Aislers Set and the Quails with Hella

Friday, April 4; Rocket Bar

Indie pop always gets a bad rap. Folks complain that it’s too effete, too twee, too precious to be of any real worth. From the first track of the Aislers Set’s new album How I Learned to Write Backwards, you might be fooled into thinking you’ve purchased yet another sunshine-and-sherbet indie-pop record. Sure, there are a glockenspiel and mandatory handclaps around Amy Linton’s sweet, slightly off-key voice. And yes, the ’60s influence is strong with this San Francisco band, which seems to use everything in Phil Spector’s arsenal except the handguns. But going deeper in the record, you’ll find dissonance, drunkenness and doubt, qualities not usually associated with the genre. A respect for patience grounds all the urgent hooks, a mixture that’s equal parts Brian Wilson and Leonard Cohen.

Of course, if you prefer grit in your teeth to sand between your toes, the Quailswill not disappoint. Another San Fran band, the Quails have more in common with their friends in Erase Errata and Sleater-Kinney than with the Aisler’s Set, employing banshee wails alongside earnest lyrics. The Quails are adept enough to write simple pop songs; their sense of melody and style is recognizable from the start. Luckily, they’d rather rattle your brain by yelling directly into your ear. Double bills such as this one don’t come to town too often, so show up and catch two of the Bay Area’s finest.

 
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