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Soft White Sixties Showing Off Sharp New Sound

In Music
GET SHARP: Since moving south, The Soft White Sixties have been honing their craft.

GET SHARP: Since moving south, The Soft White Sixties have been honing their craft.

It’s comforting to think of identity as something constant, something stable that retains itself over time. But in reality, almost every cell in our bodies gets periodically replaced, meaning that over time we all become different people—at least on an atomic level. Rather than being stable, identity is fundamentally unstable; rather than constant, it is something that is in a perpetual state of transition.

And if there is anything to learn from the history of art it is that this is a very normal process. Before he was cubist, Picasso was blue. Before becoming the chimerical godfathers of avant alt-rock, Radiohead were simply another Britpop act. Hell, Immanuel Kant, one of the foundational voices of philosophy, didn’t even write his first real contribution to the field until he was 57.

So it goes that after a well-received EP and 2013’s widely enjoyed Get Right (a very San Francisco sounding mix of soul, the classics, and a decidedly party-centric approach to life), The Soft White Sixties are a band in transition.

“We’re actually all currently living in Los Angeles at the moment,” says Aaron Eisenberg, of the formerly S.F.-based rock group. “Last summer we recorded at a studio down here. We were just coming down here more and more, and that was kind of our first foray into our new album. We all just felt like maybe it was a good time to have a change in scenery and spend a little more time in L.A. while we’re writing and recording our next record.”

Talking to Eisenberg (the band’s guitar player and keyboardist) one gets the sense that the band has staked its entire identity on what comes out of this next record. The first batch of songs was recorded by Matt Linesch, who also recorded the similarly rootsy sounding Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes. The band already released the first single from this session, the slinky Black Keys-esque “Sorry to Say”—the song’s chorus an unapologetic celebration of toeing the line of the abyss and partying solo: “I lost my mind/Sorry to say/I pulled the pin & I walked away.”

“That one had multiple choruses and different feels and arrangements until we finally arrived on that version,” Eisenberg says of the new song. “There’s been a lot more focus. You know, when you start out as a band, everyone gets in the room and you’re excited and you’re like, ‘Cool, that’s great. That’s a song. Let’s move on.’ Now we’re trying to be a little more intentional with what the Soft White Sixties sound like.”

Throughout the course of our conversation Eisenberg sounds like someone who has a new-found appreciation for precision; accuracy.

“The main difference with what we’re working on now with this last batch is that our approach to it has been much more forward-thinking than we had been in the past,” he says, choosing his words carefully.

“Sorry to Say” is may just be the band’s biggest song to date. It’s been getting some radio play, and in a little over 100 days the track has racked up more than 10,000 plays on SoundCloud—a promising development and an indicator that these L.A. transplants are reaching new fans.

“It’s been getting a great response from people around the country,” Eisenberg says. “There are radio stations that have been picking it up and throwing it in the rotation. It’s been cool, because we can see these little pins on the map of areas that have picked up the single. We want to be sure to get to all those areas.”

Given that the boys hail from the Bay Area, they’ve made sure to drop a number of pins in the region. They play The Ritz for the first time this Friday and it’s the group’s first time in San Jose in a while. “It’s definitely been a couple years now,” Eisenberg says.

The fact that bands like the Soft White Sixties are now coming back to San Jose is a sign that things might finally be changing for the downtown music scene. With the recent addition of The Ritz there is a chance that live music can make more of a lasting impact here than it has in years. After all, just like everywhere else, San Jose is in a perpetual state of transition.

The Soft White Sixties
Jul 29, 8pm, $10-$13
The Ritz, San Jose

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