I had the pleasure of seeing Loquat perform live last week in San Francisco at the Independent, as they were the opening act for Liz Phair.

Having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised with their sound and equally impressed with frontwoman Kylee Swenson’s beautifully controlled voice, which often recalls moments of Cat Power-esque lilt, but possesses a power uniquely hers.

Photo credit: Ashley Anthony

Photo credit: Ashley Anthony

Their music is a dreamy mix of intelligent, electronic pop, often infused with synthesizers, guitar, percussion and subdued atmospherics. The result is musically intoxicating and never superfluous or over-reaching.

Their song “Big Key, Little Door” immediately became a favorite of mine with its seductive opening that slowly builds to a satisfying crescendo. It’s a fine example of all of Loquat’s strengths.

Other songs are noteworthy as well. “Sit Sideways” is a dance-worthy, entrancing whirl of keyboards and guitar whereas “Swingset Chain,” a song from their debut album, plays like a breezy, overcast Sunday afternoon.

There’s a playground that we used to run on
The penny-drop that broke her arm
The monkey bars that you fell from
The swingset chain that stuck with my tongue
It’s thirty below and we’re far gone
If you plant yourself here I wouldn’t miss you for long
But then comes the day when you leave town
I’m back to the way I was when you weren’t around

Performed live, these songs’ otherworldly quality are amplified, Swenson’s vocal instrument taking command of the acoustics and smoothly filling the room.

In addition to a few EPs, Loquat currently have two full-length albums available: 2005’s It’s Yours to Keep and 2008’s Secrets of the Sea. The band is currently recording their third album, due for release in early 2011.

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