On record, San Francisco’s Geographer is somewhat blunted by an ambition to sound thoroughly “now,” to fit into whatever mold successful modern rock bands are expected to fit into in these wild and wooly days of making music.
Live, Geographer is as raw as twiddling knobs on computer equipment can be, but vocalist Michael Deni adds interest by switching between guitar and loops, while Nathan Blaz supplies keyboards and electric cello and drummer Brian Ostreicher provides a needed punch and danceable energy.
Geographer’s last release, 2012’s Myth, is a synthesizer-sweetened collection of pop anthems focused primarily around Deni’s choirboy voice — a voice so operatic that if Deni didn’t use it as tastefully as he does, it could easily become overwrought.
Usually synthesizer pop is associated with an ’80s influence and Geographer is no different, particularly in the goth-disco track “Kaleidoscope,” recalling Scottish synth-pop revivalist trio Chvrches.
“Lover’s Game” has a neo-Stevie Wonder-via-Maroon 5 groove to it, and “Shell Beach” is Southeast Asian-flavored Depeche Mode. “The Myth of Youth” is the rare guitar rocker, and “Kites,” with Deni singing a hymnal ballad over a synthesizer melody, has all the potential to make Geographer a VH1 You Oughta Know artist — the modern equivalent of the ’90s MTV Buzz band — edgy enough to feel fresh, accessible enough for the masses.
That didn’t happen in 2012, but Geographer packs a lot of pop heat, so expect to see big things from them in the future.
Geographer plays with popular local pop band Edewaard 9:30 pm Saturday, July 5, at Sam Bond’s; $5.