It’s Sunday night. Six guys walk into a bar on Kettner. But the music they play is no joke. Seattle’s increasingly hot scene pours down the coast once again, this time gifting us the dreamy garage-R&B sounds of Pickwick. Last fall, the soul group came through San Diego opening for Neko Case. Now out on their own, the pack headlines the Casbah on Sunday, Jan. 12, for a show that promises to make knees quiver.
The folk revival of the last few years provided a platform for banjo plucks and wheat-chewed lyrics that may have otherwise disappeared into a pool of intermittent nostalgia. And while Pickwick formed in that fashion some five years ago, with frontman Galen Disston writing the songs the band would take to the stage, the group found that both the model and the genre, though growing in popularity, didn’t work for them.
Instead, the members of Pickwick -- Disston, brothers Michael (guitar) and Garrett Parker (bass), Cassady Lillstrom (keyboard), Alex Westcoat (drums), and Kory Kruckenberg (vibraphone) -- trashed the material. On the verge of splitting up, Pickwick came together with a new sound, combining individual musical influences and talents to pen a series of 45s that would spawn their self-released debut LP last March.
Produced by Kruckenberg, who won a Grammy in 2010 for Best Engineered Classical Album, the resulting Can’t Talk Medicine is resolutely gorgeous -- a textured collaboration that’s familiar in its soulful roots but becomes irresistibly unique in the steady hands of Pickwick. Disston’s impressive falsetto swarms around layers of keyboard before dropping deep among sliding frets, crashing drums, warm harmonies, and stepping bass lines. It’s a playfully seductive sound that hits you at the throat, melting into your shoulders, persuading you to bop, drop, and sway when Pickwick hits San Diego hard on Sunday night.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, recently moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.