On the track, “Reaction,” from San Francisco’s Maus Haus’ debut album, the band asks, “can you hear the color, can you taste the sound?” Although the idea behind our Musical Pairings is do just that (compare the taste of various recipes to the sound of my favorite music), they have made me thankful that I don’t normally draw comparisons between the restaurant Kasey reviews for our weekly Local Pairings and the band I’m reviewing. I’ve been obsessing over Maus Haus ever since I first put the needle to vinyl on my copy of Lark Marvels, but I can’t yet imagine a recipe that would be an obvious match for their music.
When asked by the San Francisco Guardian to identify a film soundtrack that Maus Haus’ music would best match, Maus Haus’ Joshua Rampage suggested the following: “If Wes Anderson had written and directed ‘Alien,’ starring Bill Murray instead of Sigourney Weaver, and turned it into a social-political jag on how we’ve got to find a medium ground, how we’ve been eating too much and thinking too much (or not enough) and getting ready to become puddles of ourselves.” Although one would rightfully suspect that Rampage’s answer isn’t meant entirely in earnest, it isn’t as off the mark as you might imagine. Maus Haus’ debut album, Lark Marvels, could easily be imagined as the soundtrack to a light-hearted Wes Anderson film about the “future” as imagined during the 1960s (think jetpacks, flying cars and mod furniture).
Lark Marvels draws to mind Self, Grandaddy, the Silver Apples, Soul Coughting (minus Mike Doughty), and on tracks “Rigid Breakfast,” “Secret Deals,” and “Reaction,” there are even hints of Dayton, Ohio 1990’s style avant punk a la Brainiac. Opening track “Rigid Breakfast” starts with a fantastic sonic freak-out featuring squealing, ominously-spacey synth and warmly tonal and repetitive keyboard rhythm. The second cut on Lark Marvels, “Secret Deals,” is light-heartedly dark and slightly off-kilter, primarily sounding like a sci-fi homage to jazz and 60’s era psychedelic pop both as a result of the instrumentation and lyrics: “stop being a robot, be a regular man.” They are both excellent tracks, and combined they provide a perfect set-up for the rest of the album. Relying on an assortment of drums, synthesizers, electronic toys, flutes, saxophones, bass guitar, and flute, Maus Haus craft a wonderful debut that is sonically compelling and playfully paranoid. Lark Marvels is definitely recommended. Other highlights on the album include “We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down),” “Reaction,” “Irregular Hearts,” and “Dead Keys Drop.”
Maus Haus co-founder Jason Kick told me the band is presently at work on a slew of new songs that they are considering for release on an upcoming EP, pair of EPs or a future full length. They’ll be debuting some of this material at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on July 25. Head over to the band’s MySpace page to order a copy of Lark Marvels or to stream more tracks from the album.
By the way, I’ve been selected as the judge for a Menu Pages contest giving away tickets to this year’s Great American Food and Music Festival in Mountain View hosted by Bobby Flay(!). All you’ve got to do is create a brief “musical pairing” of the food and artists at the festival.
Finally, don’t forget to return to our homepage to read Kasey’s review of Gialina.