Maus Haus
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Maus Haus

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative EDM

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"LFATH Sea-Sides Review"

Last year, I heard and fell in love with Lark Marvels, the debut album from San Francisco synth rock sextet, Maus Haus. As the band laid into its synthesized persona, a sound that strangely intellectualized its garage weirdness with a dose of science fiction, Lark Marvels seemed a new phase in the Nuggets continuum, one that took its San Franciscan homeland’s tradition and inspiration and brought the sound some digital awareness.

With Sea-Sides, the band’s latest EP, Maus Haus doesn’t necessarily expand or evolve their sound, but they maintain their distinct brand of invention. “Winter” strides like a modernized Zombies track, heavy on vocal melodies and arrangements that evoke polite psychedelia. “Zig Zag” is enlivened by prancing keyboard strokes and rolling percussion that sets up the bouncing syncopation of “Skyward Housing,” a song whose title seems to exemplify the sort of imagery their sounds suggest.

They dangerously tread Animal Collective’s undulating waters with “Sunshine,” the vocal harmonies and generated electronic expanse almost an homage to the Collective’s most recent soundscapes. “Sneaky Feelings” is a melancholy marriage of fuzz, tap and hum that transitions into an epic midsection, leaving the song’s remaining minutes feeling orchestral.

Though Sea-Sides is essentially a five-song enticement meant to carry you to the next release, it’s worth the attention. Still an eccentric and imaginative unit, Maus Haus continues to mesh modernism with rock n’ roll ancestry, offering new experiences in electronic-composition and giving us a glimpse at life with “skyward housing.”

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead - Letters From A Tapehead


"The Burning Ear Sea-Sides Review"

This new EP from San Francisco’s Maus Haus dropped in my inbox a few weeks ago and although these guys already have a full length under their belt I had never heard of them. Even Last.fm doesn’t have a profile for them yet. Anyway, the 5 tracks on Sea-Sides are all pleasant little indie ditties but it’s the barn-burning locomotive of “Zig Zag” that really caught my ear. This jam is all over the place and it bounces from thundering drums to plinking xylophone to soaring horns all under hushed and whirling vocals. The thing even closes out with a string section. Pretty much something for the whole family here. Road trip! (Note that “Skyward Housing” is the other super-fresh jam on this EP. A totally funkier approach but I’m into it.)
- theburningear.com


"Deli Magazine Sea-Sides Review"

It seems uncanny that Maus Haus (a large group of musicians) can maintain staying power without crumbling under the weight of their own eclecticism; most other groups with similarly eccentric sound have very few members. Yet Maus Haus seems to have found a way to push onward and upward defiantly, following last years strikingly unique Lark Marvels, born out of living room musings, with an equally impressive collection of tracks built around the 7-inch EP Winter/Zig Zag. For all of Lark Marvels' cavalier creation, and any aloofness that may have permeated those recordings as a result, Maus Haus’ latest recordings reveal a band further coalescing and maturing their sound.

With something of an eerie feel, “Winter” on Side A of the 7 inch, descends on you like a heavy blizzard in a swirl of bass-y synthesizer sounds and mono-syllabic vocal harmonies -- certainly a staple of music with a heavy psyche influence. With the air of a dispassionate homily, “Winter” creates the feeling of a cold deserted street complete with a disembodied voice advising us to “look at the mess we’ve made." A part of me wants to think this is the band telling us to pay close attention to the mess of sounds we’re about to be thrown into. If I had to guess I'd say these boys have been listening to a lot of Syd Barrett, as the lyrical style of “Winter” (and many of these new tracks as well) implore the somewhat syncopated rhythmic singing style that owes a lot to Syd’s influence.

Kicking off like a fall down a deep hole, Side B’s “Zig Zag” thunders along like a demented fun-house ride. Contrasting “Winter’s” trundle, “Zig Zag” is driven by an upbeat tempo, a powerfully forceful bass line, and a cavernous layer of vocals. Certainly the more complex of the two (if its feel is not apparent in its title) “Zig Zag” changes rapidly, jerking the listener along it’s intricate journey.

