With the strong critical reception to their latest album “Book of Bad Breaks,” and several months of national and international touring behind the release under their belts, Thee More Shallows certainly deserve to become one of the Bay Area’s latest breakout bands. The trio, composed of multi-instrumentalists Dee Kesler, Chavo Fraser and Jason Gonzales, write catchy, sophisticated indie rock, but also aren’t afraid to indulge in compositional flourishes either, resulting in a record packed with a skilled blend of sounds and structure.
The new album is the band’s first release on San Francisco’s Anticon Records after two on Santa Clara-based Turn Records. At first glance, the move to Anticon might come as a bit of a shock; that label rose to prominence in the late 90s/early 00s for their experimental hip hop releases from artists like Sole, Alias, and cLOUDDEAD’s Doseone, Odd Nosdam and Why?. In recent years, however, the Anticon folks have branched out in more pop-leaning directions, with 13 & God’s excellent self-titled record and Why?’s fantastic “Elephant Eyelash.”
Kesler’s musical contributions to “Elephant Eyelash” helped form the TMS-Anticon connection, but, in hindsight, there’s been a shared sonic sensibility between the band and its new labelmates for some time. Thee More Shallows’ second album, “More Deep Cuts,” is more traditionally indie pop reminiscent of recent Yo La Tengo for its mix of hushed vocals, keyboard-heavy tunes, and understated melodies. The Shallows’ interest in audio pastiche and droning tones made itself known on that record, although more often in the interludes between songs than as an integral part of their composition.
The improved cohesion accents the album’s significant advancement in Thee More Shallows’ sound. A perfect example is “Night at the Knight School,” a sucker-punch of a song so immaculately crafted and fully realized that it still has an impact after countless listens. The introspective pop from the band’s past is still there but it’s fused to a percussion-driven synth-saturated sound to create a very fresh, forward-feeling take on quiet-loud-quiet rock. Between this dynamic control and the emotive vocals, there’s a lot to like.
1131 Polk Street San Francisco Thursday, September 6th at 9:30PM with Minmae and Chase Frank Cover: $7
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