The Midnight Pine
: You don't always have to scream or pound to get the attention of an audience. Sometimes, all you have to do is be great. The Midnight Pine seems to already know this little trick. This band builds layered psych folk tunes with an acoustic backbone, stunning instrumental outbursts, and somber sentimental lyrics. Singer Shelbi Bennett has a deep, haunting voice that will stop you in your tracks -- putting a fresh spin on the weary world of folk songstresses. It's hard to believe that mostly bare folk can still be pleasing to the ears after decades of folk reinventions, but The Midnight Pine's plucking and harmonies are simple yet elegant. Bennett's laments would be right at home playing on a phonograph in a much older era, or as the soundtrack for some future road trip across the remaining wild places in the USA. The threesome can change the tempo at will -- adding in steady hand claps, jazzy backing, and more insistent guitar -- though they always stay firmly in the realm of neo-folk. Live, the three piece band from San Diego demands attention. Be prepared for The Midnight Pine to wield enough power to silence an entire room.
: This bay area band, the brain child of Brian Kelly, creates stomping, expansive tracks with the passion of punk rockers and the artistry of jazz musicians. Cymbal crashes, plaintive wails, and steady, powerful drum beats give Oceanography an edge. While much of San Francisco is wrapped up in the simplicity of garage rock, Oceanography has successfully created complex and interesting tracks -- with only two people. Brian Kelly sings with muscle, belting out at times brooding lyrics while his partner in crime, drummer Brock Bowers provides the beat. Kelly's voice is his main emotion-conveying instrument (and he uses it well) despite the fact that he also plays the guitar. The music sounds amazingly rich for a duo, with a little something for everyone: guitar fuzz, noisy bits, yells, and pseudo-pop catchiness -- think The Cure filtered through the psyche of an Oakland rock and roller. This show will test out some new material by the band, who will be recording fresh tracks for a full-length album. Oceanography makes no bones about pulling you in, just one song and you'll be caught up in their wave of sound.