Mates of State My Solo Project

[Omnibus; 2000]

Styles: indie pop, indie rock
Others: Quasi, the Spinanes, Death Cab for Cutie

I was first introduced to the San Francisco based, Mates of State as an opening band for the beautifully bubbly Beulah. Now, most opening bands normally serve the function of giving the audience time to go to the bathroom or refill their drinks; but something was intriguingly different about this one. A) It was a duo. B) The girl reminded me a lot of one of the Brady girls (Jan, perhaps?). C) They really seemed to love what they were doing.

Kori Gardner is the "girl" on organ and vocals, paired up with Jason Hammel on drums as well as harmonizing vocals. But they pull off their parts so well you don't even miss the guitar and bass. The two of them project this charismatic energy with their melodic songs and whimsical lyrics that can't help but be memorized.

So I did what I have very rarely done at a show… dropped down my ten bucks for their debut album, My Solo Project. The first track struck me as utterly odd; it was a toned down version of the theme music to Fame. I wondered if I had picked up someone else's album by mistake. The next eight tunes, however, made me grin from ear to ear. “Proofs” kicks things off with an organ-smashing tune blended in with methodical drumbeats. Most of the tunes on this album have the same prescription of organs and drums. Some of them are more cohesive than others. “A Control Group” is one of the standout tracks. The blending of vocal backgrounds behinds these two instruments is quite impressive and refreshing. I was not getting the typical: bass, drums, guitar sound that we are so accustomed to. This is an ingenious duo, one that I have never come across.

Someone told me that these two were recently married. Well, I would not doubt it because seeing them in person is like watching them flirt on stage. Gardner has this very cute, but not annoyingly cute voice, that's not perfect, but fits perfectly with Hammel's. Both work equally hard note for note, tempo change for tempo change and they still manage to keep their enthusiastic pace going. Though their lyrics aren't exactly profound and most times what you think you hear doesn't even make sense, it's all still good fun.

1. Names
2. Proofs
3. What I Could Stand For
4. La'hov
5. Nice Things That Look Good
6. A Control Group
7. Throw Down
8. I Have Space
9. Everyone Needs an Editor
10. Tan/Black
11. Ride Again
12. More in Me