INTERVIEW: NRVS LVRS – “The Golden West” Album Release

Yesterday, NRVS LVRS released their debut album “The Golden West” – a shoegaze love letter to San Francisco. BoxSpeaker got a chance to discuss the new album, influences, and the effects of gentrification with Andrew Gomez of NRVS LVRS.

BoxSpeaker: With so many layers to each song both rhythmically and lyrically, what’s the band’s songwriting process? Do you ever have some lyrics and think “yeah, let’s make this happier, with kind of a 60s influence the way Camera Obscura does it” like “Golden West” feels and then suddenly think for another song “mmmm electro beats would be nice here” like in “City Lights”? You all really have a wide variety of styles throughout your tracks but still manage to maintain a connection rather than sounding like an album that’s all over the place.

Andrew Gomez: For this album, the songwriting process involved me creating a demo of a musical idea (or in the case of “City Lights”, Wendy’s idea), and then having different members come in to add their own colors to it. Throughout the process, Bevin and I would bounce lyrical ideas off of each other and share them with the band to get their takes. In every case, the music came first, and then it was a matter of trying to make the lyrics fit with not only the song but the rest of the songs on the album. Regarding how we choose to approach each song, it really is on a case by case basis. For example, “Black Diamonds” seemed like a jangle pop song from the beginning, so putting an electronic beat on it would’ve felt forced. In my humble home studio, we’re able to try out a number of ideas, and it becomes immediately apparent what works and what doesn’t. I’m glad the songs seem cohesive despite the different directions we go, as that was something we were going for.

BS: Where do you get inspiration from? I’ve read that this album is in a way a response to the best and worst of living in San Francisco – are there other threads or experiences that you intertwine?

AG: I get inspiration from other art, like movies and books, as well as other music, but I also get it from bizarre stories that make the rounds. I’ve had enough go on in my life to write about just myself, but it’s more interesting and freeing for me to try to put myself in another person’s shoes and write from that perspective and to make someone else’s story personal.

BS: With the discourse on gentrification, tech, evictions, income inequality, etc in San Francisco, as musicians, how do you feel we can keep the City awesome?

AG: In some ways, and I know this sounds depressing, but the battle feels like it has already been lost. So much has already changed, so many of our friends have been displaced, and so many of the working class communities have been gentrified to the point that there’s really no going back. The only thing keeping us here is rent control. That’s it. Without it, we’d be forced out of the city we grew up in, and it’s simultaneously enraging and disheartening when the SF political majority is not only allowing it to happen, they’re crafting new rules and exceptions to encourage it. This album is our little take on it and allows us to vent in a creative way, but it could never be as influential as a few strokes of the pen from the mayor’s office. To get back to your question, I could say, “Hey, go see more live music, support local businesses, be more neighborly, and have more compassion for the less fortunate that live in our city,” but I’ve got a feeling that many people moving here don’t really give a shit about preserving the sense of culture and community that used to be here.

BS: Who are your influences? I’ve seen NRVS LVRS compared to a wide variety of bands from Phantogram to Stars and I definitely hear it. Personally, I love the wide range because some tracks sound a bit like The National and Broken Social Scene mixed together and even a little Phoenix and a little spooky 80s feel in “Cordoba Grey.”

AG: It’s fun hearing what other bands people think we sound like. After reading about the comparisons, I’ve delved deeper into some of those bands, like Broken Social Scene and Phantogram, since I was only vaguely familiar with them. But, growing up, The Smiths’ Morrissey helped me learn how to sing based on the fact his vocal register was somewhat close to mine. I also was introduced to electronic hybrid bands like Massive Attack and Portishead pretty early on, and they helped me see the sonic possibilities that were available. I also became obsessed with erotic film score compilations like Beat At Cinecittá and Easy Tempo thanks to a friend, and those were also a great inspiration.

BS: What’s each of your favorite parts of the City?

AG: During the day, Bevin and I love to walk around North Beach. It’s one of the last neighborhoods to really have a community feel to it. At night, I enjoy the bars that are near where Valencia and Mission intersect, like The Knockout!, Virgil’s, and The Royal Cuckoo. They support and/or play great music, and they’re far enough on the outskirts to have remain relatively unchanged and still feel like home.

BS: When you’re not making music, what else do you love to do?

AG: Listening to records, going to shows, and discovering new music is something I’ll always do, I hope. I also play in a semi-organized baseball league comprised of dirt bags, punk rockers, and bearded weirdos. It’s a fun collection of guys who dig music but also like to drink beer and play baseball once a week. It’s a way to get outside, forget about everything, and spackle over the damage youth organizations and angry adults can do to the basic enjoyment of a children’s game.

BS: Lastly, what’s your most fun / memorable tour or live moment so far?

AG: We had a great show in Monterey with our pals The Silhouette Era, as the response was really great. It was one of those shows where we didn’t really draw any of our own friends or fans, so the people there had no incentive to pay attention, let alone enjoy the show. We felt welcome after the first song, and it was exciting to be around people who weren’t jaded and wanted to discover a new band.

