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Blitzkrieg what?



MUSIC The progression of party-rock champion Andrew W.K.’s career reads less like a linear trajectory than a whirlwind of bizarre, hilarious, and downright enviable undertakings. After he started out as a keyboardist in New York’s avant-garde circles, and built his reputation with a handful of ecstatic butt-rock records (most notably 2001’s I Get Wet, featuring that iconic nosebleed on its cover), W.K.’s biography plunged into full-on chaos mode.

From new-age piano improviser on 2009’s 55 Cadillac, to kids’ game-show host on Cartoon Network’s Destroy Build Destroy, to celebrity ambassador of Playtex Fresh + Sexy Wipes, to valiant record-setter for Longest Drum Session in a Retail Store after this year’s much-blogged 24 Hour Drum Marathon, predicting W.K.’s next move over the past decade has proved futile. Yet, his latest gig might be the most wonderfully surprising of all: assuming the bandleader role in the latest incarnation of punk-rock legends, the Ramones.

Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, featuring W.K. on lead vocals, will hit the Independent this Saturday night, introducing a new twist in the Ramones’ storied legacy.

Speaking to the Bay Guardian over the phone from St. Louis, on his second US tour stop as the band’s de-facto Joey figure, W.K. sets his zany, carefree party persona aside, revealing himself as both humbled and starstruck at the reality of leading the band he’s idolized for so many years.

“It’s a combination of feeling on top of the world, because dreams just keep coming true, and terrified by the magnitude of how fantastic the opportunity is, and also, not embarrassed, but just aware, of how many other people would like to have this chance to sing these songs with Marky. Why do I get it?” W.K. ponders.

“I feel very, very lucky, like I want to represent all my friends and all the people around the world that love this music so much. I feel like I’m doing this on [their] behalf, and that this opportunity is to be shared as much as possible, at least in spirit.”

Most famously led by Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy, the most iconic quadfecta of first names in rock since the Beatles, the Ramones forever changed the course of pop music, as one of the formative outfits of the punk rock movement. The songs, from “Blitzkrieg Bop,” to “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” to “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” were hedonistic in their intent, and radically economical in their structure and duration, feeding directly into the party mindset W.K. would adopt decades afterward.

Their records, from the skeletal beginnings of Leave Home and Rocket to Russia in 1977, to the Phil Spector-produced technicolor pop of End of the Century in 1980, certainly marked an artistic progression, but W.K. thinks of it differently.

“All the albums are just this big explosion of inspired genius. It’s hard to even break it apart. I don’t want to break it apart, actually. I just like thinking of the whole thing as just this one phenomenon.

“[The Ramones are] so singular. They’re so completely self-actualized, that just them standing there screams this certain feeling, and no one else has it… When we play live, it almost feels as if the show is one song.”

While Marky Ramone didn’t join the band until partway through its creative explosion (he took over for Tommy on drums in ’78, after several stints with the Misfits and Richard Hell & the Voidoids), he continues to keep the Ramones legacy alive, as its last remaining member after the deaths of Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee, from lymphoma, prostate cancer, and a heroin overdose, respectively. W.K. is clearly inspired by Marky’s resilience, through tumultuous times that would’ve rendered positive, joyful music a near impossibility for many musicians moving forward.

“One of the most inspiring parts is his conviction to keep on going and doing all that he can to do this music, which is a cheerful kind of music,” W.K. explains. “No matter how dark aspects of the whole adventure have been, or how challenging, or how sad, or how frustrating, there was always a cheerful effort. The end result was to feel good, not bad.”

W.K. might not be the most intuitive choice to assume Joey’s position as lead singer, yet he contends that his feel-good reputation, and outspoken promotion of partying as way of life, is what captured Marky’s attention, eventually resulting in the current touring lineup.

“Marky, right away when we first met, had done some amount of research into my vibe, or whatever, and said he definitely enjoyed and appreciated the party philosophy,” W.K. says. “[However], at our first dinner together, he explained that he doesn’t want someone who would even attempt to replicate [Joey’s persona]. The shoes are impossible to fill.”

“The thing is, the music is so good, that as long as you sing the best you can, it takes care of itself. No one could ever sing like Joey, even if they tried. It’s futile. There’s no singer like him. But, the songs, as Marky says, deserve to still be played. I just serve him, serve the legacy, and most of all, the music, as best I can.”

On Saturday night, Ramones fans can expect a 30+ song set, borrowing from each of the band’s albums, from its 1976 self-titled debut, to 1995’s farewell effort, ¡Adios Amigos!. Upon W.K.’s request, Marky agreed to include a rendition of “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” from 1986’s Animal Boy, a song he heard in a NYC record store as a teenager, in the moment that cemented his Ramones fandom.

“That’s the moment during the show when I can connect all these different times,” W.K. explains, “from the first time I ever saw the Ramones, to the first time I ever heard that song, and now I’m singing it with Marky onstage. Those are the kind of moments that make life worth living. Even if you just get a few of them in your life, you’re lucky.”


With FIGO, the Meat Sluts

Sat/12, 9pm, $25


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Bedroom jams


Are you in the mood for love? Do you need a bubble bath first? Are you down with hot (but safe) stranger sex? Follow our handy flow chart, learn which tracks will best set your love-making mood.


Porn again



SEX + MUSIC What does Tumblr sound like? Is there an xTube channel on Pandora? Does Grindr have autoplay? (Perish the thought.) Already the gay porn soundtrack seems a relic of some ancient age, when people used pterodactyls to press “play” on the VCR, or put their real ages in their AOL chatroom handles. But even just a few years ago, during the increasingly desperate gasps of the dominant adult film studios, porn soundtracks were an essential part of big, expensive productions, and local background composers like JD Slater and Minor9 were taking experimental liberties.

Now, we’re about to be treated to the Holy Grail of lost porn soundtracks, with the upcoming release of School Daze, a double-album collecting the skin flick work of SF electronic pioneer Patrick Cowley for Fox Studio, composed from 1973-1981. Cowley, who died of AIDS in 1982, is famous for his production work with disco diva Sylvester and epic Hi-NRG tracks like “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” School Daze contains some pretty trippy stuff — in the buffed, blonde, hairless heyday of early ’80s gay porn like Muscle Up, you’d hardly expect to come across such expressionistic (yet still playful) compositions with titles like “Seven Sacred Pools,” “Zygote,” “Pagan Rhythms,” and “Tides of Man.”

School Daze is being released on HNYTRX, local DJ crew Honey Soundsystem’s label, on Oct. 19 — Cowley’s 63rd birthday — with a celebration at Honey’s weekly Sunday party, Oct. 20. (Details at www.megatronman.com). I talked to Honey members Josh Cheon and Jacob Sperber about the unearthed gems.

SF Bay Guardian OK, rumors have been flying about these tracks for years. How did you get you get your hands on them?

Josh Cheon In 2007, Honey Soundsystem was blessed to meet the former owner of Megatone Records [Cowley’s label], John Hedges. He was moving to Palm Springs and invited us over to his basement to collect over 2000 records from his collection. Among the archives we noticed three moldy boxes of quarter inch reel-to-reel tapes. Some of the tapes had unreleased music by Patrick Cowley. Inspired, we contacted Patrick’s friends and family to discover as much information as possible.

A few of Patrick’s friends asked if anyone had discovered the gay porn soundtracks Patrick had composed. Digging deeper, we unearthed John Coletti, the owner of famed vintage gay porn company Fox Studio in Los Angeles. John had heard about Patrick’s music from the legendary Sylvester and proposed he write music for his films. That was in 1981. Patrick jumped on this offer and sent reels of his college compositions from the ’70s to John in LA. We were able to locate Coletti in Los Angeles though an old address on a porn tape. In May 2013, I flew to LA to pick up the tapes from the Fox Studio storage garage and brought them back to San Francisco.

SFBG Why do you think Patrick went so moody and trippy with these compositions?

JC I think the ambience reflects the gay bathhouse scene of San Francisco during the late ’70s. Patrick frequented the bookstores in the Castro and the bathhouses of SOMA, a few blocks from his recording studio. He had the perfect setting to compose songs there. He also smoked a lot of pot and most of these songs could be stoner jams.

Jacob Sperber It can’t be denied that these compositions have that tripped-out sound that most San Franciscan musicians end up folding into their music. The jam bands that made this place famous and the microclimates of this city breed a noodle-y and melty sound in the musicians that live here. In conversations with people who worked with Patrick, we learned how much the session musicians and jazz artists in the Bay Area influenced the sounds of 12-inch disco here. Undoubtedly Patrick worked with a lot of these session musicians and took inspiration from them. There is a foggy melancholy to this city and it comes through in the music, with perhaps a premonition of the storm to come in the ’80s, when HIV first hit.

SFBG Have you had a chance to watch the actual movies these tracks went with? Are the soundtracks effective as porn music?

JC Yes, I own both movies that use Patrick’s music. This compilation features soundtrack music from two Fox Studio films Muscle Up and School Daze. The movies were originally shot on 16mm with no microphone so they were silent. Rather than overdub fake sex moans, John Coletti decided to use Cowley’s music as soundtracks. Coletti used a variable speed oscillator to adjust the pitch and speed of Patrick’s songs in-sync with the film scene. So yes, a lot of thought went into fitting each composition with the film scene, and it works wonderfully.

SFBG After spending so much time with this, what do you think about the sounds of porn today?

JS Honestly we don’t know many people who watch traditionally produced porn these days. Most of our friends either don’t want to pay for it, aren’t turned on by it, or are making their own at home. The new soundtrack to porn is sex. The raw grit of an iPhone microphone recording or even the silence of your laptop on mute, so that your roomies don’t know you’re jerking off, is way more of a turn-on these days.

Mexican summer



MUSIC There was no reason for me to be awake at 7:31am, since I’d flown into Mexico City the day before. Losing two hours of sleep from the time change left me dazed. Exactly 10 minutes later my hotel room started to shake. I sat up, alarmed, and assessed the commotion I heard in the hallway before I realized I was experiencing a 6.2 earthquake from the fifth floor. I clicked on the TV and saw structured evacuations of buildings that could have easily been near me. I wondered if I should be doing the same, but the shaking stopped. It was like my welcoming jolt — “Get ready, you’re with us now. You do what we do.”

I’d trekked to this monster of a city before, but only spent three days last time. I loved it on a touristy level and knew I wanted more, so I planned a return this summer. Coincidentally, SF’s Alcoholocaust Presents (which books punk shows) had Los Headaches and Los Vincent Black Shadows slated for some Bay Area appearances shortly before my trip, as part of both Mexico City bands’ West Coast summer tour. Intrigued, I spent two consecutive nights at the Hemlock Tavern checking out the bands, which were bouncing off the walls with energy (even when the musicians weren’t playing). Bob Log III and the Okmoniks headlined to a hot and crowded club the second night.

I bought Los Headaches’ CD, Never Ending Hunger, the night before from Twist!, the bassist [Ed. note: All last names are omitted to protect the band members from immigration]. At the time I didn’t realize he’s really not a member of the band (I figured they had interchangeable members since he is in Los Vincent Black Shadows) and that US Immigration, some weed in a guitar case, and those pesky work visas had marred the tour plans of two Headaches; granting them deportations and a five-year ban on US entry. Alcoholocaust would put me in touch with Twist! He’d be my point of contact for a week of strangers showing me kindness, sharing music, and letting me in on parts of the city I may have not otherwise seen.



“Ever had Mezcal?” Twist! asked. I’d been off the sauce for nine months, but before I arrived an itinerary email suggested plans to infiltrate an invite-only VICE party (where the Growlers played), record shopping (my request), seeing some venues where local bands play or a house show (ultimately my goal), and the problematic hint of grabbing some beers.

We ate a salmon and caper pizza and I was introduced to chimichurri at a restaurant in the trendy Condesa neighborhood. His wife and 5-month-old joined, along with Carlos (one of the deported Headaches). Everyone but me had a beer. “Yes,” I answered. “What about pulque?” he retorted. The concoction of fermented agave sap evaded me on my previous trip. In the spirit of trying new things and rather than be a slave to any rules about substance (yet cautious not to be enslaved by the bottle), I decided the next day to alleviate my anxiety and imbibed.

“It’s like Jeeez” Fosi said, joking about the drink’s suspect consistency in a thick accent. (They told me they don’t normally speak English, but since my Spanish is limited they made an exception). He’s the other deported Headache, a guitarist who faced tough questioning and an invasive search from immigration officers who threatened him with up to 20 years in jail if he didn’t adequately cooperate. One mango, one pistachio: down the hatch. Both were delicious and I had no regrets, body buzz and all.

Hell bent on finding an in to the VICE party, a barrage of texts and phone calls flew across the table. Pepe (Twist!’s brother and Los Headaches’ drummer) met us at the bar. I envisioned the lost home video mentioned of the two brothers taking turns throwing themselves into a drum set, honing their Nirvana impersonations as kids.

Their conversations lapsed into Spanish as another stressful development arose when a band showcase they organized at the last minute for Friday night was suddenly jeopardized by greed (the person who was going to lend the art space was now asking $300. It wasn’t clear to me if that meant pesos or US dollars). For a moment my stomach sank and I thought there might be a shakedown, but a house was secured. They’d throw a party, free of charge.

Despite the free hors d’oeuvres and Dos Equis we stumbled upon at a Volcom party for a new shoe line, it probably paled compared to any exclusive party. I passed on the Growlers (a few of the band members snuck in) since Friday’s showcase would be the main event.



Nico called my name to join him for a walk to the liquor store. Bleached-blond with shades, there’s no way he’s not in a band. He plays guitar and sings (they all sing) and was the final Headache I met in Mexico City. He described the common response from girls when they ask what he does and he tells them he plays rock’n’roll: they’re not interested. I said freelance music writing doesn’t pay well either. “We are losers,” he joked.

They don’t often get paid to play, but the determination to simply do what they love with their lives seemed to be the core of their existence. The showcase came together in a series of sweaty, passionate, punk-rock performances. Grandma Boys, Suca Suca, and Los Reverse demonstrated spirited, supportive roles for the aforementioned bands.

