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The best kept secret in music


"SF Examiner newspaper"

Playing for ‘Keep'
Local indie-pop five-piece Loquat's debut full-length album, "It's Yours to Keep," may just be the most beautiful thing you've ever heard. Singer Kylee Swenson's dreamy, nostalgia-steeped musings tippy-toe along the tear-dotted line between cheery and wistful, a moody mix that the Minnesota native says was actually inspired by a trip home.

"It's funny," quips Swenson, who, along with her bandmates, is celebrating the album's stateside release on San Francisco-based Jackpine Social Club at Café Du Nord on Saturday. "You know, I couldn't wait to get out [of Minnesota] when I was there, yet I couldn't help but feel nostalgic when I went back. There was definitely this struggle going on, between my childhood memories and, I don't know, now, I guess. And I think you can hear that on the album, those bittersweet moments."

A fair portion of the album, which was released in Europe last fall on a Spanish label, was written in the garden of Swenson's childhood home and fleshed out later with her bandmates in an Oakland studio. But the album wasn't even in stores yet when one of the songs, "Swingset Chain," caught the attention of network execs at the WB, who featured it in an episode of the hit teen drama "One Tree Hill."

"That was so weird," Swenson jokes. "There I am, eating my Swedish meatballs and watching television and our song comes on. Afterwards, I went, ‘Did that really just happen?'"

But compliments are something Swenson says she's still learning to process, even though Loquat has topped just about every Bay Area best-of list, from the S.F. Weekly, who dubbed them "Best Pop Group," to the East Bay Express, who called them "the poster children for this city's on-the-mend music scene."

"[The owner of the Spanish label] sent us a bunch of translated reviews [from Europe] and people were comparing us to the Cranberries and Cocteau Twins," she says. "I was flattered but I was like, ‘I don't feel worthy of these reviews.'"—Bill Picture - http://www.sfexaminer.com/articles/2005/04/20/entertainment/20050420_en01_keep.txt

"CMJ New Music Report magazine"

LOQUAT It’s Yours To Keep (Jackpine Social Club)
Dance music is really confusing. Who can keep track of all those prefixed and suffixed sub-sub-genres? Adding to the mess is that most of America’s dance music magazines have abandoned “traditional”dance coverage and are now writing about bands that incorporate electronic elements (e.g., the Killers and Bloc Party). If the direction for electronic music is now towards pop and rock, then San Francisco’s Loquat should command your attention.For this Bay Area act,it’s all about subtlety.From their light electronic programming to Kylee Swenson’s soft, airy and unforced vocals, this music floats like a feather.Although the band has often been compared to the like ofSaint Etienne,the Cranberries and the Cocteau Twins,these smart and catchy songs have a life oftheir own.—Justin Kleinfeld - www.cmj.com

"All Music Guide online"

It's Yours to Keep (Jackpine Social Club)

This is the first full-length release from San Francisco-based Loquat following several locally released EPs and compilation tracks since 2002. They seem now to have fully settled into their sound, which is a pleasing amalgam of jangly guitars, gauzily pretty female vocals, polite electronic flourishes, and the occasional breakbeat. The result comes across just a bit like the Sundays, updated for the post-Massive Attack generation. Highlight tracks on It's Yours to Keep include the gently encouraging "Slow, Fast, Wait & See," the dry but rewarding "Rocks" (which actually sounds a bit like a tribute to Over the Rhine), and the nicely crafted "Need Air," on which a soft bed of guitar arpeggios and gently swooping vocals is suddenly muscled up with a funky beat that kicks in about halfway through. Sometimes Loquat meanders a bit more than is advisable, and there are tracks that miss being spectacular for want of a really good hook, but overall this is an impressive effort from a band that will definitely bear watching in the future.—Rick Anderson - allmusic.com, Rick Anderson

"Jive magazine review"

Album: It's Yours to Keep
Label: Jackpine Social Club
Posted: 05/11/2005

JIVE Magazine Rating: 4 out of 5 exotic guitars

Pefect music. An outstanding orchestration of acoustics and some of the sweetist and insistent vocals I've heard it quite some time. - jivemagazine.com

"Pulse Weekly review"

it’s yours to keep (jackpine social club)
4/5 stars

Question: WTF is a Loquat? Answer: It’s the balance between electronic blurts and organic sounds inspired by pop and held together by Cardigans-infused gum. The other answer is a type of fruit native to Southeastern China that’s related to pears and apples.

