LIVE AT THE BELLY UP: B-Side Players And Maren Parusel
Airs Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, December 15, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of Chris Maroulakos/Mario Escovedo of Requiemme Management & Music
San Diego has long been known as a hotbed of great musical talent. What’s more, San Diego is home to one of the best music venues on the West Coast. Since 1974, the Belly Up has been featuring great local bands from the Cedros Design District.
B-Side Players have been laying down their own inimitable latin global funk since they came together in 1994. Their incendiary live shows have defined them as local favorites with nine San Diego Music awards.
Their albums showcase a band with restless musical intelligence, effortlessly blending genres to fashion their own forward looking, latin flavored soul music.
As an eight piece band the players are known for igniting crowds with their fierce rhythms and uplifting message of unity and consciousness.
Meanwhile always keeping their focus on the political climate of the world and nation. The B-Side Players are a living and breathing cultural art experience for the mind body and soul.
When San Diego pop songwriter Maren Parusel’s gear was stolen on tour in New York City last year, she took the opportunity to revamp her guitar-driven sound with synths and a new resolve to overcome anything that stood in her way.
It’s in this spirit that her sophomore full-length, "Tightrope Walker" (out June 19 on Requiemme Records/BMG Chrysalis), draws inspiration from two stories of triumph over forces both external and within: Nietzsche’s pivotal novel "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and "Man on Wire," a documentary about legendary high-rope walker Philippe Petit, who traversed a line between the World Trade Centers (not far from where Parusel lost her gear) in 1974.
“Metaphorically, life is you walking on a tightrope,” says Parusel, a Tübingen, Germany native whose debut Artificial Gardens (produced by Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins) won Best Pop Album at the 2011 San Diego Music Awards. “You’re balanced on your own rope. You can slip and fall. This album is about believing in yourself rather than looking up to figures. It’s about living your own dream.”
On "Tightrope Walker," Parusel finds her balance with Christopher Hoffee (Chaos Recorders), whose penchant for analog synthesizers, vintage plug-ins, and programmed beats makes for Parusel’s most polished and danceable collection of dreamy pop anthems to date.
The opening and title track establishes the album’s tone with straight-ahead drums, a ‘verby guitar lead, and Parusel’s falsetto voice (alternately reminiscent of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino and Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel) proclaiming, “When I wake up, here I am. Dreaming again.”
The whimsical mood continues in the phaser-laden “Castle in the Sky,” where Parusel dreams into the distance only to remember that “You belong where your heart is from.”
Adorable pop jingle “The Morning Belongs to the Birds” is the album’s slowest and most naked celebration of Parusel’s bright-eyed optimism carried by a tom-heavy beat that invokes the first-kiss scene of every ‘80s movie ever made at once.
Backed by a live band of Eric Brozgold (drums), Josh Cass (guitarist from Get Back Loretta), and Christopher Hoffee (bass), Parusel’s lilting and occasionally coquettish melodies recently garnered attention from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills (“I loved her set”) and renowned photographer BP Fallon at South by Southwest, where she was invited to an intimate 2 a.m. Mumford and Sons acoustic set also attended by Johnny Depp.
Parusel’s track “Days in Universe” from her debut EP of the same name (produced by Brian Karscig [Louis XIV] and released on 7” vinyl via Jackson Milgaten’s [Vision of a Dying World, Cuckoo Chaos] Single Screen Records) was featured in the 2011 comedy "Conception" starring David Arquette.
In an open-ended expression of self-assurance and honest ambition, Maren Parusel reiterates the heart of "Tightrope Walker" on the album’s closing song, “I’m Ready,” when she declares, drenched in reverb as if imploring the fates themselves, “Hey! I’m ready for you!”
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