“This is for you. This is all for you, man,” Twist! said, almost staring through me with intensity. Party mode had climaxed, but the profundity of what transpired didn’t sink in until later. The day before I left, Fosi asked, “Did you get what you came for?” I told him “And then some.” Humbled, lucid, and feeling alive, I left fulfilled. My reward is that I remember everything.


Bugging out


MUSIC As Urinals folklore goes, the band was formed in 1978 by a group of five UCLA students looking to have a spot in their dorm talent show. Guitarist and vocalist John Talley-Jones recalls the band’s earnest beginnings as an experiment that evolved into something much more. “We were in film school, not approaching it as musicians, but as conceptual artists,” Talley-Jones says. “It was an experiment to see if you put five people with limited music in a room and see what they can do with one quasi guitarist. It was like an art project.”

And 35 years later — save for a decade-long hiatus and a few changes in the lineup — the Urinals are still at it. The group play’s Oakland record shop Stranded’s one-year anniversary party this weekend, and has a new full-length in the works for next year (label yet to be determined).

Coming forth in a time when virtuoso-like musicians were most valued, inexperience and ineptitude were the Urinals’ calling card — from music on down to the etching of a garbled face on its Sex E.P. (Happy Squid Records, 1980) and anthology Negative Capability…Check it Out! (Amphetamine Reptile Records, 1997).

“Carey Southall, a person I worked with at UCLA, drew the illustration using his non-dominant hand,” Talley-Jones says. “It was a metaphor for the Urinals — he was handicapped by not using his dominant hand [and] we were handicapped by our musical capabilities.”

And yet, it’s no question that the Urinals have been deemed influential by today’s music scene, with covers of “Black Hole” by lo-fi punk outfit Grass Widow, “Male Masturbation” covered by noisy punk group No Age, and “I’m a Bug” by hardcore punk group Ceremony. But if one takes notice of all these songs, they are all from early Urinals releases. And Talley-Jones is sure to take notice of this.

“When I think of the Urinals, I see a band that got together in ’78, and developed in the last 35 years,” Talley-Jones says. “Not many people have heard or recognized material past our first few releases.”

And just as people grow and develop, so did the Urinals. In their infancy, the Urinals were known for their raucous, simplistic sound. As the band members matured and learned how to play their instruments, the band reached its adolescent stage, becoming an admittedly post-punk outfit dubbed 100 Flowers for a brief stint during the ’80s and playing shows during the 2000s.

“I remember starting out with the Urinals, feeling that I had to carry on a certain stage persona, mine being theatrically psychotic” Talley-Jones says. “But as time wore on, I grew into my own. When I first started I would be anxious the entire day before the show. After the first few years, that disappeared.”

Though many elements have shifted with the band throughout the years, one thing remains pertinent: DIY ethics. In the age of virtuoso-like butt-rock, Talley-Jones and fellow band mates accepted the fact that two-chord songs seldom lasting more than a minute about just being a bug (“I’m a Bug”) or a hologram (“Hologram”), weren’t exactly a hot commodity. Known for putting out many of their releases on self-owned record label, Happy Squid Records, self-production was a necessity.

Talley-Jones recalls being approached by Vitus Matare, keyboardist for Los Angeles power punk outfit the Last, about recording the Urinals.

“Everything was starting from the ground up,” Talley-Jones says. “Of course Vitus Matare recorded us initially, but following that we taught ourselves how to write, play, and distribute. We had no misapprehension to ever be signed, because what we were doing was not marketable to the masses.”

That being said, the Urinals appreciate doing things on the cheap — that’s why the band is playing this free show with the original lineup (comprised of Talley-Jones, Kjehl Johansen, and Kevin Barrett), in honor of an East Bay record store.


With Meg Baird, Ava Mendoza, Dominique Leon Sat/14, 3pm, free Stranded 6436 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 858-5977 www.strandedinoakland.com


Girls like us


TOFU AND WHISKEY Before Le Tigre but after the demise of Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna created a mystical lo-fi electropop solo project called Julie Ruin. It was a difficult time for the riot grrrl icon; having recently flown the Pacific Northwest coop for Brooklyn, she let the ache out in song.

More than 15 years after that record and a whirlwind of life changes later (Le Tigre hiatus, Beastie Boy husband), Hanna and a newly assembled band of cohorts — Kathi Wilcox, Kenny Mellman, Carmine Covelli, Sara Landeau — reformed that project as the Julie Ruin. The Julie Ruin released its first group full-length, Run Fast, last week on Dischord.

A dancey new wave record bursting with head-bopping beats, lightning bolt electric guitars, and empowering lyrics, it’s set to be another chant-along feminist anthem album. But it’s a small miracle Run Fast was even made. Before she returned to music, Hanna was laid up with a then-mysterious illness for half a decade and this was her first effort back.

In the midst of a massive media blitz, including a live appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week, Hanna and I discussed the Julie Ruin’s new record, struggles with neurological Lyme disease, why Photoshop is better than beer, and her young spirit sister, Tavi Gevinson, feminist teen editor of Rookie Magazine:

SF Bay Guardian Why did you decide to return to an earlier project, but with an entirely new band?

Kathleen Hanna I guess because I was starting from a similar place. I was coming up with loops and melodies and instead of just working on them myself, I brought them to the band and expanded on them. When I listen back to the Julie Ruin solo record, I hear kind of demos more than a fully finished record — which I think is great, and I’m proud of that record — but I was like “what if I start with the same idea but it was totally fleshed out?” So musically that was a big part of the project from me.

Also a big part of the project for me was starting from the same emotional place, of, you know, I was leaving Bikini Kill when I did the Julie Ruin solo project and that was a really big change in my life. And then I’m having this other really big change in my life, which is that I haven’t really made music for [nearly] 10 years. And instead of isolating and making this very private thing in my apartment by myself and feeling like I had to go it all alone, I reached out to my friends and said, “Hey, will you help me?” And luckily they said yes.

SFBG What was it like picking up instruments and working on music again after such a long hiatus?

KH It was great [and] it was weird! It was immediate chemistry with my bandmates. It felt like I was getting back to my old self.

I’d been sick for many years and my illness and kind of taken me out of things. I started doing a lot of archival stuff behind the scenes, but I hadn’t played music. It’s funny that I chose to do it when I was really, really sick but part of the reason was I needed some kind of hope to go on. And I didn’t know if we would record or tour or any of that. I just told them, “I want to play music, do you guys want to meet once a week and see how that goes?”

But a lot of times we couldn’t even meet, because I’d be sick. So it was a very slow process. But when I felt well enough to get to rehearsal I would forget I was sick, I would forget any pain I was in, I would forget I was fatigued. It would all come back to me. It was really important in my recovery process because you become all about the illness, especially an illness like Lyme disease, where there’s so much work you have to do to stay well or to get well, constant pills and IVs and specialist appointments.

I saw footage of Bikini Kill in the movie The Punk Singer that was being made about me, and I felt like I was light years away from that. I could barely walk up the stairs. And then I would write a song with my new band and feel like, “I still am that person.”

SFBG Did battling this disease directly inform any of the tracks on Run Fast?

KH I have a form of Lyme disease that affects my brain, neurological Lyme disease, so during a lot of the record I was having a hard time with language, so I would often say the wrong word. So when I was writing lyrics, I sort of just let that go, I didn’t try to go back, it was so much more stream-of-consciousness than I’ve [ever done]. I was like, why does it have to be a total narrative for every song? Why can’t it be abstract?

There are parts of the record where I just go “blah blah blah!” I would go back and fix that when I was feeling better but people would say to put it back in. It sounds alive, it sounds like you. I let that go.

SFBG How collaborative was the songwriting process for the album?

KH In the very beginning when we were writing I would bring in little loops I had made with me singing over it. And I’d be like, “oh, I really like this melody for a verse.” And then they would be like, let’s have that be the starting point. They really wrote all the music and I wrote the lyrics except for [keyboardist] Kenny [Mellman]’s song, “South Coast Plaza.”

SFBG Where did the album art [of a hot pink stuffed creature] come from, and what is it referencing?

KH That cover was made by artist Allyson Mitchell. I went to an art show and saw some of her pieces…[The creature on the cover] is a “familiar” — you know how a witch has a “familiar?” It’s from a large project called Ladies Sasquatch, of these huge, 10-foot-tall lesbian sasquatches and then each of them has a familiar, like a tiny doll, that goes with it, and that’s what’s on the cover.

SFBG It brought up to me the importance of album covers. People don’t seem to care about cover art as much anymore, but it is something that has always come up in your back catalogue. [Ed. note — I resisted the urge here to tell her I have one of her album covers tattooed on my upper arm]

KH If I haven’t made the actual album cover myself…I’ve been very instrumental. I made all the Bikini Kill covers beside the very last one. I did all the drawings and graphics for the zines. I’ve always been really involved. They’re really important to me because I started as a visual artist, and I’m addicted to Photoshop. Like, instead of going to a bar and drinking beer, I sit at home with Photoshop. If I would’ve had Photoshop in the ’90s, I would have been a total crazy person.

But I think it’s really important to set the tone of the record. There’s something really fun and upbeat about [Run Fast] but then there’s something really sinister lurking behind it, maybe it’s my illness, the fact that Kenny writes a really happy-sounding song about euthanasia, “Party City” is about me confronting death, so it really made sense that we picked this kind of adorable yet creepy character for the cover of the record.

SFBG How did you meet teenage editor Tavi Gevinson, and later end up playing a party for her online magazine, Rookie?

KH I sent her this sweater that someone made for me that said “Feminist” on it. It shrank and I was like, “I don’t know anybody tiny enough to fit in this!” I heard about her before Rookie — I sent it to her and she wore it in stuff [for her previous blog, Style Rookie]. So it was this mutual admiration society. People were giving her shit at the time so I reached out to her. You know, she’s a kid. And she’s doing this amazing work. I just think it’s so important that young people take over culture and create their own. She’s really smart and she really wants to be inclusive.

Playing [Rookie’s] party was like a dream come true. It was kind of our first show and it was only for like, 100 kids at this weird outdoor area in a mall. It was one of the weirdest first shows a band can have.


With La Sera

Tue/17, 8pm, $18


333 11th St, SF



Snap Sounds






Archy “King Krule” Marshall may look like a callow school-kid, dressed up in his father’s suit, but the South Londoner has the soul and voice of a wise, world-weary bluesman three times his senior. 6 Feet Beneath the Moon — his long-awaited debut LP — is an astonishing achievement, displaying Marshall’s nuanced storytelling, exceptional jazz-based guitar work, and versatility. Over the album’s 14 tracks, he weaves affecting tales of urban ennui, malaise, and disaffection, balanced by fleeting moments of ardent love and nostalgic surrender. Though he wears his influences on his ill-fitting sleeve (Drury, Strummer, Morrissey, Dilla), the finished article sounds like nothing else out now — with dark wave, blues, punk, indie, and electro all thrown into the mix. It is all filtered through Marshall’s singular lens and mature perspective, creating a fresh, cohesive sound while painting an engulfing portrait of his London. — Daniel Alvarez





Belle and Sebastian, ’90s twee sweethearts, are at it again — kind of. This time, the band is serving the general public a tray of audible assorted snacks featuring b-sides from the latter half of its career. Dubbed The Third Eye Centre, no song sounds the same — one track will boast a rockabilly twang (“Last Trip”) and another will be a previously unreleased remix of fan-favorite “Your Cover’s Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix).” It’s a solid album, but it’s easy to suss out the dated songs, such as “Suicide Girl,” an anxious love song about the object of singer-guitarist Stuart Murdoch’s affections, an alternative girl that wants him to take nudes of her for the famed early-2000s “punky” soft-core porn site of the same name. But in all, the fun of The Third Eye Centre is getting the chance to hear songs you may have not had the chance to listen to from the back end of Belle and Sebastian’s jam-packed catalog. — Erin Dage





For those who have oft pondered “What if a soul band and a Southern rock group got together and made sweet, beautiful music?” weirdo psychedelic soul band King Khan & the Shrines has the answer with its latest release, Idle No More. Featuring dancey soul numbers like “Luckiest Man,” Stooges-esque songs such as “Thorn in Her Pride,” ditties with ’60s girl group-esque guest spot vocals like “Pray for Lil” — Idle No More combines many genres and musical elements to form a cohesive, well produced album. The album can easily be separated into three acts: dance numbers, slow-ballad interlude, and soul revival resolution. Six years have passed since previous album, What Is!?, and Idle No More has definitely been worth the wait. — Dage





There’s always been this brutal, animalistic thread woven throughout Chelsea Wolfe’s output, and Pain is Beauty is no exception. The LA-via-Sacramento artist’s otherworldly vocals tend often to translate into a wild creature elegantly whipping through a foggy forest. (Indeed, Wolfe described her newest LP as a “love-letter to nature.”) Her powerful soprano hollers are matched to ethereal whispery echoes, maintaining a balance between lightness and darkness, which has become a common theme in her work, as it is in nature. And this vocal balance is a mainstay in Wolfe’s music, no matter what’s backing it instrumentally. Her previous release, 2012’s Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, was, obviously, acoustic, but the sparse record is still deeply unsettling. With Pain is Beauty, the singer-songwriter returns to a darker, grittier sound. And yet, there’s a more electronic twist on her early doomy experimental guitarwork (as with breakout 2011 record Apokalypsis), bursting with both synths and strings this time, without missing the black-hearted emotional core rooted in all living things. — Emily Savage





Jangly noisepop cacophony with pro-feminist and anti-homophobia lyrics — this Cardiff band’s debut full-length, Weird Sister, hits all the right hot spots and makes them tingle. Plus there’s the name, Joanna Gruesome, a cheeky play on a gentle fellow musician. But Weird Sister speaks for itself, with standout tracks like opener “Anti Parent Cowboy Killers” matching dissonant guitars and pounding drums with lovely melodious vocals that rise into screams at the hook, akin to the Vaselines in bed with L7. There’s also classic K Records-evoking twee ode “Wussy Void,” and jagged noiseball “Graveyard,” which starts off with what sounds like helium seeping out of a balloon. The record includes songs from a 2011 EP, “Sugarcrush,” “Madison,” and “Candy,” further deepening the getting-to-know-you state of the Welsh quintet, a group to which you do need to start paying attention. —Savage


Elegant alchemy



MUSIC Though San Francisco musician Jill Tracy is deeply fond of the macabre, “gloomy” is not an accurate word to describe her personality. The day I speak to her, she’s in exceptionally high spirits, having just wrapped up a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign.

