A few months ago Bay Area violinist, singer, and composer Carla Kihlstedt (best known for her membership in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Tin Hat) came to the Museum of Contemporary Art with her multimedia extravaganza Necessary Monsters. In my Critic's Choice at the time, I mentioned her superb trio 2 Foot Yard, whose recent second album, Borrowed Arms (Yard Work), is a stunningly diverse assortment of concise, emotionally fraught art-pop songs; on Wednesday that group makes its overdue local debut at Martyrs'.
"Borrowed Arms" references sentimental 50s pop balladry, and the next minute the melody of "Hold My Own" hydroplanes over cycling post-Philip Glass riffs. A slew of guests make cameos on the album--including Ben Goldberg, Mark Orton, and Rob Burger, all of whom are or have been in Tin Hat as well--but the core trio of Kihlstedt, cellist Marika Hughes, and drummer-guitarist Shahzad Ismaily covers an impressive range on its own.
Most of the tunes were written by Kihlstedt, and her fantastical imagination gives them a distinctive flavor. On "Octopus," for instance, she riffs on the cephalopod's odd internal anatomy--it has one primary heart and two secondary ones--to create a wonderfully warped love song.
I've got three hearts, and one's for you
It's only big enough for two.
It's lined with petals and it's cozy like an igloo.
Come in anytime you're feeling blue.
'Cause of my three hearts, this one's for you.
Toninho Horta, Toninho Horta (EMI, Brasil)
Isolée, Western Store ((Playhouse)
Ari Roland, And So I Lived in Old New York . . . (Smalls)
23 Skidoo, The Gospel Comes to New Guinea (Ronin)
Lionel Marchetti, Noord Five Atlantica (Césaré)