Deep in the redwoods on a farm near Mendocino isn't probably the first place you'd expect to find a two day independent music festival, but the environment's sure to add a staid ambiance to the Invisible Ocean Festival, taking place on September 5th and 6th. According to the organizers, the fest was created to allow a community of West Coast musicians and artists the opportunity to experience some of their friends' great music in an intimate environment. True to their goal, there are plenty of excellent bands performing over the two days.
I started listening to The Blank Tapes again recently, and now I'm not sure when I'm going to stop. 2007's Daydreams is the band's third album and it's loaded with catchy melodies that range from tight indie rock-pop to more expansive Deadish country-psych. Matt Adams sings, writes the songs and plays almost every instrument on Blank Tapes records, but his musical tastes are broad and the album is better for it; as a previous review on KQED noted, it's easy to discover new favorite songs on each subsequent spin. My two most recent Blank Tapes discoveries show Adams' respect and support for his peers: Friends and Favorites, a compelling covers album, and Universal Western Attractions, a compilation he curated celebrating local talents. Both can be downloaded for free at Fuzzhouse.com.
San Jose's The Mumlers release their new album just a few days after Invisible Ocean. Don't Throw Me Away, out September 8th on Galaxia Records, is soaked in incredibly authentic-feeling soul, particularly surprising considering that the group is a sextet of young musicians from San Jose. It's difficult not to consider the new album a great leap forward for the band, not because their debut Thickets & Stitches was weak (it wasn't), but because they've managed to channel what were a loose set of blues, folk and rock sounds into a raw set of heartfelt songs. As one might expect, they're also a killer live band.
The Invisible Ocean festival isn't all local groups, though, as Anacortes, Washington's Karl Blau is heading down for a performance. Blau is a prolific singer-songwriter whose experimental compositions frequently incorporate indie folk as one of a number of varied touchstones. On Zebra, which comes out on K Records on October 6th, he finds inspiration in African music and music of African descent. Blau's genre-mixing sounds work in part because he's a formidable producer, and he recorded Let's Build A Roof, the upcoming album from LAKE. The Olympia band play jangly psych-pop with inviting harmonies, and they will be at Invisible Ocean as well.
In addition to all of the music, there are two movies being screened over the weekend. Dear & Yonder is a surf movie following the travels of some female professional surfers, while No Deposit No Return Blues examines the life of cult American psychedelic folk-rock musician Sandy Bull. Add to that camping and communal vegetarian dinners at the farm every night, and it all sounds like a really magical weekend.