Candy-Coated Folk Trifles

Deep inside the local scene.

with kids these days is they aren’t getting enough Baby Carrot. After eight years milling about local rock clubs and Noise Pop fests, the trio only just released its debut Play Every Day earlier this year on its own Some Guy Down the Street label–and is now getting around to a CD release party this Saturday (Cinco de Mayo, y’all) at El Rio in San Francisco, with Carlos and Lower Forty-Eight in tow.

Play Every Day is a platter that merits more attention than it’ll get just around here. There’s some good ol’ power-pop thrown in amid the buzzing guitar and sweet la-la-la backup vocals of “Forgot to Read,” but more of the disc is full of molasses-flowing, burbling guitars, wry vocals, and lush and jerky arrangements. “Bet a Nickel” is bouncy and noisy-buzzy and sweet and all that is good in indie rock, and other tracks may remind you of Pavement or any number of other bands, but that’s just ’cause it’s so damn polished–and yeah, because it sounds a bit like those bands, but so what? The driving twists and turns of the distorted and pretzel-rhythmed “Sandblock” or the simple folk-song oasis of “Deciding Time” hint at a mammoth pop savvy that’s way too big for our bridges.

troglodyte rawk of Mensclub nor the sunny Britpop of Sunless Day really prepared me for Aaron Nudleman‘s solo debut Monster in the Mirror, on Scott Kannberg‘s Amazing Grease Records, which is as coyly retro-minded as the rest of his discography, but so damn sweet I could just die. “Rainy Day Okay” is a candy-coated psychedelic folk trifle straight out of the late ’60s, early ’70s. “I’d Hate to See… ” sounds like a Monkees song covered by some band with big American-flag bell bottoms, long hair, and unfortunate mustaches, but “Miss You” cuts to the chase of half the love songs in the world with delicate strums and plain-spoken sentiments, only somewhat compromised by an out-of-place electric guitar solo and the tortured scansion that comes of trying too hard to squeeze out a rhyme: “It was good that I didn’t see you for a while / Seeing you that much was starting not to bring out a smile.”

Okay, whatever he’s using to distort his voice on “The Things I Do” makes it sound a little like he’s gargling Jell-O, but the spidery acoustic guitar and clever lyrics help carry such bits of silliness: “The other day I made some potatoes / decided that breakfast blows, so I put my pan away.” All this organ-drenched, folk-based rock culminates in “You Don’t Know,” the jolly warning about fucking with his car you’re likely to hear. Nudleman plays SF’s Cafe Du Nord on Monday, in a songwriters’ showcase with Jim Greer, Ana Hortillosa, and Jason Morphew.

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