Close your eyes while you listen to their songs and you feel that you could board a plane at JFK, get off in San Francisco, hitch a cab to The Mission, walk upstairs into one of these such rooms and find them mid-song waiting for you to arrive. There is a spot for you on the floor, with an Indian fabric pillow where you intuitively sit and enjoy the rest of the show.
The Sunday before last, I went to see the band at Public Assembly and found their live sound to be rich and wholesome, filling the small room at the Williamsburg club with their soothing harmonies. As I watched them on stage, I could see the members of the band settling back into their music as if it were a relaxing and comfortable place to land. And it was easy to do the same. The songs are driven primarily by strumming guitars and vocals provided by the two, soft-spoken leading ladies, Sarah Simon and Kate Sweeney, whose voices blend together beautifully. It was enjoyable to watch their rapport, trading the electric and acoustic guitar back and forth to one another between songs and seeing them sway together in perfect unison, unaware of the other doing the same. Drummer Sam Berman gave the sound warm depth, the percussions adding a rich and unobtrusive layer, never muddling the simple vocal harmonies.
Though somewhat a soundtrack for San Francisco sounds, their songs are stories that let you travel and indulge in dreamy nostalgias, far from San Francisco and into the sweeping landscapes of the open road and the cities that you find along the way. You feel the warm wind on your back in New Orleans, you stare down deep canyons in the middle of the night outside of California, and you wash up on the shore of Rockaway Beach lamenting lost love. The simple pleasures in life are experienced through gifts of honeycombs, anticipated trips out to Big Sur and long yellow grasses lit up by moonlight.
The band has just released their second album, Valley, which was beautifully recorded at John Vanderslice’s San Francisco studio, Tiny Telephone. They just finished up a tour on the East Coast but you can get your own little slice of San Francisco by visiting their Bandcamp page. I suggest starting with their latest single, Valley.
You can also visit their website here.