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Freak-folk Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear roars into town; G. Love takes to the Warfield sans Special Sauce

Wednesday, Mar 2 2005
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The Bay Area and New York City could have quite the tug o' war between their respective freaky rock acts. On our side you've got bands like Comets on Fire, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Six Organs of Admittance, and on theirs you've got Animal Collective, Coco Rosie, Black Dice, Fiery Furnaces, and now Grizzly Bear . Grizzly Bear is the invention of Edward Droste, who composed the skeletons of the songs that make up the group's debut, Horn of Plenty, in his Brooklyn bedroom, later enlisting the help of the aptly named Christopher Bear to flesh out the material. The resulting 16 tracks serve up all the mood swings of a David Lynch marathon. A variety of instruments -- everything from quiet acoustic guitars to brushed drums to creaking samples to pretty bells -- build the rickety house that Droste haunts with his gauzy vocals. Grizzly Bear is messy but melodic, psychedelic but not psychotic, and ultimately a welcome addition to this burbling bicoastal mix of bands that has sprung up of late. Catch the group on Thursday, March 3, at the Eagle Tavern; call 626-0880 or go to www.sfeagle.com for more info. -- Garrett Kamps


Nearly four decades after his death, Wes Montgomery is still widely regarded as one of jazz's all-time guitar heroes. But his legacy is a controversial one. Despite his respectable self-taught approach toward his instrument -- which involved an unusual thumb-picking style, a full-bodied mellow tone, and a trademark fondness for unison octaves (rather than only single notes) when improvising -- the type of material he performed from the late '50s to the late '60s ranged from rhythmic hard bop and California-style cool to execrable commercial schmaltz, which, not unlike the work of Kenny G, is more instrumental pop than anything remotely related to the jazz tradition of six-string pioneer Charlie Christian, the guitarist's original idol. Thus, one could attribute to Montgomery's influence the awful rise of "smooth jazz" -- as embodied in the elevator soundtracks of Earl Klugh and George Benson -- as well as the enduring cool-toned style of authentic jazz masters, like veteran guitar player and bandleader Pat Martino, who brings his quartet to Yoshi's for a "Tribute to Wes Montgomery" Thursday through Sunday, March 3-6; call (510) 238-9200 or go to www.yoshis.com for more info. -- Sam Prestianni


It's been a full decade since G. Love and Special Sauce's eponymous debut first bent the ears of college-radio kids with its fresh mix of hip hop grooves and back-porch blues. Since then, the group's sound has evolved, taking on '70s-vibe R&B melodies, which naturally complement its original recipe, and assuming a kind of variety-show format, ranging from listless jam-band meanders to wannabe pop to clichéd reggae. Love's latest album, The Hustler, his first sans Special Sauce on the marquee and his sixth overall, extends the scattershot direction of recent years. The catchy numbers echo the no-nonsense fun of some of his earliest tunes, but puerile tracks like "Booty Call," too many odes to getting stoned, and an overall stylistic inconsistency speak to Love's arrested-adolescent delusions of virtuosity. Fortunately for longtime fans, Special Sauce bassist Jimi Prescott and drummer Jeffrey Clemens will appear with their glassy-eyed frontman on the current tour -- and likely keep the music locked on the soulful-groove tip -- when the band hits the Warfield on Friday, March 4; call 775-7722 or visit www.bgp.com for more info. -- Sam Prestianni

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