As we head toward the end of 2014, we’ll be running a series of looks back at the year in music. Here’s our man MBL’s report on his 2014 musical highlights.

uv race racism cover

UV Race – Racism
Yeah, let’s talk about Racism. Maybe we need a fresh perspective…from some outsiders. There is something in the water down under. Released in 2012, this is the third LP from Melbourne’s UV Race. I listened to it more than anything else this year. It also became my gateway drug into the Melbourne scene. The members of UV Race play in a few other bands (okay, nine of them) including: Dick Diver, Asps, East Link, Guy & Marcus Blackman Experimentation, Lower Plenty, School of Radiant Living, Soma Coma, Straightjacket Nation and Total Control. Best I can tell, they all rule.

dick diver

Dick Diver – New Start Again
Dick Diver came through town in September with a show at the Make Out Room (above) and another at the faabulous White Horse Inn. The name comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald, so cut them some slack. UV Race and Total Control toured last year and even made a stop at the very best record store in the world, 1-2-3-4 Go!

protomartyr

Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right
This is the second release for Protomartyr and their first on Hardly Art. Detroit may not have a grocery store, but they have cheap housing and they got Protomartyr. All you fools moving to LA, listen up.

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Greg Ashley – Another Generation of Slaves
Oakland’s very own. The Ghost Town Maharajah. The cover photo shot at the first ever pop-up for The Octopus Literary Salon. Less challenging than his earlier material, this makes a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Ashley’s awesome catalog. Another Generation of Slaves displays only one side of Greg’s collaboration with The John Brothers Piano Company. If you haven’t seen them yet, hop to it!

sylvie simmons

Sylvie Simmons – Sylvie
Born in London, Sylvie has lived in the Bay Area for many years. After a lifetime of amazing journalism, she just recorded her very first LP with Howe Gelb (of Giant Sand). See the full review HERE. See her December 20th at Chabot Space & Science in the MEGADOME!

The Octopus Literary Salon hosted more than ten pop-up events in 2014. The MEGADOME series at Chabot Space & Science Center features local bands playing under Omnimax style films. The last two in the series occur 12/20 and 1/31 in anticipation of the Salon’s brick and mortar grand opening in February (on Webster at 22nd). 12/20 is a winter solstice blowout with Sylvie Simmons plus FRONDS which is 3/4 of The Mallard. 1/31 is the grand finale with Delmarva and Slouching Stars. Don’t miss the chance to rock out in the MEGADOME!

meat puppets
A family affair: Elmo, Cris and Curt Kirkwood

The Meat Puppets played the Independent on 12/3/14. Cris Kirkwood is back in the saddle, having rejoined his brother Curt in 2007 after years of near-death addiction and prison time. He looks great and sounds even better. Cris has also put up for sale a collection of art he has been working on for 20+ years – super trippy stuff. Buy some now before MOMA grabs it all.

Since 2011, Curt’s son Elmo is playing with the band. On this night, and perhaps thanks to a generous fellow in the front row feeding Elmo a bottomless joint, his playing was super-fantastic. He clearly has his father’s genetics for guitar. Curt has always been my favorite living guitarist and now it’s like having Curt in stereo. On drums since 2009 it’s Shandon Sahm (son of Austin music legend Doug Sahm). The band routinely covers Doug’s catalog and we got a fiery version of “(Hey Baby) Que Paso”. Although the Puppets were the opening act, they played like it was midnight and the crowd suffered some major mind blow.

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B3 mystic, Dr. Lonnie Smith, brought his “Slaparoo” to SF Jazz on June 16th. If you’ve never witnessed an electronic musical cane before, seek it. Far out.

alejandro escovedo

Austin’s native son, Alejandro Escovedo, played a rare living room show in SF on June 20th. Wild tales of his time in the Chelsea Hotel (as the neighbor to Sid Vicious), playing SF’s infamous Mabuhay Gardens with The Nuns and more. If you are heading to SXSW in March, don’t miss his annual show.

shadowgraph circles

It’s rare to discover a new favorite among opening bands, but it happened this year. Chicago’s Circles opened for the unstoppable Blind Shake at 1-2-3-4 Go! on 11/6. Check ’em out.

Coathangers (Photo by Ryan Russell)

Atlanta’s Coathangers are not fucking around. They are headed back from Europe and should land here in March. Plan accordingly.

useless eaters

The worst part of 2014? Missed the Useless Eaters cave show… This looks to be a big year for them. Bleeding Moon was just released on Castle Face and they head to Europe for the first time in March. Get to know them while you can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFPnGIN6NNw

Lou died at the end of 2013 but it still hurts. RIP Lou.