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Album Review: The Dont's - Those Delicate Chemicals

Considering my usual tendencies towards the darker, brooding, far too narcissistic and self-indulgent end of the musical spectrum, The Dont’s Those Delicate Chemicals embraced my ears with a welcome sense of levity. Their third album (and the first one I’ve had the pleasure of delving into), Those Delicate Chemicals really stands out as being able to deliver the practices of a heady and experimental band through the parameters of a delightful pop-like sound. With its layers of charming guitar riffs, delicately placed textural oddities and an overall exuberant atmosphere, Those Delicate Chemicals could very well be the pop anthem for your art school experience… and I mean that in the most sincere way I can muster.

Considering how surprisingly small San Francisco can seem, it comes as no surprise to hear influences from formerly local avant-rock stars 60-Watt Kid throughout this album (no more apparent then in the final two songs “Backtalk” and “The Will of God”). Perhaps they’re friends, perhaps they’ve just seen each others shows on a number of occasions, but the jagged ethereal and heavy tremolo guitar layers that appear throughout the songs of both bands is obviously comparable. Serving as one of the many interesting layers throughout Those Delicate Chemicals, these wonderfully well-placed interruptions serve a vital role to elevate the pop framework to a vast and intricate soundscape.

Opening with their call and response anthem “Which Side You’re On (The Pirate Song)” Those Delicate Chemicals kicks off with a cheeky wink and a smile. You’d love it if its clarion call asking “what side you’re on” was The Dont’s feeling the waters for whose side the listener is on, but lets not mince words; this is a song about pirates, and pirates will “get it done.” Surly as their “piratic oath” would demand, the song leads its crowd in a triumphant bellowing of “ARRRRRRRRR. “ I imagine this is not a moment to miss at their performances.

Leading immediately into one of my favorite songs on the album, “Breakdown,” Those Delicate Chemicals moves on past its initial playfulness to its slightly more serious, but still jubilant, elements. While the songs change somewhat in tonality, listening across Those Delicate Chemicals it’s hard to pigeonhole it with one thematic quality. Not at all to its detriment, Those Delicate Chemicals seems to lack a greater arch to its narrative. There is depth to the individual songs, but short of the fastidiously executed sound, there seems little that ties them together. Favorites certainly pop out (“Regardless, The Goddess,” “Peacetime,” and “Gasoline” come to mind) but there is a certain distance held between the music and any underlying concept for the album.

Perhaps that's just the point. The Dont’s keep the audience at a distance with their Ramones style surname uniformity, and maybe by withholding just enough the mask serves to direct the listeners attention to the complexities of the sound as opposed to the distraction of a message. The mask is their tool of misdirection.

The Dont’s Those Delicate Chemicals is definitely an album to seek out. Elaborate and boisterous, Those Delicate Chemicals is the type of intelligent and experimental pop sound that is very hard to come by. It carries with it a depth that rivals its avant counterparts, but is delivered with the accessibility many similar sounding artists lack. I encourage you to add it to your collection if for no other reason than to scream “ARRRRR” every time that pirate captain demands.

 

-Ada Lann

 

Which Side You're On (The Pirate Song) by thedonts

 

The Dont's Those Delicate Chemicals can be purchased here.

   

The Deli SF's Weekend Highlights For 8/26-8/28

As San Francisco's true summer begins, and the heat descends, hopefully you'll be making time between your enjoyment of our long overdue nice weather to see some live music.

Thursday night, at the Hemlock, you can catch The Royal Baths playing with Mrcy Hot Sprngs, Outlaw, and Lilac, 9pm.

Friday head out to the East Bay where Burbank International will be playing their first show in far too long. At Mama Buzz, along side Nick Sinetos, this is a show you should definitely check lest it be another year before you can see them again, 8pm.

Lastly, on Saturday head over to the Great American Music Hall for a juggernaut of an instrumental band line-up with From Monument to Masses, Silian Rail and Judgement Day. This will be From Monument to Masses' final show so see that this event makes itself onto your Saturday night to-do list.

 

-Ada Lann

   

The Deli SF's Weekend Highlights For 8/18-8/21

Looking at the calender this week there seems to be a lot happening. Here a few selections.

Tomorrow night head down to The Bottom of the Hill for The Sandwitches, The Splinters and Texas' Woven Bones, 9pm.

Thursday the 19th head out to Thee Parkside for the thoroughly packed line-up featuring Hunx & His Punx, Shannon & The Clams, Okmoniks, The Goochi Boiz and Miss Chain and The Broken Heels, 9pm.

Lastly on Saturday wander over to the Hemlock where rising local stars Man/Miracle will play with Slang Chicken and Yellow Dress, 9pm.

 

-Ada Lann

   

Album Review - Jascha Vs. Jascha: Songs of Dreams for a Wakeful Mind

Folk-pop, down-tempo philosophical musing, romantic longing and infectious harmonies all find their place on A Cure for Sleep, by San Francisco musician Jascha Vs. Jascha. Lead singer-songwriter Jascha Hoffman has a sweet voice that he uses to pronounce each syllable with great accuracy, and this debut album will satisfy listeners with its impressive variety of styles. His music brings to mind that of little-known Saddle Creek Records band Son, Ambulance His tender voice and story-telling sensibility, with its sad slant but still driving music, is similar to that of the Nebraska band.

With topics like the greed of God in “Some Hungry Guy”, one’s shifting idea of family as one grows up in “Too Young”, and the attachment one keeps to past lovers on “Phonograph” and “Curse”, Hoffman certainly has a lot on his wakeful mind. Hoffman's focus on vocals puts an interesting twist on Delta blues legend Robert Johnson's originally guitar-heavy song "Phonograph"--the slower pace and subdued music allows one to better appreciate the lyrics. The song features a fascinating operatic interlude, an experimental moment which highlights Hoffman’s laudable ability to merge genres. “Mirror” features a catchy chorus that is easy to sing along with, and a sweeping orchestral bridge.

The standout track is “Corydon”, for the song’s emotional poignancy. On it, Hoffman sings “Oh you who are young, consider the snow drifts. White as God’s own ribs”. Although this imparting of wisdom is a somewhat unexpected metaphor, Hoffman always makes his strange statements completely believable, if still dreamlike. The song is based on a poem by D.A. Powell, about the homosexual shepherd Corydon made famous by Virgil. Although this source of inspiration may seem obscure, it makes more sense considering that Hoffman is a Harvard grad and literature enthusiast. The album is enhanced by beautiful string arrangements, and backing vocals, drums, bass, guitars and percussion by Bay Area artist Jesse Olsen. He is another young artist to watch out for musically, as he founded Deconstruct My House, an organization that showcases "experimental, politically engaged music-centered creative work".

A Cure for Sleep came about as a result of Hoffman blogging about his nightmare—already Hoffman is taking an experimental approach to his next effort. He is encouraging feedback of early versions of his songs on his website and Facebook, so that his songs are partially formed by music listeners themselves.

-Shauna C. Keddy

   

TONIGHT: Epic Sauce and Yours Truly present: Teen Daze, Gobble Gobble, Blackbird Blackbird, Kites Sail High, Fiveng @ Milk


Tonight, teaming up with Yours Truly this time around, Epic Sauce will be putting on yet another of its ever impressive Thursday shows.  Once again at Milk, starting around 8, this time around locals Blackbird Blackbird, Kites Sail High, Fiveing and Gobble Gobble will be playing with rising stars Teen Daze.  Sounds like a good show.  You can RVSP here.