Track Stars: Obi Best, Theresa Andersson, Softee, Historics, and more
Softee. Photographs by Michael Forester.
This Kansas City-based band sounds like a great premise for a smart, urban sitcom. Four talented, attractive designers by day work together and at night they impress audiences with their catchy pop songs. Imagine their adventures in 22 minutes with commercial time added for a sleek, contemporary automobile. In fact, four Hallmark employees found a common interest in music and decided to do something stellar with their music sensibilities and abilities. Sarah Anderson (bass, lead singer), Flora Gee (cello/vocals), Steph Allen (guitar/vocals), and Mimi Mangrum (drums/vocals) formed Softee, a band that is far more entertaining than a whole season's worth of "Weeds" awaiting in queue on Netflix. Certainly, Softee is definitely worth watching and listening to live or by grooving to one of two EPs.
Their first single "Sugar Vendor" appeared on First Blood which continues to sell steadily on Robert Moore's Oxblood Records label since the record's 2007 release. Later that year, Softee put out a four-song EP Babies From the Lair full of choice cuts like "String" showing off ooh-ooh vocals, Flora Gee's cello darting in and around a skittertap beat and chunky but sparse guitar.
In summer 2008, the quartet knocked out five punchy songs that further display the hallmarks (no pun intended) of their indie pop sound: effervescent keys courtesy of Flora Chang, wiry guitar riffs from Allen, tight, and peppy drumwork from Mangrum. Sarah Anderson's eminently listenable lead vocals sound sweet, wise, and full of substance whether it's dissing a "Stupid Dance" or softly touting the cool attributes of a getaway ride with "70's Van." The sassy bass line and alluring elocution of Anderson vaults the latter track into a class along the lines of The Breeders' "Cannonball."
"Birds & Aliens" is a fun number more notable for the music than the light-hearted subject matter. Softee pares their sound down to the essential and allows for basic elements to carry a song to its conclusion. With the bittersweet "Giant Heart," the bass line bumps along heavy-hearted, a low-end counterpart to Anderson's wistful voice ringing through loud and clear. The sparse guitar strumming and gentle keys accent the spaces where the bass thump-thumps to the end. "Live a Little" is the final cut on the EP, a "shake off the blues and clear the head" tune that shirks fancy vocabulary and gets the message across.
Sun's up / And it's a brand new day / We're here / And we refuse to waste another moment more.
Upbeat, wise and determined, restrained and in control of their reaction if not the topsy-turvy world around them, Softee shows the way in times of uncertainty. Live a little bit, here and now.
Catch Softee live on November 6, 8 PM at Kyrie Foundation Art Auction, Studio 2131, 2131 Washington, and on November 22, 10 PM, at recordBar (1020 Westport Road) with The Tambourine Club and Destination GO!