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San Francisco Indie band release their latest, and most ballyhooed album, The Runners Four.
“They were called the runners four,” singer-bassist Satomi Matsuzaki sings on "Running Thoughts," the closest song to a title track. The Runners Four is the latest release from the critically acclaimed San Francisco art-punk indie band. The CD, their seventh major release, which clocks in at a little under an hour, just goes to show that conventional melody, chord progressions, and harmonies are not necessary when crafting a heckuva album.
Deerhoof have been around for over 10 years, forming the band in March of 1994 when Greg Saunier and Rob Fisk formed the band. In May of 1995, Satomi Matsuzuki joined the band, playing bass guitar and taking over singing duties for some songs. Since their formation in 1994, Deerhoof has undergone several lineup changes, as members left and others joined; in 1998, Kelly Goode joined the band, but left along with founding member Fiske in 1999, and were replaced by John Dieterich. In 2001, Chris Cohen joined the band, and their lineup has remained relatively static since then. Deerhoof gained some prominence in the independent music scene, claiming Sonic Youth, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and even Simpsons creator Matt Groening as celebrity fans. They have played the prestigious All Tomorrows Parties festival series several times, at various Los Angeles venues, and in the United Kingdom, and have opened shows for indie-rock veterans Sonic Youth.
Upon first listen, The Runners Four in its entirety can be grating. But upon further spins, it really does grow on you. What seemed like out-of-tune singing in the beginning turns into aesthetically planned dissonance. While the lyrics aren’t amazingly profound, their flow and the way they are sung work well with the music to form a complete package. The unique music, coupled with Satomi Matsuzuki’s Japanese-accented English singing give the band a sound that is different from most music today. The higher pitched vocals coupled with the lower bass lines provide the music with an incredible balance between high and low tones. This is further filled out with lead guitar riffs and occasional jangled guitars, along with swirled keyboard and synthesizer effects.
With instruments, vocals, and lyrics reinforcing each other in aesthetics, it is no wonder Deerhoof has generated their cult following; the music is different enough not to appeal to a mass audience, but clever enough to gain a following from like-minded individuals. With the album released, the band is currently embarking on a nationwide tour promoting it. The first dates were in San Francisco starting October 15th at the Great American Music Hall and also a promotional date at independent music superstore Amoeba Music, ending with two nights in Los Angeles at the Echo on November 22 and 23. Overall, if The Runners Four had to be categorized, it would be considered an excellent noise-art-punk-indie album. They may not sell millions of copies and hit platinum, but Deerhoof will definitely be able to sell out their shows on the tour, and hopefully, gain some new fans in the process.
For more information, check out: http://deerhoof.killrockstars.com/mainpage.html.
Date Posted: 10/20/2005