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Deerhoof: Offend Maggie


Some indie acts languish just below the line thanks to any number of cliches: bad luck, bad timing, bad manager—the list goes on. But some bands hover below the radar because theirs is an acquired taste that precious few will discover and make part of a daily, nutritious, musical breakfast.

Enter Deerhoof. While theirs would not be characterized as traditional fare like pancakes, it is no less comforting. Imagine tamago kake gohan with a side of corned beef hash and topped with Hollandaise. Sound a bit avant garde? Such has been Deerhoof's approach to music since its inception—most notably in choosing bassist/lead vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, who, at the time she joined the band, had no musical experience upon arriving in the United States from Japan to study film. Contrasted with drummer Greg Saunier, who holds a Master's Degree in composition, Deerhoof are an exotic spread indeed.

Recruiting such a novice to front the band has necessitated a collective approach to song writing, explains guitarist Edward Rodriguez. "We all have such different likes, dislikes and backgrounds, but we all trust each other and respect each others' input, so by the time the songs are recorded, they've gone through countless stages. When we reach a point where everyone is happy, we feel like we've arrived at something special."

Their newest offering, Offend Maggie, must have enjoyed emphatic approval from each of its members. Like a chef transforming contrasting, raw ingredients into a balanced, complex entree, Deerhoof have crafted each song from raw elements into beautifully layered compositions. Matsuzaki's delicate Japanese lilt is contrasted with Rodriguez and John Dietrich's assertive guitars and Saunier's melodic, thundering drums. But don't expect a concept album in Offend Maggie, explains Rodriguez, "... not really so much a concept album but a concept to create the album. It's not really like a story from beginning to end," he continues, "but a reflection of how we're feeling right now, how we're seeing things right now."

Some might say Deerhoof are feeling slightly scattered, but it is Deerhoof's ability to articulate their present state of mind in each song with such clarity that makes them simultaneously calming and disarming. Each song has its own flavor; some elemental, some playful, with others complex and robust. Combined, Offend Maggie's humble ingredients and street-food charm transcend to gourmet heights, culminating in a rich concoction sure to sate even the most jaded palate.