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Mates of State – Like Two Friends You Haven’t Seen Since High School

Posted by February 25th, 2005 No Comments »

Live Preview – Mates of State
March 26 @ Chop Suey
By Chris McCann

If you can imagine yourself in a sky-blue shirt in the front row of a tiny underwater circus complete with love-sick seahorses and urchins bursting with sheer enthusiasm, you might be one step closer to understanding what it’s like to be at a Mates of State show.

Or you might want to imagine something more along the lines of two friends you haven’t seen since high school each commandeering one side of those big, chunky headphones you love so much. They’re singing to you and you can’t always pick out the individual words, but you listen to their almost-familiar voices as they twist and turn and wind around each other. You feel somehow that everything might turn out for the best in the end.

Live Preview – Mates of State
March 26 @ Chop Suey
By Chris McCann

If you can imagine yourself in a sky-blue shirt in the front row of a tiny underwater circus complete with love-sick seahorses and urchins bursting with sheer enthusiasm, you might be one step closer to understanding what it’s like to be at a Mates of State show.

Or you might want to imagine something more along the lines of two friends you haven’t seen since high school each commandeering one side of those big, chunky headphones you love so much. They’re singing to you and you can’t always pick out the individual words, but you listen to their almost-familiar voices as they twist and turn and wind around each other. You feel somehow that everything might turn out for the best in the end.

And that’s the thing about Mates of State – there’s this room in their songs for personal interpretation of what’s going on. As Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel’s voices intertwine with an organ that sounds ecstatic in its melancholy and some surprising drumming, there is always some space left over. A silence. An unexpected break in tempo. A moment to imagine the circus. Or some old friends. Or something else altogether.

Gardner and Hammel are a husband-and-wife team who’ve made their home in San Francisco for the past six years or so. They’ve recorded three full-lengths, a few EPs, and have just released a DVD tour documentary, called Two of Us. Their songs are vocal-heavy, utilizing an exuberant call-and-response style that accents the differences and similarities in their voices. Backing it all up is the solid, yet malleable cushion of organ and drums that surprises, amuses, and, ultimately, entrances.

Their live shows are all about communicating enthusiasm. Watch their eyes as they lead each other into the chorus. Watch as they look out into the audience that split second before they launch into the next song. And watch them as they grin at each other, sure in some secret we all know. Husband and Wife duo Mates of State (get it? Mates of State?)


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