“It’s really special to feel like it’s a big group effort,” she says. The funds will help complete a pair of videos lensed by Jeremy Carr, who directed Tracy in the 2006 thriller Ice Cream Ants. Appropriately, key scenes were filmed on a spooky night in Red Hook, Brooklyn — former ‘hood of horror author H.P. Lovecraft.

“[Carr] wanted to shoot me walking through these mysterious alleyways, but there was this sudden, intense thunderstorm. Hail coming down the size of golf balls, flooding — it was so dangerous it was like, how are we gonna do this?” she recalls. “But the universe intervened, and the rain finally tapered off. And it was so gorgeous, because there was still lightning in the sky. A lot of that will be kept in the video.”

Also caught on tape was intervention of another kind. “At one point there was this glowing amber light swirling around. I look over — and it was the cops, wondering what we were up to,” she says. “They were really nice and let us keep going, and it turned out that they were responsible for the most beautiful shot.”

Happy accidents, strange coincidences, unexplained phenomena: These are all things the composer-singer-pianist welcomes with delight. Her distinctive sound — she’s often described as a “neo-cabaret artist” — sparked a recent twist of fate, when Showtime contacted her about using a song to promote the final season of Dexter.

“That came out of the blue,” she says. “They said, ‘We think that your music would be perfect for this.’ That’s when being an independent musician is a great thing — because I own my song and my publishing. They just have to contact me and I can give permission [to use it].”

She continues. “I didn’t know what they were going to do with the song. I was so excited — are they just gonna use five seconds of it? But it ended up that it’s almost like a music video. I sing, ‘I’ll tie you up,’ and you see [star] Michael C. Hall tying up a body! I was really thrilled with what they did.”

It’s a testament to Tracy’s unique style that the Dexter song, “Evil Night Together,” dates back to her 1999 sophomore album, Diabolical Streak. (Her diverse discography also includes 2002’s Into the Land of Phantoms, a score for 1922 silent film Nosferatu; and last year’s holiday-themed Silver Smoke, Star of Night.)

“I strive for timelessness in my music,” Tracy says, noting that the Dexter exposure made some listeners assume that “Night” was a brand-new song. “It meant a lot to me because that’s [my intention], that it could be played at any time and still sound unique.”

Without trends to guide her, Tracy has sought inspiration elsewhere. After years of incorporating on-the-spot compositions (she calls it “spontaneous musical combustion”) into her live shows, she had an idea: why not test the vibes at a more off-kilter venue? At one memorable gig, both performer and audience experienced something … extraordinary.

“I was in Victoria, BC at Craigdarroch Castle, which is supposedly haunted,” she says. “At one point, someone in the audience is like, ‘Look at that lamp!’ And this old, brocade-shaded lamp had just started to flicker. So who knows! Strange things will happen like that.”

Tracy’s repertoire also includes “musical séances,” in which audience members bring in objects of personal significance to help her channel music. Along with violinist Paul Mercer, she hosted one such event earlier this year in Los Angeles, “at the mansion of a murderer from the 19th century.” (Clearly, she ain’t no fraidy-cat.) She’s hosted similar events at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

“We did a beautiful night tour of the Conservatory, followed by a performance,” she says. “People bring these items — we’ve had everything from cremated remains, to antlers, to a toothbrush. Swords! Haunted portraits! It’s almost like Antiques Roadshow for the netherworld. But the one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that every object, every place, and every person has a story to tell that will break your heart.”

Some of her most memorable tales come courtesy of the Mütter Museum, a medical-oddities collection that’s part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. She’s the first musician to receive a grant to compose inside the museum.

“This whole project is, like, the total goth girl dream come true,” Tracy laughs. “I was able to spend nights alone in the museum, writing music among the collection, and I just fell in love with the place. You look around, and you see all these skeletons and specimens in jars, but you don’t realize at first that these were all lives — brave souls who endured these rare afflictions, many of which you never see today. I was so moved, and I wanted to know their stories.”

Not only did the museum allow Tracy overnight access, it also let her do research in its library. She hopes to to spend the next year transforming her Mütter encounters — with subjects like conjoined twins Chang and Eng, and “Ossified Man” Harry Eastlack — into an album as well as an accompanying storybook. “It will probably be the biggest project that I’ve done to date,” she says. “It’s been almost like an excavation, digging into this information and creating pieces to honor these individuals. I want to give emotional context to the people in the collection.”

With all of her site-specific events and ongoing endeavors — in brief: a perfume line; a 7-inch split with Blixa Bargeld based on the writings of a 19th century Polish occultist; a set at Sat/7’s “ManulFest” benefit for wild cats held at a temple in Geyserville; a speaking engagement at LA’s Death Salon later this fall — it’s advisable for SF fans to hit up Café du Nord for what’s becoming an increasingly rare rock-club gig.

“I’m doing fewer shows at places like the du Nord, because I want to do more of a theatrical performance,” she says. “Today, my work is all about honoring the mystery, the beauty, and the romance of the dark side. I strive to transport people into what I refer to as ‘the elegant netherworld,’ and I find that music, that emotion, creates the portal for you to go there. Doing what I do, I feel like kind of a gatekeeper to this other place.”


With This Way to Egress and Vagabondage

Sun/8, 7:30pm, $12

Café du Nord

2170 Market, SF



Get to the show, weirdos


FALL ARTS There are so many things competing for your precious time: long lines for pricey gourmet coffee, civic responsibilities and volunteer work, actual work, glazed fake cronuts or whatever the kids are into these days. Make live music a priority as well — your days will float by on a pink cloud of fuzzy, hangover-fueled memories.

As we’re lucky enough to live in a region stuffed with musicians and venues that take in touring acts, the options for every week are damn near endless. Here are some shows to take note of this season, one for (nearly) every day of the upcoming months. (Note that dates and locations are subject to change, so always check the venue site.)


Plug them in to your Google Calendar. Better yet, stick this list to your wall with chewed-up bubblegum. Either way, impress your friends with superior show knowledge:

Aug. 30 [UPDATE: postponed due to illness] Icona Pop: As silly as it’s always been, bubbly Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop is in the running for the arbitrary media-hyped “song of the summer” (or as Slate puts it, the yearly “Summer Song–Industrial Complex”) thanks to party track, “I Love It,” featuring fellow up-and-comer Charli XCX. And, get this, the album from which “Love It” springs, This Is… (Record Company Ten/Big Beat Records), isn’t even out until Sept. 24. Squeeze out the last bits of this very poppy season and hold out for the recorded versions by taking in this live set. Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Aug. 31 [Here’s another to make up for that cancellation above] Rin Tin Tiger, French Cassettes Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 Sonny and the Sunsets, Shannon and the Clams Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 2 Ty Segall Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 3 Superchunk and Mikal Cronin Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 4 Zomby (live) Public Works, SF. www.publicsf.com.

Sept. 5-6 “UnderCover Presents Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited:” For this event, the UnderCover Presents collective dives deep into the introspective, folk-rock world of Bob Dylan’s ’65 gem (which gave us “Like a Rolling Stone”) with covers by Carletta Sue Kay, Quinn DeVeaux, Whiskerman, Beth Lisick, and guest music director Karina Denike, among others. Freight & Salvage. www.thefreight.org. Also Sept. 8, Contemporary Jewish Museum. www.cjm.org.

Sept. 6 Mission Creek Oakland: The month-long fall music and arts festival packs a punch with dozens of local bands playing 15 East Bay venues, including the Uptown, the Stork Club, and Children’s Fairyland (!). It kicks off with a free opening party tonight at the Uptown with Naytronix, Clipd Beaks, YNGBMS, and Safeword. Various venues, Oakl. www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 7 Push the Feeling with Exray’s Underground SF, www.undergroundsf.com

Sept. 8 Lil Bub book signing with Nobunny: So Lil Bub is this famous Internet cat and Nobunny is the infamous IRL punky masked Bunny-Man; together they’ll claw through the Rickshaw Stop all day and night. This multipart Burger Bub Mini-Fest includes a Lil Bub book signing and doc film screening, plus live sets by Nobunny, Colleen Green, the Monster Women, and the Shanghais. Paws up, everyone. Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept. 9 Sex Snobs Elbo Room, SF. www.elbo.com

Sept. 10 Bleeding Rainbow Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept. 11 Moving Units DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com.

Sept. 12 Julie Holter Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Sept. 13 120 minutes presents Death in June Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 14 Rock the Bells: the annual touring hip-hop fest returns, headlined by Kid Cudi, A$AP Mob. feat. A$AP Rocky, E-40, and Too $hort, Common, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on Sept. 14; Wu-Tang Clan, Black Hippy feat. Kendrick Lamar, and Deltron 3000 on Sept. 15. Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mtn View. www.livenation.com.

Sept. 16 Kate Boy Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Sept 17 Julie Ruin: Kathleen Hanna returns to her pre-Le Tigre output but beefs it up with a full band including fellow Bikini Kill bandmate Kathi Wilcox and is set to release bouncy feminist dancepop record Run Fast Sept. 3. A few weeks later the Brooklyn band lands in SF. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Sept. 18 Berkeley Old Time Music Convention Various venues, Berk. www.berkeleyoldtimemusic.org

Sept. 19 Hard Skin 1-2-3-4 Go!, Oakl. 1234gorecords.com.

Sept. 20 Foxygen Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 21 Tape Deck Mountain and Battlehooch El Rio, SF. www.elriosf.com.

Sept. 22 “Radio Silence presents: Doe Eye performing Arcade Fire” Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Sept. 24 Wax Tailor Mezzanine. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 26 Zola Jesus Palace of Fine Arts, SF. www.palaceoffinearts.org.

Sept. 27 Peter Hook and the Light Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com.

Sept. 28 “Station to Station:” This train-travelin’ art and music experiment, organized by artist Doug Aitken, pulls a stop in Oakland with live performances by Dan Deacon, Savages, No Age, Sun Araw and the Congos, Twin Shadow, and more. And the train itself is designed as a moving kinetic light sculpture, so expect a bright show. 16th St. Station, Oakl. www.stationtostation.com.

Sept. 30 Chelsea Wolfe Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 1 Peach Kelli Pop Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.

Oct. 3Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Oct. 4-6 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Bonnie Raitt, Bettye LaVette, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Devil Makes Three, Chris Isaak, Mark Lanegan, First Aid Kit, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. As the free annual fest releases lineup names in glorious song medleys, this is who we know for sure will fill GG Park with folk-country-hardly-strictly-bluegrass notes this year, as of press time. There will be more added in the coming weeks, so check the site. Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.

Oct. 5 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com.

Oct. 7 No Joy Brick and Mortar Music Hall, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Oct. 8 Fucked Up Terror Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Oct. 9 Iceage Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Oct. 10 Thee Oh Sees Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 11 Extra Action Marching Band Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 12 Marky Ramone with Andrew W.K.: Is this pairing crazy enough that it just might work? While Joey Ramone has sadly passed on to punk rock heaven (lots of leather and skinny jeans), drummer Marky Ramone is carrying on the legacy by enlisting pizza guitar-having party rocker Andrew W.K. as his frontperson. The band known as Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg performs classic Ramones songs. Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com.

Oct. 13 Legendary Pink Dots DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com.

Oct. 14 Langhorne Slim Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 15 Tim Kasher Rickshaw Stop, SF. www.rickshawstop.com.

Oct. 16 Dustin Wong Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Oct. 17 CHVRCHES Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com.

Oct. 18 Robert Glasper Experiment SFJazz Center, SF. www.sfjazz.org.

Oct. 19 Treasure Island Music Festival: the forward-thinking two-day fest out on windswept Treasure Island includes Atoms for Peace, Beck, Major Lazer, Little Dragon, Animal Collective, James Blake, Holy Ghost!, Sleigh Bells, and more. Giraffage, and Antwon are the locals on the bill. Treasure Island, SF. www.treasureislandfestival.com.

Oct. 20 Goblin Warfield Theatre, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Oct. 21 Hunx & His Punx Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Oct. 22 Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck Paramount Theater, Oakl. www.paramounttheatre.com.

Oct. 23 Oh Land Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com.

Oct. 24 Woodkid Regency Ballroom, SF. www.theregencyballroom.com.

Oct. 25 The Blow Bottom of the Hill. www.bottomofthehill.com.

Oct. 26 Airfield Broadcasts: For this large-scale event, composer Lisa Bielawa will turn Chrissy Field into a giant “musical canvas” in which listeners can interact with broad sounds floating through the area with the help of nearly a thousand professional and student musicians including orchestras, choruses, bands, and experimental new groups. The musicians will begin in the center of the field then slowly move outwards, playing Bielawa’s original score. Chrissy Field, SF. www.airfieldbroadcasts.org.

Oct. 29 The Jazz Coffin Emergency Ensemble El Rio, SF. www.elriosf.com.

Oct. 30 Save Ferris Regency Ballroom, SF. www.theregencyballroom.com.

Oct. 31 Danzig Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Nov. 1 Janelle Monáe: Futurist soul crooner Janelle Monáe has had a big year, releasing “Q.U.E.E.N.” with Erykah Badu in the spring, and more recently she fired off Miguel duet “PrimeTime.” The last time the pompodoured singer made it to SF she was dancing down the aisles at the SF Symphony’s Spring Gala (earlier this year), but a darkened venue is much more her speed. Think she’ll be wearing black and white? Warfield Theatre, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.