Though these two songs make a brief and very dense 7-inch, it seems Maus Haus was not entirely done, releasing these two songs along with an additional three as the digital EP Sea-Sides. Sounding like it could very well have been left off Lark Marvels “Skyward Housing,” the first of the remaining digital tracks is a well-earned bit of levity from the darker tone of the 7-inch. True to its title, “Skyward Housing” builds a rising crescendo of synthesizer sounds in an electronic whirlwind. With a driving siren like melody, "Skyward Housing" builds up the movement towards the more ambient plateau that closes out the EP.

Creating a subdued mood with a more cavernous electronic soundscape, the final tracks "Sunshine" and "Sneaky Feelings" come well-versed in the lessons of Brian Eno circa Another Green World. The tones of these tracks carry less of a punch then the preceding ones, relying instead on a fuller more ethereal construction with multiple layers of synthesizer sounds. There is a nice calmness at work in these two that function as a soothing dénouement from the more intense moments earlier in the EP.

A fantastic follow up, Maus Haus’ latest recordings carry themselves with the gravitas of a band really getting comfortable in their own groove. Thematically there is something much darker at work in these new recordings, but the chills instigated by the eeriness of the sounds are exciting to experience nonetheless. Let’s hope for a full-length in the near future.



-Ada Lann - Deli Magazine


"SF Bay Guardian Feature"

SONIC REDUCER San Francisco street rats, go play some other day. House heads, scamper beneath some disco ball far away. And, kraut rock kidz, don't you dare mistake Maus Haus for just another tinned Can tribute band — German spelling or nein — though the Bay Area ensemble has been known to rock the occasional Faust track behind closed doors.

Instead Joseph Genden, Tom Hurlbut, Jason Kick, Sean Mabry, Josh Rampage, and Aaron Weiss — all real birth names, folks — make some of the most original music to scuttle along the edges of aural indefinability, right here in the Bay. Just don those giant Mickey ears and take in the boom-bleat orchestral art-rock bounce, chugging motor-iffic rhythms, and squealing theremin-like shrieks of "Rigid Breakfast," the opening track of Maus Haus' latest, Lark Marvels (Pretty Blue Presents, 2008). Fractured psych patients, bent-but-not-broken folk-funksters, soft-acid bluesmen, Silver Apples acolytes, and Captain Beefheart praise-sayers — all these descriptors touch on, yet don't quite capture, the inviting, inventive sonic nest Maus Haus has built.

"It's a project that started out as a guideline of concepts that we wanted to fulfill but we had no actual idea of what the music would sound like," explains drummer-keyboardist-multi-instrumentalist Mabry by speaker phone alongside Kick.

"We definitely like a lot of late '60s psychedelia — that's something we all agree on," vocalist-keyboardist Kick adds. "But we didn't intend to do anything with a retro sheen necessarily." Rather, Maus Haus chose to simply identify with the pioneering spirit of early psych. "Our heart is kind of in the same place," he says.

Hard to believe this gang of friends — some assembled via Craigslist, a clutch relocated from the Midwest (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana), two hailing from Sacramento and Half Moon Bay, and all involved in bands as varied as Social Studies, Battlehooch, and Pope of Yes — started working on music together just two years ago, and at the encouragement of friends, they played live together for the first time a year ago. "It felt like there needed to be a band to represent the songs," Kick says, "instead of it just being an esoteric recording project.

Enter the crazy quilt of onstage instrumentation, in full pack-rat effect when Maus Haus played Bottom of the Hill not long ago. "We have so much stuff onstage it's kind of ridiculous," says Kick. He counts off a Rhodes keyboard, Omnichord, drum set, assorted floor toms, an electronic drum pad, two MicroKorgs, the theremin-emuutf8g Chaos Pad, trombone, sax, trumpets, bass guitar, MIDI controller, and laptop, though he says, "We might stop using the laptop because computers shut down at the worst times." Sounds like the song "We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)" was written from experience.

