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Ear to the Ground: Light Fantastic

This San Francisco outfit channels the best of the Byrds and the Paisley Underground with jangly Ricks and deft use of chorus pedals.

There are times when San Francisco jangle-rock band Light Fantastic sounds like they could be hatchlings of the Byrds: Their eponymous debut EP’s first track, “Falling Through,” shimmers with 12-string Rickenbackers drenched in reverb as frontman Terry Sowers coos aloof vocal harmonies and drummer Scott Goldberg flirts with marching-band rhythms reminiscent of Michal Clark’s sublime work on Notorious Byrd Brothers.

There’s also a prevalent surfy element here. By the time the chorus of “Make It Up” cascades into watery minor chords, you can easily imagine keyboardist Rachel Hoiem playing her piano in a sandbox, a la Brian Wilson. It makes perfect sense that in their short existence, Light Fantastic has already shared the stage with similarly jangly bands like the Flamin’ Groovies, Beachwood Sparks, Allah-Las, and the Tyde.

But ’60s vibes aren’t all there is to Light Fantastic. The perfectly crystalline guitar chime and period-correct production in closing song “All Come to Meet Her” play like an homage to L.A.’s mid-’80s Paisley Underground movement. There are changes here that sound so in-tune with bands like Rain Parade and the Three O’Clock, it sometimes begs the question: Was there a government program that gave out free chorus pedals to guitarists in the ’80s?