Nov. 7 Wanda Jackson: The stylish rockabilly queen, and former real life Elvis paramour — and crackling vocalist behind tracks like “Fujiyama Mama” and “Let’s Have a Party” — is still brash and still touring at age 75. And she’s still putting out new tunes too, with her own 2012 LP Unfinished Business, and just before that a collaboration with Jack White on The Party Ain’t Over (2011). Yes, the party continues. Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Nov. 8 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com.

Nov. 13 Those Darlins Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com.

Nov. 14 Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Bahrami Fard SFJazz Center, SF. www.sfjazz.org.

Nov. 16 Melt Banana Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Nov. 17 Rhys Chatham: This is vastly bigger than your average rock concert. See, avant-punk composer Rhys Chatham will perform the West Coast premiere of his “A Secret Rose” with an orchestra of 100 electric guitars. That’s right, 100-times the shred. The Other Minds-presented hourlong performance will include musicians from Guided By Voices, Akron/Family, Tristeza, and more. Craneway Pavilion, Richmond. www.brownpapertickets.com.

Nov. 18 Misfits Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakl. www.oaklandmetro.org.

Nov. 22 Kate Nash Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com.


Flyin’ high



MUSIC If you’ve been to a local metal show in recent months, chances are Ovvl was on the bill. If not, there was probably an Ovvl member standing next to you in the crowd. But hesher, stop now if you’ve been taking ’em for granted. With a new album and tours on the horizon, the four-piece is about to be mighty scarce around these parts.

For anyone echoing the band’s namesake and asking “Who?”, the first thing you need to know about Ovvl is that three-quarters of the band are related. Brothers Axell Baechle (at 18, he’s the youngest member by a decade; he plays guitar and sings), guitarist-vocalist K. Baechle, and drummer Clint Baechle were destined to play music together, though the band was only complete when bassist Melanie Burkett came aboard. Ahead of a busy day of filming its first video, then playing a show after, Ovvl paused to reflect on family bonding, Rush album art, and the action-packed months ahead.

SF Bay Guardian What makes brothers form a band?

Axell Baechle [K.] and I started playing music together when I was, like, 12, but it never really amounted to anything. A few years later, Clint had more time because he wasn’t playing in eight bands anymore.

Clint Baechle We were all at our parents’ house one Christmas. They had the songs written, so we recorded the original demo tape and released it. Lo and behold, people liked it. That lead to us getting the band together for real. Melanie saw us play our first show, when we didn’t even have a bass player.

Melanie Burkett I believe Axell was simultaneously smoking a joint and playing riffs in his boxers on top of a Marshall stack. And I was like, “Hey Clint, I want to be in your band, man.” I kept bugging him, until one day he was like, “We’re playing shows next month! Learn the songs! Let’s go!”

CB And there was no turning back.

SFBG How does being related affect the dynamic?

CB For us, it’s great. I’ve been playing music with [K.] since we were very young children. Axell came along musically after I’d moved out of our parents’ house, so we developed a musical relationship later. But what we have now is almost what you might call a telepathy. We finish each other’s riffs, finish each other’s sentences.

K. Baechle Finish each other’s beers …

AB Actually, just mostly that. There’s not really anything else.

MB After we had done a couple of tours, the boys started treating me like their sister. Growing up with two brothers, it was an easy role for me. Although we’re not blood related, we still argue like we are. [Laughs.]

SFBG Is the new album similar to your previous releases [including 2012’s self-released Owl]?

KB This second album’s more math-y. More intricate riffs, a little bit less diffuse.

AB It’s a bit more Maiden than Sabbath. Less jammy.

CB More complex. A little less swords-and-sorcery. We’ve been recording it over the past year with Kurt Schlegel at Lucky Cat Studios. Kurt does a lot of live sound [recording], so we have a really live-sounding record. The mixing is almost done and it sounds great — it should be out before the end of the year.

SFBG What’s the story behind the name?

AB I think it came from continuous viewing of the second Rush album cover.

CB [Agreeing.] Rush is the band that made owls badass for heavy metal. [As for the spelling,] we got a cease-and-desist order from an LA band called Owl, which was annoying to say the least. But we’ve been gradually phasing in an alternate spelling of our name, and we haven’t heard anything from that lawyer since then.

SFBG Where’s the tour going to take you?

MB Through the western United States for three weeks. Plus, Tijuana — it’s our first time in Mexico. But we’re really focused on going to Europe, which is slated to be a six-week tour. I think it will be a changing point in our career, getting a lot of new people into our music.

CB We self-released our first album, and I think we shipped more records to Europe than the US. We’re looking forward to playing for all these people who’ve been supporting us.

SFBG Do you have a preference between house shows and shows at established venues? [Visit www.owlbrotherhood.net for info on house shows, including a Fri/23 Oakland gig.]

KB My favorite is Bender’s — the best crowd.

CB In my opinion, nothing beats a great house show, though. Playing in somebody’s living room or basement. I’ll never get sick of it.

SFBG How does Ovvl fit into the Bay Area metal scene?

MB We fit into a few different genres. We’ve played shows with psychedelic, metal, punk, and rock bands, and those elements are within almost every Ovvl song. Most recently we played with Slough Feg, which was awesome — I think that was pretty much right on as far as matching genres go.

CB I think that the Bay Area has always had one of the best metal scenes in the world, and it’s cool just to be a part of it, even if it’s a small part. It’s a fun scene to be in, because there are cool bands and the people here are really into metal and they’re really into music.

SFBG Is there an Ovvl band philosophy?

CB Have a good time, all the time [laughs]. If it’s anything, it’s just ‘Do what we feel like doing.’ We play retro stoner metal right now, but if we felt like turning the band into a hip-hop crew, we would do that too. It’s not about doing a certain style — it’s about doing what’s fun for us and what we enjoy most. *


With Crag Dweller

Sat/24, 9pm, $5

Bender’s Bar and Grill

806 S. Van Ness, SF






MUSIC This is the reunion for which we dared not hope. Until this year, My Bloody Valentine’s genre-defining masterstroke of the shoegaze movement, 1991’s Loveless, was the last we had heard from the Irish-English band, and as a result, it was canonized as one of those pristine, “perfect” albums, frozen in time and untainted by inferior follow-ups.

And then, this past Groundhog Day, the unthinkable happened: after an excruciating, 22-year wait, and countless broken promises, bandleader Kevin Shields casually posted a new record, mbv, on the web, In Rainbows style, surprising his diehard fans with the legendary third album they had been hopelessly fantasizing about only a week before.

This Friday, My Bloody Valentine will pay a visit to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for its first SF show since the release of mbv.

Headed up by Shields (the band’s mastermind, principal guitarist, and sometimes-vocalist), and backed by Bilinda Butcher on guitars and vocals, Deb Googe on bass, and Colm Ó Ciosóig on drums, My Bloody Valentine kicked off its career in 1983 as a rather inconsequential, punk-ish pop band, before moving on to bigger things.

The You Made Me Realize EP and the group’s first full-length, Isn’t Anything, (both released in 1988) showed great promise, layering Jesus and Mary Chain-ish guitar squalls atop tender pop songs, with androgynous, barely intelligible vocals submerged in the surrounding fuzz. Equally seductive and menacing, this was the sound of the shoegaze genre taking form.

The subsequent release of Loveless presented a vivid realization of Shields’ musical vision, full enough to put him in a state of creative paralysis for the next two decades, unsure of where to go next. The songs were more harmonious this time around, often reminiscent of Brian Wilson in their structures and chord progressions. Also, the guitar sound was more rounded and hypnotic than ever before; songs like “Loomer” and “Come In Alone” found Kevin Shields using his “glide guitar” method to great effect, constantly pushing and pulling on the tremolo arm of his Fender Jaguar for a woozy, undulating sound, inviting the listener to get blissfully lost in the midst of it all. Upon its release, and even to this day, Loveless presented some of the most tactile, emotionally complex guitar rock ever committed to tape.

With the exception of a cover for a Wire tribute album, some soundtrack work for Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation, the occasional collaboration with Primal Scream or Patti Smith, and a brief reunion tour in 2009, Shields and My Bloody Valentine remained stagnant from’91 to February of this year. Over the course of those two decades, Loveless has built the kind of reputation normally reserved for recordings of the Beatles era; even Phish’s Trey Anstasio has proclaimed it the greatest album of the ’90s. Loveless‘ seminal blend of pop purity and uncompromising noise has spawned a thousand imitators, but no worthy successor, rendering the release of mbv an uncommonly big deal in the music world, even in a year dominated by comeback efforts, from David Bowie to Boards of Canada.

Despite the skeptical fans, who doubted Shields’ ability to recapture his singular sound or take it into new realms, the response to mbv was resoundingly positive. Tracks like “who sees you” and “only tomorrow” found Shields and Co. approaching the monolithically woozy Loveless aesthetic with a fuller, beefier production sound. Halfway through the record, “new you” blindsided the listener as the cleanest, poppiest song of My Bloody Valentine’s career, seemingly lifted from a party scene in a ’90s teen movie. “in another way” found the band channeling the angular jolt of the Isn’t Anything era, while “wonder 2” suggested a new path forward, blending drum’n’bass-y electronics with Shield’s famed “jet-engine” guitar sound.

Part of mbv‘s appeal stems from its utter disregard for modern trends and developments in the music world. This isn’t the sound of My Bloody Valentine recalibrated for the new millennium; the entire album sounds like it could’ve been recorded and produced in ’96, and as a result, we listeners have no idea what was recorded in the mid-’90s, and what was made last year. The listening experience, especially in that first week after its release, was poignant and affecting, like reuniting with a friend you haven’t seen in two decades, and picking up right where you left off. Few records can make you feel 15 again the first time you press play, and mbv was one of them.

While the band’s recent live dates have incorporated new songs into the mix, many things have remained the same: namely, its infamous closer “You Made Me Realize,” the title track from its first great EP, with a 20-minute, endurance-testing wall of noise tacked on the end. The song’s live rendition has made ears bleed around the world, and remains a hallmark of My Bloody Valentine’s live shows.

Now, in 2013, it’s back, with a followup to Loveless in tow, befitting of that album’s legendary reputation. It’s been a long time coming, but My Bloody Valentine has reemerged to save rock ‘n’ roll all over again. Bring earplugs; it’ll get loud.


With Beachwood Sparks, Lumerians

Fri/23, 8pm, $45

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

99 Grove, SF

(415) 624-8900






TOFU AND WHISKEY The moody “drag-pop” songs on Alexis Blair Penney‘s debut album, Window, were written with an ex-boyfriend in mind — Seth Bogart, aka Hunx — yet in a cruel twist of fate, they’ll come to memorialize the death of another man, a best friend, collaborator, and roommate.

Known for his prolific appearances at club nights across San Francisco, including his own High Fantasy night with Myles Cooper, Penney moved to New York in the middle of the record-making progress, in part to live with Grant Martin, of the band Icewater, who also contributed all the guitar lines to Penney’s record. Martin, age 26, unexpectedly passed away on July 26, two weeks before the release of Window (Aug. 6, Ecstasy Records).

Penney’s first single from the album, emotion-packed dance track, “Your Eyes,” came with a stunning video, which premiered last Friday on Spin.com, showing Penney and friends at home, in the dressing room, in the mirror, and out on the dancefloor as the synth beats wobble and Penney soulfully coos. And there on the floor is a glimpse of Martin with his band, followed by the final thought: the video is “for Grant.” Truly heartbreaking stuff for the tender, creatively bursting artist.

“It’s this really crazy time because it’s like, I’m here, I’m in our house that we shared together, and I’m promoting this record he worked on with me, but he’s no longer here,” Penney says during a phone call from Brooklyn. “I’m in this manic post-grief moment, where I’m just going forward, charging ahead. I don’t know what else to do.”

“I’m going to miss this person for the rest of my life, but I can’t dwell on that now.”

Penney began working on Window, the record (there’s also a debut book called Window, which comes out on Peradam Press on Sept. 6), in the spring of 2011, while living in a Mission District apartment. He moved to Brooklyn in April 2012, but before that he converged on LA with collaborators singer-songwriter Jamie Crewe of Poisonous Relationship and Teengirl Fantasy’s Nick Weiss to write the bulk of the record.

The idea for the book came about later, when he met publisher Elizabeth Jaeger of Peradam. Penney had a mess of stories, and mentioned so while making small talk with Jaeger at a party. She loved his ideas and paired him with editor Michael Zelenko, who’s also from San Francisco.

They finished up the final manuscript for the book around the same time he was wrapping up the mixing of the record, at the start of this year. “I definitely didn’t plan for them to be companion pieces but they evolved that way. The main narrative arc of the book is this relationship, the dissolution of which is what this record is about,” he says.

That relationship, later revealed to be the one with Hunx’s Bogart, is what brought Penney originally to San Francisco from his home town, a suburb outside of Kansas City. He’d initially met Bogart when he was touring with SSION and they opened for Gravy Train!!! He and Bogart dated long distance, then Bogart moved Penney to the Bay Area, where they dated for a few more years before breaking up. “I’m actually going to see his band tonight, they’re in town,” Penney mentions. (Hunx, a fellow former SF-er who now lives in LA, was in New York on a tour promoting his newest release, Street Punk, described as “Darby Crash on helium,” which he’ll bring back to the Bay Oct. 21.)

“[Seth] read the book and was like, ‘oh it makes me seem so mean,’ and I was like, ‘you were mean, but it also makes me seem crazy, so…'”

“Its kind of all about me being accountable for how crazy I was.”

Some of the craziness he experienced while in SF can be chalked up to excessive drinking and other drugs — from which Penney now abstains. He’s stopped drinking, and says he sees life much more clearly now. And being able to write books and songs about it all has been a part of that process, airing all his dirty laundry. He interviewed Traci Lords last year for V Magazine, and she ingrained this mantra: nobody can say anything about me that I haven’t already put out there. He plans to come back to SF for a few shows in September, including a guest spot at High Fantasy. “That will be my first time back since I quit drinking, I’m excited to see it all with the newfound clarity that I have.”

