Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Hear This 

Giant Drag is anything but; Michael Penn introduces us to Mr. Hollywood, Jr.

Wednesday, Sep 7 2005
If there were such a thing as Indie Rock PR Photo of the Year, Giant Drag would win it. The band is a two-piece from L.A. -- Annie Hardy on guitar, Micah Calabrese on drums and synths -- with little more than an EP out, but that damn photo, taken by Jacques Brautbar for Spin, tells you all you need to know. The 19-going-on-48-year-old Annie is standing atop an L.A. apartment building, the bland SoCal skyline contrasting her unassuming beauty. She's puffing a mouthful of cigarette smoke at us and staring seductively into the lens, wearing a flower-printed red dress and looking like Joanna Newsom coming off a three-week heroin binge. The whole thing says, "The closest you'll ever get to fucking me is seeing my band, bitch." (Unfortunately the photo is not ours to reprint, but it's the first to pop up if you do a Google image search.) And the music in question seals the deal: narcotic indie rock that sounds like Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) fronting Sonic Youth, simultaneously alluring and far too tough for your hipster-bitch-ass to take on. Giant Drag's debut full-length, Hearts and Unicorns, arrives in stores next week, but you can catch the band live this Thursday, Sept. 8, at Café Du Nord; call 861-5016 or visit for more info. -- Garrett Kamps

Following in the footsteps of wife Aimee Mann, singer/songwriter Michael Penn has finally liberated himself from major-label servitude, ending his uneasy partnership with RCA to promote his music on his own label, Mimeograph. The result? Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947, a loosely constructed narrative about Los Angeles in the aftermath of World War II that is Penn's first collection of new material since 2000's MP4. Though Penn may never achieve the commercial success enjoyed by younger brothers Sean and Chris -- he hasn't scored a hit single since "No Myth" peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard charts in 1990 -- he remains a critic's darling thanks to his clever hooks, Beatles-esque melodies, and sophisticated wordplay. Mr. Hollywood highlights those strengths nicely, as well it should -- after all, Penn, 47, spent more than half a decade writing, researching, and self-producing it. He will appear at Café Du Nord on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10, performing acoustic renditions of songs from his entire catalog. Altcountry star Jesse Sykes opens; call 861-5016 or visit for more info. -- Rossiter Drake

Ryan Adams has too much ego. Iron & Wine is too delicate. Bright Eyes is too intense. Devendra Banhart is too weird. Sufjan Stevens is too Christian. It's easy to hate on the brave singer/songwriters slathering their souls all over nightclub stages these days, especially when there are so many talented targets to pick on. But you'd be hard-pressed to find flaws with M. Ward . The thirtysomething otherwise known as Matt Ward does exactly what a songwriter should: tell a good story, strum a mean six-string, and seduce listeners with a voice that strikes the most perfect balance between tender and grizzled, husky and heartbroken. We'll give the Portland resident a pass on the curiously un-Oregonian drawl he cops on his latest release, Transistor Radio, because his knack for melody and clever lyrics give him more cred than any wrong-side-of-the-tracks Southern upbringing ever could. M. Ward plays an 18-and-up show at Bimbo's Saturday, Sept. 10, with opening band the Joggers. Admission is $18; call 474-0365 or go to for more info.-- Maya Kroth


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"