Best of 2008: Anna Gazdowicz of The Deli SF on The Heavenly States’ Delayer

My relationship to music changed pretty significantly after I took over editing duties at the Deli SF in March 2008. What opened up before me with this new concentration on the local scene was a warm, rich, nurturing community full of talented musicians, writers and enthusiasts. And I’ve been fortunate enough to hear a myriad of great bands, many of which I may not have discovered otherwise. My favorite local record of 2008, and one of my overall favorites, was The Heavenly States' Delayer. It's a solid record from start to finish, at times reminding the listener of the Replacements [...]

Best of 2008: Tartufi on Low Red Land’s Dog’s Hymns

The Details: Recorded [mostly] at The Hanger in Sacramento with engineer Robert Cheek tweaking the "knobs" and yanking on 'levers" - oh and manning the sound board - in July and August of 2008. The Facts: Dog's Hymns is an amazing representation of how dynamic and proficient Low Red Land is at laying down a sound that is at once vital and fluid, both essential and inescapably entrancing. The album is able to capture the raw energies of their live set while still projecting a product that is polished and full, thick with instrumentation and vocal treatments. Low [...]

Best of 2008: Dylan Travis of Man/Miracle on The Hospitals’ Hairdryer Peace

The Hospitals write songs. This is important because if you manage to get a copy of their (sold out) new record, Hairdryer Peace, you might initially confuse this for an art-noise group, yet another collection of unwashed kids turning knobs on the floor and blowing out their eardrums. However, breaching the surface of oceans of compressed drums and thick guitar wash are perfect rock verses, disintegrating in front of you, as though deposited into the slit gastrointestinal tract of some horrible mass-culture monster and subjected to an unforgiving process of acidic punk rock digestion. The vocals are flip and abrasive. [...]

Best of 2008: Julie Schuchard of Tricycle Records on The Morning Benders’ Talking Through Tin Cans

For years I have been watching The Morning Benders grow up. They have a genuine talent for writing pop that casts a dizzy intoxication much like The Shins and The Beatles. Talking Through Tin Cans is one of those records that I have been anticipating from this young local band. I knew they would do great things. And they did just that. The Morning Benders - "I Was Wrong" This contribution was written by guest blogger Julie Schuchard of Tricycle Records.

Best of 2008: Will Benham of New and Used Records on Geographer’s Innocent Ghosts

I will remember 2008 as the year Bay Area music was put back on the map, thanks to the national attention showered on the likes of The Dodos, Birdmonster and The Morning Benders. With that being said, I would like to look to future while selecting the best local album of 2008 and think about who just might be the next great band to break out from the Bay Area. If their debut Innocent Ghosts is any indication, I would say Geographer have a pretty good shot. Geographer - "Can't You Wait" Mike Deni's voice carries both a [...]

Best of 2008: Jon Bernson of Ray’s Vast Basement & Window Twins on Odd Nosdam’s Pretty Swell Explode

In the future, it will become known that David Madson spent the better part of his life on a hijacked Soviet probe, transmitting 3D images back to Earth. When the news drops, his panoramic soundscapes and hazy holograms will be seen in a different light. School children will study his distorted close-ups of the sun, black drum holes and time lost tones. They will thank Odd Nosdam, who spent much of his life assembling Madson's rich body of work. Nosdam will be respected for keeping secrets secret and for spreading rare information to those in need. There will be a [...]

Best of 2008: Maus Haus on Andy Tisdall’s Cotton Cannibals

Andy Tisdall is a member of Little Teeth, a band that put out a great year-end list record with Child-Bearing Man. But Andy's solo album, Cotton Cannibals, quietly self-released and under most radars, also blew us away. This is an album of ghosts, literal and metaphorical. Dusty and creaky pianos, banjos, and cellos congregate around simple folky vocal melodies that twist themselves into howling exorcisms. "Oh my ghost / it will howl / it will scream / when it leaves what I thought was a dream", Andy intones on "War", and it may as well be the album's mantra. Cannibals [...]

Best of 2008: Ben Thorne of Low Red Land on Dame Satan’s Beaches and Bridges

2008 found a number of fantastic local albums seeing release (and one, Tartufi’s Nests of Wave and Wire, seeing a delay that only means it will be my favorite album of 2009), and the best, by far, is Dame Satan’s Beaches and Bridges. It’s a stunning, expansive album that swells and breathes, building on impressive vocal interplay and tasteful musicianship. Dame Satan - "The Struggle" The album wastes no time establishing the mood, as opener "Downstream" begins with a far-off, decaying delay ticking down to a simple, catchy guitar line. Acoustic instruments pair with electric effects, commanding the [...]

Best of 2008: Pete Gidlund of Winter’s Fall on Birds & Batteries’ I’ll Never Sleep Again

I love a record that’s a tough one to crack. And speaking of eggs, you gotta have some huevos to lead your album off with a Neil Young cover (not to mention pull it off). And anyone would admit it’s quite a dichotomy: to compare Birds and Batteries’ sunny backstage candor and slick onstage performances with the angular, sometimes counter-intuitive (read: smart, brave) songwriting and production choices heard here, which is why, for me, I’ll Never Sleep Again is the best Bay Area record of 08. Birds & Batteries - "I'll Never Sleep Again" Case-in-point is the way [...]

Best of 2008: Adrian Bischoff of ipickmynose on Two Sheds’ Self-Titled EP

When this year started I had no knowledge of Two Sheds. After I heard "It's Hard" and then the rest of their album, Strange Ammunition, I was hooked. They do bluesy, folky rock music with some of appreciation of the slowness and spareness (and the tension created by those things) of slowcore, all while being drenched in the deceptively simple melodies and the gorgeous, breathy female vocals of Caitlin Gutenberger. Two Sheds - "You" There's always some trepidation with the follow-up album or EP to an outstanding debut album. Can they keep it up? Two Sheds was a [...]

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