SONIC REDUCER What do you get when you mix air and earth, combine boisterous and baroque exuberance and densely layered yet bouncily buoyant guitars, incorporate baby Scorpions with full-blown ELO?
Voila, you just ordered Citay, the city's musical mega-maximalists — now jumpier, rockin'-er, and more exhilarating than ever, judging from the sound of the new 'un from this fab fantasy confab of Bay Area music-makers, Dream Get Together (Dead Oceans), all united under the imagination of one man: songwriter and guitarist Ezra Feinberg.
"I love the first album [Important/Frenetic, 2006], and I love Little Kingdom [Dead Oceans, 2007]. But whenever I listen to Little Kingdom, I'd think, God, this is sooo mellow," drawls the chatty Feinberg by phone as he maneuvers between the raindrops and tollbooths, making his way to, sorry, the citay by the Bay. "I don't really feel like I'm this mellow. This doesn't feel like me. So in a sense, it's just been a more honest record. This record is more excitable, and I'm more excitable than Little Kingdom."
Picture a well-attuned supergroup of SF musicians like Warren Huegel (Tussle), Josh Pollock (Daevid Allen's University of Errors), Diego Gonzalez (3 Leafs), Sean Smith, and Tahlia Harbour — a dream get-together, if you will — woven together and levitating blissfully, beneath the intense gaze of Feinberg and longtime collaborator Tim Green (Fucking Champs) as they constructed the ornate "sonic architecture," as Feinberg puts it, of Dream Get Together.
That edifice took a year to make — "I don't churn it out," Feinberg confesses — as the group assembled parts like the space-rock synth solo by Howlin' Rain's Josh Robinow, heard on "Hunter," and flotillas of crazily interlocked, airborne guitars. ("I like a lot of what is considered to be pretty bloated and overly athletic 1980s heavy metal guitar playing," Feinberg says.) Drummer Huegel turned to a full rock kit, in contrast to the last album, and the vocal harmonies came to the fore. The result: songs like the title track take classic rock as its starting point then swoop and soar and leave you shaking your shag, tucked in your party van, and marveling at the sound of a rippling guitar solo in flight. "I wanted to take Citay as it was known on the first two records and blow it up, set a grenade to the first two albums," Feinberg muses. "It's like the other albums went off their meds."
The phrase Dream Get Together refers to a specific relationship, also the center of this collection of songs. "It's about how difficult it can be if you have a fantasy of a relationship with somebody and it's met with the reality of that other persona and the real relationship," explains Feinberg. But it also nods to the dream community of musicians that Citay itself seems to have become — despite the issues of scheduling so many busy players ("Omigod, you have no idea," the bandleader moans. "It's a logistical nightmare") — it's the same idea, or dream, of supportive, collective art- or music-making that has inspired so many in recent years.
"Citay has become this solo project that also has aspects of a collective because there are so many people," Feinberg observes. "We're all friends, and we encompass so many bands in San Francisco — I think there's something really ideal and beautiful at the heart of what Citay has become."
Now if we can only get our dream on — together.
With Fruit Bats and Extra Classic
Fri/29, 9 p.m., $15
333 11th St., SF
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