California English: Bands on the Rise, San Francisco Edition

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

As spring break approaches, the excitement for my trip back home to Southern California is increasing daily. I am pumped to soak up the sun with weather in the 70s, walk the golden shores of the beautiful beaches, hit the golf course, and spend quality time with family and friends. No vacation for me would be complete without a stellar soundtrack, so I turn to the sounds of two talented electronic rock bands from a city in the northern part of my home state, San Francisco.


This past January, I was stoked to play some Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 with my roommate, Price, and our friend Ben. No outing on the virtual golf course is complete without some sweet beats to set the mood, so Ben went to Spotify and began bumping the Animal Shapes EP of a band I had never heard of before: Geographer. The gorgeous synth line of “Original Sin” instantly put me in a happier place. This feeling became even more profound when the voice of lead singer, Michael Deni, soared to a beautiful falsetto in the first refrain. I was quickly captivated once again by “Verona”, a synth-driven tune with accompanying afro-infused percussion. Things really hit a high note for me during the chorus when Deni gracefully sings, “White lies in the night / If I could be yours and you could be mine / As long as it rhymes.” Like in the golf match I was having, Geographer kept dropping birdies as “Kites” floated from my speakers. This tune honestly has one of the catchiest synth lines I have ever heard, so much so that I had it stuck in my head this entire past weekend! Geographer just released their second LP, Myth, via Modern Art Records this past week and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year.

Midi Matilda

One listen to “Red Light District” by Midi Matilda this past winter break, and I became an instant fan. This two-piece band headed by Skyler Kilborn and Logan Grimé has a knack for creating tunes that are captivating and easy to digest, which is very evident on “Day Dreams”. I see many similarities between Midi Matilda and Passion Pit, but I feel that the Californian contingency is more well-rounded. Passion Pit’s use of falsetto vocals can seem a bit overdone after a time and I feel that this is where Midi Matilda’s versatility really shines. Kilborn and Grimé do a beautiful job with harmonizing and moving around their vocal ranges, ultimately adding a lot of depth to their songs. Midi Matilda also does a great job changing up their instrumentation, having a sweet bass line take the reigns on “Stranger” in addition to some peppy hand clapping and tambourine. The band released their first collection of songs, Red Light District EP, this month and the effort is quite impressive.



  1. I’m sorry- this midi matilda isn’t music. sonic junk. they think they can just drum up good press by getting their name on every blog online, but how many shows have they played? give some bands who are actually talented and work hard at performing some press, not computer music…

    • I’m sorry midi Matilda isn’t music. Sonic junk. How the name is good online drum blog. Really covers the musical talent and provides the execution of some hardwork. Is the computer.

    • I have to strongly disagree with you there, Anon.

      I got the chance to get to know these two when I interviewed them and they are both incredibly talented individuals as well as great guys. Skyler is a professional recording engineer, so naturally, he has to have a fine tuned musical ear, and I think it shows in all of their music. If you don’t believe me, watch their acoustic version of ‘Red Light District.’ As for Logan, he is a filmographer and has been working intimately with many, many other artists and has absorbed all this talent like a sponge. Crafty with a set of programs and a room full of instruments, he can create beautiful music out of nothing, which I find impressive regardless. You don’t have to actually play an instrument to display your musical talent. Every artist shows it in a different way.

      You say that they haven’t played any shows? True, but they really haven’t been around for long at all, nor had their music caught the ears of enough people to put on a show worth scheduling. Their first show ever is at the end of this month and they’re bringing on a few extra people to play their music without digital help. It will be interesting to see where they go from there.

      On the topic of them getting good press from multiple blogs online, that should be a signifier that their sound is good enough for people to take time out of their day to write about them and share their music with the world. So I’m not sure how you turned that into a negative thing. I contacted them to feature their music on my site, not the other way around. They’ve been putting up all the posts from blogs such as this on their Facebook page because they’re stoked on getting some well deserved exposure. Think about it. If what you created in your spare time as a hobby was noticed by people from all around the world, wouldn’t you be excited?

      As for people hating on the digital age of music, I personally find it fascinating. Being able to blend digital and physical instrumentation in such seamless harmony is something to appreciate. Music is music, regardless of the medium.

      Anyways, everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I’m not saying you’re wrong. Just giving you mine and fighting my case.

      My apologies for the rant,

      • Grant,

        All of your points are spot on! Thank you for your willingness to back up-and-coming bands like Midi Matilda. It is always a pleasure to discover and write about bands like them with such talent and promise.


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