Pour Some Sugar
Sugar and Gold light up Blue Fin with CD release party.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
You might describe Sugar and Gold as The Ohio Players, Jamiroquai and The Gap Band locked inside a Paris discotheque with a lot of cocaine and laser beam sound effects. Every time S&G come to Monterey, the often-sold-out shows extend well beyond the midnight hour, and usually a parade of audience members end up on stage. This Saturday at the Blue Fin, the Bay Area quintet will celebrate its sophomore release Get Wet!, a 45-minute version of “Soul Train” minus Don Cornelius.
S&G’s infectious sound first grabbed San Francisco’s ears after its first LP, Crème – SF Magazine rated them “Best Local Dance Band” in 2007 and they won “Best Party Band 2008” by SF Weekly. It didn’t take long for the rest of the country to catch on to those catchy and freakable dance tracks: S&G’s 2009 South By Southwest showcase sold out and they scored the opening slot touring with the mainstream indie-sensation, Of Montreal.
With its new album, songwriters Philipp Minnig and Nicolas Dobbratz have traveled beyond the electro dance-pop genre to uncover a more reflective territory that recalls the way Prince followed up 1999 with Purple Rain.
“Bodyaches” opens with synthesized drum pit-pat before taking off on a danceable journey through a sentimental past: “I can remember the taste of your sweat.”
“It’s hard to write something that’s vulnerable for a club; most club songs are about ego and being cool,” Minnig says of “Bodyaches.”
Another one of S&G’s new, multifaceted tracks is the dark and peculiar “Salty Seraphim.” The tune is built from a whirlwind of interstellar instrumentation and Pet Shop Boys-style sing-talk.
“[‘Salty Seraphim’] is probably one of the most free tracks we did and that meant a lot to me to break out of that pop structure we have adhered to in the past,” Dobbratz says. “When I listen to this album it still sounds fresh, like we didn’t think about it too much; that may not translate to anyone else but that’s what I hear.”
Minnig and Dobbratz – whose collaboration began in the ’90s with the Monterey punkers Dura-Delinquent – have adhered to a similar songwriting system for nearly two decades. But, on Get Wet!, they adjusted it slightly.
“Usually, one of us brings in an idea and then we flesh it out,” Minnig says. “On this album I stepped back a little bit and let the art become what it wanted to be.”
Both musicians are thrilled to be a part an ever-evolving music world that has come to accept and revere eccentric oddities like MGMT, Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend.
“I’m excited because the music industry is changing and the possibilities are open to whatever,” Minnig says.
“Indie-rock music is finally finding its place within the danceable groovy scene,” Dobbratz adds. “For a while, it was one or the other and now it’s realized itself, which is good for us because we’ve been doing this for a while and it gives us a home.”
But Minnig is somewhat leery about today’s musicians putting too much emphasis into the business end of a music career and neglecting the creativity.
“As silly as it sounds, you can’t concentrate as much on taking drugs, drinking, falling in love, sleeping with the wrong girls and doing all those things that make the art,” he says. “Artists are volatile people and they should be allowed to be.”
This summer, the proudly volatile S&G embark on a North American tour to promote Get Wet!, playing everywhere from Charlottesville, Virginia to the Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Canada.