His New York life seems slightly different from his known SF persona, mainly as he’s doing a lot less drag, and focusing more on these newer projects. “[Weeklies I’ve done here] just didn’t have the same kind of magic as High Fantasy. There’s something special about Aunt Charlie’s. It’s kind of really hard to compare to that.” He also hosted the Hot Boxxx Girls drag weekly at the Tenderloin’s Aunt Charlie’s, after Vicki Marlane passed away.

But he does have a new crew out there in NY, a kind of drag, multidisciplinary girl-group (drag En Vogue is the inspo), doing monthly reviews, called the House of Chez Deep. They feature heavily in that video for “Your Eyes.” The performers shown in the video alongside Penney are his two crews out there, the House of Chez Deep, and the band Icewater. “I have like, four drag queens on one side, then four — now three — incredible, super sweet straight guys who are musicians on the other side.”

“That’s where I’ve always been in between,” he says, “These super outré artists and these super intense music people. I hope my music resonates like that, this weird moment between all these different slices of culture.”

His personal sound influencers are just as broad. When he first started working on Windows, he was really into house music and poppy ’90s club tracks, but he also is long-inspired by late ’70s and early ’80s new wave and experimental albums like Marianne Faithfull Broken English, and Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, along with the works of David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Massive Attack, even Madonna’s Ray of Light. “I really like these genre-blending anachronistic figures that make people want to draw a line in the sand.”

Ray of Light seems to be particularly close to Penney’s heart. He was given the record in his Easter basket as a the child by his music-loving and religious parents. His dad is a classical pianist, and his mom was a theater major and is a singer who liked Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Heart. It was a “’70s-meets-old Hollywood aesthetic in a suburban home,” as Penney describes it.

He also discovered more weirdo music through religion, though tangentially. A kid brought Cibo Matto’s Viva! La Woman to his youth group one day. “I was really into anime then,” he says, “[Cibo Matto] kind of just felt like this Japanese export, anime soundtrack, but also just this so-crazy, in-your-face, and also really pretty sound too.” He found the song where Le Tigre name-checks Cibo Matto (“Hot Topic”) on the Internet, and that opened him up to Kathleen Hanna. “That was like this landslide into this whole crazy world of punk and these women making it, all of it.” He fell into electroclash and joined an “ill-fated electro-rap group in high school.”

But despite his voracious intake of music, he didn’t start singing live until a few years into his stay in SF, and says he didn’t really have anything to write about until the demise of his relationship with Bogart, which eventually grew into Window.

Penney’s looking forward to people hearing the record, especially since many crowds seem only to have heard his earlier single, “Lonely Sea” (2011). He says he’s been heckled in the past while performing songs from the then-unreleased Window, but crowds perk up at the dancey notes of “Lonely Sea.” “I don’t really know who my audience is. Because it’s not this trendy college audience that’s like, only listening to gay hip-hop, but I do get really cool opportunities to play for more band-centric music crowds.”

“[With Windows] I’m trying to bridge that gap as well because, on some level, these are experiences everyone can relate to. Everyone has lost someone,” he notes. “It’s weird because the album is about losing a boyfriend and a love, but now it’s taken on this whole other dimension for me where it’s about losing my best friend as well.”

It takes a village



TOFU AND WHISKEY Paige & the Thousand is the new solo project from singer-songwriter Lindsay Paige Garfield. Or wait, she has also gone by just Lindsay Garfield professionally, as with her former seven-piece indie-folk group Or, the Whale. But what’s in a name?

“I kind of didn’t realize how confusing it was going to be when I decided to name my band after my middle name. But I just thought it sounded better than Lindsay & the Thousand,” Garfield says. “And I really wanted to use ‘& the Thousand.’ She cheerfully adds that I may call her whatever I like.

The thousand part of the band name is a literary reference from one of her favorite books, Watership Down, a 1972 adventure novel about rabbits forced from their farm because their farmer is trying to kill them, and the journey they undertake. (It’s an allegory about struggle against tyranny and the corporate state.) For her part, Garfield says she doesn’t personally identify with that narrative but for her, it brings to mind her Jewish vaudeville ancestors and relatives who emigrated to the States from Eastern Europe. And she wanted to honor their memory and struggles with her new music.

The sound she’s been working on as Paige & the Thousand has roots similar to Or, the Whale but also travels to different offshoots of twangy folk, country, and Americana, even dipping into Celtic traditions, and shows similar chord progressions to her own rich history of Jewish music, which she long ago sang in synagogue choir as a child.

That “& the Thousand” also refers to “all the people that guided me along my musical path, believed in me, supported me.”

Garfield, who lives in Pacific Heights after half a decade in the Mission, tapped into that support for her debut EP, We Are Now The Times, which she self-released late last year. She wrote the songs for it solo, usually coming up with lyrics based on literary or cinematic references, made-up tales, or true-to-life villains, but recorded the EP in a highly collaborative, two-part process. While working on the basic tracks at Magnolia Records in Novato with engineer Jeremy D’Antonio, she enlisted friends from Or, the Whale to come in and layer additional instrumental sparkle. That included bassist Sean Barnett, and Dan Luehring who played drums, along with a handful more.

She then sent the tracks down to LA’s Zeitgeist Studios, to her cousin Mike Feingold, who is also in Erika Badu’s band. Long working with R&B artists, Feingold’s first Americana record was Garfield’s EP. “I sang at his Bar Mitzvah, that’s the last time we worked together,” she says.

Feingold’s fingerprints are all over We Are Now The Times, with production, and with a variety of instruments including baritone guitar and tuba. And he solicited the help of his friends Blake Mills (Band of Horses, Norah Jones) and pianist Patrick Warren (Bob Dylan), along with a musician in New Orleans playing pedal steel, and another friend from Boston on banjo and mandolin.

So the recording of this four-song EP was indeed a national group effort, but the songs at the core of it began with Garfield, alone in her room.

The album closer, twinkling piano ballad “Let’s Descend,” with which you picture barefoot dancing in the dewy summer grass at midnight, was written about a German film called Wings of Desire. It’s one of Garfield’s favorite flicks, which is in turn based on the poetry of Peter Handke. It seems the album title, We Are Now The Times, is also taken from dialogue in Wings of Desire. And she even got permission from the director’s publishing company in Germany to license some dialogue from the film in the song.

So she’s inspired by films and novels, but also the story-song custom inherit in classic folk music. “I’m not a traditionalist, but I do like the idea of telling stories,” she says.

The best example of that on the EP is the made-up story of “Billy’s Blues,” a travelin’ country-hooked blues ditty. “I just wanted to write like, a Bobbie Gentry, ’60s rhythm and blues kind of song, because I really love that stuff,” adding, “I’m definitely working on a bunch of songs that are in that vein now.”

The album opener, “Baby It’s Time,” is a more personal tale about a breakup, a relationship gone sour. On the upbeat countrified track, Garfield sings oh-so-sweetly, “Baby, baby, it’s time/time for you to say you’re mine/baby, baby it’s time/say you want me/and if you don’t just let me go.”

The backstory on plucky “Play the Martyr” most surprised me, and then required a fresh-eared listening. It’s about a cocaine-addicted former boss in the restaurant industry (an industry in which Garfield still happily works, without the asshole). He was a sadistic megalomaniac — a “complete monster” she says — who chased her down and singled her out with his rage. One day she’d had it and quit, so affected by the entire experience that she wrote a song about it. Now go back and listen to that track again.

Music is clearly her release. The Boston native has been writing songs since grade school, but got serious about it in college, while in the music program at the University of Miami. She was endlessly inspired by all the music geeks surrounding her there. Though she eventually moved out to San Francisco in 2002, with the hopes of working in the music industry here, but quickly realized she’d rather be playing the music. So she started a band and began playing little coffeehouse shows. “It taught me about how to treat people [in bands], being good to people who are inspired enough to play my music with me.” She collected experiences, got better, and formed new acts.

She met Alex Robins from Or, the Whale in the mid-aughts through Craigslist. “At that point I was really ready to do something more collaborative,” she says. The seven-piece country collective eventually saw midlevel success, playing shows with groups like Fleet Foxes, the Dodos, and Two Gallants, and performing on Good Morning America. But with seven people, comes seven different needs and ideas. People needed to agree on songs, which made it difficult. And eventually, members wanted to move on, have children, expand.

So all those experiences led Garfield to where she is now: Paige & the Thousand. “Creatively, I wanted it to have fewer boundaries, I wanted to be able to play songs I liked and not have anyone tell me that I couldn’t.”

Paige & the Thousand plays Awaken Café this weekend with fellow ampersand-lovers Robb Benson & the Shelk, EarlyBizrd & the Bees. Fri/9, 8pm, $7. Awaken Café, 1429 Broadway, Oakl. www.awakencafe.com.



Ew, gross, Icky Boyfriends are back. JK, each successive grave-rise from the trashy ’90s-born Bay Area “noisefuck” band is worth mentioning because the local band is just that entertaining live. To get the full lo-fi freakout inherent in the Icky Boyfriends experience, listen to 2005’s 61-track career retrospective A Love Obscene, which features tracks such as “Burrito,” “Passion Assassin,” “Kids in Fresno,” and “King of Zeitgeist.” You might also note the band features current Hemlock booker/guitarist-singer of Hank IV, Anthony Bedard, on drums. Also, I’ve recently uncovered the fact that Bedard and burlesque legend Dixie Evans once went on the talk show Maury, for the episode “My Sexy Lover Is My Complete Opposite.” YouTube it, immediately.

With Wet Illustrated, Violent Change. Thu/8, 9pm, $8. Eagle Tavern, 3981 12th St., SF. www.sf-eagle.com.

Rotfest IV with 3 Stoned Men, Cameltoe, UKE Band. Sat/10, 5pm, $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.



Too-cute Australian quartet San Cisco is riding on a wave of bubblegum indie-pop and garage guitar hooks, with comparisons to Vampire Weekend, new Bible of Teendom single “Awkward” off its self-titled debut LP, and a cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” And then there’s swinging pop track “Fred Astaire” outfitted with the cherry red-lipped and pompadoured retro dance hall video you might expect. Abandon hope of true grit all ye who enter here, because this particular track is pure Velveeta cheese, and it tastes great between two slices of soda bread. With Smallpools.

Mon/12, 8pm, $15. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slimspresents.com.


Boom boom



TOFU AND WHISKEY Rye Rye went underground for a blip there. Discovered at 15 in a Baltimore club by Blaqstarr, then later introduced and signed to MIA’s Interscope imprint, N.E.E.T. Recordings, the burgeoning dancer, colorful fashion icon, and hip-hop artist seemed destined for immediate stardom. Then she got pregnant, and her debut album, originally slated for release in 2009, was delayed.

After a great many guest spots and collaborations, she came roaring back solo in 2012 with the release of that debut, Go! Pop! Bang!, and an acting gig in the film remake of 21 Jump Street. She popped up again in 2013 with her spring-released track “After Party” off casually impending mixtape RYEde or Die, and this June as a guest star on Asher Roth’s “Actin Up” (which later ended up also including Justin Bieber and Chris Brown).

She’ll be back in the Bay Area this week, after swinging through Oakland as the opener for Scissor Sisters last year at the Fox. This Hard French after party with Micahtron, however, should be a much more intimate, Rye Rye-centric event (Sat/3, 9pm, $20. Public Works, 161 Erie, SF. www.publicsf.com)

The 22-year-old’s style is bold and her voice positively bursts with energy and sonic Funfetti on tracks like the aforementioned frenzied dance single “After Party,” which includes call-backs to both MIA and Missy Elliott (whom she calls her main inspirations, in addition to Kanye West). She’s equally tough and confident on aggressively fun songs like Go! Pop! Bang!‘s “Dance.” And in the video for tender club hit “Boom Boom,” also off Go! Pop! Bang! — which samples the ’90s Vengaboys’ pop hit “Boom Boom Boom” — Rye Rye stars in a live action video game, showcasing both her dance skills and multihued lavender, sky blue, and pink bangs. Plus, she’s been known to tear up the dancefloor in person, at her own shows.

Yet on the phone, she’s quiet, coy, and talks in a girlish tone. Though she does mention several times that she’s a generally shy person, so this likely accounts for the tiny voice I hear whispering through the phone line from a hot day in Baltimore. She talks to me while watching cartoons with her young daughter, who she says likes her mom’s songs and already dances to them. “She knows it all,” Rye Rye says.

In talking about her own early days, as a teen going out with her older sister, Rye Rye says hip-hop was king, but there was some club music and R&B at the spots they’d hit up. At the time, she was in a group that used to dance all over Baltimore, which is what led to her making her own music. Fortuitously, her sister was friends with Blaqstarr, and she met him in a club then later rapped on his answering machine. “I saw him in the club that night, and he asked me to spit it for him and I was like, being shy so I told him no. But we started working in the studio together then eventually met MIA and Diplo.”

Those sessions led to her first mixtape, and eventually, Go! Pop! Bang! For RYEde or Die, she’s still in the midst of working on new tracks, but says she’s taking her time on this one because she’s not quite sure the direction she wants to go in just yet. “I’m deciding if I want to base it on things I deal with, you know? So I’m just still writing on it, trying to plan it out.”

In between writing new tracks and taking her daughter to the pool (her favorite spot this summer), Rye Rye says she’d also be open to more acting gigs, after enjoying her brief stint on the 21 Jump Street set. She got hooked up with the part when MIA told her the directors of the film were fans of her music and wanted her number, then pulled her in for an audition in LA with Jonah Hill, without a script. She and Jonah just riffed in front of casting directors, and she was picked for the role. The casual sentence that eventually ended up being her most memorable moment in the film? “Meanwhile you two were standing around, finger-popping each other’s assholes.” She says it dressed as a cheerleader with bleached bangs, putting emphasis on the word “popping,” and somehow manages to make the line sound cute.

Similar to how MIA’s “Paper Planes” later became synonymous with Pineapple Express — a track on which Rye Rye also contributed — the 21 Jump Street film theme was a bouncy electro-pop club banger by Rye Rye and Esthero.

