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Monday, February 21, 2011

Rediscover Pixies' Doolittle Tuesday Night, Courtesy of Your Local Music Corps

Posted By on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 2:02 PM

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There are covers of songs, and then there are reinterpretations of songs. It's the latter that interest the 100-plus local musicians who will perform Pixies' Doolittle at Public Works tomorrow night.


So what's the difference? Well, chances are you've heard bands dive into "You Shook Me All Night Long" or (god forbid) "Free Bird" at the beery end of their encores -- so you know how playing the right notes can produce all the wrong chemistry. Turns out reproducing a song as it was originally designed can be fun -- or awful -- but isn't usually all that interesting either way. 

Reinterpreting a song, now that's risky, involved, difficult -- and entirely the focus of a local group called UnderCover. This group gathers together local artists to cover (in the good sense) classic albums, rerecording them and performing them live. Tomorrow's performance of Pixies' Doolittle is the second such undertaking; the first was on The Velvet Underground and Nico, and its live show included Stephan Jenkins and Liz Phair while featuring a cadre of locals that included Mark Matos, Jazz Mafia's Adam Theis, and Ethiopian-born singer Meklit Hadero. (Full disclosure: I hosted.)

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Radiohead's The King of Limbs: A First Listen

Posted By on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM

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If Radiohead wants to move in real time, we music critics can oblige. I'm putting on the just-dropped The King of Limbs and engaging it as I listen. Here's a first take:

"Bloom" 

Thom Yorke guested on Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma last year, and not wanting to be outdone, swiped a falling-down-stairs drumbeat and plinking, jazzy two-note figure from it to start this thing. You can tell he's in love with dubstep's minimalism, but Flying Lotus would've killed this long before the five-minute mark. The airy soundtrack strings and scribbling hard drive noises aren't bad, but Yorke adds alarmingly little. It's almost a parody of how In Rainbows started: the thrill of hearing a real live human try to gather his footing with jagged drums shooting out in all directions, except without the thrill -- it sticks to one direction.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ask and Ye Shall Receive Vol. 2: New Year Sun Bear

Posted By on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Now you know as much as I do
  • Now you know as much as I do


I was approached, upon leaving Milk last week following an energetic set by The Soft Moon and an abominable one by Violet Tremors, by someone brandishing a small blue slip of paper. "Free music," he said. Music? On paper? Needless to say I was skeptical, but then the technological know-how of the entertainment class has wowed me more than once before.

Turns out, in any case, that the slip of paper (see above) bore a URL, which I was able to reproduce in the "location" field of my computer's Internet browser; this provided me access to a "web page" where -- okay, you get the idea. (The slip of paper also thanked me for throwing more dance parties, which was a little more legitimately puzzling.)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Watch the Bathrooms: Bay Area Rapper Durt Reynolds Puts the Durt in Durty

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM


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Ask and you shall receive. Or, rather, leave your four-track promo CD by the sink in the men's room at Mezzanine during a Wu-Tang show and I shall bring it home and listen to it. This one's for you, Bay Area rapper Durt Reynolds.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review and Download: Pretty Lights' 'Spilling Over Every Side'

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 10:49 AM

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"I now require an email address to download Pretty Lights music," explains Derek Vincent Smith on the giveaway portion of his website, where most of his recent discography can be yours for the price of an "@" symbol. "I would prefer it be your real email address, but either way, it's all good." This is an insight, probably, into Smith's modus operandi: he knows email is cheaper than talk, but he still wants to bring you the party no matter where you're at.

Those who missed Pretty Lights at Outside Lands this weekend -- myself among them -- shouldn't balk at the opportunity. Smith's sound is huge, propulsive and nasty, his songs methodical and unrelenting; each snare hit is a precisely timed punch-in-the-face sound effect (you know, where someone off-camera whacks a side of beef with a snow shovel).


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CD Review: Street Sweeper Social Club -- 'The Ghetto Blaster EP'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 8:00 AM

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Don't let the attention-grabbing choice of a first single mislead you: Though their cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" sounds pointless at all but the most eardrum-shattering volumes (and only slightly amusing at those), Tom Morello and Oakland rapper Boots Riley, as Street Sweeper Social Club, can blast a satisfying rap-rock barrage when their ideas gel. On the group's Ghetto Blaster EP, the follow-up to last year's self-titled debut album, Morello and Riley tour through redundant riffage and issue more less-than-rousing calls for revolution than I care to count -- but for a few percussive moments, they also kick ass.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CD Review: Bottomless Pit -- 'Blood Under the Bridge'

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 12:42 PM

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Bottomless Pit's first album and a half were rather direct articulations of grief and bewilderment, which made them enchanting, enchanted, and a little bit forbidding. Both were, and you could argue the band itself is, a response to the untimely and senseless 2005 death of Silkworm drummer Michael Dahlquist by the remaining members of that band, plus others from Chicago mainstays Seam and .22. And by that logic, the fact that Bottomless Pit continues to exist is either very encouraging or very depressing.

