By Todd Lavoie
Hey, swingers! Dolls! Diggin' those retro-futuristic sounds again, aren't you? I know, I know: ain't nothin' better for sipping Mai Tais on the patio, daddy-o, than a few shakes and shimmies of an electro-samba graced by a cool, cool kitten cooing from the soft belly of outer space, is there? Now that I've bent your ear, how about throwing in a little Frenchified pop and maybe a sprinkle of Martin Denny exotica, while we're at it? Sounds like a classy joint, doesn't it?
Well, good news, space age bachelors and bachelorettes: on Thursday, July 19, at the Independent, you can indulge all of your tiki bar dreams and bossa nova fantasies, thanks to the smooth stylings of LA's finest ambassadors of pop sophistication, the Bird and the Bee. Singer-songwriter Inara George (daughter of the late, great Little Feat funkster Lowell George) and multi-instrumentalist wizard Greg Kurstin - the respective winged creatures in question, I'd reckon - whip up a potent cocktail of late '50s/early '60s poolside elegance, Left Bank yeh-yeh girl intemperance, and Tropicalia free-wheeling, all served up in a postmodern update of that era's kooky visions of a 21st century, which seemed so far away at the time.
Best of all, the duo doesn't drown it all in irony, either! Sure, the lyrics contain a few knowing winks, but amongst the snarky irreverence - look to their bouncy bout of whimsy entitled "Fucking Boyfriend" for proof - are moments of homage so sincere that I can't help but imagine the pair lounging around in their Ray & Charles Eames furniture, feet up, drink in hand.
Their recently released self-titled debut on Blue Note Records is a fitting tribute to the work of folks like Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Astrud Gilberto, and Arthur Lyman, but rather than simply re-treading that turf, George and Kurstin push those sounds further, in other directions. Really, Kurstin's electronic touches are just the modern-technology equivalent of what folks like Lyman and Denny were doing with orchestras back in the day - check out the billowing arrangements on the Bird and the Bee's utterly gorgeous album closer "Spark," for example. Close your eyes, and tell me you too don't see grass skirts and bamboo torches coming into focus…
Joining George and Kurstin onstage will be a full band, so the evening promises to be silky-smooth, sophisticated, and hopefully a bit mischievous! Now, if only we could get the Independent to serve up Mai Tais and Zombies!
The Bird and the Bee perform with openers Mike Andrews and Colorforms Thursday, July 19, 8 p.m., at the Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. $15. (415) 771-1422.