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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Arcade Fire, the Hugest Band in Indie Rock, Stays Grounded

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

From the latest SF Weekly:

An interview with Will Butler of Arcade Fire
: One of the more interesting things about Arcade Fire — maybe as interesting as its music — is the way the band challenges the scope of what so-called indie rock bands are supposed to be.

It did this early on with its notoriously intense and emotionally gigantic shows, in which members eventually came to wear helmets to protect themselves from their own onstage antics. It did this with its consistent financial and public support of the cause of Haiti, the struggling Carribbean nation from which the family of member Régine Chassagne hails.

And it did this also by becoming huge itself — Grammy-winningly, culture-eclipsingly, arena-playingly huge, which brainy guitar bands from Montreal are rarely able to do, even if they want to. (There is also, of course the hugeness of Arcade Fire bandleader Win Butler, who is 6-foot-4, plays aggressive basketball, and is well aware of his cultural stature, to put it mildly.)

Ahead of Arcade Fire's show this week at Shoreline, we spoke with Win's younger brother, Will, about how the band deals with its vastness, including the massive paper heads it wears onstage during this tour for Reflektor, Arcade Fire's big, dancey, James Murphy-produced fourth LP....  [Continue Reading]

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Toro y Moi Moves to Berkeley, Thao Nguyen Finds Inspiration in Jail, and More

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick - ANDREW PAYNTER
  • Andrew Paynter
  • Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick

From SF Weekly's latest print edition:

Toro y Moi Thaws Out: In 2011, Bundick made his biggest hop yet: He moved from his native South Carolina to Berkeley, accompanying his longtime girlfriend as she entered graduate school. It was in Berkeley -- away from friends and family, amid the threat of earthquakes and the pressures of his girlfriend's studies -- that Bundick wrote and recorded his third album as Toro y Moi. Anything in Return, which came out last month, shortens the cycle of nostalgia from two decades to one: It's the 26-year-old's take on post-millennial hip-hop, pop, and R&B; the Toro y Moi synthesis of producers like Kanye West, J. Dilla, and Just Blaze, plus a little Justin Bieber, too.

Anything in Return is also the finest Toro y Moi album yet. That's partly because this set of songs, more than any of Bundick's other recent output, begins to reveal that its maker -- the plainly dressed prince of chillwave, the laconic young lord of the laptop, the bike-riding Berkeley resident and runny-nose announcer -- maybe isn't so chill after all...

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yo La Tengo Is Playing an In-Store at Amoeba This Month

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM


San Francisco is a Yo La Tengo kind of town, a place where the lauded New Jersey rock trio can come, play three nights at the Fillmore supported by the best local acts of the day, and sell out each night. (It might even be the same people going to every show.)

So while it's not surprising that the band plans to stop here on the promo tour for its new album, Fade, the venue for the band's stop did raise our eyebrows a bit.

See also:

* Over the Weekend: Yo La Tengo and Sic Alps at the Fillmore

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'I'm Extremely Uncool': 9 Lively Bassnectar Quotes That Didn't Make Our Cover Story

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 3:00 AM

Bassnectar in San Francisco - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Bassnectar in San Francisco

Our cover feature this week is on Bassnectar, the dance music behemoth that hails from right here in the Bay Area. The man behind Bassnectar is Lorin Ashton, who said a lot of interesting things in interviews that we didn't manage to get into our story. Helpfully, we've collected a list of them here. So read on for Ashton's thoughts on Pitchfork, the irreplaceability of the live experience, and why he's happy to be left off the DJ lists compiled by Forbes and DJ Mag. And check out the full story: Bass Instincts: How a Metal Kid from the Bay Area Became One of Dance Music's Biggest DJs.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Print: Defending the Lowly CD From Oblivion

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM

From the latest edition of SF Weekly:


In Defense of the CD: No one loves CDs. The cool kids today want to either dig through crates of dusty old vinyl or pay four times too much for the new stuff. The even cooler kids spend actual money on godawful cassette tapes. And everyone else under age 40 has abandoned physical formats for music altogether, instead slurping up free files off the Internet or paying paltry sums to grab them from legal retailers like iTunes or Amazon.

Meanwhile, the CD looks like it might go the way of the 8-track. Sales of the format have plummeted 50 percent from their peak in 2000. Last year, digital sales surpassed physical sales for the first time ever. And many smaller cities don't even have a place to buy CDs anymore, save for the racks of big sellers at box retailers like Best Buy and Target.

This month, Rolling Stone reported that some industry insiders believe there's no future in making and selling plastic circles digitally encoded with music. "I'm going to say three years -- Walmart might squeeze five years out of it," says an anonymous source quoted by the magazine.

To which I say: Hell no.

Music industry, I want my CDs. I know we all have Spotify now, or something like it, and I'll admit to having many more songs in my iTunes library than on my cluttered and overcrowded CD shelf. But kill the CD, and you'd kill a masterpiece... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Myth: How S.F.'s Geographer Keeps "Failing" Forward, and More

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 9:14 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print edition:


Geographer: While Geographer's Mike Deni isn't given to pretense, he's been known to wax a little philosophical from time to time. One such pearl of wisdom: "You never want to accomplish what you set out to do. That's when you've really failed." Granted, the Jersey transplant was referring to his attempts to reach the "incredibly high standard of synthesizer work" set by Prince. But you get the sense that the guy doesn't exactly let himself off easy.

