Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It
Comments
Another Reason Why S.T. Should Henceforth Be Known as Riff Raff's "Goth Correspondent" Those of you who were watching Hard Copy on June 26 -- and don't even bother trying to deny that you watch the tabloid show -- might have recognized the euphonious strains of local goth torch singer Jill Tracy. The television "news" magazine chose music from Tracy's album Quintessentially Unreal to accompany its in-depth piece on the resurgence of absinthe use in America. For those tragically ill-informed about the popular narcotics of the turn of the century, absinthe is a syrupy, emerald-green, 80-proof liqueur distilled from wormwood, angelica root, sweet-flag root, star anise, and dittany that induces a lucid, deeply introspective high (not that anyone on the Riff Raff staff would know from firsthand experience). The liqueur -- a favorite of Baudelaire, Monet, Poe, Wilde, and Gary Oldman's Dracula -- can cause delirium and jaundiced eyes, among other physical maladies, and was prohibited in the U.S.A. in 1912. Riff Raff would like to note that it can still be purchased legally in Portugal and the Czech Republic, and illegally in the Bay Area, which, according to Hard Copy, is a hotbed of illicit absinthe consumption goaded, the show says, by Nine Inch Nails' "Perfect Drug" video. Tracy, whose album is often the music of choice at local absinthe parties, denies this, saying that the liqueur has always been popular within the gothic community, which goes to great lengths to emulate Victorian behavior and dress. Still, Hard Copy's interest gave her an opportunity to appear on national television (along with local absinthe drinkers and producers who wore masks to protect their identities) and to have her album credits run alongside those of Trent Reznor. Although Jill Tracy has tried absinthe on occasion -- in order to "better understand the muse which has compelled so many of the world's visionaries" -- she is by no means a habitual absinthe drinker. The popularity of her music within that crowd reflects the dreamy, opulent nature that has always existed in her work. "Drinking absinthe is like drinking a part of the past," says Tracy. "I have always been intuitively drawn to a different era. Subconsciously, I channel many ghosts, and that shows in my music." (S.T.)

Single Minded Just when Riff Raff was beginning to think that San Francisco's mainstream media might have some clue about any of the music and culture of the past 20 years, the illusion was shattered. To wit: a front-page, above-the-fold story in the July 12 Examiner dubbed "No. 1 of All Time." The story originally appeared in the London Independent; it was based on a survey-cum-publicity stunt by the British magazine Mojo, whose unapologetic focus is on classic and bygone rockers. But by placing the article front and center, alongside news stories on budgetary maneuvers, fires, and the like, the Ex compounded the English press' mistakes. And those errors are plentiful. Let's start with the obvious: Prince's "When Doves Cry" is renamed "Just When Doves Cry," while breezy Brit popsters the Lightning Seeds transmogrify into the Lightening Seeds -- both in the story's first six paragraphs. But butchered names and titles are least among the article's problems: Its self-righteous take on popular music bolsters our suspicions that boomers are a bunch of narcissistic know-nothings. Here's the lead. "The baby boomers' refrain that pop music has gone downhill since the '60s has been confirmed by a poll of pop experts that seems to show the art of the single peaked in 1966." Given the poll's origins, this sentence is basically tautological. The story tries to blur the issue. "[Mojo] insists that the music industry people questioned were not all aging hippies and rock dinosaurs," the piece continues. "In fact, those voting included Ian Broudie, lead singer of the Lightening [sic] Seeds, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and former Take That star Gary Barlow." Gallagher's retro sensibility and Barlow's penchant for pop schlock don't convince us that Mojo intended the poll to be anything but comforting to its readers. While the Ex didn't provide the full list, the story says plenty about what's not there -- namely, much of anything from 1977 on. The '80s and '90s merited just one tune each ("When Doves Cry" and, of course, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), and, as the story says, "There is only 'God Save The Queen' by the Sex Pistols to represent the entire punk and post-punk era." Hip hop got nary a mention. The story goes on to quote one Paul Trynka, features editor for Mojo, who speculates that the increasing niching of musical genres led to less "unanimity" about recent singles. It's a valid point -- but if that's true, why call the poll the top 100 singles of all time? Trynka also rationalizes that pop creativity and originality died, conveniently enough, in the late '60s. "Like any art form, the principles are established fairly soon," he proclaims. "By 1968 they had done everything that could be done with a single." This is absurd on its face -- was visual art said and done after prehistoric cave painting? Any number of art movements since prove otherwise. And again, this is exactly what we'd expect an editor of Mojo to say. But the Examiner didn't explain all this to readers in its rush to give its boomer readership its daily pat on the head. (Steve Boland)

