San Francisco indie pop band Vetiver, which blends jangling, Byrds-like guitars with dreamy synths, performs Saturday, March 17, at the Columbia City Theater, in Seattle.
If drinking Guinness and shooting whiskey at a sweaty, overcrowded Irish bar isn’t your idea of a good time on St. Patrick’s Day (Saturday), you should check out the sun-drenched, laid-back tones of indie pop band Vetiver at Columbia City Theater.
Vetiver was formed by Andy Cabic in San Francisco in the early 2000s as a vehicle for his own songwriting. Having toured with the likes of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, Cabic signed with Seattle’s Sub Pop Records in 2008.
Vetiver is often categorized as an indie folk band, probably because its earlier albums are built on a bed of acoustic guitars. But the band’s latest release, “The Errant Charm” (2011), expands into new territory. The folk elements slip into the background, making room for dreamy electronic synths, psychedelic guitar parts and unapologetic pop melodies.
“I don’t consider us a folk band, I consider us a pop band,” says Cabic in a phone interview.
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Cabic’s soothing voice contributes to the overall dream-pop feel. Imagine a stripped-down version of The Byrds’ jangling guitars mixed with Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” overlaid with vintage synths.
“The Errant Charm” is Vetiver’s best record yet because it’s more than just a collection of songs, it’s a diverse and cohesive album. The arc of the project is quite lovely. A down-tempo opening section, highlighted by the floaty “It’s Beyond Me,” swells into a midsection of summery jams including “Wonder Why” and “Ride Ride Ride” before melting back into the calm waters of “Faint Praise” and “Soft Glass.”
Cabic does the majority of his songwriting in San Francisco. The sounds of the city’s musical greats — such as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead — echo through his songs and walking the city’s streets is part of his creative process.
“As I’m working on the arrangements and as I’m finishing the lyrics, I put rough mixes on my headphones and go for a walk,” says Cabic. “That can play into the rhythm and into the cadence of the lyrics, and the images I write about in the songs.”
After a few listens, Vetiver’s songs, full of catchy little hooks, start to burrow into your head.
Claire Connell: email@example.com