Blood Under the Bridge
, out today on Comedy Minus One, furthers the case for the former interpretation. Without losing the rumbling melodies and brooding precision that made Hammer of the Gods and the Congress EP hauntingly catchy, this album lets some light and color creep into the shadows. There's more range and variety all around, from the gentle "Rhinelander" to the fierce, Shellac-styled instrumental "Dixon"; more early-'90s jangle and more classic-rock stomp, more nuance and more surprise. (More cowbell, if you will.)


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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review and Download: Curtains' 'The Dissertation (The Wu Thesis)'

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM

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The past month has been a pretty great one for rap. New Orleans weed aficionado and sometime Lil Wayne sidekick Curren$y released Pilot Talk, featuring a terrific single, "The Day," where Jay Electronica waxes "young, black, intelligent, elegant, blasé," and Mos Def sounds like his jaw is still numb from oral surgery. Barely-reformed L.A. gangbanger The Game dropped the ridiculously star-studded Brake Lights mixtape, which features a song called "Phantom of the Opera" and another one called "HaHaHaHaHa." Kanye joined Twitter, which I guess is a good thing for hip-hop in some obscure way. And some dude named Curtains --excuse me, CurT@!n$ (which could be pronounced "Curt at bangin' dollas," if you parse it right)--put out a little downloadable nugget of thuggery called The Dissertation (The Wu Thesis).

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CD Review: Best Coast - 'Crazy For You'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Cosentino's cat, Snacks, graces the cover of Crazy For You, Best Coast's debut album.
  • Cosentino's cat, Snacks, graces the cover of Crazy For You, Best Coast's debut album.

​If the onslaught hasn't already started, expect to be hearing a lot about Best Coast in the coming months. Bethany Cosentino (formerly of Los Angeles tribal-psych outfit Pocahaunted, who are playing tonight at the Rickshaw Stop) has put together a pretty irresistible half-hour of deadpan heartache, all chirping and cooing and girl-group harmonies thickly dusted in grunge-era fuzz, from the ballet-flat-gazing opener "Boyfriend" down to the sunny bonus cut "When I'm With You." Most of us love it; some of us aren't convinced; some of us only have eyes for Snacks (Cosentino's cat) -- but you can be sure Crazy For You will be around for the rest of the summer, at least.

Fans of last season's crop of lovelorn girls -- VivianDum Dum and, uh, boy -- will note the efficiency with which Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno streamline verse, chorus, and bridge without ever sacrificing the feeling of a complete song; the longest track, the swampily sultry "Honey," just barely breaks the three-minute mark. Consider the way "The End" trades a choral coo for an extra layer of distortion without batting an eyelash, or try to come up with something the propulsive "Bratty B" fails to accomplish in its minute and 43 seconds.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CD Review: Baths' 'Cerulean'

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Baths' 'Cerulean'
  • Baths' 'Cerulean'
You've got to be thankful for the hopeless romantics. Without their uninhibited dedication to all things joyous, uplifting, and love-soaked, music wouldn't be anything like it is today. Somehow, these uncynical musicians and producers can turn some of the most jaded, oversexed, post-what-have-you genres into bouts of pop-friendly declarations of love. And whether their heart-on-sleeve sentiments be directed towards life, another person, or an isolated experience, these artists can still speak to us in ways we didn't know we could understand.

Enter Southern California's Will Wiesenfeld, a 21-year-old tunesmith who crafts poignant, beat-centric songs under the name Baths. Similar to how the Postal Service reformatted the rising synth-pop/electroclash scene of the early 2000s to fit the tastes of the more song-oriented indie-rock crowd, Wiesenfeld captures the essence of the testosterone-heavy beat scene he's often grouped with and injects it into the 12 loosely pop-focused songs that make up his heartfelt, lovelorn, and often moving debut album, Cerulean. It's apparent within the initial moments of Baths' record that this will be something more than the patently wonky 'boom-and-slap' and eye-rattling bass of his peers' music, as a chorus of Wiesenfeld's high-register vocals introduces the inviting first song, "Apologetic Shoulder Blades." Most of Cerulean follows suit with strong use of hip-hop-inspired rhythms and earnest vocals and lyrics (whether from the producer himself or samples he's discovered) which provide the backbone for Baths' greatest asset: melody.

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  • 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.'"