I first encountered Waterstrider randomly when the band I was playing drums for, TV Mike & The Scarecrowes, shared a bill with them at The New Parish in Oakland in 2013. Their gentleman drummer, Walker Johnson, actually even let me use his kit that night. It was much nicer than mine and our band sounded better than usual for it. Within the first few notes of their first song that night, I was sold. "Is this Afro Beat? High Life? Tropicalia? But modernized, California-ized even? I hear the epicness of Radiohead in there too. Is this band from here?" (They are. Oakland to be precise.) The rhythms drew me in and their unique attention to detail is apparent in the impeccable arrangements. These folks had clearly done their homework. I've made a point since then to see them whenever I can and they never disappoint.
This is one of what I see as a new breed of bands coming out of the bay area lately that are embracing far away sounds and home growing their own new brand. Groups like tUnE-yArDs, Farrallons, Sandy's, Extra Classic and Outer Embassy are taking rhythms and song structures from Africa, Jamaica, Haiti, South America and even the far east and creating new forms of pop music. It is something about the fresh perspective of rhythm they have in common that appeals to me.
Waterstrider's singer/guitarist/writer/producer Nate Salman appears to be the mastermind behind the organization and on their latest single, Nowhere Now, his flawless falsetto floats majestically above the driving mix of angular guitars and roiling percussion. There is an urgency to this one that compels me. I'm excited to hear whole album, also titled Nowhere Now, when it is released on April 6th.
Here's an acoustic version of "Nowhere Now" from an impromptu performance at the Oakland Grand Lake Farmer's Market.