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SVSX Preview: Curious Quail and ColorScout

In Culture, Music
Curious Quail. Photo by  Jessica Shirley-Donnelly

Curious Quail. Photo by Jessica Shirley-Donnelly

The Silicon Valley Sound eXperience (SVSX) arrives in San Jose on Saturday with more than 20 local bands at nine venues throughout the city. Leading up to the event, we’re showcasing the bands involved, starting with Curious Quail and ColorScout at Old Wagon Saloon.

Curious Quail
11pm, Old Wagon Saloon
Curious Quail started off as a guitar/electro project by Mike Shirley-Donnelly but quickly grew to feature members with their own eclectic tastes and backgrounds in music. Curious Quail released its first EP, The Glow, in 2009, before all the current members were officially in the sextet. The band’s latest album, Instant Gratification, features guest vocalist Erin Whitworth of the San Francisco band Please Do Not Fight and other guest appearances by CQ’s extended family: Nicole Garber, Jessica Shirley-Donnelly and Magdalena Trenkner.

Mike Shirley-Donnelly deserves thanks for taking back clever titles from the emo and math bands. The San Jose singer/songwriter started Curious Quail as a channel for solo acoustic songs, but what it’s become is infinitely more bizarre—and fascinating. Now songs like “Secret Lives of Retail Monkeys” and “Yesterday, I Watched the World End” are wrapped in electro beats that may spin off into unexpected, soaring directions at any time.

Color Scout

Color Scout. Photo by Jessica Shirley-Donnelly.

ColorScout
10pm, Old Wagon Saloon
Relatively new ColorScout have already carved out an unmistakable sound. They combine the very personal, intimate quality of a folk musician singing on a mountaintop, with the collaborative joy of an old-timey country ensemble—not that they play country.

They fall more into the introspective category of brainy indie-folk. Despite how quirky they seem, they have the sincerity of an open-mic coffee shop singer/songwriter with a sound that reminds you of They Might Be Giants, the Weakerthans, Feist and the Decembrists. Despite only technically forming last year, they aren’t really new to the local scene. Tim Smudski and Rosa Leonardo emerged from the San Jose group Emerald Hill, who at the time were one of only a handful of bands locally mixing folk, Americana and indie rock. ColorScout expands Emerald Hill’s sound by jumping from three members to five. They have guitars, drums, keys and a violin. Additionally, they rely on a mixture of male and female vocals, sometimes taking turns on leads, but often blending them together to create a wall of harmonies.

The Silicon Valley Sound eXperience highlights more than 20 local bands at nine venues in downtown San Jose starting at 3pm on September 22. Purchase tickets HERE.

Matt Crawford is the Director of Digital Media for Metro Newspapers. Follow him @Metro_Matt.

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