Like the related fruits, Loquat the band is pure sugar, and more importantly, natural. It’s with a delicate touch that Loquat introduces its synthetic sounds (synths and sequencers) and blends the two elements exquisitely. One of the more distinct parts of Loquat’s sound is Kylee Swenson’s voice: Soft and elegant, it mixes naturally over the other instruments and provides a feminine touch. If you enjoy The Cardigans, you’ll love Loquat. - pulseweekly.com

"Big Takeover review"

It’s Yours to Keep
(Jackpine Social Club)

Trip-hop? Jazzy-torch pop? Whatever this is, it’s pretty compelling music. There are intense moments, showcasing a synergistic group playing to each other’s strengths. Kylee Swenson’s seductive vocals effortlessly float atop Earl Otsuka’s gently chiming guitar, Anthony Gordon’s bass, and Ryan Manley’s distinct keyboard and piano notes. I might not be making it sound like much, but it’s an eloquent album marked by moments of melodic greatness.
(www.jackpinesocialclub.com) - www.bigtakeover.com

"Comes With a Smile magazine (UK)"

Yang who? The willowy, indie-pop yin of San Francisco's Loquat can make you forget that loudmouthed chump for days on end. With the release of "It's Yours to Keep," we find long-time songwriting partners Kylee Swenson and Earl Otsuka picking up where Harriet Wheeler and David Gavurin left off in 1997 with "Static and Silence," creating an urbanely femme sound that gets a lo-fi, aughties twist from the analog keyboard work of Ryan Manley.

Though personal in scope, the album is lit in the twilight of an entire generations's youth, and it's rare that something so wistful can come off sounding this unencumbered.... This just-picked. Not enough good things can be said about Swenson's voice; it's effortlessly graceful, but even better—her unassuming delivery makes it clear that she sees it as just one part of the music. That's wise, because thoughtful arrangements and smart countermelodies are a major part of the overall pop charm. Standout tracks include the confidently asymmetric "Take it Back"; the insightful Gen X ballad "Slow, Fast, Wait & See"; and finally, a gorgeous sigh-of-a-song about bassist Anthony Gordon entitled "To the Floor." The radio-friendly "Swingset Chain," too, is a must-hear. Swenson wrote it after her best friend moved away from the city, and it perfectly expresses the frustration of watchng a treasured relationship get abridged by the hyper-mobility of modern life. Listen while driving, of course.—Shannon Coulter - www.comeswithasmile.com

"SF Weekly review"

It's Yours to Keep
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Loquat is the quintessential hardworking local band. It records at home, gigs like mad, and took about four years to release its debut album. After two EPs of teasing, It's Yours to Keep arrives as a labor of love delivered to Loquat's devoted followers. Fans will be pleased to hear old favorites like "Swingset Chain" and "To the Floor" nestled among an album's worth of tracks doing what Loquat does best: capturing the bittersweet limbo between youth and adulthood through formative-year influences like Edie Brickell and the Cardigans. The record coasts comfortably on lead singer Kylee Swenson's conversational delivery, though songs like "Change the Station" yearn for stronger melodies and rhymes to anchor their meanderings. Still, many of the fresh compositions come with signature Loquat cleverness. "Take It Back" disarms a romantic squabble with an upbeat pop tempo and electro punches, while the subtle boy/girl vocals of "Serial Mess" deliver one of the group's catchiest choruses yet. It's Yours to Keep was a long-awaited gift, but hooks like these should hold us over for a while.—Nancy Einhart - www.sfweekly.com/issues/2005-04-20/music/reviewed.html

"Nylon magazine"

It's Yours to Keep
(Jackpine Social Club)
It's easy to compare elements of Loquat's music to other bands. Listening to their first full-length, It's Yours to Keep, the introspection of Everything But the Girl, haunting vocals of Mandalay and trip-hop rhythms of Morcheeba all come to mind. But Loquat's sound is as delicious and unique as the exotic fruit of the same name, and, quite honestly, such comparisons just aren't enough. On It's Yours to Keep, fresh takes on the mutability of life ("Rocks"), lovers' tiffs ("Take it Back") and craziness ("Internal Crash" and "Serial Mess") are effortlessly articulated in original lyrics ("A pink tarantula ten feet tall," and such like) and jaunty electro-pop music that is at once enlivening and oh so seductive. Kylee Swenson's entrancing vocals—which would make a lecture on garbage disposal seem appealing—lace through and perfectly compliment layers of synth stabs and sweeps, gentle guitar strumming and restrained drums to create musical reveries that, on occasion, are nothing short of transcendent. In a genre marred by overproduction and, sometimes, a lack of imagination Loquat is not only wonderfully organic, but refreshingly inventive: It's Yours to Keep could just become the soundtrack to your summer. PHIL WHITE - nylonmag.com/radar/soundcheck.html

