LOCALS ONLY: Science Fiction Theater
By Zachariah Weaver
Everything was recorded at home in closets and hallways with songs that are self-described as freeze-frames of a “magical time in life.” And from the beginning of this album—all the way to the end, this account rings true.
The first track—“The Empty Spaces” is a tune that delivers that very mood. It has a sense of folk mixed with surf-rock but leaves some room for close comparisons to Ryan Gosling’s band, Dead Man’s Bones. The beat chugs along but in an engaging manner. The guitar line sends the listener’s imagination up into the open blue skies.
A song that establishes the whisper-like soft vocals of lead singer Mike Jimenez, iss track three—“Haunted Youth.” The harmonica and guitar line open the song in unison of a tag that makes one want to jump train across the country and play blues till the end of time. However, it still doesn’t stray from the band’s sound and jumps right in to making the harmonica feel right at home with the 60s surf-pop, which in my opinion is a difficult task.
“Taking Flight”—the album’s eighth tune gives us all a glimpse of what SFT is capable of. As if they were the ones who inspired bands like the Silversun Pickups, this group of Rancho dreamers mash the slight Fender tweed distortion with a melodic synth that follows the melody the same way a small child tags along closely behind their mother in the super market; it’s quite a beautiful sound.
However, the best part about SFT is the fact they keep all the organic songwriting in the album’s songs closely attached to the genre-specific material. The band doesn’t let synth sounds or 60s pop influences get in the way of a good song (a.k.a. they keep things sounding very original).
The song I see this resonate with is “Headstrings.” The acoustic guitar mixed flawlessly with the piano tag doesn’t ever get pushed aside for some other synth lead. They keep the song flowing in what seems like its natural writing process, just with a few impactful touch-ups.
Don’t let me be the one that decides the consensus on this album for you though, take a listen for yourself over at the group’s BandCamp. The entire album is available for streaming and purchase. But be prepared to simultaneously feel joyful and thoughtfully poignant as you travel back to the swinging 60s on SFT’s homemade surfboard.