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7-inch/EP Review: Maus Haus Winter/Zig Zag and Sea Sides

It seems uncanny that Maus Haus (a large group of musicians) can maintain staying power without crumbling under the weight of their own eclecticism; most other groups with similarly eccentric sound have very few members. Yet Maus Haus seems to have found a way to push onward and upward defiantly, following last years strikingly unique Lark Marvels, born out of living room musings, with an equally impressive collection of tracks built around the 7-inch EP Winter/Zig Zag. For all of Lark Marvels' cavalier creation, and any aloofness that may have permeated those recordings as a result, Maus Haus’ latest recordings reveal a band further coalescing and maturing their sound.

With something of an eerie feel, “Winter” on Side A of the 7 inch, descends on you like a heavy blizzard in a swirl of bass-y synthesizer sounds and mono-syllabic vocal harmonies -- certainly a staple of music with a heavy psyche influence. With the air of a dispassionate homily, “Winter” creates the feeling of a cold deserted street complete with a disembodied voice advising us to “look at the mess we’ve made." A part of me wants to think this is the band telling us to pay close attention to the mess of sounds we’re about to be thrown into.  If I had to guess I'd say these boys have been listening to a lot of Syd Barrett, as the lyrical style of “Winter” (and many of these new tracks as well) implore the somewhat syncopated rhythmic singing style that owes a lot to Syd’s influence.

Kicking off like a fall down a deep hole, Side B’s “Zig Zag” thunders along like a demented fun-house ride. Contrasting “Winter’s” trundle, “Zig Zag” is driven by an upbeat tempo, a powerfully forceful bass line, and a cavernous layer of vocals. Certainly the more complex of the two (if its feel is not apparent in its title) “Zig Zag” changes rapidly, jerking the listener along it’s intricate journey.

Though these two songs make a brief and very dense 7-inch, it seems Maus Haus was not entirely done, releasing these two songs along with an additional three as the digital EP Sea-Sides. Sounding like it could very well have been left off Lark Marvels “Skyward Housing,” the first of the remaining digital tracks is a well-earned bit of levity from the darker tone of the 7-inch. True to its title, “Skyward Housing” builds a rising crescendo of synthesizer sounds in an electronic whirlwind. With a driving siren like melody, "Skyward Housing" builds up the movement towards the more ambient plateau that closes out the EP.

Creating a subdued mood with a more cavernous electronic soundscape, the final tracks "Sunshine" and "Sneaky Feelings" come well-versed in the lessons of Brian Eno circa Another Green World. The tones of these tracks carry less of a punch then the preceding ones, relying instead on a fuller more ethereal construction with multiple layers of synthesizer sounds. There is a nice calmness at work in these two that function as a soothing dénouement from the more intense moments earlier in the EP.

A fantastic follow up, Maus Haus’ latest recordings carry themselves with the gravitas of a band really getting comfortable in their own groove. Thematically there is something much darker at work in these new recordings, but the chills instigated by the eeriness of the sounds are exciting to experience nonetheless. Let’s hope for a full-length in the near future.

 

-Ada Lann

The 7-inch Winter/Zig Zag can be purchased here from Rocinante Records.  Download cards for Sea-Sides are available free with the purchase of a 7-inch.

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The Deli SF's Weekend Highlights For 3/11-3/13

Of course we encourage you to check out our latest presents show this week (Thursday at El Rio featuring Le Vice, F*uck, I'm a Ghost, and Red Blue Yellow; 9pm) first and foremost; but, if you just can't make it or still looking for other shows this weekend here are some other highlights from around the Bay Area.

Local show listing site Epic Sauce has put together a fantastic line up this Thursday at Milk Bar. The first of a new weekly series Epic Sauce will be putting on at this not often traveled Upper Haight venue, this Thursday's line up features French Miami, White Cloud, and Silian Rail. Free and boasting excellent drink deals (really stiff competition for us.... oi) so if you're not at El Rio for the Deli presents show you have no excuse not to be at this one. RSVP here.

Out at the Knockout on Friday the Frankenstein band Moonman, comprised of members from various other SF bands, will be having their album release show. Head out to this Mission venue to get your weekend dose of psyched out country-rock, 9pm.

Former band of the month Dangermaker will be playing an acoustic set at the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe on Saturday at 5pm. Pop on down for an early start to your evening and catch their performance, or, if you feel like staying home tune into the podcast here.

That about covers it for this week. Bands remember: if you have an upcoming show be sure to fill it in our calender and you may be featured here. Otherwise, hopefully most of the rest of you will be making it down to our El Rio show this Thursday.

-Ada Lann

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Acoustic railcars Performance From They Shoot Music

Back now from what was hopefully a successful European tour, railcars sadly have no Bay Area dates, though Aria is diligently working on his cover of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love. Of course, having already mentioned his efforts to re-work that album, this doesn't come as breaking news; however, what we would like to share is that while they were in Vienna evidently a European site, They Shoot Music, decided to shoot an acoustic (well I suppose acoustic for them) performance of the railcars' song “There is ice; it is blue". So early in the morning, shortly after waking and baking something according to Aria, he performed a breathtakingly beautiful rendition of the song. Definitely worth a listen.

-Ada Lann

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This Thursday! The Deli SF and Studio SQ present: Le VICE!

Start your weekend early and come dance your pants off with The Deli SF and Studio SQ as we present Le VICE live at El Rio, Thursday, March 11th! Le VICE is one part electro funk, one part rootsy hip hop with some sprinklings of pop and R&B. They're the perfect solution to your next dance party and a breath of fresh air.

Le VICE took third place in our annual Best Emerging Artist of 2009 Reader's Poll and will be celebrating the release of their self titled debut along with Bay Area folks F*ck, I'm a Ghost and Red Blue Yellow.

Come out and dance with us!

Thursday, March 11th
El Rio - 9pm
Le VICE, F*uck, I'm a Ghost, Red Blue Yellow
$5

 -Nicole Leigh

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Album review: For Fear The Hearts Of Men Are Failing

Artist: For Fear The Hearts of Men Are Failing
Album: City Music

City Music, the new release from the homegrown alt-country/folk group For Fear the Hearts of Men Are Failing (FFHMRF) is an enjoyable traditional country and bluegrass-inspired romp. FFHMRF bill themselves as the "longest-named East Bay folk group," and while the name does seem to drag on forever, the record never does. It sounds like it could have been recorded on a summertime front porch in Appalachia. Twangy vocals are punctuated with rolling banjo and guitar interludes. The tracks "Whippoorwill," the mostly instrumental "The Dialog/Elzic's Farewell," and "The Death Song" stand out from the rest. If you like Punk rock jugbands like Blackbird Raum or traditional folk songs and bluegrass (a la Folkways and Alan Lomax depression-era recordings) you're sure to like FFHMRF.

Check out their set at Mama Buzz, March 19th, 8pm.

-Natalia Cooper

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