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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wilco's Nels Cline on Working with Jeff Tweedy and His Reputation for Weird Sounds

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

That's Nels in the red shirt.
  • That's Nels in the red shirt.

The Wizard of Wilco: Nels Cline is extremely lucky, and he knows it. Widely regarded as one of the world's finest living guitarists, Cline came up playing styles of music whose audience is sadly shrinking: jazz, improvisatory, and avant-garde. If those were the beginning and end of his interests, you probably wouldn't be reading this article. But throughout his career, Cline, 56, has kept one foot on in the pop music world, collaborating with artists like Mike Watt, Sonic Youth, and even Willie Nelson. Still, none of those associations raised Cline's profile as much as joining the celebrated Americana rock outfit Wilco in 2004. Now, Cline gets to lend his virtuosic wailing to some of our era's finest rock -- and play for large crowds all over the world -- while working with his own experimental trio, The Nels Cline Singers, on the side. Ahead of Wilco's three Bay Area shows this week, we spoke with Cline to find out how that all works out... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Wallpaper. Got a Record Deal, Local Artists Tackle Nick Drake's Pink Moon, and More

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

wallpaper_ricky_reed_epic_records_l_a_reid_tricky_stewart.7562806.40.jpg

Wallpaper. Gets a Record Deal: It was around 10 o'clock on a Friday night in December when Ricky Reed walked into a meeting at the Sony Music building in Beverly Hills with no idea what to expect. Less than 36 hours later, Reed -- the creative force behind a comically crunked-out Oakland pop-hop outfit called Wallpaper. -- had signed to Epic Records, an imprint of the Sony empire run by the celebrity record executive and X Factor judge L.A. Reid.

In the span of a weekend, Reed, whose real name is Eric Frederic, morphed from a promising but small-time independent Bay Area artist to a new star in the pop machine responsible for radio staples like Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" and Rihanna's "Umbrella." It's a sharp change for Wallpaper., whose boisterous, bass-heavy funk is half a parody of the hit parade, and half a winking embrace of its charm. While much radio R&B embraces the bling-flashing, bottle-popping fantasies of mainstream hip-hop, Wallpaper. songs glorify drinking Two-Buck Chuck and cruising in your friend's mom's minivan. Its biggest hit, "#STUPiDFACEDD," is a bouncy blast of self-deprecation about getting wasted at a friend's apartment. Reed calls his songs "pop music for the 99 percent" ... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prince Paul's 'Negroes on Ice' Wants the Rap World to Take a Joke

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 10:25 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Prince Paul and P Forreal
  • Prince Paul and P Forreal

Prince Paul's Musical: Negroes on Ice. That's the name of producer Prince Paul and his son's new hip-hop play. The title is provocative; it evokes scathing images of mainstream millionaire rappers with Bambi-like spindly legs slipping and sliding around on the slick ice of the modern hip-hop world. But the title was chosen less for its subversive suggestion than off-kilter comedy kicks. "I wish I could sit down and tell you about how there was this 1920s figure skater," says Paul, "but, well, it's just a name that me and my son came up with that seems to make people smile." Fittingly then, Negroes on Ice is a good-time hip-hop play that delights in poking fun at the genre's often po-faced figures -- but does so while leaving behind an earnest message about the bond between a father and his son... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Print: A Wish List for S.F. Music in 2012, and More

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 8:59 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Here's hoping Roach Gigz gets his due in '12
  • Here's hoping Roach Gigz gets his due in '12

Wish List for 2012: Optimists say that if you want to have your dreams come true, you should write them down. We frankly doubt that elucidating the things we want to happen in S.F. music in 2012 will make them come to pass. But then it's not like things are particularly shabby, musically speaking: 2011 saw local artists get more attention than in many previous years (even if those artists weren't always the ones we wanted), and brought numerous other encouraging developments (also many depressing ones). We can't help feeling a trifle optimistic at the start of this leap year, so it's with a pinch of hopefulness that we offer a wish list for Bay Area music in 2012. If any of them come true, remember whom to credit.

KUSF returns to the airwaves.

The FCC hasn't approved the transfer of the broadcast license from this once-mighty community radio station to a classical-music radio group partly owned by the University of Southern California -- at least not yet. We hope it doesn't go through. Finding a way to return the 34-year-old volunteer-run station to its former glory would be a tremendous longshot. But without KUSF, Bay Area radio doesn't represent the cultural diversity that makes this such an interesting place for music lovers to reside. So, gods above: Shake the earth, shoot lighting bolts, make the sky spew broadcast licenses, whatever. Just please get KUSF back on the air.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Print: Looking Back at the Year in Bay Area Music

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 6:00 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

one_last_spin_art.jpg

Looking Back on 2011: A lot happened in Bay Area music in 2011 -- and not all of it had to do with a female rapper from Oakland called Kreayshawn. Remember KUSF getting shut down? Or the battle to save the Eagle Tavern? And it wasn't all sad news either -- 2011 saw a number of local creative breakthroughs, the continuing rise of electronic music, and some incredible shows. Relive it in our handy local music 2011 rewind.

JANUARY

San Francisco's own state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma works on the Anti-Raves Act of 2011, a bill intended to ban raves -- defined as nighttime events lasting longer than three and a half hours and including prerecorded music -- on public property.

Jan. 18: University of San Francisco officials abruptly shut down the college's radio station, KUSF 90.3 FM, after selling its FCC license to a classical music network partly owned by the University of Southern California. Students, volunteers, and music lovers around the world protest... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Print: Is the Local Cassette Label Revival Just a Fad?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 7:00 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Billy Sprague
  • Billy Sprague

Cassette-only labels are back: With vintage tape duplicators whirring beneath a dizzying backdrop of art supplies, busted keyboards, and shelves of tapes, Billy Sprague describes his long-term relationship with cassettes and the outlandish art that accompanies them. After praising at length the format's financial practicality and sonic warmth, he pauses, smirks, and offers another, perhaps underappreciated quality of cassettes: "They're cute."