So what are these brain baths that Maus Haus recommends as one of several "special things to do" on their MySpace site? That suggestion, along with the rest of the list, emerged from a series of surrealist word games undertaken to generate lyrics. "Nerdy but true," says Kick. Still, one imagines a good saline solution dousing — accompanied by Maus Haus' bubbling score — might set the imagination reeling. "You can do it clothed," Kick offers, "or naked." - SF Guardian


"SF Weekly - Lark Marvels Review"

Traces of Stereolab linger in the bleary vintage synths and breathy vocal harmonies that open Maus Haus' "Rigid Breakfast," the first track on the group's debut full-length, Lark Marvels. But the San Francisco six-piece is too restless to stay in one place for long, and this album proves scattershot throughout, from the haunted rave-ups of "Secret Deals" to the funky garage stomp of "Dead Keys Drop." Everything feels unhinged on Lark Marvels; there's a jokey nonchalance to the vocals, and the percussion often manifests as a confined clatter. This is pop bent through the surreal lens of krautrock and cosmic psych. Maus Haus lays down a thick, disorienting atmosphere without smothering the sugary melodies and off-kilter rhythms. Dig the dark, glitchy vibe that sets the scene for "Irregular Hearts," every bit as likeable as the singsong playfulness of standout "We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)." Birthed by improvised sessions, Lark Marvels found form in ideas diced and reworked, which explains its puzzle-like song structures. Luckily for Maus Haus, its nutty experiments don't just work; they shudder in a wild-eyed life of their own.

- Doug Wallen - SF Weekly


"San Francisco Chronicle Feature"

Maus Haus Achtung! The men that make up this musical act from San Francisco know that they are slightly off-kilter, much like their band name. "It's really nothing more than a placeholder," writes Jason Kick, who co-founded the band in the summer of 2006. "It's fun to hear people overpronounce it and ask us if we're partial to Falco and Bauhaus [the design school, yes; the band, perhaps, sometimes]. When we're feeling particularly saucy, we tell people it's pronounced 'may-us hay-us' to really throw people off their game." Which is precisely what Maus Haus songs, such as "Rigid Breakfast" and "Irregular Hearts," do to listeners who are left wondering: Is it funny? Is it supposed to be that catchy? Whatever the case, the end result leads to listening to Maus Haus again ... and again. "The initial idea was to take anything we ever respected in the realm of sound and transcribe and filter it through six other people," Kick said. "It's worked out so far." - San Francisco Chronicle


"SF Weekly Q+A Feature"

Like many of San Francisco's best acts, Maus Haus is tough to pin down stylistically. The group's idiosyncratic lyrics are matched with orchestral electronic arrangements reminiscent of Krautrock, Bollywood soundtracks, and Brian Eno's best work.

The group's upcoming release, Sea-Sides, like its debut, is an homage to the analog days of yore. The five tracks are a mellow, sunny, psychedelic ride. Standouts include "Winter," which offers buzzing guitars and howling winds, and "Zig Zag," a frenetic song right out of a '60s spy movie. The record will be available for download and on vinyl April 20th. - SF Weekly


"Plastic Milk Live Show Review"

"The next act was a group I’ve been a fan of for quite a while, and had been anticipating seeing live for the first time. In a performance that practically stole the show, Maus Haus delivered an eclectic and energetic set from the epic, brass-heavy opening to its dance-and-sing-along closer taken from their Lark Marvels debut. The sprawling six-piece group overtook the whole of Rickshaw’s stage with multiple keyboards, assorted electronics, drums, bass, and a woodwind/brass player who I believe helps makes the band truly unique. New songs were also unveiled through the set and were played with such precision and tenacity that I couldn’t help but dream of when I’d be able to listen to them at home on a regular basis." - Plastic Milk


"Crawdaddy Magazine - Live Show Review"

