2012 was my first full year in the Bay Area, and writing for the Bay Bridged sent me deeper into the local scene. I love end of year lists, but I prefer to call these songs and bands my “favorites” rather than “best.” To start, I’ll share my 17 favorite songs from Bay Area artists.
Friendzone created an absolutely gorgeous beat sampling Tears for Fears’ Woman in Chains, and Squadda and Mondre effortlessly flow over it about…well, the women they chase. Is the juxtaposition of the dark and almost haunting beat with the duo’s sometimes juvenile lyrics some sort of hidden commentary on finding maturity? Eh, maybe, maybe not. Regardless, it’s a fantastic track that you can enjoy with or without a search for deeper meaning.
2) Sun Kil Moon – “UK Blues”
Mark Kozelek paints an amazing portrait of lonely tour life. His account of seemingly unimportant details are what make the story slightly humorous, but tragically sad and beautiful at the same time.
3) Cool Ghouls – “First Taste of Spring”
Cool Ghouls come at you with so much raw energy and joy, you can’t help but enjoy yourself. These kids created a sound that is distinctly Californian, and I hope “First Taste of Spring” is a sign of things to come from the band.
4) The Coup – “Guillotine”
It’s extremely difficult to pick a favorite song from The Coup’s new album Sorry to Bother You, where every track would be a standout on lesser artists’ albums. The Coup have been around for over 20 years now, and their sound is more creative and their lyrics are more powerful than just about anyone in hip hop. Through it all, they somehow manage to always keep the party going. “Guillotine” and its great video show everyone how it’s done.
5) Dyllan Hersey – “I Wished Freedom”
Dyllan Hersey’s songs make me want to sit on a hill in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the sun. Or rain. Or whatever nature brings – the songs help you find beauty in anything. Hersey created an album that is just her and a guitar, and did a brilliant job. I think “I Wished Freedom” is her best work.
6) Midi Matilda – “Love and the Movies”
7) Trails and Ways – “Nunca”
8) Sonny and the Sunsets – “Pretend You Love Me”
9) Astronauts, Etc. – “Mystery Colors”
10) Antwon and Safe – “Love Shine Down” (produced by Fatees)
11) The Brothers Comatose – “Pie for Breakfast”
12) Cazadero – “Ones I’ve Never Liked”
13) Animal Friend – “Sunset”
14) Z-Man – “Suicide is Played Out”
15) The Parmesans – “Blooming Rose”
16) Meat Market – “Don’t Surf”
17) Toby Oler – Temescal Pool
Favorite New Artists: A major part of what I do for The Bay Bridged is listening to submissions, so I have a soft spot in my heart for all the newcomers to the scene. I hate to rank new artists – they all just work and try so hard. Because of that, I won’t rank them, but I think these new Bay Area artists deserve special recognition:
Dyllan Hersey: I can’t say enough about Dyllan and her album. It is quite honestly one of the best folk albums I’ve heard in a long time. However, I think Dyl’s sweet shyness that helps make her album so sweet is holding her back. She still doesn’t have her own facebook page, twitter feed, or website, and her local gigs were few and far between. Get yourself out there Dyllan, and let’s see (and hear) more from you in 2013! For now, listen to her album below.
Cool Ghouls: Play it loud, and smile while you wait for their full-length in 2013:
Cazadero: According to their Bandcamp page: “Dusk for Dawn was under-conceived in a period of nine weeks at the onset of 2012 between rehearsals across from Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and a pleasantly dank, carpeted room in Oakland. Shortly thereafter, it was casually put to tape at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco by eight musicians over the course of four days.” If you didn’t read that before you listened to the album, you’d think you were hearing a work of art years in the making. Check out the smooth retro California country and pop vibes from Cazadero’s Dusk for Dawn below:
Evil Eyes: In 2012, Joe Frabotta and Greg Mabry started a band, started a record label, played their first shows, and above it all, recorded a couple of fine tunes in the process. The music says it all, so listen to their debut EP below:
DSTVV: Led by internet celebrity Joel Cusumano, DSTVV has the loudest drums and screechiest guitars imaginable. Cusumano’s smartass delivery is a plus, too. Listen closely to the lyrics in their Molly Soda EP for plenty of Internet and San Francisco culture references:
Astronauts, Etc.: Astronauts Etc. rose about as quickly as any artist could, and then disappeared almost as fast. The single “Mystery Colors”, accompanied with an amazing video, sent Anthony Ferraro’s solo project soaring to the top of the Hype Machine charts without the aid of a publicist or crazy industry connections, which is pretty remarkable in this day and age. His solid EP led to a date at The Independent opening for Ultraista, but things got pretty quiet from Ferraro after the show. He ended up putting Astronauts, Etc. on temporary hiatus and is focusing on his band Lawlands, which will playing shows and releasing new material in 2013.
Midi Matilda – “Love and the Movies”:
Wildlife Control – “Analog or Digital”:
Antwon – “Living Every Dream”: