Hudson Bell explores new dimensions with ‘Psychic Breaks’

(photo: Patric Carver) The first time I saw Hudson Bell was years ago at the Starry Plough. I remember being captivated by the hooky charm of his songs — particularly "In a Ball." I was humming it to myself for days afterward. If the fecund ground of pop music is fertilized by earworms, Bell is a masterful composter. However, the ease by which the listener can be comfortable with Bell's songs should not be mistaken for a lack of complexity. His compositions bridge this great divide between being completely familiar without having the slightest hint of predictability. That night, even [...]

By |September 28, 2021|Tags: |

Thought Leaders release new album ‘In Wastelands’

Bay Area band Thought Leaders recently released a new album, In Wastelands. Like all things, the pandemic has affected how records are made. In Wastelands was conceived in the before times, but executed during the height of Corona's stronghold. "We've only played some songs together a handful of times," said bassist Andrew Lund in a recent interview. Though pieces were recorded separately, you'd never know from listening to the record. There's a delightful Wall of Sound effect that defies any proximity challenges. The biggest hint that this was recorded during the pandemic is not from any perceivable shortcomings, but from [...]

Review + Photos: Madame Gandhi and Perfume Genius at Stern Grove

Perfume Genius (photo: Patric Carver) I have a new hobby I want to tell you all about. It's being earnest with my late-stage pandemic emotions. Look, I get it. We're all supposed to be cool. We're supposed to rise above the banal chit-chat and repetitious conversations. We're totally hip. Except, now that we've been living like teenagers grounded by the wrath of infectious disease for over a year, I simply cannot contain my joy that it is getting safer and safer for people to gather together. I'm going to remark how crazy it is to see people in person — [...]

Love Jerks have an “Out of Body” experience in new video

Love Jerks at Filoli Garden (all photos: Patric Carver) Some people are in a band, some people are a band. Love Jerks, which is married couple Rebecca Garza-Bortman (formerly of Happy Fangs) and Bryan Garza (Scissors for Lefty), definitely are a band. The duo released their debut album Million Movies in 2018, and were on a steady climb to dominate the Bay Area rock scene until the pandemic hit. Their sound is a heart-and-soul rock sound that makes all songs sound anthemic. Combine equal parts pre-Private Audition Heart, DEVO, the Strokes, a dash of Rush (without such a Dungeons-and-Dragons focus), [...]

By |May 10, 2021|Tags: |

Mae Powell makes bitter sweet with “Fuck I.C.E.”

They say that ignorance is bliss, but that's only true for the ignorant. Those who are suffering because they have been marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated will still exist wether we're aware of their stories or not. That's why it's so important that we continually reach out to others, spread consciousness, and take action. San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Mae Powell, addresses this with her new single, "Fuck I.C.E." On the surface, "Fuck I.C.E." sounds like the perfect music to roller skate to. It sounds like summertime and soft-serve ice cream and sun-drenched beaches. It's smooth with these very ropey guitar hooks that [...]

By |April 19, 2021|Tags: |

Local Book Release: ‘In Defense of Ska’ by Aaron Carnes

Do you like ska? More importantly, would you admit to liking ska? Ska, a music with a delightfully checkered past, started Jamaica in the 1950s, moved across the pond to the UK for the 2-Tone revival, and then enjoyed some commercial success in the late 1980s and 1990s. Everyone I knew in the 90s owned a Clueless soundtrack purely for track 10: "Where'd You Go" by The Mighty Mighty BossToneS. Though ska had a slow-burn rise to widespread popularity, its exit was quick...and brutal. In recent years, ska has been the butt of many jokes, and this brilliant art form [...]

By |April 12, 2021|Tags: , |

SFCM and SF Symphony announce Emerging Black Composers Project

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) and San Francisco Symphony are partnering for a major new initiative, The Emerging Black Composers Project. The project aims to support the development of Black American composers who are early in their career. Composers selected to be a part of the project will collectively produce 10 new works in 10 years, with the first commission debuting in the 2021-2022 season. The project is part of larger plan from SFCM, which also encompasses a partnership with the SFCM President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion. “San Francisco Conservatory of Music is embarking on a series of ambitious [...]

Tim Presley to release new book: ‘Under the Banner of Concern’

(photo:Ruth Swanson) "I guess now we’re all living in those old paintings of people lying around on couches doing nothing with their boobs out." - Dana Berger, actress and Tweeter Yes, Dana. I'm here. When I'm not working, I'm doing nothing. If I didn't have a roommate, these boobs would be OUT. The pandemic has taken away so many things. Though artists have tried to get creative with online streaming platforms and bring performances into people's homes, the substitution only reminds some of us about the vast distance between our wants and our gots. I want to feel the bass [...]

By |August 11, 2020|Tags: |

KnightressM1 debuts “Polarity Integrate”

Oakland-based trio KnightressM1 debuted their new video for single "Polarity Integrate" on July 10. The video offers a combination of disparate images alongside heavy instrumentals. Lead vocalist and violinist Emily Palen performs musical alchemy by transforming her violin into the sounds typical of a rock guitar with hints every once in a while of the true nature of the instrument. This isn't a gimmicky move on Palen's part: The sounds she produces are unique and don't fall squarely in the guitar or violin camps, which is also true of the arrangement of the song. The chorus has the typical build [...]

By |July 16, 2020|Tags: |

Review + Photos: The New Pornographers at the Fillmore

The New Pornographers (photo: Patric Carver) What is the deal with The New Pornographers? Are they, like the proverbial goldfish that grows to fit the size of its tank, going to continue to expand in both musicianship and creativity forever and ever? Not to mention their sheer numbers? Starting off as a six-piece and now up to an eight-piece with Dan Bejar waiting in the wings as a "former (possibly future) member," I imagine that the personnel roster of The Pornographers is eventually going to read like the listing off of some fundamentalist Christian family's offspring, adding a new one [...]

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