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Buzz Bands

January 31, 2008|Kevin Bronson

So serene and meticulous is the indie folk on Robert Francis' debut album, "One by One," that it's hard to picture the clutter in which it was birthed. "I kind of took over my dad's workroom, and he's a bit eccentric," Francis (pictured) says of the space in his family's Brentwood home that holds 30,000 vinyl records and stacks of sundry magazines belonging to his father, Robert Commagere, a pianist-composer. "There's no space to walk, but there is a lot to draw inspiration from." It's but one reason the sepia-toned tunes on "One by One" (nominated for the Shortlist Music Prize) feel wise beyond Francis' years. His upbringing is another -- family friend Ry Cooder gave him his first guitar; John Frusciante gave him lessons; he remembers stealing onstage at age 8 with Harry Dean Stanton and band at the Mint; his sister Juliette Commagere fronts the L.A. band Hello Stranger. "There was never anything else I saw myself doing but making music," says Francis, 20. But while he waxes poetic on the likes of John Hiatt and Steve Earle -- and can't wait to hear the new Levon Helm album -- Francis' own creative juices only started to flow after some uneven times. He dropped out of high school "and just stayed at home and partied a lot" before eventually spending six months sequestered in the room tweaking the album. "It was tedious," he says, "but there were times I got that feeling that, yes, this is why I wrote it." Live: Francis and bandmates Graham Lathrop, Kati O'Toole, Wylie Gelber, Kevin Crooks and Paul Hurd will play every Monday in February at the Silverlake Lounge. ALSO: Other don't-miss February residencies -- Rickie Lee Jones (Mondays at the Echoplex); the Pity Party (Mondays, Spaceland); the Henry Clay People (Mondays, Echo); Pop Noir (Tuesdays, Key Club); the Weather Underground (Wednesdays, Silverlake Lounge); the Entrance Band (Thursdays, Silverlake Lounge); the Vacation (Thursdays, Viper Room); and Macy Gray (Thursdays, Hotel Cafe). More: latimes.com/buzzbands

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Kevin.Bronson@latimes.com

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