Soft Science
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Soft Science

Sacramento, California, United States | INDIE

Sacramento, California, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Rock


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"Soft Science - Highs and Lows (Review in issue 68)"

Featuring former members of the underrated, related indie-pop groups California Oranges, Sinking Ships and Holiday Flyer, this new group has a similar knack for great, snappy melodies over music with spunk. They set them up with a full sonic environment, one where guitars are allowed to be loud, to overlap and to occasionally throw a dreamy haze over everything. The songs alternate between the sweet and the sad, with continual expression of either feeling secure with someone or feeling lost without them. The way the band plays the songs, and Katie Conley's patient, careful singing, delivers a swooning, big-screen effect. By the last song we're imagining love lorn faces writ large across the glorious silver screen, each expression and emotion on display. - Big Takeover Magazine

"mp3 premiere: Soft Science // When Will You Come Home"

Few musical genres are more contradictory than pop — how do you project upbeat effortlessness without sounding like a library of over-engineered melodies? New Sacramento noise-pop outfit Soft Science manages to thread that divide very well, with the opening track from their debut release Highs and Lows matching the fuzzed out sensibilities of The Jesus and Mary Chain with pastel vocals about lovesick hand-wringing. You can listen to and order the entire album here, which is being released on a new label Test Pattern Records, also based out of Sac. Read about the origin of the band, which features former members of California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, The Sinking Ships, and Forever Goldrush, here.


"New Release: SOFT SCIENCE – Highs And Lows"

Soft Science are a 4-piece band who hail from Sacramento, California. Some of their influences include Teenage Fanclub, Magnetic Fields, Ride, Stereolab, Jesus & Mary Chain and The Ravonettes.

Recently, they contacted us and we thought it was about time to share with you – this album has been on repeat over the last few days here at The Indie Machine. Stream the LP via Soundcloud below. While you’re at it, be sure to check out the video for When Will You Come Home over on YouTube. For more info on Soft Science, visit them on Facebook.


"Soft Science - Highs and Lows (CD, Test Pattern, Buzzsaw pop)"

We're huge, huge, HUGE fans of underground pop from the 1990s. So not surprisingly, we're huge, huge, HUGE fans of Sacramento, California's Soft Science. The band has an ultra-melodic sound driven by great big fuzzy guitars that is reminiscent of cool 1990s popsters like Fuzzy (among others). This band is comprised of former members of the bands California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, The Sinking Ships, and Forever Goldrush. The songs on Highs and Lows are perfectly crafted instantly hummable loud bubblegummy cuts that are impossible to dislike. These folks have a bright upbeat sound that it slightly moody but always driven by super catchy vocal melodies. Soft Science is Katie Haley (vocals), Matt Levine (guitars), Ross Levine (drums), and Mason DeMusey (bass). Not a lot more that needs to be said here...except that we'll be spinning this disc into the ground for the next several months. Pure feelgood tracks include "When Will You Come Home," "Closer To Me," "Take It Back," and "Could It Ever Be True." Perfectly executed modern pop with brains. Highly recommended. TOP PICK.

"Soft Science – “Better Be Good”, from ‘Highs and Lows’ (Test Pattern Records)"

Test Pattern Records, a new label based out of Sacramento, has announced the release of some new music from Soft Science (also based out of Sacramento, conveniently). The band’s album, entitled Highs and Lows, is out now and boasts a solid intersection of indie pop and Magnetic Fields/Jesus and Mary Chain-influenced soundscapes.


"Pop Matters"

This will seem like a strange little story, so bare with me a moment. I have this very distinct memory of sitting in a literature survey in college discussing Lolita. I sat quietly (because I did a lot of that back then) listening to an argument between the professor and the usual voices of all that was righteous and good and proper argue about whether or not Nabokov's work was deserving of the big "L" literature tag, or if it was merely a fetishist's masturbatory dream and general insult to civil society and women in particular. I could see the anguish on the professor's face as he struggled to toe the politically correct line while still trying to make the case that this book wasn't just about a middle-aged man having sex with an underage girl. I could tell how much it pained him that great (arguably untouchable) writing was not in itself a refutation of any outwardly grotesque subject matter. I still remember clearly his words to the class, "I really want to win this argument". High-brow literary references aside, this is where I stand with California Oranges' Souvenirs: I really want to convince you, dear reader, to go buy this record. I want you to buy it not because of a larger contextualized discussion that insists it's cool, but because it is a simple reminder of why music is fun.

