MY FAMILY CAPPED off Christmas this year with Soul, Pixar's latest computer-animated gem. In it, Joe Gardner, a struggling jazz pianist and middle school band teacher, falls into a manhole and into the afterlife just as he's approaching his big break. For most of the movie, he fights to return to the living to realize his dream of becoming a successful musician. He makes it back just in time for his debut with a famed jazz ensemble, performs brilliantly, and yet, when the set ends and he steps out of the club, he is visibly disappointed. "I thought I'd feel different," he admits.
Swimwear Department makes a splash with raucous concerts and quirky tunes about retro teen spirit. Live Photo by Todd Spoth,
Step into the crowd of a Swimwear Department concert, and you’re transported into a 1950s fever dream. Dressed in a bright, flowery romper at a June show at Darwin’s Pub, lead singer Matt Graham swerves through the audience, imploring show-goers to participate. His energy is manic and exuberant as he leads calls-and-response about swimming pools, and initiates a spirited limbo contest. The crowd chants “summer” as the contest winner cuts a ribbon with oversized scissors to mark the start of the season.
For the members of dream-pop trio Astragal, friendship comes first.
Spend an hour with friendly dream-pop band Astragal — named after a 1960s French novel about an escaped prisoner — and it would be impossible to guess its three members were strangers less than three years ago. Singer Jimmy Bent, 22, and drummer Sam Enkelmann, 23, met at a house-music party in 2016, where their only exchange was complimenting each other’s shirts (Bent wore a disco-era button-down; Enkelmann donned an Animal Collective T-shirt). When they bumped into each other weeks later, they made a spontaneous plan to jam at Enkelmann’s parents’ house, and used Craigslist to recruit bassist David Sosa, 21. Astragal was born.