by Matt Meade
The Sad Bastard Book Club –
It’s not just the name of the band that I love so much. It’s the sparse hellfire of the lyrics. It’s the warning label length song titles. It’s the minor key guitar noodling. It’s the Gregorian chant back up vocals. And, yeah Ok, it’s the name too. But can you blame me? It’s a great name that you wish you’d thought of for your band.
SBBC is a band that sort of sounds like what would happen if Vincent Price joined the Violent Femmes. It’s sort of like what would happen if Modest Mouse sublet their apartment to a klezmer band collectively going through heroine withdrawal. They sound like Bill Callahan fronting a band full of Mark Kozeleks. That is to say, there is not much that is sunny about this San Fran band. They keep things heavy, the horns sounding like a death march, the drums thumping and reverberating like the heart beats of a man afraid for his life. Even the way they employ their sometimes intricate call and response back up vocals sounds like what would happen if the Local Natives were made up of crank snorting truck drivers.
The songs are built around ideas such as homes being razed, brothers being sent to war, families being torn apart. And throughout their creepy 2010 record, Another Family Dinner at the Saturn Residence Ends In Tears, pestilences spreads, people wander in the desert, there are prisons of all kinds, and it all takes place in some kind of existential Western the likes of which we have all collectively imagined and feared for years.
The whole effort sort of sounds like what the band from the Star Wars canteena would sound like if Cormac McCarthy’s The Road had a canteena. But, despite the hostility of the world where these songs take place, all hope is not lost. Far from it. These cats have banded together to fight the raving hordes. They have their backs against the wall and they are conserving their ammo. They recall all the best loose collectives of unfocused and talented poets. Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers, Velvet Underground, Can. They combat the loneliness and the fear by singing songs about longing for the end of days and by making vague threats like “We’ve been waiting / We’ve been waiting,” and “Things will soon be different and I hope you’ll understand.”
Now they just need to figure out how not to turn on one another.
Label: Yeah right. We should be so lucky.
Next Show: Tuesday, April 1 at 8:30pm in PDT Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, CA
Best Track: “It’s Touching Moments Like These That Remind Me Why We Don’t Speak Much”
(If that title doesn’t tell you what you are in for, nothing will.