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Friday, January 16, 2015

Elvis Costello, Lars Ulrich, Phil Lesh, Boz Scaggs, and Yo-Yo Ma Played Michael Tilson Thomas' Birthday Party Last Night

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Drew Zingg, Karl Sevaride, Elvis Costello, Phil Lesh, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lars Ulrich, and Boz Scaggs. - © MOANALANI JEFFREY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • © Moanalani Jeffrey Photography
  • Drew Zingg, Karl Sevaride, Elvis Costello, Phil Lesh, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lars Ulrich, and Boz Scaggs.
In the current issue of SF Weekly, we brought you an interview with Elvis Costello, who will join the San Francisco Symphony starting tonight for a three-performance run of Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale) at Davies Symphony Hall. In it, we noted there were also plans for a blow-out 70th birthday celebration for Symphony Director Michael Tilson Thomas, with a Jan. 15 performance hinting at "special guests" that would likely include Costello. 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dan Deacon To Resonate at the Exploratorium Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 8:34 AM

  • Shawn Brackbill
  • Dan Deacon
Dan Deacon released a video teaser this week for his new album, coming out in February. Amid a frenetic tumble of sound, the camera leaps around Deacon’s Baltimore studio, catching glimpses of his flickering laptop, a rack of electronics, monitors, effects, Deacon with headphones furiously playing a guitar, a sound board, a snatch of the cartoon-colored mural which stayed up after the former Hexagon Space closed, brick walls, flashes of psychedelic geometry, the keys of Deacon’s prized Disklavier — a midi-controllable player piano — leaping erratically, peg boards draped with coiled cords, Deacon’s mad-scientist face lit by the cool-blue screen glow, photographs of alien landscapes, an alleyway seen through dirty glass, distortions of color, shadow, and form, Deacon hunched over a row of devices wrapped in brightly colored duct tape.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Throw Out Your Synthesizer, You Need a Yaybahar

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 11:01 AM

  • Vimeo
Talk about your bedroom producers. 

Just when we thought we'd heard it all from the world of spacey, synth-like sounds — most of them produced with the press of a button or two — an Istanbul-based musician named Görkem Şen has gone and blown the fanciest Korg out of the water.

Meet the yaybahar, an acoustic instrument with a fretted neck, coiled springs, and drums to create an echo. It can be played with a mallet or bow, somehow combining all these elements to make some pretty beautiful and very weird space-age sounds. 

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Heartless Bastards Do Not Mean to Antagonize You: Five Things to Know About This Vital Rock Band

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 8:26 AM

Heartless Bastards
  • Heartless Bastards

Founded in Ohio nearly a decade ago, Heartless Bastards are a bare-bones rock 'n roll band built around the powerful voice and songwriting skills of singer-guitarist Erika Wennerstrom. Though the lineup has changed over the years, their sound remains in a sweet spot: Wennerstrom's gnarled vocals airing striking melodies amid bruising, blues-derived guitar rock. As you might expect of an outfit that's toured with Drive-By Truckers and a guitarist who played with Lucinda Williams, the Bastards' sound bears a decidedly rootsy influence -- especially on their latest album, Arrow.

As the new songs demonstrate, Heartless Bastards are still making rock that feels vital and important -- even if influences like Thin Lizzy, T-Rex, and the Rolling Stones don't have the patina of newness. So, after our recent conversation with Wennerstrom, let us offer five things you should know about the Heartless Bastards before this Thursday, April 5, when they play the Fillmore.

1. They were introduced to their first label by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys -- back when the Black Keys were still, you know, an "indie" band.

Both the Black Keys and the Heartless Bastards were originally based in Ohio. Keys drummer Carney passed the Bastards' demo to his label Fat Possum, which released the Bastards' acclaimed debut album, and which prompted many to compare the sound of the two bands. But about four years ago, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin. "When we see [the Black Keys] it's friendly, but we're never in regular contact with each other to begin with," she says.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Watch Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers Play an Astoundingly Good Cover of Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That" -- In Their Van

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM


Yeah, we've seen recordings of bands performing in their tour vans before. And while they're generally quirky and funny, rarely are they as cute -- and downright good -- as the version of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go for That" that S.F.'s Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers posted this week.

Bluhm and her band have a regular series of "van sessions" going on their YouTube page, but from what we've seen, they hit a new level of radness with this one, which was recorded while driving from Phoenix to Pioneertown, Calif.