Now, the rapper is courting meetings and looking ahead to some sporadic gigs until a proper tour at the end of the year, but says she isn’t too concerned about the future. “Everything for me is always just kind out of the blue,” she says. “You know I just go with the flow.”



As first reported by the Bay Bridged, Different Fur Studio owner and engineer Patrick Brown and Robert Pera have come together to release a beat-heavy electro hip-hop album under the name WOOF. The record, Thrill of it All, is the debut LP from the duo, and was released a couple of weeks back on Bandcamp. It began as an instrumental record, then grew to include guest vocals handpicked by the duo from a broad reach of zeitgeist-y rappers and emcees including locals like Nanosaur, A-1, and Richie Cunning, along with Mykki Blanco, Mistah F.A.B., and Chicago MC Show You Suck. There’s also a Matrixxman remix of the song “Pretend,” which features Bird Call. woofbeats.bandcamp.com.



Experimental electronic producer Al Lover has been quoted as saying “the psych music of today is what the producers of tomorrow will sample.” So the local music-maker recently cut out the middle man, and went straight to the source, creating his own tripped out electro-psych tracks. That meant collaborating with Tim Presley aka White Fence on this month’s seven-inch “Snake Hands,” released through the UK’s PNKSLM Records, which is Lover’s first ever solo vinyl release. (Note that White Fence also has a show coming up Aug. 7 at the Rickshaw Stop.) “Snake Hands” is a single from his forthcoming LP Space Magick. Consummate beat-fiend that he is, Lover also flipped the switch back the other way this summer and put up a collection of remixes, recorded over a one-year period. That includes trance-ready instrumental mixes of tracks by fellow (or former) locals like Nick Waterhouse, Fuzz, and Burnt Ones, along with a standout take on Grinderman’s “Bellringer Blues.” He’ll be showcasing a live beat set at Bottom of the Hill tonight. With Coo Coo Birds, Face Tat, Bubblegum Crises.

Wed/31, 9pm, $8. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com.



You guys, Space Vacation is like SF’s own Spinal Tap, distilling the many aspects of theatrical heavy metal into an entertaining metal act you must see live. The group plays actual sing-along heavy metal (in the vein of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard) but also brings along show-enhancing efforts like smoke and lasers. The quartet plays the all-day, all-ages Summer Throwdown event at DNA Lounge this weekend with Son of a SuperCar, Systemic Decay, Look a Flying Pig, Dammit, Serville, and a handful more. Lean in and throw the devil horns during the daylight.

Sun/4, 4:30pm, $15. DNA, 375 11th St, SF. www.dnalounge.com.



There seems to be an uptick in occult fascination lately, or am I just now really paying attention? This whole lineup — a free show through Wood Shoppe — has the witchy vibe, with Vancouver’s Lightning Dust and Louise Burns, and SF’s own Spells. Lightning Dust’s Amber Webber (of Black Mountain) and Josh Wells began as a whispery folk duo in 2007. However, their spooky third LP, June’s Fantasy (Jagjaguwar), is said to be inspired more by “skeletal synth pop, modern R&B beats, the films of John Carpenter and…absolute minimalism.” Louise Burns has that chilled ’80s darkwave thing down. And Spells, the newest project from songwriter Jennifer Marie, incorporates synth and vintage organs into eerie, lovely nightmarescapes (check locally appropriate “Fog”).

Tue/6, 8pm, free. Brick and Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com.

Milo grows up



MUSIC The Descendents have been around since the early 1980s, writing fast, coffee-driven punk music with lyrics about trashy, tongue-in-cheek rebellion in songs like “My Dad Sucks” and “I’m Not a Loser.” The group has undergone various lineup changes, losing drummer Bill Stevenson to Black Flag for a while, and periodically losing lead singer Milo Aukerman to his pursuit of higher education and biochemistry (which the band named its most popular record after).

Brad Nowell of Sublime and Jason Thirsk of Pennywise died within months of each other in the summer of 1996, right around the time when the Descendents regrouped to record the landmark album Everything Sucks. How is this all connected? These three groups (well, Sublime with Rome now) will play the America’s Cup Pavillion together on Sun/4. The Descendents on-again/off-again frontperson, Dr. Aukerman, spoke with me recently about the upcoming show, his dual-life as a biochemist and band leader, and his influence on rockers who didn’t make it out of the ’90s.

SFBG First of all, happy 50th birthday! Do you think that your famous massive coffee intake has helped your longevity in any way?

Milo Aukerman Probably not. I think coffee can be good for you in moderation; it has antioxidant properties, for example. But like anything else you put into your body, it’s not good to overdo it. I am a caffeine abuser, for sure. But I like it, and it helps me rock out. At least I’m not strung out on something harder.

SFBG So when Milo [went] to College after releasing the record of the same name, you split briefly from the band and got a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Why the decision?

MA Actually, first I left to get my undergraduate degree (1982-1986), played again with the band (1985-1987), and then left for my Ph.D. (1987-1992). I’ve always said I would be a scientist, and that music was just a hobby for me. It’s a very intense hobby, and one that makes me some extra cash, but I never considered music as a career, and I still don’t. My career is in science, as I always wanted.

SFBG How do you decide to divide up your time?

MA In 1996 I was really burned out on science; I didn’t have a permanent position, so it was pretty easy to walk away from for a while. Once I got a permanent position, I couldn’t realistically take a break from science. Now, my decision to stay connected with music has been primarily based on wanting to have that creative outlet. While science is creative in its own way, I find that music keeps me feeling alive and young in ways that science cannot. So now, although I cannot really “walk away” from science, I take little vacations from it whenever the band gets together to play or record.

SFBG Do you have a quiet, “clone” of a “Suburban Home” in Delaware when you’re back to being Dr. Aukerman?

MA I do have a suburban home! The irony is that Tony Lombardo wrote “Suburban Home” as a way to poke fun at himself, because when he wrote it, he already owned a house. Let’s face it, we all grew up and took on more adult responsibilities and possessions, but we still have to look in the mirror and laugh at ourselves. Many of our songs are self-critical, some in a more humorous way than others.

SFBG You’re opening for Sublime with Rome at the America’s Cup Pavillion. They covered your song “Hope” on 40oz. to Freedom, did you ever meet or play with Brad Nowell while he was alive?

MA They also covered “Myage,” “Sour Grapes,” and “I’m Not a Loser” — I only learned after Nowell’s death how much they liked the Descendents. We never played with Sublime, nor did I ever meet Brad. I looked at their Wiki page, which lists their “Years Active” as 1988 to 1996…that’s the exact same time frame as our hiatus before Everything Sucks, so, there you go. But I’m really looking forward to seeing [Sublime with Rome] play; there will always be the naysayers saying “you can’t fill Brad’s shoes,” but if a band’s good, I don’t care about that shit. Eric shreds on bass, Rome has a good voice and I like their new stuff, so it’s all good.

SFBG Do you write songs like “I Like Food” as fast you play them?

MA Those type of songs usually start out in your head as a jumble of lines, and usually induced by too much caffeine. You may repeat them over and over, and say them to your friends for a laugh. So by the time you actually write them on paper, it’s pretty quick to finish them. Bill’s the master at these; he wrote “Weinerschnitzel,” then realizing it wasn’t short enough, wrote “ALL.”


With Pennywise, Sublime with Rome

Sun/4, 5:30pm, $39.50

America’s Cup Pavilion

27-29 San Francisco Pier 33

(415) 371-5500



Damaged goods



TOFU AND WHISKEY Jello Biafra could be your theatrical political science professor. The still-charismatic frontperson and song-composer has long spewed knowledge deep from the underbelly of political theater, from his influential early 1980s Bay Area punk band Dead Kennedys, and projects like the band Lard, through his nine dense spoken word albums, and up to his newest musical endeavor, louder than ever in his 50s, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

That band, which also includes Victims Family guitarist Ralph Spight, plays the Uptown this weekend with D.I., the Divvys, and Gir-illa Biscuits — an excellent local Gorilla Biscuits tribute act (Fri/26, 9pm, $15. Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com.)

Given Biafra’s affinity for weaving news-worthy (though oft-overlooked) scandals into contextual lyrics, I have often wondered from where he gathered his news. “Why, the Bay Guardian, of course! Where would a local voter be without your fine rag?” Biafra tells me from his San Francisco home, while finishing up making a juice of apples and greens. Is he mocking me? “I just hope the new ownership and staff goes pedal to the metal to keep up the standard of muckraking and ethics. There’s so much corruption to dig up in this area.” No, his tone is just often sarcastic.

“Locally, we have you folks, among others. And then you know, the Nation, Progressive, Mother Jones, interesting things people send me in the mail, digitally or otherwise, putting two and two together — trying to write songs about stuff that no one else has. Or at least, not in the same way.”

He continues: “It’s just filling in the gaps with what’s interesting. I’m proud that no two of my music albums sound alike. Not even the Lard albums sound alike. From Dead Kennedys onward my mission as the main lyricist and composer of the damn tunes, I kind of stick to my punk core — whether I intend to or not, it’s just who and what I am —but widen the base of the pyramid to what you can do with that energy.”

Guantanamo School of Medicine’s White People and the Damage Done (Alternative Tentacles, 2013) is the group’s most recent album. A semi-concept album, Biafra says it’s about “grand theft austerity, and how unnecessary it is.”

He explains, “People have asked me…what I think is the biggest problem in the world today and they expect me to say something like ‘climate change’… or inequality, or war, or whatever. I say you know, there’s a worse one, it’s corruption. Because that is what’s blocking anything constructive from being done about all those other problems.”

The title track of White People and the Damage Done, a pounding, guitar-heavy, Dead Kennedys-esque song, explicitly points a finger toward attitudes of the higher-ups in the US and EU regarding countries run by people of color, and the need to step in and take control.

Anthemic single “Shock-U-Py!” has a chantable chorus, and moment-in-time impact. In it, Biafra howls “Wake up and smell the noise/We can’t take it any more/Corporate coup must go/We will Occupy/We will Shock-U-py.” The Occupy movement may have left the mainstream radar for now, but Biafra’s song commemorated the moment, much like he did in early career chants calling out yuppies and atrocities in places like Cambodia, in the early ’80s. His lyrics are typically both rooted in the present, and packed with historical references.

A fast-paced earlier released track (still with that Biafra-esque carnivalian breakdown), “Dot Com Holocaust,” recorded at the time of the The Audacity of Hype EP (AT, 2009), touched on problems more local to Biafra and this rag, of gentrification and a new class of tasteless techies coming in to the Bay. Dripping with satire, the song seemed to have touched a nerve when first released, and garnered scores of angry, faceless Internet comments.

“I had this funny feeling we weren’t done with the Dot Com Holocaust. Sure enough, now it’s more aggressive and obnoxious than ever. Dot Com Monte Carlo — that’s kind of what Willie Brown’s puppets are trying to turn this city into, yet again,” he says. “It has been really sad for me to see so many cool people and artists and service-workers and people of color just bulldozed out of this town to make room for more mini little yuppies who treat San Francisco as a suburb of Silly-clone Valley.” Yes, Biafra talks like he sings.

When we discuss newer bands, he notes many acts are fleeing SF for the East Bay, something bands across genre styles and influences have brought up with me during casual conversations and interviews.

“Now you don’t see people like me when I was 19, just moving out to San Francisco [from Boulder, Colo.], chasing a dream. There was a time when the vitality of the underground was maintained by entire bands moving here as a unit. Everybody from MDC and the Dicks to DRI and later, Zen Guerilla.”

But as an underground label owner (Alternative Tentacles) he knows times are tough for both bands and music fans, with a poisonous combination of the crashed economy and rampant file-sharing affecting all involved. “I wonder how many people save up money from their shitty jobs for years in order to make some really cool piece of music only to find that nobody actually gives anything back,” he says. “Maybe the solution for people who want to get their friends into really cool music, don’t just send them the whole album, pick some favorites and send them a little teaser package, a little file to inspire them to check out them more.”

For the complete Jello Biafra Q&A, see SFBG.com/Noise.



Counterpoint, there are still some bands and artist types heading way out west to San Francisco in these turbulent, high-priced times: Yassou Benedict. This band is not in the slightest akin to Biafra’s people, though it is a group of hopeful young dreamers.

The shoegazing dreampop four-piece formed at a small high school in Upstate New York. While most bands from the area would migrate south to New York City, Yassou Benedict made the “fairly random” decision to head to SF. “We all got into a Subaru Forrester with a Great Dane in the back and all our stuff in a trailer and drove across country,” says guitarist James Jackson, who traveled with singer-bassist Lilie Bytheway-Hoy, guitarist-keyboardist A.J. Krumholz, and drummer Patrick Aguirre.

Now in the Bay, they work as servers at Outerlands, a cook at Beauty Bagels and Wise Sons, a bartender at the Boxing Room, and a pizza-dealer at Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub.

But more importantly, the group of 20-somethings recently released its debut EP, In Fits in Dreams, a moody, complex, emotionally fraught record that leaves the listener itching for a full-length, and touches on themes of “anxiety, and wanting to be weightless, the desire to run through wide open spaces.” The album release party was actually a few weeks back, but you can catch the band this week at Milk Bar with Beautiful Machines, Hotel Eden, and NVO (Fri/26, 8:30pm, $10. Milk Bar, 1840 Haight, SF. www.milksf.com).

Led by Bytheway-Hoy’s dramatic, high-ranging vocals, and unconventional song structures (like shifting time signatures) In Fits in Dreams also features guest vocals by Hole’s Melissa Auf Der Maur on track “Cloisters.”

The subtle beats and rolling vocals of “Cloisters” feels like a doomed march toward the unknown, while closer “Last Cicada” ventures more into Radiohead In Rainbows territory (the band has been known to cover “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”). There’s also the church-like pop hymn of “Back Roads that Dead End,” which begins as an anxious vocal solo with faraway chimes, the beats and guitars slowing filtering in.

