White Sixties came together in a serendipitous way, just as we’d all finished playing in other groups that had run their course. It was a perfect fit when we found each other.”

After a year together, the band made a successful eponymous five song EP. NBC licensed one of the songs, “Queen of the Press Club,” and used it extensively on the NBC Golf Channel. “We recorded the EP in two days, most of it live in the studio,” Genera says. “On this record there are more colors on the palette,” Eisenberg says. “We used a lot of new textures and touch on quite a few different tones, musically, lyrically and emotionally. If a song is written well, you should be able to dress it up anyway you want, so we didn’t shy away from different grooves or genres.”

With Get Right. complete, The Soft White Sixties will continue to do what they’ve always done, playing the songs live with their passion evident in every note, continuing to build on their reputation as a great live band. “When we play live, we concentrate on the energy of the music and making a connection with people,” Eisenberg says. “We’ve been playing some of the songs on Get Right. at our live shows for a couple of years now, so we feel like this album marks the real beginning of the band.”

NO (Los Angeles)

Indie rock band from Echo Park, Los Angeles. Nick Jarzabek, Tim Jarzabek, Justin Corman

The She’s (Empty Cellar Records) are here to contribute to the soundtrack of your summer daydreams with sun-dazed beach-pop harmonies, catchy hooks and captivating emotional honesty.

It is the mid-1990s in San Francisco California. Four baby girls are crying in their cribs shaking their little baby fists at the heavens lamenting the fact that fate has not yet united them. So begins this tale. Fast forward. It is 2007 and these same four girls are playing Ramones covers in Hannah’s basement with studded belts around their waists and braces on their teeth, algebra homework strewn across the floor. Jump ahead. It’s November 2011. “The She’s” have just released their first full length record Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer. It’s an album that captures their youthful spirits and deep-seeded friendship with tight three part harmonies, sparkling, sunny instrumentals and smart, catchy songwriting. The she’s sing songs that reflect their environment, their heartache, their relationships and aspirations. It’s infectious. The Grinch smiles when he hears it. People start to notice the noise these four best friends are making. The She’s gain momentum in the local music scene and support bands like Girls, Surfer Blood, Fresh and Onlys, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Tomorrow's Tulips, Best Coast and Yuck. They keep writing songs. Fast forward to present day. The She’s are making their most mature, honest and enchanting music to date.

“…the girl-group sounds of the 50s and 60s with modern day garage pop; the end result is undeniably infectious and sunny” –Bay Bridged

Cannons and Clouds

San Francisco's Cannons and Clouds assert tastefully designed, melody-forward, vocally charged, heavy "Indie Post-Rock". Both wistful and dynamic, their music is accentuated by slow-building crescendos, rich multi-part vocal harmonies, and soaring layers of electrically sonic, face-melting, soul-crushing, kegel-clenching convergences of both rhythmic and melodic psychedelia. All while maintaing a propensity for integrating unfeigned ballads and confessional narratives into their manifold framework.

$13 adv / $15 door


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