My Thursday of this week was punctuated by some excellent local music. I made it out to the Rickshaw to finally see maus haus—I’d caught the very end of a set some time back, but knew they were well worth seeing again. And again and again. maus haus is a six-piece art-rock band that layers and loops glitchy fractured beats to create tracks that make you move, but mostly make your ears perk up to uncover the elements that make up their off-kilter sound. Citing Brian Wilson, Kraftwerk, and surrealism as influences, maus haus occupies a similarly cerebral space, sonically and thematically. An array of instrumentation is implemented into their songs; on this night, they opened their set with a small selection of horned instrumentalists, apparently on loan from SF band Battlehooch (known for setting up impromptu shows outside of supermarkets or on gritty urban sidewalks).

The rest of the set was manned by maus haus alone, trading off on an assortment of instruments, including two drums, synthesizer, Hammond Organ, saxophone, flute, keyboard, and guitar, all spilling in and out of each other to mold their arty, seamless compositions. Backed by a dizzying projection of colors and disparate film sequences, from old black and white 35mm images to psychedelic spreads, maus haus proved to be of a caliber unmatched by most of their musical contemporaries, the kind of artistic act that earns San Francisco its reputation for breeding eclectic and inventive new music.

Headlining band Tempo No Tempo was celebrating the release of their newest album Waking Heat, and the trio, oft compared to Q and Not U, create danceable, angular rock that transformed the area in front of the stage to a full-on mosh pit. In fact, 75 percent of the crowd there to watch the end of their set was front and center, taking part in the dance party that resulted from the explosive sound they were emitting. The deep bass-y grooves that sat alongside the tinkering of the snare drum fed some of my song favorites, but Tempo No Tempo’s set as a whole was clearly one for the crowds… kids were eatin’ it up. A fantastic and well-received show, which delivered me on this Thursday night to a humble and appreciative realization of the sort of talent that’s brewing on the very same streets on which I live. Sometimes I need these kinds of reminders. - Crawdaddy Magazine


"XLR8R - Lark Marvels Review"

Rated: 7/10

Although the number of ’60s throwback bands has undoubtedly reached the thousands, few outfits pay homage to early electronic pioneers like Silver Apples and The United States of America. Enter Maus Haus, a San Francisco sextet whose offbeat brand of mod-pop eschews guitars in favor of whirring vintage synths and oddball orchestral flourishes. Birthed during a series of impromptu jam sessions, a few songs on Lark Marvels veer toward unfocused wonk, but overall, the band’s sound is refreshingly loose and unpolished. “We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)” recalls the deadpan mope of Grandaddy, while the album standouts “Rigid Breakfast” and “Reaction” feature psychedelic freakouts worth remembering.

- Shawn Reynaldo - XLR8R


"No Ripcord - Lark Marvels Review"

Rated: 9/10

I know how easy it is to consistently pick from the same source material for comparables when the English language fails to properly convey the musical product of a somewhat idiosyncratic musical producer. Take the Nuggets boxset for instance: It’s very copious coverage of a large number of proto-punk, garage and psychedelic music from an influential era basically guarantees its perpetual reference. Maus Haus is no exception to this rule, their home city being San Francisco, and their music owing something to the Nuggets timeline.

But, since Battles so interestingly married traditional instrumentation with modern paeans to the future sounds of something or other, with Maus Haus, the over-tapped 60s have finally led us to realize our inner-Jetson, 60s era pop ideals of a clean and robotic future seeping into our present millennial consciousness. No skyward housing, but a technologically tied and paranoid bunch we’ve become, nonetheless.

Though the 50’s and 60’s idea of future civilizations didn’t conceive that grime, grit and aggression (punk and hip-hop) would interfere with progress, electro-apocalyptic progressive rock seems to be where we’re heading. Maus Haus, a sextet of such caliber, has the societal politeness, or matter-of-factness of some British invasion act of the Nuggets era, crossing Kraftwerk-ian experimentation and Blues Magoos moog-heavy garage rock with an “out there” quality that evokes Captain Beefheart.