Daddy Get Back Folks hanging out at the Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday, July 22, were treated to the emotional and much-awaited reunion of Daddy Don't Go -- a band who, in 1993, were considered the Bay Area's next big thing by everyone in the biz. Daddy Don't Go was born when Laura Victoria arrived fresh from a NYC group home with a slew of songs and a severe eating disorder. As fate would have it, a handsome young man arrived at Victoria's doorstep to help her with some water filter trauma. Geoff (no last name, at least in public) was a veteran of the Bay Area punk scene. They made some music together. They fell in love. They played open mikes and formed a band. Victoria lost a lot of weight. She was lauded as "sweetness in the flesh." Their four-song EP was compared to the Sundays and the Cocteau Twins. Labels started sniffing around because they were such a "nice band." Then it came out that Geoff and Victoria supported DDG by doing phone sex. In affirmation, they contributed a cut to Cybergasm, an audio compilation of sexual soirees compiled by the defunct magazine FutureSex and released by Atlantic Records. Oh, and Victoria bared a breast for Alternative Press. That got the A&R hounds really excited. But then, DDG's bass player moved to L.A. and had babies, their drummer moved to Sonoma and got married, and Victoria realized that her eating disorder had gotten out of hand. Overnight, DDG called it quits and, three years later, booking agents still get misty when recalling their demise -- until this week. Daddy Don't Go has reformed with all its original members and Victoria eight months pregnant. Sadly, Victoria says that this isn't a permanent commitment (the reunion, not the pregnancy); the shows are the most natural way she and Geoff could think of to celebrate their upcoming wedding. The happy occasion and the much-awaited Bottom of the Hill gig brought out, for public scrutiny, Victoria's 85-year-old grandmother (from Florida), long-estranged parents (from their respective corners), and extended family (from the days when she was still "a ward of the state"), which gave Victoria's painfully revealing lyrics even more poignancy. There will be one more show at the Boomerang on Friday, July 25. The couple will be wed two days later at the Noe Valley Ministry, after which all the members will go back to their regular jobs -- Geoff to his new band Gift of Tongues and Victoria to her sex columns for Web and Rolling Stone On-Line. "Our first child was Daddy Don't Go," says Victoria. "Geoff won't." (S.T.)

Octa-Gone Lollapalooza represents hip hop like politicians represent their constituents: The biggest cash cow gets milked. For the last seven years, Lollapalooza has filled the hip-hop end of its lineup with acts sure to draw crowds and line Perry Farrell's pockets. Independent hip-hop acts, being less lucrative, were wholly absent. Lollapalooza '96 was the worst yet for hip hop, with not one act on the main, second, or third stages (unless the Shaolin Monks were really rappers in robes). Lollapalooza '97 promised to be the year this changed -- the original second-stage bill contained Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith) and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. DJ Shadow was even scheduled to spin for Dr. Octagon on a few dates. Meanwhile, on the main stage, Snoop Doggy Dog would fill the expected commercial rap slot. Well, wouldn't you know it: Lollapalooza choked. Dr. Octagon recently backed out of the deal, and in turn the Piklz and DJ Shadow pulled their respective plugs. A recent interview in BAM cites Keith as saying he left the tour over unprofessional handling of finances and itineraries by Lollapalooza management. The Skratch Piklz -- consisting of DJs Mixmaster Mike, Shortkut, Q-Bert, Disc, Yoga Frog, and D-Styles -- had arranged to share accommodation expenses with Dr. Octagon, and were therefore forced to bow out. The loss of these three acts leaves hip hop at Lollapalooza in the hands of a reigning potentate of commercial rap: Snoop. Surprise, surprise. (R.A.)

Confidential to Jeff McDonald, Singer and Guitarist for Redd Kross Well, no, dear heart, actually it wasn't any asshole over here who said you sounded like Vince Neil. (We're referring to an outburst from McDonald at a recent Slim's show.) One of the critics here once compared the recent round of Redd Kross haircuts to those of Metallica. Vince Neil's not in Metallica, and hairstyles are a different (though by no means less important) aspect of rock than voices. Maybe you were thinking of some other SF Weekly. Interesting that you brought it up, though. A friend of ours confides that you and your brother Steven took voice lessons from the same person who polished Vince Neil's vocal apparatus. And considering that the latest Mstley CrYe album just debuted at No. 4, you wish you sounded like Vince Neil. (M.B.)

Selvin Watch: The Double Feature The tryout is over and the stats are in. Last week Chronicle Pop Music Editor Joel Selvin returned from his six-week vacation, effectively ending temporary staff critic James Sullivan's tenure in the critic's chair. For those six weeks, Sullivan's job ostensibly was to do Selvin's job -- write about music in San Francisco -- but the gig looked a lot like an opportunity for the 31-year-old free-lancer to show the Chron brass that he had the chops to fill the paper's second pop-critic position -- the one that's been vacant now for 21 months. Color Riff Raff impressed. We appreciated Sullivan's thoughtful, breaking review of the Sleater-Kinney show at the Bottom of the Hill in June, and his story about psychedelia wonderfully bypassed the aging performers and cliches we've come to expect from the Chronicle. Actually, we liked almost everything Sullivan did. (One exception: His article on the rise of women rockers, tied to the Lilith Fair concert. We quit reading that one after we ran into the phrase "First there was Alanis Morissette." And there, frankly, we smelled bad editing.) We felt such a personal connection that we even squirmed for Sullivan when Entertainment Editor Liz Lufkin embarrassed him in a marveling Datebook editor's note. (A recap: Sullivan listened to a CD, he liked it, and he went to a show. The process was apparently unfamiliar to Lufkin after years of editing Selvin.) Anyway, it sure seemed like Sullivan was working hard. In the past, Lufkin has assured us that Selvin is a veritable hive of journalistic honey-making. We didn't believe her. Now, with the help of the Chron archives on the Web and way too much free time, we offer a comparative analysis. Sit back. Since the beginning of the year -- that's six months plus the vacation -- Selvin's pumped out 19,750 words. What did the young Sullivan produce in just six weeks? Hold on to your socks: 14,202 words. (J.S.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Michael Batty (M.B.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mbatty@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • 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.'"