Archive for June, 2010

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: “Not an Animal”

June 18, 2010

It seems everyone wants to move to Portland these days, myself included. Though I’ve never been, I’ve heard great things, like the fact that it boasts ubiquitous high-quality coffee (and innovations like this that go along with it), tasty microbreweries, a burgeoning food scene, and is also green, bike-friendly, and conveniently poised for outdoor adventure. (Not to mention it is home to House Spirits Distillery, which produces one of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted.) In short, it’s like a smaller, rainier, cheaper version of San Francisco. In addition to all this, the music scene up there is solid, as evidenced, yet again, by a band I just discovered: Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, it sounds like Sallie and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to moving to that Oregon city, according to this Future Sounds interview: “I moved to Portland on a whim. I heard a lot of great things and thought it would be a great place to live, and it is.” (I did the same thing when moving from Boston to SF two and a half years ago, and it’s worked out splendidly.)

She met her current bandmates there—Ford Tennis (drums), Tyler Tornfelt (upright bass), Jeff Munger (lead guitar), who comprise the “Sound Outside” portion of the band; Sallie sings, plays rhythm guitar, and writes the songs. After playing smaller venues in the Portland area for the past couple of years, Sallie and co. recently went on tour opening for fellow North Carolinans The Avett Brothers. The band released their first EP, Not an Animal, last May, and a full-length album is in the works. Though I am partial to lower female voices (being in possession of one myself, in addition to spending my formative years suffering adolescent and teenage angst on a steady diet of Fiona Apple), I do occasionally make an exception, and this time it’s for Sallie. Among her influences, Ford lists Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, both of whom are evident enough in her vocal delivery. However, Ford goes beyond simple copycat techniques; she really takes ownership of her voice, and her music effectively blends vintage and modern persuasions. To see for yourself, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside play with Eilen Jewell tonight at Hotel Utah.

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside – Not An Animal

Who: Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside

What: Not an Animal EP

When: 5.2009

Where: Portland, Oregon

Why: “I’m definitely not on the prowl / I’ve just got big eyes like a baby owl.”

How: Self-released

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Local Natives: “Sun Hands”

June 3, 2010

As one of many born-and-bred East Coast transplants currently calling San Francisco home, I find myself consistently comparing the two sides of the country. For one I naturally feel a rose-colored nostalgia (a term fascinatingly discussed in Milan Kundera’s lesser-known novel Ignorance); for the other, a vague yet potent fear and loathing. That, coupled with my intrinsic inability to relate to all things LA (how can a city that is always 75 and sunny really know how to brood?) made me predisposed to dislike Local Natives, even though—or perhaps because—they were so lauded by Pitchfork. First of all, the band name: Local Natives. Really?  Had they just learned the meaning of “redundant”? They could have just used it in a sentence rather than as  their moniker. Second, the record’s name, Gorilla Manor—like the physical incarnation of a beer and vomit-spattered college frat house—made me want to head for the hills (no, not the Hollywood ones), where I would be safe from roofies, funnels, bros, and Smirnoff Ice.

As it turns out, my prejudiced assumption wasn’t far from the truth. The band did record the album in an Orange County house of ill repute. But, as the old adage goes, don’t judge a book by its (highly off-putting) cover. Despite a definitive tendency towards pop (and the sunny harmonies that so often accompany it), I grew to like them more and more with every listen. Finally, I found myself defending them while reading a piece on them in NPR’s Song of the Day, in which the writer alleged that “Airplanes” was about the longing for a lost romantic love, when it is, in fact, about the singer’s late grandfather. Idiots. Maybe these guys aren’t as one-dimensional as I thought. If you missed them at Bottom of the Hill last night, all is not lost: they’re playing tonight at the Rickshaw Stop. Looks like the demand outweighs the supply. Just like the ration of fake breasts to real ones in La La Land.

Local Natives – Sun Hands

Who: Local Natives

What: Gorilla Manor

When: 11.2.2009

Where: Los Angeles, California

Why: “And when I can feel with my sun hands / I promise not to lose her again”

How: Frenchkiss/Infectious