A Rundown Of This Year's Maverick Music Festival 

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click to enlarge Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YaRdS - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YaRdS

Saturday, April 11

Last Nighters / 12:15 p.m.

Hearing Last Nighters' 2012 album Animal Room is like seeing a sunset from an airplane, witnessing a new density and spectrum to sunburst pop.

Quiet Company / 1:00 p.m.

Formed in '06 by singer Taylor Muse, Quiet Company has weathered transitions from being a Christian-centric indie rock group to dealing with lyrics about losing faith, all while having tight and powerful pop-rock jams. Muse's gentle voice can erupt into harsh screams at any given moment, as heard in one of their breakout songs, "You, Me & the Boatman," showing that Muse wears his passions on his sleeve. — Shannon Sweet

Son Lux / 1:45 p.m.

Producer Ryan Lott began his career designing soundtracks for TV and YouTube ads, transitioning from commerce into art under the name of Son Lux. By his second effort, 2013's Lanterns, Lox found his groove between electronic textures and live instruments, particularly on the arresting "Lost It To Trying."

If you need inspiration to skip brunch and hit La Villita early, "Lost It To Trying" is it. With digital horns, clacking drums and spacious production, it's electronic music at its most emotional, setting the stage for Lott's bewildered anthem. "What do we do now? We lost it to trying," he sings in a lush falsetto.

Sarah Jaffe / 2:30 p.m.

Among the best songs to come out of Denton — along with Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" and Sly Stallone's "I Want to Take You Higher" — is Sarah Jaffe's "Clementine," a beautiful exercise in parallax. Recorded in a funeral parlor, Jaffe sings of "50 states, 50 lines, 50 crying all the times" and "all that time wasted," wishing to live as the title character, one of the most frequently visited names in pop. But in the wounded hush of her voice, Jaffe knows that this reset wouldn't solve any problems. The "crying all the times" would still be there, just through a new set of eyes.

Nina Diaz / 3:25 p.m.

NPR once gave SA songstress Nina Diaz some impressive cred as "one of the two or three most exciting, scary-good vocalists in rock today." The praise rings true if you cross-reference with Diaz's "Rebirth," one of the few tunes she has recorded in hi-fi since the hiatus from Girl in a Coma. As the band drops into orchestrated hits, Diaz sings of a former lover, her eyes wild with a frightening intensity and her voice scaling octaves with ease.

tUnE-YaRdS / 4:25 p.m.

On record, Merrill Garbus' music as tUnE-YaRdS relies on vital polyrhythm and vocal loops that come down like a welcome June rain. "It's empowering to make so much music by yourself," Garbus told the Current over the phone.

Onstage, the music comes alive in a different fashion, blurted from the mouths of a big, jubilant band. "There's nothing more satisfying than singing with other people," said Garbus. "To me, there's so much unspoken community and healing and connecting with other human beings. It's a basic thing to sing with other human beings."

Though the spirit of the music is exuberant, Garbus speaks to some heavy truths in the winding, sing-song melodies of her 2014 album Nikki Nack. As an Oakland native, "Water Fountain" brings attention to her state's looming, historic drought. "'Water Fountain' is about living in California, feeling that water in a water fountain is a privilege and one that is currently not available to a lot of people here ... It bothers me when people aren't talking about the elephant in the room. It's an American talent, to avoid problems until they're overwhelming."

Wavves / 5:30 p.m.

Even Nathan Williams must have been surprised when his Wavves project proved to be more than a fad. In 2009, with a pair of self-titled albums full of incredible songwriting and terrible guitar playing, the Californian rode a swell of internet buzz to immediate success. Nearly sidelined by an ecstasy/Valium/Xanax breakdown at Primavera Sound (and generally being really bad on his instrument), Williams learned from his mistakes. For recent tours, Wavves picked up a second guitar player and Williams turned down from 11 on the rock 'n' roll libational scale.

That knowledge of personal flaws has been Williams' songwriting drive since day one, so it's nice to see him execute it on a practical level. On 2013's "Demon to Lean On," Williams expresses his self-conflict in lucid pop-punk terms — "Holding a gun to my head, so send me an angel / Or bury me deeply instead, with demons to lean on."

Best Coast / 6:35 p.m.

California indie-pop duo Best Coast has carved a niche for itself somewhere between flippant grunge stonerdom and melodramatic teeny-pop stardom. What began in 2009 as a fuzzed out, shit-fi project wherein singer-songwriter Bethany Cosentino could explore her obsessions with cats, weed and boys, is now a widely popular act that has shown real musical and lyrical growth over the course of three albums and four EPs. The twosome (which also includes multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno) comes to Maverick as they prepare for the May 5 release of California Nights, their third album. Here's what Bruno told the Current about the new material:

"I think that there was just way less pressure with this record, like no pressure. Since we weren't on a label we didn't feel like we had to answer to anybody ... On California Nights we approached each song as its own thing and weren't afraid to add whatever kind of sounds we wanted. So there's more adventure and more layered guitar, keyboards and effects." — James Courtney

Cake / 8:05 p.m.

Emerging from the mid-'90s wave of indie rock, Cake was one of the sweetest offerings from the Sunshine State. With a voice that teeters between monotone spoken word and alt-rock approved singing, founder, lead singer and cake boss John McCrea mishmashes styles like hip-hop and funk into a unique delicacy of sound.— Shannon Sweet

Cypress Hill / 9:45 p.m.

Known best for its 1993 nasal affront "Insane in the Brain," Cypress Hill's dust jacket blurb should read as the crew that introduced Spanish to American hip-hop. Along with Cypress Hill expat Mellow Man Ace, the LA quartet was the first to try Spanglish in their flow, more accurately recreating the language of California, Texas and New York City. More than two decades later, the bilingual crossover is one of the most viable options in the playbook under the direction of Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Mob, Travis $cott and O.T. Genasis.

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