I already told you who’s there
Whatever you do, don’t drink the Slusho! Not that living in Sacramento we’re at risk of some lurching, pissed-off Squidzilla crawling out of the drink to smash buildings downtown and wreck our parties.
As for parties, Knock Knock’s CD-release bash was last Saturday at Old Ironsides. Missed the opening band, Los Angeles-based Death to Anders, but got there in time to catch Rademacher, from Fresno, and Them Hills, from Nevada City. The latter has picked up a bit more presence and intensity since the last time I caught them, with singer/guitarist Dan Elkan finding some pretty cool tones on his rack mounts to underscore his songs.
OK, I’ll admit to a bit of Knock Knock overkill lately. But knowing how sometimes people have to beat me over the head when something’s utterly wonderful just to get my attention, for those of you who haven’t awakened to the realization that Girls on the Run, Knock Knock’s superb new sophomore album, is absolutely the bee’s knees and you should run out and buy it right away, here’s one more reminder.
I’ll shut up now.
Or not. When the band stepped onstage after midnight, the four members were loose, in the way that hanging out in a club listening to three other pretty cool bands while enjoying cold beverages can put a person in a Dean Martin frame of mind. While the crowd chanted “Yuba City,” name-checking singer/bassist Allen Maxwell’s hometown, along with such other inebriated non sequiturs as “Ghostbusters 2,” the band launched into stellar song after song from the new record.
Knock Knock isn’t a band that, when you hear one song, you’ve pretty much heard the entire oeuvre; some of the tunes even contain several clashing elements that work well together. “She Knocks Me Out,” for example, combines Talking Heads’ forward propulsion with flavorings reminiscent of Roxy Music and Lindsey Buckingham’s experimental pop with Fleetwood Mac. Put that into a club context with a band that’s warmed up and slightly loopy, and it makes for big fun. Then veer into more languid numbers, like “Do You Know What You Give Away?” which lopes from its melody into an ascending bridge that’s one exquisite piece of songwriting, or “I Was Born,” with Maxwell on acoustic guitar. We’re talking showstoppers.
Maxwell was joined on vocals by Heather Conway, who also plays rhythm guitar, with drummer Nicola Miller providing a solid backbeat. But if the evening had a star, it was the hilariously buzzed lead guitarist Mike Cinciripino, whose clean Fender surf-rock tone and melodic fills were always on the money.
If you’re kicking yourself because you missed this, Knock Knock will return to Old I on Friday, February 15, with the swell Scott Miller-fronted band the English Singles also on the bill. And if you haven’t heard Knock Knock, go to www.myspace.com/knockknocktheband.
And if you want to support a good cause, local-music monthly Alive & Kicking is hosting a celebration of its 150th issue on Sunday, January 27, at 6 p.m., with a bunch of great local bands slated to play, including a reunion of 1990s quirk-rock combo Little Guilt Shrine. As one-time A&K scribe A.M. Lagonda might put it: “You wants to be’s bein’ there right about then, supportin’ this fine thang.”