Check them out tonight at their album release and opening for The Stratford 4 at Rickshaw Stop and the rest of the month across Northern California:

– September 9th – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
– September 12th – Chico, CA – The Maltese
– September 13th – Sacramento, CA – TBA
– October 6th – San Francisco, CA – The Independent – opening for Telekinesis and Say Hi!

[ALBUM] Points of Departure by Big Still

Coming down from the Outside Lands high, you can relax to tracks by Big Still. The San Francisco band brings back sounds of indie’s 2000-2009 period, with a more country twang. Think the wholesome frolic-in-a-grass-field harmonies of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros with the cadence of Stars’s Heart album (particularly tracks liek “The Woods,” “Romantic Comedy,” “Don’t Be Afraid to Sing”) and the flavors of Brokeback Mountain’s score.

Big Still takes you through a journey with Points of Departure – giving you the feel of a late summer road trip across the Southwest. Even the track titles (“Purple Fields” and “Beauty of California” among others) reflect leisurely traveling through various points of interest or sights even Tunguska – despite it being in Russia and being the location of an explosion.

You can see Big Still at Hotel Utah in San Francisco on Friday, August 22 as they open for The Fontaine Classic.

[SHOW/SONG ALERT:] “Lost at Sea” by TAXES (Bottom of the Hill TONIGHT)

San Francisco-based TAXES premiered their new track “Lost at Sea” through Breakup Records this morning.

A mix of light electronic notes with a 2004-esque indie rock, they are San Francisco’s answer to Glasgow’s Blue Sky Archives (you know, Lauren Mayberry’s pre-CHVRCHES Pinback-esque project). The male and female harmonies balance each other the same way that the faster, more intense post-bridge portions counter the softer, mellower verses.

While intricately pieced together and instrumentally and lyrically dense, “Lost at Sea” counterintuitively projects an earlier time in indie music – when Pinback and STARS orchestrations reigned supreme, weaving subtle synths into mostly guitar/drums/bass-type tracks.

Catch them at their Bottom of the Hill single release in San Francisco tonight!

BoxSpeaker Picks: SF and Oakland Shows – 9/28

Here’s a quick rundown of concerts and events Bay Area readers should check out tonight:

San Francisco:

Cold Fronts, The Jaded, The Wearies, and Flaggs at Neck of the Woods

“Strange Architecture” is a BoxSpeaker favorite because of its lo-fi garage rock feel.

AM & Shawn Lee, Monophonics,  and DJ BCause at the Independent

AM & Shawn Lee hail from Echo Park and bring a 60s/70s French Library feel mixed with some disco riffs.

Menomena and Helio Sequence at the Great American Music Hall

Helio Sequence and Menomena are high school BoxSpeaker favorites, especially Helio Sequence. Bringing together beachy Fender Telecaster guitar sounds and a relaxed but still dancey drum beat, songs like “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” really epitomized high school romance.


Station to Station

Station to Station is a multimedia art public art project. With music from bands and musicians such as Dan Deacon, No Age, and Twin Shadow, and sculptures, films, and prints from dozens artists, this roving mini festival is sure to appeal to all senses and art preferences.

PREVIEW: “Beautiful Distraction” EP by Breakdown Valentine

Breakdown Valentine is set to release their debut EP “Beautiful Distraction” on Thursday, September 26 at the Rickshaw Stop, but BoxSpeaker is giving you an exclusive preview right now!

Breakdown Valentine mixes electro beats with darkwave style synths and an 80s-inspired percussion to give you eerie dancey tracks.

You can buy the EP through their Bandcamp on Thursday and coming to you soon on iTunes!

P.S. They also do a really great cover of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” – which isn’t on the EP but totally should be.

“The Lovers’ Suicide” by The Bilinda Butchers

The Bilinda Butchers are a San Francisco-based band that takes a lot of influences from the 90s shoegaze sound, dreampop, and even what sounds like a traditional Japanese sanshin strumming style in some of their songs (first 25 notes of “The Lovers’ Suicide”!)

Even their album art and lyrics show the traditional Japanese art influence. Their album cover has modern (maybe even 60s-inspired) color combinations juxtaposed by the traditional Japanese woodcut art style. And according to their SoundCloud, their lyrics were inspired by Lafcadio Hearn’s story “A Street Singer,” which takes place in Japan and was written in the mid to late 1800s.

The Bilinda Butchers’ style across mediums shows their appropriation of influences not just from one recent era (or even national identity) of sound, sight, and storytelling but across centuries and oceans to create new music. All of this giving even fuller meaning to their work.

Concert Relive – The Colourist and Ghost Loft at Popscene

Are you in San Francisco? Did you go to The Colourist and Ghost Loft show at Popscene last night?

Relive the night with some of BoxSpeaker’s favorites by both bands 🙂

BoxSpeaker Favorite “Yes Yes” by The Colourist

“Fix This” by The Colourist

“Seconds” by Ghost Loft

“Heat Lightning” by Icky Blossoms – remixed by Ghost Loft