Blonde Redhead takes look at ‘23’ 

Most bands have a difficult time enduring long enough to make seven albums. That’s not so with New York’s indie Blonde Redhead, which plays Bimbo’s in San Francisco next week. The band’s latest recording, "23," is strikingly accessible, showing movement away from Sonic Youth-generation noise rock toward a dazzling, if dark, pop sensibility.

Founded in the early ’90s, Blonde Redhead’s lineup features Japanese singer Kazu Makino, whose sweetly textured vocals add a touch of ethereality to "23," weaving in and out of a backdrop created by twin Italian brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace, on guitars and drums, respectively.

"The only thing that I know is that it’s really important to change and to move on and to keep moving and to keep changing and to keep trying new things," says Amedeo, who also sings. "I didn’t want to make another record that we made before — it would be detrimental to ourselves as a band. We want to feel new about what we do. Like, even if it sometimes feels like the wrong thing to do, we want to feel like we’re doing something different than what we’ve done in the past."

It’s an evolution that began most noticeably with Blonde Redhead’s 2004 release "Misery Is a Butterfly."

In the wake of a horse-riding accident that nearly claimed Makino’s life, the band shed some of the feedback-drenched dissonance that had characterized many of its earlier recordings.

But don’t mistake an evolving sound with a deliberate attempt to serve a particular style. Says Amedeo, "It just comes out that way. We don’t really think about stuff like that. It’s hard enough to write songs, to kind of find your own place in the music and figure out what you want to do in a song. The songs kind of dictate what direction they’re going to go in.’’

After spending about six months writing new material, band members looked for a producer who could help the songs fulfill their potential on the new album. In the end, they made the decision to produce on their own.

"It was really quite hard, because we wanted a producer that could produce us, but we couldn’t find the person who was right for this album," Amedeo says. "We just wanted to try something different, and not finding anyone, we just kind of ended up doing it ourselves."

Blonde Redhead

Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 474-0365 or

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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