Notes: Birds & Batteries at the Sunset
Birds & Batteries
When: Wednesday, Jan. 2
Where: The Sunset Tavern
Last August, I was halted in my tracks outside the Comet Tavern by San Francisco–based band Birds & Batteries, who were sadly playing their last song of the evening to a sparsely populated room. They promised to let me know when they'd be back around again—and were thrilled when they firmed up their Jan. 2 date at the Croc. And we all know what happened there. . . . Luckily, though, the Sunset (which was planning on being dark last night) picked up the pieces and scooped up the show at the last minute.
With postholiday hangovers and little time for promo with the venue change, the crowd wasn't much bigger this time, but the band seemed unaffected, performing even better than what little I saw of the last time around. With two additional members onstage (keys and bass), Mike Sempert and his crew seamlessly executed much of the material from their most recent album, I'll Never Sleep Again—from the ultra-catchy "Turnstyles," with its woozy synths and driving snare and Sempert's sleepy vocals swooning over top, to the record's title track, a gorgeous, slow-burning, introspective tune full of molasseslike synths laced with meandering pedal steel.
They're that rare reward reaped on a cold winter's night when you'd rather stay home—and though most people did, it likely won't be long before Birds & Batteries catch on.
— Aja Pecknold
The Best Overlooked Compilation of 2007
With Christmas behind me and the end of 2007 one day away, I needed a musical change. I had already played my yearly Top 10 picks to death, so I thought I'd go back and pick up some things I missed or never made the effort to listen to this year, including the Soul Jazz Records: Singles 2006–2007 compilation. Ever since the first time I purchased the excellent New York Noise compilation more than four years ago, I've trusted the London label's widely eclectic tastes (Jamaican soul, Brazilian tropicalia and post-punk, acid, punk-funk, you name it). I have been willing to spend good money on their import records to hear something new/old/rare because I haven't once been disappointed by what I've heard. A few artists from this year's Box of Dub, a fantastic Soul Jazz–issued compilation of dubstep and "future dub" featuring Kode9, Skream, and Digital Mystikz, initially sparked my interest in the Singles compilation, but most of it was brimming with unheard goodness I just had to wrap my ears around. And there I had it, a two-disc smorgasbord of some truly forward-thinking dance music— from dubstep, dancehall, and acid house to Italo disco, techno, and electro. I was light on my toes and groovin' along the entire time it played, constantly going back to the jewel case to see what I was listening to. And I found a new favorite act along the way: Subway, whose song "Persuasion" I'd heard little portions of on Hot Chip's recent DJ Kicks mix, but neglected to seek out until hearing the original mix of the song.
Just frickin' incredible. Hearing is believing: Subway.
— Travis Ritter