Social Studies
The Stork Club
August 4, 2006

Review by Jake Thomas

Every first Friday in Oakland they have this big-deal art nerd extravaganza, weird people come out of the woodwork and wander around and look at a lot of “sometimes-good-but-mostly-bad” art on display in the various small galleries that surround the Stork Club and beyond. And to go along with all of that hullabaloo, the Stork decided to have a free show – and god knows I love a free show.

Of course, to go along with a free show you always get the “free show crowd”. I never have the proper words to describe this random selection of boobs; most of them are not the regular show-going public that are generally tolerable, but rather is just an odd cross-section of the local populace out just because they wandered by and saw they could see the show for free, or maybe they are art fans but don’t know anything about music, or maybe they are shut-ins who decided this was the day to break free from their studio apartments...either way, it’s a whole bunch of odd ducks and only a few normal joe-schmoes like myself.

None of this really has much to do with Social Studies, the band I came to see; but it does alter the environment in which I was trying to enjoy them, mostly for the worse. Obviously, this isn’t the fault of the band, but it is worth noting for…well, I probably had a reason when I first started writing it down but it escapes me now.

I had two immediate thoughts when seeing this group on this fair evening – first, they remind me a lot of Dressy Bessy, only I do find that band annoying on occasion and never got that vibe from Social Studies; and second, their singer (who I will assume is called Natalia based on the band’s MySpace page) has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long, long time. It’s the type of voice where you develop a crush on the singer solely from the way she sounds and don’t really care one way or the other how she physically looks (although in this case, definitely cute which is a plus). There was something else going on musically that I couldn’t totally pinpoint, something reminiscent of the mid-80’s pop of those c86 bands like 14 Iced Bears and whatnot. Nearly all of the songs were quite poppy and very danceable, with keyboards and the occasional trumpet accentuating the scenario… it’s the sort of band you would expect to be signed to Kindercore as they existed a few years back.

They are a young band, but certainly one worth keeping an eye out for; the way the bands come and go these days who knows what will go on with Social Studies, but either way I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to hear much more from the singer Natalia over the next few years.