By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
Guitarist/vocalist Marwan Kanafani did some time in St. Louis pop bands, including the edgy early-'90s outfit Buzz Circuit, wherein he shared songwriting duties with David Simon, a versatile and experienced funk bassist. As luck would have it, both wound up in the Bay Area after their short-lived first collaboration; in Cali, they came together for an even more promising project called Solarcane. Their characteristically catchy songs and bright harmonies were captured on one standout disc, Book of Alibis.
Simon would leave San Francisco, moving home to St. Louis and beginning the Ambassadors, an outfit with similar pop designs. Remaining in California, Kanafani created a trio of his own: Fojimoto. On the ten songs of their debut disc, Just Now Finding Out, Kanafani and his newest cohorts -- bassist Ryan Waggoner and drummer Jon Fojtik -- share a passion for songwriting-driven pop, dusted with just a hint of twang. These are breezy, winsome tunes, reminiscent (for pop nerds, anyway) of the late Canadian group the Grapes of Wrath.
Given that the group didn't overdub the album into some kind of studio-mad concoction, it's safe to assume that Fojimoto can pull off these lean but evocative tracks live. With songs this lovely, the oft-raucous Frederick's might just become a listening room for the evening.