Deni's been teamed up with like-minded obsessives, cellist Nate Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher, both chums from their days at Berklee College of Music, since 2008. In the last three-odd years, the group has become one of San Francisco's best-kept secrets on the back of its hazy, retro-futuristic arrangements of cello, synthesizers, electronic beats, and Deni's heartfelt tenor. The resulting sound invites a whole host of comparisons, with Andrew Bird covering early M83 seeming particularly apt... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SF Weekly's Noise Pop Issue: Here's a Guide to This Week's Cover

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Who are these people? Let's find out... - PHOTOS BY AMANDA LOPEZ, DESIGN BY ANDREW NILSEN
  • Photos by Amanda Lopez, design by Andrew Nilsen
  • Who are these people? Let's find out...

To illustrate this week's package of stories about the 20th Anniversary of Noise Pop, SF Weekly photographed some of the local artists headlining shows this year's festival. The music of Thao Nguyen, John Vanderslice, Sonny Smith (of Sonny & the Sunsets), Bare Wires, Papercuts, Young Prisms, and Dirty Ghosts all sounds fairly different -- there's sprightly folk, primitive power pop, and innovative electro-rock among them. But these are all among the Bay Area's premiere indie musicians, the kind that Noise Pop has shown off over the last 20 years.

Giving national exposure to the local scene has been one of the festival's most significant contributions -- and part of the reason why, after two decades, it's hard not to see Noise Pop's indie-minded crusade as a success. After the jump, check out a full list of who's on the cover of this week's issue.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Print: Exploring Bhi Bhiman's Funny, Compassionate Folk Songs

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Bhi Bhiman
  • Bhi Bhiman

Bhi Bhiman: It might surprise anyone who's heard his booming tenor of a voice, but San Francisco singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman didn't always want to be a musician. His first chosen profession? Comedian. Which goes some way toward explaining the sharp humor in his lyrics.

"I tried to do [comedy], but playing guitar on stage is a lot easier for me than having nothing up there," Bhi (pronounced "Bee") Bhiman tells us over coffee in SOMA's Brickhouse cafe. "People always notice my vocals first, but I think guitar might be my strength. It's something I could do in my sleep, so having that as the foundation and singing over it is a lot easier than comedy. I just knew I wanted to be funny in some way."

Despite the fact that there's a lot of serious social commentary on his latest album, Bhiman -- stories from perspectives as diverse as a rail-riding hobo ("Guttersnipe"), a North Korean prisoner ("Kimchee Line"), and a cuckolded lover ("Crime of Passion") -- Bhi's songs do indeed have a stream of sly and dry humor running through their lyrics. Sometimes, as on "Kimchee Line," it's all in the delivery. But the ode to white trash-dom "Ballerina" even goes so far as to parody Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Jackson," with the opening line: "We got married in a Wal-Mart/ Down by the Wrangler jeans." ... [continue reading]

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lana Del Rey Arrives, Shaky and a Little Grim

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 5:30 AM

From the latest edition of SF Weekly:

Lana Del Rey performs tonight at Amoeba SF.
  • Lana Del Rey performs tonight at Amoeba SF.

No Pleasure in the Spotlight: "Feet don't fail me now," Lana Del Rey groans as her debut album, Born to Die, ushers itself in with a flourish of strings and sampled moans. It's a curiously unconfident first step for any singer, but especially so for this one, whose every move has been chronicled by every website worth its Google PageRank since the release of her first single last August. She has gone from rising star to whipping post and back again, sometimes in the same week, if not the same 24-hour span.

And now here is Born to Die, a case study in the blog star's debut album as anticlimax, or in the humiliating way up-and-coming starlets are treated by the media as a matter of course, or in how a major label can use both concepts to get a developing artist boatloads of press before that person has said much of anything of artistic import. The latter strategy at least seems appropriate to the subject matter at hand here; Del Rey's songs give a voice to the women endlessly photographed on nu-paparazzi sites like Last Night's Party, glamorously spilling drinks as they give their sexiest looks to the camera. Revelry does get name-checked in the lyrics -- shout-outs to Bacardi and Pabst Blue Ribbon -- but so do the zip-addled fucks and heartbreaks that inevitably result when the flashbulbs stop popping and the free liquor runs out... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

V-Nasty on Watching Friends Get Shot, the N-Word, and Her Rap Career

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 4:30 AM

From the latest issue of SF Weekly:

21-year-old Vanessa Reece, aka V-Nasty
  • 21-year-old Vanessa Reece, aka V-Nasty

V Nasty, as She Wanna Be: "He got shot." Blunt but with a quiver in her voice, V-Nasty recalls the day her best friend died in her arms. The grisly incident happened on Coolidge Avenue in Oakland, when the rapper born Vanessa Reece was 15 years old. An East Oakland native, Reece says the death of her friend was the most traumatic experience of her childhood. But pressed for details on the murder, she says she doesn't want to comment, adding only that the incident threw her into a period where "there was no holding me down."

Last year, the 21-year-old Reece, a member of Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob, struck Internet infamy through a combination of cuss-laden, slick-talking songs, and her controversial, casual use of the n-word. But as she tells it, there's nothing contentious about her music or choice of slang -- it's just a natural outcome of an upbringing peppered with tumultuous events like seeing friends get killed and watching police raid her house. That rough-and-tumble background is still with her today: Reece was meant to kick off a six-date cross-country tour in San Francisco on Feb. 1, but canceled all the shows due to what her publicist calls "probation issues" stemming from a stint in Santa Rita jail last year. So when she says, "You gotta be from the 'hood to know what V-Nasty's talking about," Reece might have a point... [continue reading]

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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.'"