It’s surely been noted elsewhere on the blogosphere, but there’s something strangely seductive within Yassou Benedict, which I mention to Jackson. “I am not sure why that is. If we are making people feel, whether it is the desire to make love, or children or anything else, than we are succeeding. It is kind of strange though. Our music is fairly depressing. Now I’m just imaging people holding each other and crying while they listen. Lilie’s voice probably has a lot to do with that.” Bytheway-Hoy’s voice is indeed both haunting and captivating.

There’s also a cinematic quality to In Fits in Dreams, likely driven by that high emotional tug. Given the soundtrack capabilities, I asked Jackson what type of film would best be suited to Yassou Benedict and he picked a future Wes Anderson film, also noting that a dream opening slot would be an imaginary Radiohead show in an intimate venue (no arenas!).

While the record was recorded and produced back in Hudson, NY (with Steve Durand at Dioramaland Studios), the band is touring on it from its new homebase in the Bay.





MUSIC “That’s it, I’m done. In love.” This is what Erykah Badu had to say, late last year, upon discovering Hiatus Kaiyote: an unsigned “future soul” ensemble from Melbourne, Australia, with a Bandcamp page, a single EP to its name, no marketing budget, and everything to prove.

Now, less than a year later, the band has found itself reissuing its self-released debut LP via Sony (with a newly added guest spot from Q-Tip, no less) and co-headlining a highly anticipated bill with D’Angelo and Badu herself, in Detroit later this summer.

This Sunday, Hiatus Kaiyote will grace the Independent, in its first ever SF appearance, with local R&B powerhouse, the Seshen, featured in the opening slot.

So, how does an unassuming four-piece band, from halfway across the world, find itself on the radar of America’s neo-soul elite?

The answer to that question lies almost entirely in the strength of Tawk Tomahawk: Hiatus Kaiyote’s inaugural statement as a group, which rips through its 30-minute runtime with incendiary force, and a mind-boggling flair for invention and appropriation.

West African polyrhythms intermingle with sludgy, offbeat grooves á la J Dilla. And 1970s electric piano-washes bounce off harsher, synth textures resembling IDM and the LA beat scene as led by Flying Lotus. All the while, the production sound switches between clean lushness, and uncompromising rawness, at the drop of a hat.

Hiatus Kaiyote might identify as a “future soul” ensemble, and Nai Palm’s impassioned, show-stopping vocals surely establish a strong R&B foundation, but in the end, Tawk Tomahawk sounds less like a soul LP than an unfiltered rush of creative energy, heaping countless ideas and influences into an ecstatic vision of musical possibility.

This anything-goes approach is largely the result of all four members’ divergent musical backgrounds, and the varying influences they bring to the table. Vocalist and guitarist Nai Palm is the band’s principal songwriter, whose intricately layered, shapeshifting compositions move with Jeff Buckley-esque vertigo.

Drummer Perrin Moss is an accomplished MC, whose hip-hop background is evident in the lumbering chug of his grooves, often recalling Questlove’s work on D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

Bassist Paul Bender, a former student of University of Miami’s jazz program, lays down basslines as intricately fingerpicked as they are viciously slapped and primally funky.

Keyboardist Simon Mavin has found himself inhabiting a range of scenes, from Latin, to soul, to dub-reggae, which comes through in the lush, diversely textured tonal layering he brings to Hiatus Kaiyote’s sound.

“I think if you listen to our music enough, you sort of start to realize that it’s not just a soul band, or a jazz band… Our influences are pretty vast,” Mavin told the Guardian via Skype, from a hotel room in Mulhouse, France, the night before an eagerly anticipated appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. “We’re all in it because we want to be creatively intense, and stimulate each other through our ideas.”

This potency of ideas, and resistance to categorization, is likely what caught the ear of BBC’s tastemaker-in-chief Gilles Peterson, the famed radio DJ and musical ambassador who first brought Hiatus Kaiyote’s sound to international attention.

Not long after, the Twittersphere went abuzz; when everyone from Badu to the Roots’ indispensable Questlove began singing its praises, Palm, Mavin, Bender, and Moss were vindicated (in small circles, anyway) as saviors of soul music, transitioning it from a largely revivalist, wheel-spinning art-form, into a musical attitude with the ability to transcend genres as freely as it consumes them.

After its first American tour this spring, (including stops at SXSW and Questlove’s big-deal club night at Brooklyn Bowl), Hiatus Kaiyote signed a contract with Flying Buddha records, a subsidiary of Sony, which re-released Tawk Tomahawk last week, featuring a guest spot from A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip added to their breakthrough track, “Nakamarra.” A sophomore LP is in the works as well; however, the band doesn’t plan on significantly altering its homegrown, independent recording process.

“Sonically, the reason we signed this record deal is because it enables us 100 percent creative freedom, even down to the point of mixing it,” Palm explained. “So, we’re gonna be recording it in our own setup… same home studio vibe.”

The magic of Hiatus Kaiyote can be found in this balance between the otherworldly thrust of its music, and its insistence on this humble, DIY approach to songcraft. By rejecting the interference of producers, engineers, and other outside forces, Palm, Mavin, Bender, and Moss have generated a sound that bears the single-minded vision of a great auteur, yet with the richness of ideas allowed by the collaboration of harmonious minds.

If Hiatus Kaiyote’s ascent continues, Erykah Badu could end up with some serious competition atop the soul pyramid.


With the Seshen, Bells Atlas

Sun/28, 9pm, $22


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Rise and snack



TOFU AND WHISKEY Listening to infectious Terry Malts track “I Do” on a blissed-out drive across the bridge to Oakland last weekend, I was struck by how the song has grown so ingrained in my psyche.

With its driving hook and repetitive “I do/I do/I do/oh-oh” chorus about young punks in love, it’s like an underground college radio hit earworm, or the song you methodically skip to with a carful of friends on a sweaty sojourn to the beach, triumphantly pushing play on the old tape deck. It has that timeless, enduring quality. It feels like its always been in my collection.

And yet, the upbeat punk song is less than two years old, created by the San Francisco trio for its debut 2012 LP Killing Time (Slumberland). It’s got this nostalgic pull inherent in the band, and might be the best example of such among its back catalog. Returning to Killing Time left me wondering what was next for the group. Lo and behold, Terry Malts just announced the sophomore follow-up: Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, which will be released Sept. 10 also via Slumberland Records. The announcement came with a first single, driving, noisier, “I Was Not There.” Sensing a theme here?

Terry Malts were featured in my inaugural “On the Rise” cover story, in 2012 (it’s now a yearly tradition in the first couple months of the year), and it made me wonder how the others were doing.

As luck would have it, there was also news last week that chilly synch duo Silver Swans (Jonathan Waters and Ann Yu) returned with new track “Sea of Love,” off upcoming album Touch.

Likely the group I’ve most followed since the story, rockers Dirty Ghosts have grown tighter and louder in the past year or so, and have played both the Treasure Island Music Festival and a raucous, shred-worthy Noise Pop slot opening for the Thermals.

And then there’s multi-instrumentalist Jhameel, who has since moved to LA, but has kept up with a steady stream of beat-friendly R&B and pop releases, music vids, and drunk YouTube clips for fans, most recently collaborating with Giraffage and DWNTWN on the track “Move Me,” which showed up on the Kitsuné America 2 compilation.



For those who’ve yet to experience “symphonic ambisonic soundscapes” deep down in the coral reefs: Soundwave SonicLAB, MEDIATE, and the Bold Italic present this sound-heavy Cal Academy Nightlife event with electronic composer-musician Christopher Willits (owner of experimental label Overlap.org) on the soundscapes, and local garage pop act the Mantles playing live among the fishies. And for the more scientific angle, there’ll be a talk by oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (best title ever) Dr. Sylvia A. Earle.

Thu/18, 6-10pm, $12. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, SF. calacademy.org/events.


Vintage children’s tales always seem to take on a slightly creepy quality, and the same can be said for experimental folk songstress, Miwa Gemini. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter makes moody narrative lullabies that sound like campfire tales, told in a crisp singsongy voice over pah-pum drums and guitar lines that bend from Western twang to plucky surf. With Zoe Muth, Margaret Glasby.

Thu/18, 9pm, $10. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. www.amnesiathebar.com.


That blissful drive last weekend? It was the route to Burger Boogaloo, the punk rock summer camp in Oakland’s Mosswood Park. Put together by Burger Records and Total Trash Booking, the fest boasted noisy punks, retro-inspired doo-wop groups, and sloppy surf-rock bands mostly from the Bay Area, LA, and Portland, Ore.,plus Jonathan Richman. There was great warm weather, a fenced off beer plot, vintage clothes and records for sale, and the sugary vegan donut burger made by Hella Vegan Eats.

So fresh, so clean


MUSIC In 1992, when Pavement released its seminally crusty, DIY masterstroke Slanted and Enchanted, tape hiss and low fidelity were inherent, unavoidable side-effects of recording on the cheap. As much as that fuzzy production sound complemented the band’s shambolic, punk sensibility, clean recording techniques were only attainable through studios, spendy gear, and other resources unavailable to most garage slackers in Stockton.

Since then, home recording standards have improved dramatically. Professional-quality software like Ableton is easily obtainable via piracy, as is an infinite sea of music-as-source-material, waiting to be lifted, sampled, and recontextualized. in 2013, this increased accessibility has rendered lo-fi recording an aesthetic choice, and no longer an intrinsic property of DIY-ism.

Yet, despite the advent of clean, sterile recording as the “default mode” of DIY music in the age of the laptop-as-recording-studio, a sizable chunk of modern, computer-based music is still permeated by the cultural signifiers and trappings of tape-based lo-fi, from the warped perversion of Ariel Pink, to the fuzzy obfuscation of Dirty Beaches, to the chillwave movement’s heavy-handed reliance on effects and filters. Ostensibly, this lo-fi aesthetic is kept intact partially in order to communicate the sort of subversion-from-the-margins that we associate with punk-rock, and other dissenting art-forms, but over the past few years, a new approach has developed, which not only embraces the stylistic properties of clean recording, but uses that sterility in a fringe context, subverting the order of the music-world similarly to the lowest of lo-fi.

James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual (2011) was a watershed moment in this marriage of anemic production qualities, and the left-field approach of the DIY movement. Whereas Ferraro’s previous albums, such as On Air (2010), presented a fairly standard, Ariel Pink-indebted take on hypnagogic pop, (refracting a broad palette of samples from both high-art and trash-culture through a reverberatious, dreamlike haze of outmoded recording sensibilities), Far Side Virtual opted for a brighter, cleaner more limited set of source material, keeping the dryness of those samples intact. By co-opting stock commercial muzak, cheesy MIDI synths, and a jumble of ringtones, startup chimes, and Siri robot-speak, Ferraro was able to place these sounds into a new cultural framework, without significantly altering their sonic integrity, resulting in an approach now known as vaporwave.

What might resemble generic, innocuous, (yet tastelessly compiled) stock-music, when presented without context, sounds like a scathing attack on the vapidity of techno-capitalism, and our docile complicity as consumers, given the knowledge of Ferraro’s outsider status, and the subversive reputation of the Hippos In Tanks label to which he is signed. The vaporwave trend has expanded since the release of Far Side Virtual, birthing #HDBoyz (a Mountain Dew chugging, Best Buy-patronizing boy-band whose cultural position is complicated by having performed at MoMA in NYC), and even Dis Magazine, a self-described “post-Internet lifestyle” publication that embraces and/or lampoons fashion, commerce, and garish product placement.

Vaporwave, however, is a mere component of the larger, comparatively apolitical movement towards clean, dry textures and production techniques in the DIY context. Laurel Halo’s Quarantine (2012) staged dry, unadorned vocals against a dense, muddled wall of electronica, forcing two sound-worlds to compete for the same space. Ariel Pink’s Mature Themes (2012) marked a Ween-like jump from the murkiness of his earlier work to an unsettlingly arid production aesthetic. This year’s Don’t Look Back, That’s Not Where You’re Going, from Inga Copeland (half of hypnagogic pop duo Hype Williams) rejected the messy, fuzzy jumble of her previous output in favor of a streamlined, Madonna-esque pop approach. Halo, Pink, and Copeland, like Ferraro, are known for operating from the margins of culture and taste, and that’s precisely what renders their use of clean, dry sounds so provocative.

Dean Blunt, the other half of Hype Williams, made an especially striking statement with this year’s debut solo endeavor,The Redeemer, an LP that maintained the scattershot, indiscriminate sampling tactics of Hype Williams’ One Nation (2011) and Blunt and Copeland’s Black is Beautiful (2012), while doing away with the grimy, resinous sonic impurities that permeated those records. Just as Black is Beautiful jumped impulsively between snippets of free-jazz drumming, inept MIDI-flute noodling, underwater video-game music, and other disparate ideas, The Redeemer trades off between K-Ci & JoJo string samples, John Fahey-esque guitar impressionism, intimate voicemail messages, and theatrical piano hammering a la Tori Amos. However, the absence of sonic fuzz presents a novel tension between the album’s haphazard composition, and its clarity of presentation, deeming Blunt’s intentions far more ambiguous this time around.

Whereas Black is Beautiful‘s lo-fi approach placed its component samples squarely in the domain of weirdo art, fulfilling expectations of what DIY music “should” sound like,The Redeemer forces its listeners to consider each snippet at face value. “Imperial Gold,” a twee, brightly produced folk tune towards the end of the album, would fit comfortably in a Portlandia episode, but what are we supposed to make of it, coming from Dean Blunt, the outsider? Does it present a moment of sincerity, a tongue-in-cheek jab against the art-world, or both? Much like Ferraro with Far Side Virtual, Blunt subverts the meaning of his musical gestures with simple shifts of context.

Similarly to Pavement’s initiation of the lo-fi movement,using the limited resources at their disposal, this emerging trend of cleanly-produced laptop music represents the confluence of modest means and radical ideas. If anyone in the ’90s could start a three-chord garage band, surely anyone in 2013 with a laptop can compose original music from the scraps of their sample library. However, like punk, the lo-fi approach has lost much of its potency in the last 20 years, and simply cannot provoke the same bewilderment that it used to. By using sterile, dry sounds for subversive effect, provocateurs like Blunt and Ferraro have inflamed the art-world all over again. This is the punk rock of the Internet age.

