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Chris Baty

Music, Reviewed Cory Branan

Cory Branan

On his second CD, Mississippi native Cory Branan has knifed his name into the alt-country canon. The closest analogue here in sound and quality is Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, and the 31-year-old Branan shares Adams' tendency to nestle introspective ballads against…
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Music, Reviewed Luke Doucet

Luke Doucet

There's enough liquor in Luke Doucet's new album to derail the best-laid plans of a dozen AA chapters. The Canadian singer-songwriter (and one-time Sarah McLachlan guitarist) dances across his rivers of whiskey like a Fred Astaire of the barfly set,…
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Music, Hear This Dave Douglas soundtracks Fatty Arbuckle, Jen Leckman impersonates Stephin Merritt.

Dave Douglas soundtracks Fatty Arbuckle, Jen Leckman impersonates Stephin Merritt.

The second release from acclaimed trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas on his recently launched Greenleaf Music label is Keystone, a fascinating double-disc CD/DVD tribute to the silent-film actor/director Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, whose high-flying Hollywood star was snuffed out in 1921 when he…
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Music, Reviewed Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Dear Unknown Band From Middle-of-Nowhere Missouri, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Firstly, your name, which tickles me in ways I don't fully understand. Secondly, your singer's voice, like a friendly, joy-buzzed handshake from the Mendoza…
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Music, Reviewed Love as Laughter

Love as Laughter

"Is this Pavement?" a friend asked as Love as Laughter's new CD played on my stereo. He's the third person to ask me that in the last 10 days, which tells you two things. 1) LAL could take the trophy…
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Music, In the Year 2005

In the Year 2005

There's only one thing worse than someone going to the South by Southwest music festival and coming home ranting about the once-in-a-lifetime musical moments he witnessed. And that's someone coming back and trying to stitch those moments together into an…
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Music, Reviewed The Foxymorons

The Foxymorons

Turning 21 as an indie rocker is the motherlode. Turning 31 as an indie rocker is just a mother. If you're still playing music, you're supposed to have, you know, evolved. Go Brazilian. Compose minimalist film scores. Anything but the…
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Music, Reviewed Midlake


Imagine Grandaddy and the Flaming Lips composing a musical for 8-year-olds and you've got a pretty good idea of Midlake's sound. The Texas band specializes in wide-eyed epics writ from big drums and Casio components, a tooting, psychedelic circus pitched…
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Music, Reviewed White Mud Free Way

White Mud Free Way

It's A.D. 2007. The boroughs of New York are still being rebuilt after the convention riots of 2004, and a group of renegade music scientists is desperately trying to re-create the indie rock scene lost in the devastation. Their lament:…
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Music, Reviewed Eleni Mandell

Eleni Mandell

In the songs on Eleni Mandell's fifth CD, the men are unfaithful, dangerous, and, worst of all, beating a path from Mandell's bed straight to the city limits. All the desertion may seem like a lot for one young singer/songwriter…
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Music, Reviewed From Bubblegum to Sky

From Bubblegum to Sky

Supposedly an homage to the music Bubblegum bandleader Mario Hernandez loved in the '80s, Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen covers a fair amount of territory in its 13 tracks. Pop fans hoping that Hernandez would tackle Men Without Hats or…
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Music, Old Faithful

Old Faithful

The best assessment I've read so far of the new Strokes record came from Nick Hornby. Hornby wrote the review three years ago in the novel How to Be Good, cleverly disguising it as the musings of a woman comparing…
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Music, Reviewed Califone


OK, it's official: Tim Rutili has earned a spot in urban-hillbilly heaven. Over five years, Rutili and his band Califone have outdone themselves, crafting a hallucinatory, moonshiney sort of folk music that pilfers from Americana's attic without ever feeling like…
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Music, Reviewed The Sea and Cake

The Sea and Cake

There was a time in the '90s when the Sea and Cake was the most exciting thing in underground rock. Made up of singer/ guitarist Sam Prekop, bassist Eric Claridge, guitarist Archer Prewitt, and drummer John McEntire, the Chicago band…
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Music, Take Ral of Me

Take Ral of Me

When the climb gets tough somewhere south of Cole Valley, I blame Chad Bidwell's mom. Bidwell, the San Francisco singer/songwriter better known under his nom de band Ral Partha Vogelbacher, has been exploring the secret stairways of San Francisco for…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

If you ask me, there are really just two types of country bands: those that do a cappella versions of Liz Phair's X-rated song "Flower," and those that don't. Happily, the East Bay's Loretta Lynch belongs in the former camp,…
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Music, Barnes Storming

Barnes Storming

The Canadian native with the medical condition was angry, and Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes had no one to blame but himself. The girl had come out to see Barnes' band in New York, thinking she was supporting musicians from…
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Music, Reviewed Emily Sparks

Emily Sparks

If there's one thing living in Oakland has made clear, it's that God invented car stereos in a tribute to Mary J. Blige. To hear "No More Drama" booming out of a crappy Continental on a Saturday at dusk is…
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News, Feature The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

What happened to you, San Francisco? You used to be the epicenter of musical culture, the pulsating beacon of righteous noise, the kind bud in the bong of rock. More than almost any other U.S. city -- certainly any of…
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Music, Continental Drifter

Continental Drifter

Hudson Bell needed to get out of the South. Having moved throughout Louisiana and Kentucky with his family and attended college in Oxford, Miss., the musician felt he knew the region inside and out. And he was tired of it.…
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