The Rap is a series of op-eds with mp3s that highlight local musicians and upcoming events in the Bay Area. Each week a band writes about their favorite local band, and the following week, the band that was chosen gets to chooses their favorite Bay Area group.
If you’re a Bay Area musician and would like to participate please contact us (David [at] SFCritic.com).
Written by Nicholas Frankel of True Mad North
The first time I gave Scott Bartenhagen a listen, I was in a less than sober frame of mind; enjoying good company, conversation, and whatever music seemed to frame the night’s various situations. His music added a welcome layer of ambient warmth and a subtle driving tone to the evening, distilling it all into something more memorable and unique than the sum of it’s parts. The second time I gave him a listen I was in a more analytical frame of mind, and wanted to figure out why disjointed fragments of the music from that night kept creeping in from the borders of my subconscious. His music seemed to me to have that ineffable quality of something familiar and well loved from the past, like rediscovering some obscure artist my mom used to listen to before I was really generating memories.
In my second listen, I was better able to detect rich and layered songwriting elements, coupled with an earnest lyrical style; evocative, thoughtful, and sincere. In some ways I am reminded of listening to Sufjan Stevens for the first time, or maybe moments of meaningful melancholy to some of the darker tracks from Cat Stevens’s Tea for the Tillerman. I am also tempted to draw parallels to Andrew Bird, save that I would describe Scott Bartenhagen’s music as having somewhat more of a focus on melody and engaging the listener in a real storytelling experience. Sometimes I wonder at the future of the singer/songwriter and feel a sense of dread that it is a diminishing art form that may never again realize its once breathtaking height. Other times, I find myself reassured that there is happiness in the world, people do love each other, life is basically good, and Scott Bartenhagen is out there saving music.
About The Author
Nicholas Frankel is a member of the Bay Area band, True Mad North, which was originally written about by Robby Croholm of Bay Area band, Taxes. You can read Croholm’s “The Rap of True Mad North” here. Check out more from True Mad North: