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Saturday September 21 2013
 8:30PM doors -- music at 9:30PM ••• ALL AGES
$10 in advance / $12 at the door
Blouse band
 alternative -ambient/electronica ~80s dream pop
Social Studies
 Indie rock pop
 indie electronic

from Portland   
   -------------new album out in a couple of weeks,
                        but you can listen to it here now:

Evolution is a tricky word when discussing current trends in music, especially when it comes to sophomore albums. The critically lauded “BLOUSE,” the 2011 debut from the Portland band of the same name was a lush, melodic and dreamy affair spiked with whoozy synths and delicate vocals. For “Imperium,” their 2nd LP for Captured Tracks, Blouse have shed the synths, done away with drum machines and wrote and recorded with “instruments that don’t plug into the wall,” as enforced by bandmember/producer Jacob Portrait.
Sonically speaking, that comes through on the LP immediately. Perhaps bolstered by the ongoing construction occurring next to the studio while the record was being made, the sense of force and urgency propelling the record is evident. Patrick Adams’ driving bass and plodding drums in the title track usher in this new guitar-friendlier Blouse; more direct and clearer of vision, but still mysterious and beautiful.
Jacob and Patrick’s Pacific Northwest alt-rock roots (filtered through post-punk and V/U) are a great counterpoint to ex-pat Southern CA transplant Charlie Hilton’s Cohen/Patti/Nico singer/songwriter nature. The dichotomy of those two forces on tracks like “No Shelter” and “1000 Years” are at the core of Imperium. These are delicate songs from the perspective of a valley girl who grew up with gurus and ashrams played by indie lifers on a steady diet of NEU! It makes it all the more understandable to have showers of acoustic guitars and (real, not synthesized) cellos interrupted by fuzz guitar.
But these interruptions aren’t a bad thing, they’re what makes Imperium the great record it is. “In a Feeling Like This” describes it perfectly, it’s a strange place that you’re weirdly familiar with. Warm but also kind of spooky and imposing, you want to stay there for longer than you’re invited. Thankfully, it’s ok to flip it over and listen to it again.

Dream pop has been gaining massive momentum lately and one of the newest players to the game, Blouse, was born in the summer of 2010.  Charlie Hilton and Patrick Adams began collaborations with Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s Jacob Portrait in a Portland warehouse and a little over a year later, we are graced with their first self-titled debut record.  What separates Blouse from most current dream pop is that they tightly embrace the sounds of some of the early bands that heavily influenced the genre.   You can distinctly hear the deep wobbly bass lines and steady swaying beats that are so reminiscent of Cocteau Twins.  The dreamy distorted vocals and floating guitar recreate the warm fuzzy feelings of the time you first heard Mazzy Star.  This album took me back to time in which dream pop was just beginning and showed me that new artists can push a genre into the future without sacrificing the sounds and emotions that built it.

Blouse began releasing tracks on their own via Bandcamp and had a brief rendezvous with Sub Pop Records before being signed by Brooklyn label, Captured Tracks in March.   “Firestarter”, the album’s opening track and one of band’s first two singles is a calm, yet playful track that could easily adorn a John Hughes film.  Simplistic vocals melt over upbeat instrumentals, woven together with deep, catchy bass lines.

Swirling guitar and synths blended with super sweet vocals make “Into Black” feel like a teenage romance.  This is the track on the album that will force you to move with it’s innocent feel, kissed with just enough of a sultry undertone to make you not want to be dancing alone.  I gasped 5 seconds into “Controller” as the band plays with the elements of dark wave, opening the track with a bass line that would put a young Robert Smith directly into his element.  This is one of the darker sounding tracks on the album, but the darkness is not overdone. Blouse is great a mixing in just the right amount of light and dark, never taking the listener out of the warm, fantasy-like realm in which dream pop lives.  Finally, “White” is a track that stands out to me each time I hear it.  It has a gritty sound, with quicker drums and dirtier guitar.  There is a hint of early punk that I love.  It breaks up the the flow of the album a bit, but nothing about it is unwelcome.

Blouse was released in November and the album, along with the band, are receiving a lot of buzz.  The band has admitted to being rushed on the album, which leaves me intrigued to see what they can follow up with when given real studio time.  There is also a split single in the works with fellow Captured Tracks band Craft Spells.  Blouse is beginning what could be a great journey.  It’s refreshing to see bands like them do justice to a genre with such a cult following.  They create a love affair between the nostalgic with the new so beautifully, as visualized in their video for “Into Black”.


Social Studies
Social Studies is an indie rock band from San Francisco, California composed of Natalia Rogovin, Tom Smith, Ben McClintock, Jesse Hudson, and Michael Jirkovsky. Their sound has been described as “structurally trim and sonically dazzling”.

San Francisco’s Social Studies are best described as explorers, creating music that is compelling and profound, taking broad ideas and emotions and expressing them in alluring and dynamic ways.  Their anthems of regret and triumph reveal an essence of pulsing, dark pop that belie their complex themes of life, love, pain, and pleasure.

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 in early 2012 by second guitarist Ben McClintock – has 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 tUnE-yArDs, Wye Oak, Lotus Plaza, Thee Oh Sees, Dodos, Dungen, and Au Revoir Simone just to name a few.

With much of 2010 and 2011 spent on the road, the band returned to the studio in early 2012, enlisting the skills of ascendant Oakland engineer Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, Thao & Mirah) to streamline their sound and refine their approach. With the stated goal of remaining as true to their hypnotic and driving live show as possible, the band dug deeper into texture, mood and repetition, stripping away some of the ornate flourishes that were a past hallmark to leave an anthemic core. The result is the album Developer, a bold push for the band and their best work to date. 

FEATHERS is an American electronic pop band from Austin, TX. Formed in 2011, FEATHERS started as Anastasia Dimou's solo recording project. The band's debut full-length album, IF ALL NOW HERE, was released in May 2013.