Anna: Everything from Fang Island is undeniably catchy, but there's something extra special about "Victorinian." My inability to take this song off repeat has single-handedly planted 2012's Major quite firmly in the top of my Rdio heavy rotation statistics. The piano truly drives "Victorinian" from start to finish, interplaying perfectly with the buoyant vocals and, in the last third of the song, weaving in enough searing guitar to create a wonderfully multilayered treat for the ears.
Ben: I'm still wrapping my head around the new Hunx & His Punx album, Street Punk, which initially feels like a pretty radical pivot away from Hunx's poppier past. Instead, the album indulges grittier punk sounds during its all-too-brief 20-minute run time, with some of its most immediate highlights coming on the songs sung by Shannon and the Clams' Shannon Shaw. And given how great The Clams' latest, Dreams In The Rat House, is, can that be any surprise? Shaw is such a consistently great vocalist that everything she graces turns to gold.
The critic's manual might suggest to listen to music apart from the surrounding circumstances, but with Volary's "Let It Rain," the context feels unavoidable. Local singer-songwriter Samantha Lien was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2009, and when the cancer spread earlier this year, her local music friends rallied to spend a day at Different Fur making this song. That this lush chamber pop track was captured in a day is a testament to making the most of the time you have, and that message -- as well as the power of musicians to rally around each other in time of need -- is one well worth hearing.
Jason: Living out in the boondocks, I was ecstatic to hear that the bar formerly known as the Rock-it Room was undergoing a makeover and would be concentrating more on live music. Rechristened Neck of the Woods, they've made a huge push to have up-and-coming acts from all over play at their perfectly situated (for those of us in the northwestern part of the City) spot on Clement Street in the Richmond District. Earlier this week, I found myself on the venue's webpage listening to bands listed on its calendar, trying to figure out which would draw me out of the Presidio for a night of music during August. Based on name alone, I was expecting to hear something folky when I clicked through to Tall Sheep's Bandcamp page. I couldn't have been more wrong. Barely a year in the making, the SF-based four-piece's pop-punk sound is already very polished, melding elements of noise rock and punk with pop melodies into tracks that all come with a dose of frontwoman Laura Dean's gorgeously soothing voice (seriously, it's like the anti-George Clarke voice). I can't think of a more apt descriptor than the band's own term "sophistipunk." Listen to their debut EP Of Birds In Propellers below, and catch them at Neck of the Woods on August 6 with Adventure Galley and Behind Sapphire.Tags: Fang Island, Hunx & His Punx, Tall Sheep, Volary