Rigid Breakfast, the first song from their new album Lark Marvels, couples an almost Plan 9 attack of sci-fi theremin with surf rhythm fluctuation. Its promise of mind-numbing eccentricity (it's too prim and proper to constitute “weird”) is only compounded by the fractured Philip Marlowe noir-ish tone of nearly rapped, Secret Deals:

“There’s more film than food in this freezer.”

With Secret Deals, the concept of progressive rock, where it may have been challenged about two years ago by Battles and their Chipmunk-ian modernity, is once again seen through the Trout Mask and readily applied to the Internet age. “Industrial” doesn’t cover it; this feels more like cyborg music for a deranged upper crust. If you can’t imagine that, just give a listen to We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down), realizing that its “walk in the park” romantic poise, reminiscent of what some might call a “simpler time,” perfectly demonstrates exactly how fucked up our lives have become:

“In touch but we’re still alone/It’s broke and it stays at home/We used technology/But technology let us down.”

Illustrating our romance with the modern age with music meant to woo? Wow.

Lark Marvels comes close to being this decade’s late entry Trout Mask Replica (if Battles’ Mirrored had been the Freak Out!), a collection of smooth electronic transitions (Radio Dials Die), Atari-accented Devo rock (Reaction) and stuttered electronic rhythms (Irregular Hearts). It’s both silly (Cold In August) and nonsensical (Conversational French) and, despite its penchant for electrical propulsion, Maus Haus also carries some funk and rock energy (Dead Keys Drop) and orchestral build-up (Million Volt Lights).

As Mirrored brought a variation of progressive music to a new and creative peak, Lark Marvels has erected a scaffold and created a new apex, if that seemed possible, adding a one to what many probably thought was “infinity.” The Nuggets haven’t been exhausted after all. Maybe the 60s had it all figured out.

-Sean Caldwell - http://www.noripcord.com


"New York City PBS Live Show Review"

"Last night I heard Maus Haus open for local shoegaze trio (+ drummer) School of Seven Bells at a sold out Mercury Lounge. The band started with their slower-paced recent release “Winter” (hear it above) and proceeded through an hour or so of their work.

As on record, the music evoked a flurry of references from the past 60 years of popular music without falling into stylistic mimicry. Instead the familiarity generated an immediate connection and comfort, while fresh, original use made the content actually interesting.

Without the cleanliness of post production, Maus Haus’ live show was sonically more aggressive than their headphone experience. Squealing synths struck fearlessly at the forefront, as the performance made obvious a love for playing with undeniable “keyboard sounds.” Although musically dissimilar, the approach — complete with mod-wheel-riding keyboard shredding — was in some ways reminiscent of YMO, as strange as the comparison might sound.

Synth patterns were played, repeated, and varied live rather than sequenced, and the band threw dramatic time changes into most of their songs. These changes, possibly the most dynamic aspect of the music, were lead by an energetic, concentrated rhythm section. It was here that the set received its strongest song-to-song variety.

These guys didn’t really “make it look easy.” There was a looseness to the group, but it was tempered by orchestrated changeups. With no reverb washes or heavy noise to hide behind, they would look at each other to help keep things on track. The shifts didn’t need to be as dramatically precise as those in the music of a band like Radian, but were instead more like the variety found in Deerhoof’s songs.

For the most part the ensemble proceeded without a standout charismatic vocal presence, but an itching Joshua Rampage brought out some heavy personality for the driving, less harmonized song “Reaction!”

At some point drummer Joseph Genden switched stations with Sean Mabry, a strange site that was followed by some fun percussion interplay, with Mabry finishing drum runs that Genden would start from the other side of the stage.

