“The new black is denial.”
Just over a year ago I got my first taste of San Francisco’s Tidelands. Their debut album If… was a surprisingly complex web woven around deep, albeit hit-or-miss, lyrical hooks and beautiful arrangements. Repeated listens built the album into a richer and more memorable experience, yet never quite fulfilled what I believed they were capable of.
Enter the sophomore release We’ve Got a Map. Lead singer/guitarist/flugelhorn extraordinaire Gabriel Leis and drummer (which said in itself sells her talents incredibly short) Mie Araki’s follow up to their 2011 album, nailed it. Again they’ve teamed up with Minna Choi and Magik*Magik Orchestra assembling the sound we’d previously experienced and growing leaps and bounds within the course of a year.
Eight tracks laden with themes of inspirational joy, sexual healing and American imperial guilt and conscience are served up on a self-admitted foundation of spontaneity. Leis returns with an almost David Byrne-like delivery vocally as his eclectic lyrics splendidly settle within deeply organic instrumentals.
We’ve Got a Map is a record for the intellectual and simplistic fans of independent music alike. There is no doubt in my mind that the duo from the Bay Area has achieved a level of musicianship that should be admired and revered. Each song spins a web of imagination and contemplation. Songs like “Coil” and “Half a Century” allude to a joyous recognition of respect and inspiration where the very real tracks like “Rock Bottom” and “Twin Lakes” lead you down a path of sincere thought. Tossing in, easily one of my favorite tracks of the year “The New Black,” a dark, dreamy and slightly cynical outlook, We’ve Got a Map is moving, thoughtful and impressive.
If there was even the slightest, most miniscule, bit of doubt in my mind as to the capabilities of Tidelands it has been obliterated by this album. Making me a believer, I can confidently say I am a big fan of Tidelands and cannot wait for the opportunity to see them live one day. With the progress made, by keeping their art spontaneous and simple, they can only bring about great things. Pardon the pun, but with Leis and Araki, If…We’ve Got a Map then they’re most certainly going places.