Metric’s ‘last vestige of caring’ prompts ‘Pagans’

Pros, cons, and hindsight — Toronto synthpop quartet Metric have never shied away from direction-shaping changes. In 2007, the band ditched a traditional label to start their own distribution company. The move paid off two years later when their fourth album, Fantasies, and lead single "Help I'm Alive" charted in the U.S. and became indie hits. The success propelled the band to 2012’s Synthetica, which registered on two Billboard charts, won two Juno Awards in Canada and led to an arena tour in their home country. But financially, the album didn’t live up to their expectations. “We had ambitions to do other types of tours and we [...]

By |February 16, 2016|Tags: |

Bay pays tribute to Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ at 924 Gilman benefit

Since 1989, Jesse Townley has played in numerous East Bay punk bands, such as Blatz, The Gr'ups, The Criminals, and The Frisk. The first time that Townley — known to many in the 924 Gilman Street scene as Jesse Luscious — and Blatz played in Southern California, at a pizza parlor, they were accompanied by their frequent tour mates Green Day. Townley, a longtime Gilman volunteer and fundraising committee member, has remained friends with Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool — despite the infamous dust-up between the collective punk club and the world-famous East Bay rock band. In [...]

Review: Metallica delivers message at pre-Super Bowl show

Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 had all the glitz and glam, the biggest celebrities in the world, and a halftime show that pandered heavily to Top 40 music lovers with Coldplay, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Mark Ronson. The night before, Metallica headlined a show of their own at AT&T Park, and judging by the words of frontman James Hetfield, getting the coveted halftime show on their home turf would have mattered to his band. “I knew there was a petition going around; everything happens for a reason,” he said, a couple songs into Metallica’s two-hour, 18-song set at the show [...]

At Opening Night, Super Bowl 50 players, fans prefer Beyonce to Coldplay

Super Bowl 50 Media Day (photo: Jon Bauer) Super Bowl Media Day, this year known as "Opening Night," can best be described as organized cacophony. At the center of attention are the two NFL teams vying for the title during the most-watched television event of the year. But it's also a gathering of thousands of journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, television actors, and weird personalities. Even crown-clad Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach walked the blue carpet at SAP Center, interviewing players from both sides. There was a dancing leprechaun, several spandex bodysuit-clad gentlemen, a TV puppeteer/interviewer from Mexico City, a lady in a giant football costume, [...]

SF label Tompkins Square Records marks decade of crate-digging for lost masterpieces

Robert Johnson is well-known as a seminal bluesman now, but the musician, who lived from 1911 to 1938, was just another forgotten master until Columbia Records reissued a compilation of his work in 1990. The album was certified Gold, unheard of for a reissue at the time. It also fueled the fire of Columbia exec Josh Rosenthal, who would go on to leave the major label world and start Tompkins Square Records, which for more than a decade has focused on finding unheralded masterpieces from the past and making them available to today’s audiences. Rosenthal, 48, is based in San [...]

Roman Gokhman’s favorite concerts of 2015

Welcome to my annual countdown of the most entertaining music experiences of the year. I only went to 41 concerts. Life commitments and a family took a higher priority. But then again, I enjoy profiling an artist over critiquing the music. I put more thought into the concerts I attended, so I think this compilation is still “deserving,” whatever that means. Still, some iconic and talented performers didn’t make my top 10: No Elton John or AC/DC, Royal Blood or Kacey Musgraves (who both came close), no Mumford and Sons or Duran Duran. Those of you who have read my previous [...]

Muse bolster reputation as arena powerhouse in Oakland

While English trio Muse was making terrific prog-rock records in the early 2000s, Americans largely ignored them. The Bay Area and other large metropolises notwithstanding, Muse didn’t break out until 2009’s The Resistance, the first of three sub-par efforts (from an originality and songwriting standpoint) that has turned them into arena headliners in this country. But Muse have always been more than musicians. They are performers and artists. Singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard are constantly striving to up their complete performance. And on that level, they truly are one of the best bands today. Tuesday, [...]

By |December 16, 2015|Tags: |

PAPA returns with a middle finger salute to alt-radio

Los Angeles duo PAPA is exasperated with the current state of alternative rock radio. “It sounds like it’s written by a producer and heavily sampled,” frontman/drummer Darren Weiss says from home. Two weeks prior, PAPA released their first new music since 2013, “Hold On,” a middle finger to the current music landscape. Now the band, which includes bassist Danny Presant, is preparing for a short West Coast tour, which begins December 1 at The Chapel. To Weiss, formerly of Girls and Dawes, most current alternative music is really pop in disguise, written by people who are hoping it will crossover [...]

By |November 25, 2015|Tags: |

Interview: BØRNS is chemically dependent on love

When he was 10 and growing up alongside the dunes of the east Lake Michigan coastline, in Grand Haven, Michigan, Garrett Borns already had his sights on the arts and the life of a showman. But music hadn’t yet become his primary obsession. That belonged to magic. The city of Colon, to the south and near the state line with Indiana, is known as the magic capital of the world and hosts conventions. Borns had his parents take him there annually. With the dream of becoming a restaurant magician, he began to build up his repertoire. “Nothing involving live animals, [...]

By |November 19, 2015|Tags: |

Q&A: Hibou casts a solo spell

Peter Michel used to drum with San Francisco-Seattle shoegaze pop outfit Craft Spells, but two years ago got the itch to write his own songs and call his own shots. After taking a couple of years to write and record in his parents’ home, he’s back as Hibou. Michel named his new project, pronounced “ee-boo,” for the French word for owl. A few years ago, as he was playing his guitar at his parents’ cabin in the woods, an owl walked up and listened to him. The name stuck. The 22-year-old’s full-length self-titled debut, released in September on Barsuk Records, is [...]

By |November 12, 2015|Tags: |
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