Maus Haus never seemed to over-indulge in a particular direction, sound, or genre, which made for a refreshing absence of the feeling that they were “trying to be” something in particular. All the details fell cohesively into the service of good songs." - Channel 13 New York Public Media


"Performer Magazine Live Show Review"

"I was having one of those nights where nothing seemed to run smoothly. The bart left without my friend and me just as we arrived at the station, a woman berated us as we sipped whiskey from a flask, and after arriving at our stop, we got horribly lost trying to find The Mezzanine, which is tucked away inconspicuously in an alley. Seemingly by kismet however, the band I came to see, San Francisco's Maus Haus, started playing the moment I walked through the door. I felt like they were waiting just for me. The place, a mix between an underground warehouse venue and a trendy dance club, was packed, and the whole crowd had their eyes glued to the stage. People cheered after their opening chords in anticipation of the song to follow.

Maus Haus put on an inspiring show. They don't sound like anyone else, and yet also sound completely familiar and accessible. I told this to singer/keyboard player Josh Rampage after the show and his reply was, "That's ridiculous! we steal from all sorts of people." Its true -they do "steal" from other artists, but their music is greater than the sum of it's parts. Maus Haus has a way of making sketches of songs and weaving them together that is perfect for our generation. Akin to a Modern novel's way of communicating stream of consciousness, the structure of Maus Haus's songs relate to the sublime experience of everyday life.

The truly impressive part about their music is that they do all of this heady stuff and maintain the fun. That night, the crowd was dancing and jumping up and down in excitement. (Definitely not the reaction most people have to reading Joyce or Faulkner). The band pulls this off because they use pop, and like Animal Collective or Olivia Tremor Control, they go beyond it, leaving us with sincere yet transcendent music.

Dylan for the 60s and Maus Haus for the, whatever we're supposed to call us, generation." - Performer


Discography

Lark Marvels (LP, 2008, Pretty Blue Presents)
Winter/Zig Zag (7" single, 2010, Rocinante Records)
Sea-Sides (Digital EP, 2010, self-released)

Photos

Bio

In 2008, Maus Haus debuted in the San Francisco Bay Area with sold-out shows and support slots for Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dark Meat, NOMO, Wavvves, and Wooden Shijips. With its vintage electronics, dense arrangements and flashes of pop melody, the band's initial 5-song demo garnered immediate comparisons to The United States of America, White Noise, Silver Apples, Can, and the Flaming Lips.

Released in late 2008, their first full-length Lark Marvels was born from a series of "lark" impromptu sessions over the course of a few weekends in a basement rehearsal space in San Francisco; the most compelling instances received their attention. These performances were arranged, cut up, and crafted in the band's respective bedrooms, where imaginations ran rampant. It evolved into an anything-goes recording project, where the songs came out of the layers of experiments. Some songs draw their appeal from unique texture and hypnotic repetition ("Irregular Hearts"), others from rabid choruses ("Reaction"), or both ("Dead Keys Drop").

In 2009, Maus Haus had successes on college radio (charting as high as #46 on CMJ) and has been a featured artist on NPR's Marketplace. Additionally, Maus Haus has appeared in several notable blogs and newspapers (SF Weekly, XLR8R, Chronicle, RCRD LBL, Crawdaddy) and has played a handful of electric perfomances in the Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, and several shows in Austin during SXSW 2008.

In the last year, Maus Haus released a 5-song EP Sea-Sides, accompanied by the Winter/Zig Zag 7", both songs recorded at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone. The band played main support at the Mezzanine for !!! at the 2010 Noise Pop Music Festival, + have an upcoming appearance at the Treasure Island Music Festival, along with artists such as LCD Soundsystem, Belle and Sebastian, Broken Social Scene, Four Tet, and the National.

On tour in 2010 the west coast band played main support at a sold-out show with School of Seven Bells in NYC, opened for Frog Eyes in Chicago, and played a string of west coast dates with the band Javelin (Luaka Bop).

Maus Haus was named "Best New Synth-Rockers" in 2009 by the SF Weekly and was awarded "2008 Band of the Year" by The Deli Magazine, San Francisco.