"New Times Broward-Palm Beach"

It's Yours to Keep (Jackpine Social Club)
By Jonathan Zwickel
Published: Thursday, June 16, 2005
It's one thing to hit all the right sonic touchstones; it's something else to balance your influences with a unique artistic sensibility. Led by Kylee Swenson's bold, breathy vocals, San Francisco dream-pop fivesome Loquat floats on faraway synths, glistening guitars, and tiptoe drum programming; images of an Edie Brickell-lead Church or Sneaker Pimping Cocteau Twins aren't far off. There's a gorgeous, devastating reminiscence in these tunes that's equally child-like and cynical, familiar and cold. Such contrasts give the music palpable dimension. And they're aided by Swenson's lyrical narratives, stories of long nights and conflicted love that are as tender and romantic as ironic and literal. "You are the line between weird and psychotic/But I wouldn't be surprised if we were related," Swenson coos on "Serial Mess," the loveliest tone poem about homicide you'll hear all year. The tracks eventually blur into a lush, somnambulant deluge -- like a wine-washed Vicodin binge -- proof that Loquat is effective at draping its shadowy, twilight veil over the listener. These atmospheric elements fall into sharp relief. Sharp, that is, in the softest, most serene possible way. - http://music.newtimesbpb.com/Issues/2005-06-16/music/shortcuts.html


The Penny Drop EP (self released, 2002)
Fall EP (Dreams by Degrees, 2002)
Before the Momentum EP (Devil in the Woods)
It's Yours to Keep, import (Dearstereofan, 2004)
It's Yours to Keep, U.S. release (Jackpine Social Club, 2005); #14 CMJ Top 200 Adds, #85 CMJ Radio 200 (to date)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kylee Swenson and Earl Otsuka met in 1996 and began writing music together under the name of an exotic fruit, Loquat. Five years later, bass player Anthony Gordon came along and asked the duo, “Why aren’t you playing live?” To which Otsuka and Swenson just shrugged their shoulders and went back to their guitars. Gordon then recruited childhood friend, drummer Christopher Lautz, and original Loquat keyboardist Ben Kasman to whip the band into shape. After Kasman left, Ryan Manley entered the fray, and the happy quintet now makes stunning pop music while trying—sometimes unsuccessfully—to drink in moderation.

Armed with its organic-meets-electronic guitar pop, Loquat released its first two EPs—The Penny Drop (self released) and Fall (Dreams By Degrees)—in 2002, and various Loquat tracks have found their way to compilations, including Listen.com's Listen Picks Vol. II and Amoeba's Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. IV. In 2003, Devil In The Woods records released Loquat's EP, Before the Momentum, including a cover of The Smiths' "There is a Light That Never Goes Out."

The SF Weekly wrote about the band, "It's the combination of the superb musicians and their significant restraint that makes Loquat so habit forming." And DIW magazine said, “Loquat [is] where electronic and organic sounds meet to make eloquent, gorgeous music.”

The band has shared the stage with The Cardigans and Evan Dando, was voted "Best Pop Group" at the 2003 SF Weekly Music Awards, toured from California to Texas for SXSW, and had its beguiling track “Swingset Chain” featured on The WB’s One Tree Hill.

A month after the U.S. release of the band’s debut full-length album, It’s Yours to Keep (Jackpine Social Club)—released in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Sweden on Dearstereofan records in 2004—Loquat has already reached #85 on the CMJ Radio 200 chart. Additional support has come in the form of regular airplay on SF commercial radio Live 105, and the band was also the Editor’s Pick for the launch day of CNET Music Download.

Backed by the lilting, moody dynamics of her bandmates, Swenson sings in sepia tones, mixing bittersweet nostalgia with sardonic humor through penetrating lyricism. Hauntingly familiar and captivatingly ethereal, It’s Yours to Keep calls to mind the wistfulness of childhood and languid remembrances of friends passed on and out of reach.