The annual indie-palooza takes over the city -- and Dâm-Funk, Peanut Butter Wolf, Dominant Legs, Admiral Radley, Geographer, and Psychic Friend are among the acts we're rarin' to see
SFBG Both you and Aaron like being hands-on with production in your work. How was the collaborative process on this album?
JL That part was pretty effortless. Aaron and I share a lot of the same philosophies on production and making albums sound a certain way. I definitely sat in on some of the mixing, but there was a lot of it where I was just able to trust what he was going to do, knowing that it probably wouldn't be too far off from what I'd do myself.
SFBG Was it strange writing lyrics about California now that you've been gone for almost five years?
JL I've definitely had a renewed perspective. Every time I visit or I'm there doing some work, I'm thrust right into the shit. Like right into L.A. or SF, rather than adjusting or letting it sink in slowly. So, usually it's pretty jarring for me just because the pace is a lot more relaxed and different here. Having a bit of that outside perspective now allows me to look at things a bit differently. (Landon Moblad)
With Typhoon, Social Studies, Fake Your own Death
Wed./23, 8 p.m., $12 (21+)
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
GEOGRAPHER: EARTH PEOPLE
The dress code doesn't include a finely-pressed lab coat, and the toolbox isn't filled with fragile beakers, but a geographer is indeed a scientist, one who pours himself into the earth and bleeds across its surfaces to observe and categorize its residents. I haven't asked the members of the San Francisco synth-pop trio Geographer if this occupation has had any inspiration on its sound, but there's reason to believe the answer may be a humble yes.
Geographer has discovered new ground in the electronic realm. Its unique ménage a trois of music-making contraptions — drums, synth and cello — produces audible scenery that simultaneously calms and energizes the senses. Luscious forests of synth share habitats with rushing bass and guitar. The cello adds a sneaky-smooth layer that easily melts between or melds the more jagged sounds.
Behind the sweet scenery resides a less than pretty picture. Themes of loss and inevitable change creep through their sun-stained melodies, pulling at the roots of the band's core. In 2005, Michael Deni fled his home in New Jersey, after the unexpected deaths of two family members. He landed in SF, and his instruments became a source of comfort and release while he wandered the new, unfamiliar territory. After a period of searching and surveying, Deni met and began collaborating with Nathan Blaz and Brian Ostreicher. In 2008, Geographer self-released its debut full-length, Innocent Ghosts, a far more relaxed collection that showcases Deni's round, patient voice.
The landscapes on 2010's Animal Shapes (Tricycle) are majestic, but far more celebratory. Things are tighter spun, beats kick harder and there's a cohesive exploratory factor. Specifically fabulous: "Kites," a track that strikes gold with a lustrous synth party. Deni's sincere vocals float high above the mountainous bass vibrations, but mingle ever so courteously with the shrill, twinkling electronic additions. Enter the romantic cello and the song is a straight-up gem.