Oakland's violin-wielding Everyone Is Dirty on the band's first full-length. Plus: Wicked Mercies and The She's
LEFT OF THE DIAL Setting aside the darkly ear-wormy melodies, haunting vocals, and refreshingly crisp grunge-pop that goes into Everyone Is Dirty's sound, it's singer Sivan Gur-Arieh's violin — slicing sweetly above the chaos of a final chorus, adding a heightened sense of gothic romance to a bridge — that sets the Oakland art-rock quartet apart from the current fuzzy, grungey masses.
Good thing Gur-Arieh's come to peace with the fact that she plays it.
"I've had a love-hate relationship with my violin since I was a kid," says the singer, an Oakland native whose father taught her play when she was in elementary school. "I mean, growing up, you don't always want to be staying home standing in front of a music stand, playing scales for two hours at a time. I've definitely put my violin under the bed and not played it...but it always came back out.
"I'm at a point where I realize it's a tool, and it's a tool I know how to use, and you don't always get to choose that," she says, earnestly, like someone speaking about a handicap. "Now, I'm just at, I play the violin. Whether it's a nerdy instrument or not, I do it and it's a part of me."
It's also a big part of the band's charisma, an invitingness coming through music that technically should feel cold — sure, Gur-Arieh's distinctive whisper-wail would be at home providing the soundtrack to an artsy vampire flick, but you also trust her, and the weirdness, in the same way you trust the Pixies' or Sonic Youth's weirdness; it doesn't seem to be an affectation.
Then there's a very '90s sensibility about pop's borders, reminiscent of SF's own Imperial Teen, maybe Sleater-Kinney, and I want to say a more jagged Veruca Salt but maybe I'm just ridiculously excited that they're reuniting so I'm hearing them everywhere? Regardless: Add in psyched-out guitar riffs from Christopher Daddio, a super warm, strong rhythm section courtesy of Tony Sales on drums and Tyler English on bass, and you start to understand why the four-piece, at just a year and a few months old, has earned serious devotees around the Bay Area as well as highly coveted free studio time at Different Fur via Converse's Rubber Tracks pop-up — all before releasing a full-length record.
That's in the works, Gur-Arieh assures me. This January marked both the band's one-year anniversary (its first show as a four-piece rocked Cafe Du Nord, sigh) and another major milestone: They signed with Breakup Records, the husband-and-wife-run label, formerly out of Oakland (now out of Portland but with a heavy bias toward bands from their former hometown); the label will be producing EID's first full-length at the end of May.