Much like the memory of my long-ago English professor, Souvenirs reminds me of a specific time in my life, and it was a good time. Because Souvenirs echoes and builds upon those memories must be why I like it so much. But the music is excellent; it's not just the personal connection the record has managed to make. While California Oranges have a clear lineage that touches such power pop luminaries as Material Issue, Velocity Girl, the Fastbacks, the Groovy Ghoulies, even the Go-Go's, they are clearly making a bid for relevance beyond simple nostalgia.

Souvenirs is as infectious and hooky as anything to come out this year. The band's ultimate criticism will be that it's not doing anything trailblazing. Instead it's giving us 12 songs in under 35 minutes, most songs hanging around the three-minute mark. But what's so wrong with simply updating a given style (in the case of California Oranges, we'll call it power pop just because it's convenient) and doing it perfectly? Plenty of other bands do it. Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay, and Nada Surf (may as well give me Goo-Goo Dolls, Semisonic, Grandaddy, and Everclear while we're at it) may be stylistically different, but they're obviously cut from the same sonic cloth and the reprisals for pillaging are minimal while the record sales are large. They've all taken a common indie rock sound and twisted it with their own musical and/or lyrical style, repeated it album to album, chewing at their own limbs, in order to present a sound that appears original while warming us with the comfort of the known. Frankly, I'll take California Oranges' headlong dash into overt displays of honeyed power pop over the calculations of the aforementioned bands. Don't you just want to feel good sometimes? Listen without scratching your head? Have two desserts and not feel guilty? Drink PBR without tasting any irony? If there's a message in Souvenirs (and there probably isn't) it's just to listen without consequence. This is not music to be intellectualized. It's music to crank out of open car windows and dorm rooms, to blast while cleaning the apartment or folding laundry.

The snarkiest reviewers will go out of their way to explain why Souvenirs isn't good, and those reasons won't revolve around the music. Those reasons will revolve around attitude, around what's hip, around the perception that something so simple and straightforward is automatically vapid or shallow. That's just not the case. Admittedly, there's nothing subtle about Souvenirs. The template is well-known and clearly defined: soaring boy/girl harmonies, rapid-fire licks of squeaky clean and buzz saw dirty guitar work, consistently up-tempo beats, and melodies that would make tone deaf kitten haters want to sing along. The lyrics? Mostly boy and girl argue, there's a break up, someone comes back or won't come back, the scene is cruel, you're a tease, I'm a tease, etc. But honestly who cares? California Oranges could be singing about tree squirrels on Souvenirs and I'd be happily humming along to an ode to an oak tree.

Souvenirs is a blissful updating of a sound too easily forgotten. Don't spend too much time thinking about it, just put it on and listen. Give California Oranges 35 minutes and they'll give you 12 reasons to be happy that you bought this record.

— Peter Funk

"Erasing Clouds"

California Oranges has always packed more of a power-pop punch than its sibling Holiday Flyer, the now-defunct band that Oranges members John Conley,Verna Brock, and Katie Haley were all a part of. And that's especially true of their third album Souvenirs: it's tighter, tougher, louder, and faster than the previous two, and sounds fantastic for it. That's of course partly because of the songs, which are even catchier and more carefully crafted than before.

And the songs' sentiments and stories fit perfectly with the forward motion of so many of the songs. There's a song which mentions "the next season of my life"; that's a phrase that resonates for the album as a whole. Souvenirs is often concerned with finding that comfortable place in life, with making decisions about what to do or where to go next, with moving from one stage of your life to another (and sometimes then back to the first, as on the should-be hit "Falling Back"). The song's characters are perpetually running one direction or another, as we all often feel we are. This constant moving about can be exciting, but also tiring and confusing; while the songs express all of those feelings, and more, the music itself is nothing but riveting and exciting, whether it's moving quickly or has slowed down for a rest.

It's such a tightly wound album, yet at the same time so light and beautiful. The guitars ring out brashly but also offer nuance, and the three vocalists all sing with great sensitivity, while also perfectly insinuating the infectious melodies into our heads.

