Fox & Woman, This Side Dawn
Fox & Woman identifies most closely with orchestral folk, but its neo-soul elements are most interesting. Jess Silva's percussive, textured vocals — especially powerful when she's singing in Spanish — scat and harmonize over unconventional rhythms and baroque violin, cello, and harp. On "2nd Movement," a folksy, stripped-down acoustic guitar turns funky as it picks up speed, and Silva croons over a violin softly fading in and out. "Belly of a Whale (side B)" begins with a loose, Beirut-like intro; shifts to a tight, upbeat jazz number; and even works in an anthemic violin solo. (Name Drop Swamp Records)At Subterranean Arthouse (2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) on Thursday, June 20. 8 p.m., $10.
Buckeye Knoll, Lovecreek
The disclosure that Buckeye Knoll recorded Lovecreek "in a cabin" is hardly necessary, as its sound exemplifies almost every cliché of modern folk. Thankfully, the band has a good grasp on what makes the genre so popular: warm acoustic guitar, repetitive pop choruses, and lyrical odes to romance and nature. The ballad "Open Your Eyes" is catchy and heartwarming in the vein of Mumford & Sons' "Lion Little Man." On "I Am Who I Am," lush guitar, an up-tempo drum breakdown, and boy-girl harmonies combine with coming-of-age lyrics to dramatic effect. Buckeye Knoll might be unabashedly sentimental, but it executes that emotion with finesse. (self-released)At Awaken Cafe (1429 Broadway, Oakland) on Friday, June 14. 8 p.m., $7. AwakenCafe.com
King Woman, Degrida/Sick Bed Sampler
Kristina Esfandiari, the former frontwoman of shoegaze outfit Whirr, still revels in dark atmospheres and reverb on her first solo effort, a two-song cassette release. On the doom-folk track "Degrida," Esfandiari pairs her breathy, desperate vocals with hypnotic guitar that's layered over a creepy, distant scratching noise. The less-melodic "Sick Bed" repeats a few droning guitar chords while Esfandiari restrains her voice to a mumbled, throaty hum. (Sleep Genius)