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SOCIAL STUDIESSan Francisco's Social Studies are set to become musical gems. Active since 2006, the band started when vocalist Natalia Rogovin (keyboard) and Michael Jirkovsky (drums) settled in after college. Eventually they would permanently add Jesse Hudson (guitar), Tom Smith (guitar), and Ben McClintock (bass, vocals) to become a dynamic five-member ensemble.Following their first debut album, Wind Up Wooden Heart, in 2010 from Antenna Farm Records, comes a more sophisticated sound that showcases the band's full potential. Social Studies' sophomore album Developer is equal parts daring and eloquent in its approach. Cutting away unneeded excess and honing their instrumental skills allowing space for depth and clarity. Working with music engineer and co-producer Eli Crews who has proved to be a natural fit in capturing the band's developing presence. In their single, "Away for the Weekend," fast guitar riffs and drums work well with soaring and angst driven vocals. The lyrics drive home the need to escape past relationships and make alllowances to leave. It's easily one of the most recognizable songs on the album. Rogovin's range is also shown in the slow-paced but powerful "Paint" and progressive "Terracur" which instantly commands attention. The album’s title track, "Developer," is arranged with moody synth beats and harmonizing notes—revamped imagination indeed.More focus in exploring simple yet refined compositions pays off for Social Studies. It's easy to see this in "Still Life," which brings sultry up-beat tones among riveting guitar notes and brisk cymbals crashes. The songs melt one after the other and provide for easy listening. Developer stands as unique combination of indie rock, R&B, and modern pop entwined with important stories of life's twists and turns. What's to come once they occur? After listening it's as if you're heeding learned advice, their songwriting alone stands out for its diversity.Garnering attention from their previous performances at Noise Pop, SXSW, and the CMJ Music Festival, their live show has brought in a growing fan base. When not out touring around the country, Social Studies can be seen performing local shows in the Bay Area. Prepare to be swayed with their electrically charged sets and creative drive. You won't be disappointed. MARINA VILLARREAL
The experimental sound of Portland rockers Aan has never been better. With their first proper full-length album, Amor Ad Nauseum, dropping this month, the band is hitting new heights in their signature dense guitar rock and layered production. Frontman Bud Wilson’s vocals seethe and soar with all the appropriate grit and glamor, and the rest of the band buzz and stomp with a precision that transforms solid riffs into a Spirograph of sounds and textures that separate Aan from the rest of the rock pack. CHARLES SWANSON
Described as "dream-surf" (The Bay Bridged), San Francisco's Farallons evokes their Northern California environ through expansive arrangements, analog instrumentation, and vocal harmonies. Together for less than a year, the band is made up of Andrew Brennan on guitar and vocals, Aubrey Trinnaman on synthesizer and vocals, Scott Fetzer on guitar and vocals, Blake Henderson on bass and vocals, and Justin Wiener on drums. Theirs is a live show that is at once intimate and expansive, much like their deput EP, Outer Sun Sets.
MAX AND THE MOON
Emerging out of the combustive indie music scene of southern California in 2012, Max and the Moon and their relentless gig playing have created a buzz that rides on its own frequency. The four piece band display a talent for intricate songwriting and sounds that resemble the classic harmonies of the Beach Boys and early Coldplay to the catchy dance beats of Passion Pit. Substance magazine writes, "their music has a way of pulling you in with their starry guitar echoing in combination with John’s soothing vocals and superb upper register."
Laden with strong guitar licks, steady piano and punctuated vocal harmonies—the band makes full use of two primary vocalists. Max and the Moon's "The Way I See," showcases the band’s songwriting and experimentation with new sounds, expanding their scope and offering a significant contribution to the ever-changing music scene in Los Angeles. “Out of My Head” opens with cleverly conjured sampling of Matt’s unique voice to make us feel the irony of having someone stuck in your head.
Guitarist John Velasquez earned a degree in music at Cal State University, Fullerton, and began collaborating with longtime friends Matt and Dillon Couchois in the two brothers' small garage studio. Joined by Zachariah Weaver on bass, the band has come a long way in the few short years since their formation, challenging themselves everyday with booking shows or heading back to the drawing board on a new song that doesn't quite capture the right vision. In the present age of endless hype around new music, Max and the Moon stay true to passionately personal songwriting. That isn't to say these guys are low-key, though; the band revels in putting on energetic rock shows.