This 5-member version of California Oranges is a mighty beast, yet of course a gentle one. For all the pleasure I get out of the moments where they let the drums lead the whole band on a race (like on the opening 1-2 punch of "Three Orange Tigers" and "Good Luck Charm"), some of the best songs are the slower, more overtly emotional songs, like "Falling Back", "Almost Home", or "Time You Spend," which strikes a moving note of encouragement that should ring true for anyone. Perhaps it's because even those songs have a full, confident sound, one which helps to really drive the feelings inherent in the songs into your heart.

Souvenirs is a friendly pop album filled with human understanding on the inside and rock n' roll strength on the outside – plus bright, fetching melodies. By toughening up their sound without making it any less sweet, they've made an album you can play loud and drive fast too, but which has melodies you can also sing softly to yourself. It's the perfect balance, and an album that's fun and emotional, energetic and pretty at the same time.

- Dave Heaton


"Left Hip"

I have a feeling that this review is going to end up being just as short and sweet as the tracks on the third album from the “new wave power pop” group, the California Oranges. This is yet another interesting and extremely listenable release off of the California-based Darla Records. Darla is quickly proving to be an indie powerhouse, and I know that I will now be checking their website constantly for new releases.

When I first read the classification, “new wave power pop” I have to admit I was scared. For some reason all I could picture was those terrifyingly cheerful,” Powerpuff Girls, the worst popular bastardization of feminism since the Spice Girls proclaimed “girl power.” Although I’ve never even seen the cartoon, this was, to me, the image of “new wave power pop.”

So I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to Souvenirs for the first time. The Sacramento foursome of Verna Brock, John Conley and twins Matt and Ross Levine really know how to make fun, extremely satisfying music. The vocals are sweet and upbeat and the melodies are very catchy. This is music that you will be humming days after last listening to the album. I found the tracks where Brock’s vocals predominate to be most appealing (maybe I was influenced by the girl power of the powerpuff girls, who knows). Her voice is clear and lovely.

Don’t listen to this album if you’re in the mood for something epic and powerful, or something that will challenge you. This is music for when you don’t want to think, when you want to escape your meager existence and life’s mundane problems. The songs are extremely short and ask for minimal reflection. I couldn’t believe the album was over when my iPod stopped abruptly after only 34.5 minutes. I guess it’s a testament to the band that I was disappointed and wanted more.

This album put me in a mood that I hadn’t been in a while; a mood that I had forgotten even existed. It brought me back to when I was younger, days when jobs and bills and relationships didn’t exist and when I could have worry free fun for hours on end.

The music is slightly derivative; I could list many bands, both from the eighties and contemporaries of the California Oranges, that have an extremely similar sound – oddly enough The Bangles would be on my list – but I’m not going to; to do so would be to over think and overanalyze the album. As a music listener and as a reviewer I’m prone to being too critical. So for once it’s nice to say ‘who cares?’. This is fun, fantastic music that put me in a great mood. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

I’m having trouble writing a lot about this album. I could do a song-by-song breakdown, but it seems unnecessary as they all sound quite similar. The album could be viewed as one long song rather than a collection of extremely short numbers.

Souvenirs ultimately denies the possibility of in- depth analysis. It’s not that it’s a shallow album, it’s just that to dissect it would take away from the artists’ purpose, namely to have fun. So I’m not going to theorize, analyze or dissect. I’m just going to listen. I suggest you do the same.

- Stephanie Rebick



Highs and Lows - Test Pattern Records 2011



Soft Science is from Sacramento, California and features former members of California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, The Sinking Ships and Forever Goldrush. The album was produced by Dana Gumbiner (Deathray, Night Night, Tape Op). This is their debut release and it brings a fresh mix of melodic hooks delivered in an ocean of feedback, shimmering guitars, and angelic vocals. Soft Science blends indie pop and shoegaze with lyrics about love both lost and found.

Soft Science is Katie Haley, vocals, Matt Levine, guitars, Ross Levine, drums, Mason DeMusey, bass.

Recommended if you like Lush, Magnetic Fields, Smoking Popes, Ride, Buddy Holly, Ivy, Stereolab, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Zombies, My Bloody Valentine, and The Raveonettes.