upper waypoint

Pop Music Review: Hidden in the Sun's Off-Kilter Debut

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Hidden in the Sun (L-R): Sean Alexander, Scott Rouse, Ciara McAllister, Lizzie Clapper, Jason Vivrette.(Courtesy of Scott Rouse)

Hidden in the Sun is, simply put, a rock band — guitar, bass, keyboards and drums with a singer. That’s it! No hyphenates. No techno-garage, no ethno-disco, no funk-jazz-soul-industrial-what-not. It’s refreshingly straightforward. Or so it seems.

As the band’s name suggests, there’s something here that’s hard to discern. Right from the start, with the title song of their debut album, "Seven Seasons," it’s all just slightly off-kilter, in the best ways. Sean Alexander’s guitar and Clara McAllister’s keyboards almost, but don’t quite, mesh. Bassist Jason Vivrette and drummer Scott Rouse don’t so much riff as flow, the music serpentines through songs stretching five, six or seven minutes, as in “Salt and the Spring” or the electric-piano-anchored “Waiting On the Storm.”

RS14059_hidden-in-the-sun-cover.jpg-alt_221At the center, galvanizing it all, is the striking voice and approach of Lizzie Clapper. But how to describe her? If you can come up with any apt comparisons for her, pass them along. I’ve drawn a blank. Ah, but she sums it up herself, though in a different context, with a particularly poetic line on the song “Smoke Signals.” “You mistook me for smoke,” she sings.

The path that led these five to the secluded cabin, deep in the Mendocino redwoods, where "Seven Seasons" was recorded is circuitous and singular as well. McAllister and Rouse started playing together 15 years ago in Tulsa. A few years later, McAllister moved to Northern California to run a music camp, where she and guitar teacher Alexander were taken with the talents of teen singing student Clapper. And from late-night jams, a band was born, though due to various life and logistics issues it took a while to gel.


“San Francisco Blues,” alluding to where the group settled, taps into the countrified folk-rock that has typified the California sound for generations, Clapper singing a siren call to someone who’s left. Matters of identity and place thread through the lyrics, mostly by Clapper and Alexander — songs about trying to find where you belong, with whom you belong, connecting with something, or failing to do so.

So what connections can we make here? The Band? Jefferson Airplane? Big Brother and the Holding Company? A guitar lick here, an organ line there might bring these names to mind, but they’ll prove fleeting notions, and ultimately off-target.

Even at times when the music is relatively straightforward rock, including much (though not all) of the song “My Magdeline,” something about Hidden in the Sun remains alluringly elusive. Just like smoke.

lower waypoint
next waypoint
State Prisons Offset New Inmate Wage Hikes by Cutting Hours for Some WorkersCecil Williams, Legendary Pastor of Glide Church, Dies at 94Erik Aadahl on the Power of Sound in FilmFresno's Chinatown Neighborhood To See Big Changes From High Speed RailKQED Youth Takeover: How Can San Jose Schools Create Safer Campuses?How to Attend a Rally Safely in the Bay Area: Your Rights, Protections and the PoliceWill Less Homework Stress Make California Students Happier?Nurses Warn Patient Safety at Risk as AI Use Spreads in Health CareSilicon Valley House Seat Race Gets a RecountBill to Curb California Utilities’ Use of Customer Money Fails to Pass