Oakland’s Dick Stusso signs to Hardly Art, shares “Modern Music”

Photo provided by Billions Corporation Until two years ago, Oakland's Nic Russo was a talent known mostly among his close circle of friends. He'd played in bands since high school, but had never taken it too seriously; most of his music still lived at home, in half-finished demos on an old four-track. His friends on the other hand, took note. One had accumulated a hard-drive full of Russo's music, from shared demos to live recordings, and another had recently started his own tape label, Vacant Stare Records. With some encouragement, Russo put together enough songs that they agreed to split [...]

By |January 17, 2018|Tags: |

Take Care Tapes provides a safe space for artists of color

(Take Care Tapes, from left to right Cinytha, Monika, Rubita, and Jess, photo by Jess Wu-O)This past June, four friends got together to discuss their plans for building a community around musicians of color. Over lunch at Mission Pie, they outlined a vision for a record label that would provide a one-stop hub for artists to record and distribute their music. Cinytha Hernandez, Ruby Perez, Monika Skelton, and Jess Wu-O, the SF-based artists behind Take Care Tapes, met through their involvement in the Bay music scene. They're behind bands like Pumpkin and Mini, whose lo-fi stylings recall the direct and [...]

By |November 30, 2017|Tags: |

Loose Grip Records joins Ghost Ship relief efforts with benefit compilation

(cover art by John Felix Arnold III) Last winter, the artist collective and living space know as Ghost Ship burned down in a tragic fire that claimed the lives of 36 artists and attendees of an electronic music event, making it the deadliest structure fire in California since the 1906 earthquake. The event started a national conversation about the relationship between local government and artists, and the responsibility to provide affordable housing and event spaces. However, it also sparked a panicked shuttering of similar venues around the country, and evictions that have displaced the very artists that are so integral to [...]

Interview: Gay Henry returns to NorCal for festival performance

'Gay Henry' is a heterosexual millennial drag queen in Guerneville, a small town in rural northern California still populated by descendants of loggers. Gay Henry is especially unusual in this old frontier town; a family friend describes him as an "absurdly talented kid." In this picture, Gay Henry, whose real name is Guy Henry, is rehearsing and putting on makeup in his living room. Gay Henry is the performance moniker of Guy Henry Mueller, who grew up in Santa Rosa and has since relocated to Minnesota. After playing in bands for years, the format grew stale for Mueller, and casual [...]

By |June 15, 2017|Tags: |

Premiere: The Down House to release triumphant debut ‘Our Mess’

(photo provided by The Down House) Over the last few years, Santa Rosa has become a regular addition to tour routes and been the subject of numerous features covering its rising status as a hub for underground music, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the tightly-knit community of bands, artists, and booking outfits who have helped build the now nationally recognized scene. One of these groups are The Down House, a garage-rock outfit founded on the songwriting aspirations of Casey Colby and Sarah Davis, notably joined by Connor Alfaro (OVVN, Acrylics) on drums. Our Mess, the quartet's debut LP, is [...]

By |February 21, 2017|

Preview: King Woman celebrate record release at Starline

2016 was a huge year for King Woman — starting with a sold-out show at Starline Social, followed by their first US tour with Wax Idols and culminating in an offer from Relapse Records. It's appropriate then, that following front woman Kristina Esfandiari's move to Brooklyn, the band will celebrate the release of their new album in their hometown, and at the same venue at which they kicked off last year. The three singles off of Created in the Image of Suffering build on the atmospheric metal the band introduced on their 2014 EP — winding, slowly arpeggiating guitars accented with heavy, [...]

By |February 14, 2017|Tags: |

Preview: Oakland’s Club Night debut performance with Joan of Arc and split release

It's been an extremely trying couple of months here in the Bay, between the never-ending fallout from the election results and the continuing tragedy of the Ghost Ship Fire, which has spurred the closing of artist spaces around the country. However, in the wake of all this hardship, countless individuals have risen to the occasion, banding together to confront city officials and demand support for low-income artist communities. Spaces like San Francisco's Gray Area Foundation have helped to create and manage the largest fire relief fund, and organizers have grouped together to form the Oakland Warehouse Commission, hoping to bridge [...]

By |January 23, 2017|Tags: |

Premiere: The Peels unveil bluesy single prior to record release

It feels like there's been a renaissance for the twangy, blues driven guitar music of the '60s and '70s, and the strong personas that helm these projects, most recently with the steady rise of Oakland's Dick Stusso. Joining the fray of impassioned raconteurs are The Peels, a five-piece from the East Bay who employ haphazard percussion and soulful, dueling male and female vocals. Members also participate in the Grassy Null recording studio and art collective, employing the group's trademark collage and scribbled notes style visuals. The quintet is premiering "(That Spells) Trouble With a Capitol Hill" in anticipation of their self-titled [...]

By |November 3, 2016|Tags: |

Taylor Vick releases folky, heartfelt debut under moniker Boy Scouts

In the early 2000s, Apple debuted Garageband, and forever changed the relationship between recording artists and the 'studio.' Breaking down the costly barriers between DIY artists and spaces to capture their efforts has resulted in a flood of new singer-songwriters and accompanying Bandcamps and SoundCloud links. Alex G, who most recently appeared on Frank Ocean's Endless, built a cult following through his prolific releases, all recorded and produced using a single microphone and a MacBook. Taylor Vick, who releases music under the pseudonym Boy Scouts, recorded her first release in the late aughts using a copy of the software. After years of collaborations [...]

By |September 29, 2016|Tags: |

Premiere: The Nopes to release noisy, relentless debut LP

Although they only released their first EP this time last year, The Nopes are already back with a 12- song LP. The Jack Shirley-produced Never Heard of It sees the band further sculpting the brand of hardcore-infused rock that they introduced on 2015's Nectar of the Dogs. The album's first two singles, "Corners" and "Full Time Greeter" showcase the relentless riffing and occasional restraint. Debuting today is "2:59," perhaps the most unhinged track on the album. It's also the briefest, clocking in at a minute and eleven seconds. The bands angular, garage-y guitars are on full display here, and are made to [...]

By |September 23, 2016|Tags: |
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