From behind the wheel, Bluhm gives the song's moody vocals a sweetness that the original lacks -- and she even busts out an amazing kazoo solo. Meanwhile, the rest of the Gramblers lay down a crisp, funky rhythm on guitars and a keyboard. They give the song more like than Hall and Oates could, all while inside a moving van. The only bummer here is the musicians' apparent lack of seatbelts:

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mike Patton and Secret Chiefs 3 Deliver a Rousing Take on Scott Walker's "Jacky"

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Mike Patton
  • Mike Patton

So here's a little energetic vibration to rev up your afternoon: Mike Patton, guesting with Secret Chiefs 3 -- the project of Trey Spruance, Patton's Mr. Bungle collaborator -- covering (the hell out of) Scott Walker's "Jacky." (Which is itself an English-language take on the late, great Jacques Brel's "La chanson de Jacky.")

It's, um, bombastic -- as anything with Patton on the mic is inclined to be -- and it's also pretty great: Patton ably sings the song's rollercoaster lyrics both in English and in the original French (tricky, that), and gives the vocals the big-lunged gusto they need. Secret Chiefs 3 do a very slick job of playing the theatrical strings and brass of the music, and there's a wonderful little part in the middle where the song takes on the tint of a crackly telephone. Given that the narrator spends this song imagining himself in different places, under different names, living different lives, the shifts in language and sonics are a clever addition.

The "Jacky" cover is the A-side of a new 7-inch, and comes backed by a western-themed Secret Chiefs 3 remake of their song "The Exile," now called "The Western Exile" and credited to the Traditionalists.

Check out both new songs -- and the originals on which "Jacky" is based -- after the jump.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oakland's tUnE-yArDs Wins The Village Voice's Annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Hey, you'd be smiling, too.
  • Hey, you'd be smiling, too.

Let the Bay Area pride fly: According to the the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll, whose results were released late yesterday, the best album of 2011 was made by none other than Oakland funk-pop outfit tUnE-yArDs.

Yep, that's best album, period. The same coveted title awarded (almost unanimously) to Kanye West last year has now been bestowed upon w h o k i l l, tUnE-yArDs' second album and a riot of loop-pedal groove, roiling bassfunk, and multidimensional vocalizing from headwoman Merrill Garbus.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Book Murder in the Front Row Tells the Story of Bay Area Thrash Metal in Pictures

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Metallica, way back when.
  • Metallica, way back when.

Everyone knows Metallica. But not everyone knows that Metallica was the product of a full-blown '80s thrash metal scene in the Bay Area -- a scene that fostered other notable local bands like Testament, Death Angel, and Exodus. These weren't the makeup-wearing pretty boys strutting around MTV playing diluted hard rock. They were misfits trying to push their music to the fastest, loudest, most chaotic edge they could find in sweaty S.F. and East Bay clubs. And a few of the bands, along with their L.A. peers like Slayer, eventually even found some mainstream notoriety, helping to establish this thrash-derived sound as the quintessential American heavy metal. Just look at the success of the Big Four tour.

A new book aims to capture the early days of this scene. In more than 400 photographs from Brian Lew and Harald Oimoen, Murder in the Front Row tells the story of Bay Area thrash in the '80s through pictures of such notable events as Clif Burton's first rehearsal and gig with Metallica, Dave Mustaine's tenure in an early edition of the band, Slayer's Kerry King performing onstage with Megadeth, and more. In addition to the live shots, there are also many pictures showing the raucous post-show parties -- the kinds of places where Metallica began to earn its old nickname, Alcoholica.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Watch tUnE-yArDs' TV Debut with the Roots on "Gangsta"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM

tUnE-yArDs on TV!
  • tUnE-yArDs on TV!

So this was pretty cool: Not only did the Oakland experimental pop outfit tUnE-yArDs make its TV debut last night on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show, but it did it so with the show's house band, which just so happens to be the Roots. With ?uestlove on drums and Black Thought on the rhyming breakdown, the haunting, funky tUnE-yArDs track "Gangsta" got a slight reworking fit for a live studio audience and a nation of people who've never seen anything like this before. In case you couldn't stay up until 1:30 a.m. on a school night, you can check out the video here ...

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Friday, July 29, 2011

John Cameron Mitchell, of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Fame, Is DJing in S.F. This Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 4:27 PM

John Cameron Mitchell
  • John Cameron Mitchell

There's a scene in the seminal rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch in which Hedwig, as a young boy growing up in East Berlin, shows how he used to lie with his head in the oven, listening to Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and David Bowie on the American Armed Forces Radio. Living in a tiny apartment with a grouchy mother, Hedwig and the radio just had nowhere else to go.

It's a poignant display of the lengths that some will go to absorb the music that speaks to them. And that's partly what John Cameron Mitchell's story is about: Sometimes you like music so much, you put yourself through all kinds of discomfort just to get to it.

Luckily, there won't be much discomfort required to absorb the songs chosen by Mitchell himself when he comes to DJ this Sunday in S.F.

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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.'"