Noise Pop 2015: Cosmonauts, Mondo Drag bring heady psych to Brick & Mortar

Photos by Jon Ching Cosmonauts were the headliners on Friday night, but I left the Brick & Mortar Music Hall most impressed by Oakland's Mondo Drag, a five-piece band that delivered a heavy set of doom-laced psych jams. The group just released a new self-titled album in January, and its songwriting demonstrated a commendable restraint, allowing long instrumental passages to breathe and build. That's not to say I didn't enjoy John Gamino's vocals -- I did, quite a bit -- but the winding grooves led by his Hammond organ were entrancing. Seeing the band behind colorful visual projections lent a [...]

Noise Pop 2015: The Bay Bridged Happy Hour with Couches, Stalls, and Never Young

You know it's gonna be a good show when the sound guy tells you to take it down a notch three minutes into your set. Yeah, that's how loud Never Young was to open The Bay Bridged-hosted Noise Pop Happy Hour event at Benders Friday night. Things didn't get any more mellow after the band's set of blistering noise rock either, nor did I wish it to. I mean, something had to take my mind off the passing of Leonard Nimoy, and what better way to cope with superficial pop culture icon mourning than an evening full of garbled vocals, [...]

Noise Pop 2015: Tony Molina reps the Bay at Rickshaw Stop

Photos by Jon Ching Inhibitions were at an all time low at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night for Tony Molina's Noise Pop showcase at Rickshaw Stop. Patrons were greeted with Molina asking for the sound guy to add reverb to make his vocals "sound hella tight." He requested more booze to be delivered to the stage. He gave Bay Area shout outs between almost every song. He played his own brand of chunky pop-rock (heavily influenced by Weezer, whether or not that's the intention) without ever looking like he cared what anyone thought. And then at the end of the [...]

Noise Pop 2015: Giraffage offers carefree evening at The Independent

Photos by Joey Pangilinan When covering a show, I stick to a routine. I open a new Note on my iPhone and jot down set lists, ideas about the crowd, the general atmosphere, and performance energy. I stick to one beer and a bottle of water. I try not to socialize too much in case I miss a controversial comment a musician mutters under their breath into the microphone. But during Thursday night's Giraffage show at the Independent, I found myself not only weary of my routine, but insanely jealous of everyone around me, people that had come to the show to dance and drink [...]

Noise Pop 2015: The Church play a sold-out show at the Chapel

Steve Kilbey In high school, Bill had a record player that would start over after finishing a side. Ultimately this led to many a night of listening such that the record was still playing in the morning when we woke up. No other record graced that machine with the frequency of 1983's Seance. The Church’s third record was our holy grail, not quite goth, not just rock, and our first peek into the vast awesomeness of the Australian music scene. We followed them pretty religiously through 1988's Starfish, which just celebrated it's 27th anniversary. I am listening to it now, [...]

Noise Pop 2015: Jessica Pratt, Kevin Morby charm at The Chapel

At this point, "otherworldly" is probably an overused adjective to describe a singer's voice, but I'll be damned if it doesn't nail Jessica Pratt's uniquely captivating way with a melody. Joined by a single guitarist at The Chapel on Wednesday night, the duo's intricate folk was simply stunning. The set flew by far too quickly, with "Moon Dude" and "Back, Baby," both from her new album, On Your Own Love Again, standing out as two of many highlights. But if the beauty in her voice and her music felt slightly alien, the singer-songwriter was gracious and charming, remarking about how [...]

Noise Pop 2015: The Black Ryder, masters of the hard/soft dichotomy

Photos by Jon Ching Last night at Rickshaw Stop, The Black Ryder proved themselves to be masters of the hard/soft dichotomy. In celebration of their new LP, The Door Behind the Door, the duo harnessed soft and hard, quiet and loud, gentle and erratic, warm then instantly cool elements to build imperfect walls of sound. Instead of the making impenetrable barriers of noise, The Black Ryder constructed their walls with doors and windows to let light in and to allow new ideas to wander in and out. Though the duo played more songs off of their first record, the most powerful moments of [...]

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