Sanity Muffin's Billy Sprague makes runs of 100 tapes -- and they usually sell out.

Sprague runs Sanity Muffin, a modern cassette label that follows the path of vaunted indies like 4AD, Rough Trade, and Factory. In the '80s, those houses explored die-cut, fold-out packages, custom screenprinted snap covers with buttons, and Velcro. In today's mp3-happy music universe, Sprague and many other locals keep the analog tradition alive by releasing innovative music on cassettes, often with bizarre artwork... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Print: Assessing Metallica After 30 Years and Four Nights at the Fillmore, and More

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Metallica at the Fillmore
  • Metallica at the Fillmore

Metallica at 30: Text messages like the one I got from a friend before the third Metallica show last week -- "You are dead to me" -- were exactly the reason I decided to go to all four of the Bay Area metal band's 30th anniversary concerts at the Fillmore. Spending some 12 hours with Metallica in San Francisco's best rock venue might be an Elysium for its fans, but most people I know would rather hang out for a day with Michelle Bachmann, or a dental drill. Going to all four shows would be crazy, torturous, character-tarnishing, and possibly dangerous. "I can't believe you're doing it," I kept hearing, as if I might walk out onto Geary Boulevard on Sunday morning 20 years older, wearing a goatee, and ride off on a Harley with some leather-clad metal vixen. (Or, worse, appreciate St. Anger.)

Whatever -- I enjoy Metallica, or at least I used to. Somehow I needed to understand how the teen who listened to Master of Puppets for two years straight grew up to be an adult who sings along to Taylor Swift. And I wanted to know whether the Bay Area's biggest rock export in three decades still matters, if this Napster-hating, Lou Reed-collaborating, shrink-visiting foursome has anything important left to give to the world... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In Print: Exploring the Hazy Landscapes of Tycho's Vivid Electronica

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 8:52 AM

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Tycho
  • Tycho

Tycho: Scott Hansen may not actually have synesthesia -- the condition where one's sensory perceptions are connected, so that they see music or hear colors -- but you'd be forgiven for assuming he does. Making music as Tycho, and designing visually as ISO50, Hansen possesses an uncanny ability to evoke sensations outside of his work's medium.

His music is immensely visual: Dive, Tycho's latest release (and Hansen's first since his 2004 debut, Sunrise Projector, was repackaged and re-released as Past Is Prologue in 2006), features 10 songs that construct an immersive environment -- a warm bath of swirling melodies, digital delay, and propulsive, almost motorik rhythms. The album draws you into its own landscape, starting with the first track, "A Walk": Slow and ponderous tones float idly over a beat-less surface, creating a hazy atmosphere reminiscent of a coastal rain forest. These notes are gradually met by a laid-back rhythm that expands to include an ambling bassline and ethereal slivers of feminine voice. Halfway through, the song breaks, and we're transported at 80 miles per hour along a coastline at ground level. Moving rapidly, the musical images fade into a blur, as though Hansen is driving a Greyhound bus through a tone poem. And actually, that's what all of Dive feels like -- one continuous visual journey viewed out of a passenger window. Tracks like "Adrift" and "Dive" create entire highway networks from washed-out synthesizer pads, reverb-soaked guitars, and wandering monophonic motifs... [Continue reading]

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't Call 'Em Slow: The Weakerthans Bring Their Deliberate Albums to the Live Stage

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

The Weakerthans
  • The Weakerthans

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

The Weakerthans: Staying abreast of contemporary music is an exhausting and nearly futile enterprise. Too many bands exist, as do too many songs, too many shows, too many tweets, too many everything. Thankfully, bands like The Weakerthans exist, too -- groups whose members resist saturating the world with input and only say something when they have something worth saying.

Since their inception in 1997, the Winnipeg four-piece has made only four full studio albums and six total releases. Reunion Tour, The Weakerthans' fourth and most recent full-length, arrived in 2007 -- which feels like an eternity ago. But that brief discography indicates a great sense of care, not laziness. When a Weakerthans record arrives, you can be sure that you'll have a lot to chew on. This week, they're giving local fans a lot of live material to digest by playing their four albums over consecutive nights at The Independent: 1997's Fallow on Wednesday, 2001's Left and Leaving on Thursday, 2003's Reconstruction Site on Friday, and Reunion Tour on Saturday. They will repeat this routine in New York City soon thereafter... [continue reading]

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Distortion 2 Static Turns Off the Mic After 10 Years, and More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 6:00 AM

DJ Neil Armstrong will be performing at Distortion 2 Static's farewell party.
  • DJ Neil Armstrong will be performing at Distortion 2 Static's farewell party.

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

No More Static: "Me and Ariel Nuñez walked into the public access TV studio on a Friday in 2002, and they gave us a time slot for that Monday!" Halline Overby, who performs under the name DJ Haylow, is recounting the day that he and Ariel Nuñez were given the go-ahead for their hip-hop TV show. Named Distortion 2 Static, after a song by the Roots, the show quickly became a Bay Area broadcasting beacon: on it, Ariel Nuñez (also known as Rel), his brother Aries Nuñez (a.k.a. Prince Aries), and Overby profiled local artists without major reputations, and hustled interviews with soon-to-break megastars. On Nov. 25, they will close the show's decade-long reign with a farewell party at Mighty.

The way Overby and Aries tell it, Distortion 2 Static was fueled by the unbridled enthusiasm of die-hard hip-hop fans, coupled with an aptitude for professional broadcasting... [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.'"