Summer ghouls



TOFU AND WHISKEY In these past three years, Phono Del Sol has built itself up into a tastemaker midsummer’s indie music fest — and it’s one to watch. It makes sense: the one-day fest is curated by on-the-pulse local blog, the Bay Bridged.

And beyond the interesting (and mostly local) band choices — the first year featured Aesop Rock and Mirah, last year the Fresh and Onlys and Mwahaha, and this year Thee Oh Sees, YACHT, Bleached, and K. Flay will headline — there’s something about the approach and atmosphere that calms the nerves.

It’s in the Mission’s Potrero Del Sol park, a hilly, grassy area bordered by an active skate park. During the fest, skaters whizz by near the bands, and street food vendors offer salty snacks on the other side of the stage.

The event tends to inhabit a particular San Francisco garage scene vibe of yesteryear, apart from current complications brewing in the nearby neighborhood between the old and new, the tech workers and SF lifers.

One of the newest bands on this year’s bill fits this feeling as well, the young garage pop four-piece Cool Ghouls. The psych-inflected group is relaxed and gracious, perhaps not yet jaded by the outlying music community or industry. And they’ll be bringing a horn section to Phono Del Sol this year. (Sat/13, 11:30am-7pm, $20. Potrero Del Sol Park, 25th Street at Utah, SF. www.phonodelsol.com).

Cool Ghouls, named after a phrase George Clinton used in a Parliament Funkadelic concert film, are a bit giggly during our conversation from lead guitarist Ryan Wong’s Duboce Park area apartment. They seem new to this whole recognition thing, and thusly, speak candidly, and nearly in circles. Singer Pat McDonald, bassist Pat Thomas, and Wong all grew up in the Bay Area, attending high school in Benicia together, and met up again in San Francisco after college. Alex Fleshman met the others when he went to San Francisco State University.

They formed in early 2011 and began playing shows almost immediately — in early spring of that year, showing up at brick-and-mortar spots, house shows, even Serra Bowl before it closed, and at Noise Pop. That’s where they first crossed my path, as they began popping up at shows on a frequent basis. “Now, we’re being asked to play more local shows then we can play,” Thomas says. “Pat McDonald seems to know a lot of people somehow, maybe it’s his hair? Or he’s just like, really nice.”

Their self-titled debut full-length, recorded by Tim Cohen of Fresh and Onlys and Magic Trick, saw release this April on Empty Cellar Records. “We thought we could record a whole album by ourselves, so we recorded 90 percent of it on an eight-track recorder,” Wong says. “We showed Arvel [Hernandez], who runs Empty Cellar Records…he told us ‘the songs are really good but the recording is just shitty.'”

He enlisted Cohen to record it, and said he’d release it on Empty Cellar. They were ecstatic with the revelation, and excited to work with the talented Cohen. They spent a few days in his Western Addition home, rerecording the full album while crammed in Cohen’s bedroom at the top of a towering Victorian near Alamo Square.

Cohen’s since become a de facto advocate for the band, writing a glowing press release about Cool Ghouls and the album, in which he defiantly explains “First things first: Cool Ghouls are not a retro act… Truth be told, this being their first official release, they may even be a bit naïve in their dogged pursuit of the true-blue, home-spun, rock and roll lifestyle.”

Though he later concedes, “If one were to ascribe to them a ’60s-reverent description, as one often does in the case of San Francisco bands, one would most likely find an artistic kinship with some of the most inimitable, idiosyncratic, yet unmistakably influential bands of the retro-fitting oeuvre. The Troggs, The Monks, Sir Douglas Quintet come to mind immediately. (Save your Kinks and Rolling Stones references.) Like the aforementioned, the Ghouls are natural heirs to the folkloric lineage which precedes them, adding dashes of weirdness where needed.”

The group laughs when I bring up the Cohen praise, “it’s so funny things people take away from press releases…but he did a really good job of writing that, I didn’t even know he understood us that well,” Thomas says. “He doesn’t give you that much in person, he’s a pretty stoic guy, so it’s been really cool to see that through all of that, he was digging us.”

“We were all kind of intimidated, then that came out, and I didn’t have any idea he was even writing anything,” Wong adds.

The Ghouls are democratic, and all are multi-instrumentalists, with each group member writing songs and bringing the skeletons to the group to flesh out. And many of the tracks on the album do evoke that garage pop weirdness Cohen identified, and also a casual self-awareness.

Thomas wrote joyful first single “Natural Life” quickly and brought it to the band. The perfectly corresponding video by his film student brother Rob Thomas features the band frolicking in the Marin Headlands and Sutro Baths. “That whole organic approach, natural approach, putting your pieces in place and then just winging it, is something that we generally do — it keeps it collaborative,” Thomas says.

Another standout, is mid-tempo “Witches Game,” which singer McDonald wrote, starting with the fuzzy guitar riff that rides strong through the track.

Woozy, surfy “Grace” was one of the first songs they ever played together, and usually closes out their live sets. And they agree that jangly psych-pop “Queen Sophie” was one of the more collaborative songs. There’ll be a proper video for that one out soon too.

“The whole album was a group effort. I think of it as a specific piece of where we were at when we recorded it,” Wong says.

The album artwork is worth noting as well, a collage-painting made by Thomas with a big glittery sun, swirly watercolor images of clouds, snowy mountaintops, red-yellow fire, and a colorful rooster. The images weren’t meant necessarily to reflect the songs on the album, but ended up having some meaning after the fact.

“I was just trying to represent what I lean toward anyway, like if it’s a painting I make, it’ll probably evoke the music I make, just because I’m making both of them,” Thomas says. “But liked the rooster image because I was thinking about the way roosters strut, and this is our first album.”

Wong pipes up, “I feel the way the album is with these songs, [it’s about] the morning, and the ideas of the natural life. It’s appropriate because it’s our first album, but maybe I’m looking too much into it?”

Cool Ghouls will move on soon anyway — they’re currently prepping new songs and plan to record a second album this August.



Fillmore District-raised emcee DaVinci plays this free show alongside fellow burgeoning local rap duo Main Attrakionz, Young Gully, Shady Blaze, Ammbush, and Sayknowledge. DaVinci has been releasing tracks for a few years, in late 2012 dropping full-length The MOEna Lisa with an ode to SF in track “In My City” with the telling lyric, “Trying to push us out of the city/but we ain’t leaving,” in a hoarse whisper, but also referencing favorite spots like the waffle house at Fillmore and Eddy (Gussies).

Wed/10, 9pm, free. Brick and Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission, SF; www.brickandmortarmusic.com.



The elegant yet spooky old-world-carnival act Japonize Elephants — noted for drawing sounds from eclectic styles like gypsy jazz, bluegrass, and klezmer — will celebrate the vinyl release party for newest album Mélodie fantastique, this week at Amnesia. Go, and witness all the instrumentation you can handle (fiddle, banjo, glockenspiel, vibraphone, accordion, percussion, surf guitar), along with four-part vocal harmonies. A group of waltzing ghosts, like the ones you find on the Haunted Mansion ride, wouldn’t seem out of place here.

Thu/11, 9:30pm, $7–$10. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. www.amnesiathebar.com.


Get trashed



MUSIC During high school one day in a sleepy Marin County enclave, Tina “Boom Boom” Lucchesi went to a local record shop where Erik Meade of Jackson Saints and the Pukes worked, and he put on a Redd Kross album. “Total obsession,” Lucchesi says now, a few decades later, from her punky, vintage-filled Peewee’s Playhouse home in Oakland. “He was playing the Teen Babes from Monsanto record, and I was like, I’m going to buy that — and I did.”

This week, Lucchesi’s early 1990s-born wild surf-punk group the Trashwomen will play alongside Redd Kross for the first time ever, during the two-day slackfest Burger Boogaloo (Sat/6-Sun/7, noon-9pm, $25/day. Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster, Oakl., www.burgerboogaloo.com). The Boogaloo, a yearly collaboration between Orange County, Calif. label and shop Burger Records, and East Bay promoters Total Trash Booking, is known for bringing an eclectic, sometimes manic mix of surf, punk, garage, doo-wop, and retro rock’n’roll acts commonly associated with both organizers.

This year, for the first time, it’s all outdoors, and the headliners are impressive: Redd Kross, Jonathan Richman, the Zeroes, the Oblivions, Fuzz, the Trashwomen. The rest of the lineup is too, including Audacity, Mean Jeans, Shannon and the Clams, Mikal Cronin, Guantanamo Baywatch, and more.

The Trashwomen immediately stuck out in the stellar lineup, mostly because the other groups are all active bands. The Trashwomen haven’t played together in four years (during a brief reunion for Budget Rock in ’08), and before that, they’d been broken up since ’97. So why now?

For Total Trash’s Marc Ribak, the choice was obvious. “In the Total Trash babe bible, Trashwomen rank number one!”

But for said babes, it was all about Redd Kross. “Redd Kross is playing! We’re all big fans, so we were like,’we’ve got to do it!'” says drummer Lucchesi, sitting on a teal patterned couch in her home next to bassist Danielle “Lead Pedal” Pimm, and guitarist Elka “Kitten Kaboodle” Zolot.

Though they also mention getting stoked to see Mexican punk legends the Zeros, and Portland, Ore. sloppy surf-rock group Guantanamo Baywatch.

“We’ve gotten a lot of offers, but we all have busy lives. There was a time when we were doing it but then you know, it kind of fizzled out,” she adds. “In the early ’90s, when the garage thing was so great in San Francisco, we played with the Mummies, the Phantom Surfers, Supercharger, we all played together. And then it just kind of died out, and we did get sick of it, and each other. But it’s fun, I like getting together and playing with these guys once in awhile.”

While their initial run ended in ’97, the group left a lasting impression on future generations of San Francisco garage groups, particularly girl groups, which has surprised Zolot. “I have my Instagram, and a lot of young bands that are still in high school [post on there] like ‘oh I look up to you,’ ‘you inspire me to write music and be a girl on guitar,’ and I’m like, how did you even hear about us? It’s cool, but sometimes it shocks me that young people know who we are.”

It’s a combination of sound, style, and era that carries on the Trashwomen torch. Likely the Internet accessibility of music had a hand in it too. The music itself, on albums like debut ’93 record Spend the Night with the Trashwomen (Estrus), is a raucous jumble of raunchy original garage anthems (“Cum on Baby,” “I’m Trash”), syrupy rock’n’roll numbers (“Daddy Love”), and surf-punk covers of rare ’60s gems like the Fender Four’s “Mar Guya” and Starfire’s “Space Needle.”

The aesthetic was based in high camp and cheap glamour — also seen on the cover of Spend the Night with the Trashwomen, the trio lounging in bed together, dolled up and looking tough in leopard print bras, red lace crop tops, and black babydoll dresses.

“It came from a lot of pin-up stuff and ’60s go-go girls. We wanted to have a weird persona, I think, like Russ Meyer bad girls,” Lucchesi says.

The group was known to play live in matching outfits, often trashy lingerie. “I don’t know if you’ll see us wearing lingerie on stage again though,” Zolot says.

Though Lucchesi and Pimm do mysteriously mention possible planned outfits for Burger Boogaloo, noting that they’re working on a little something.

“There may be just a little flair,” Pimm says with a laugh.

“No bikinis though!” Zolot again reminds everyone.

The three have an easy rapport, which Pimm says took only about 22 years to master. Each time they get back together in Lucchesi’s garage, it’s like starting over fresh, but the songs eventually come rumbling back to them, she says. They’ve been practicing for about two months this time around, going back through the classic tracks, with no intention of writing new ones. “I get disappointed when I see an older band and they don’t play much of their stuff that we all grow up with,” Zolot says. Everyone nods in agreement.

The group originally came together fresh out of high school. Lucchesi and Pimm had gone to school together in Corte Madera and both moved to San Francisco at age 18, where they met Elka. She’d grown up in Los Angeles, and moved to SF, forming the psychobilly group Eightball Scratch.

The Trashwomen were supposed to be a one-off Trashmen cover band for a New Year’s party at a long-gone venue called the Chameleon, kicking off 1992 in surf garage style. The idea was masterminded by Mike Lucas from the Phantom Surfers, then a popular local surf band.

For NYE, they learned a handful of Trashmen songs, got drunk, and played the set twice.

“After that, people kept calling, so we realized, we better write a bunch of songs,” Zolot says.

Since she’d been in Eightball Scratch, she’d already been playing punk and rockabilly guitar parts, so she continued to do so in the Trashwomen, adding even more surfy reverb.

She’s been playing music since before she can remember, and as a teenager was influenced by the Go-Go’s. “I’d listen to the Go-Go’s and pretend I was on stage.”

“I think every girl did that when that album came out,” says Lucchesi, who since the Trashwomen has gone on to front a dozen bands, including the Bobbyteens. “The Ramones definitely got me more into guitar. Every day after work I would just come home and play to the tape.”

Their personal influences all seem to overlap with those creepy-sexy goth punks, the Cramps. “All the great punk stuff, and new wave, all that stuff was happening. We were lucky we got to see it,” Lucchesi says. Putting on a mock cranky-old-lady accent she adds, “Kids today, they don’t kno-ow.”

In the early days of the Trashwomen, the threesome often played the Chameleon (in the space formerly known as Chatterbox and which is now Amnesia), and also the Purple Onion, frequently popping up at lesbian nights at clubs, warehouse parties, or underground house shows. They once wore bras scrawled with the word “Feminist” to the Faster Pussycat lesbian night at FireHouse 7 in Oakland. Often, fights would break out at their shows at the Purple Onion, just the high drama of the scene.

They also once played Bimbo’s, opening up for Nina Hagen, and they flew to New York to play CBGBs, which was monumental for all three. The day after the show, they went to Coney Island, ate hot dogs, and rode the Cyclone — on which Zolot severely injured her back; she has yet to go on a rollercoaster since. They were also heckled along the boardwalk, Pimm says. “Some of the girls at Coney Island, they were like, ‘excuse me, B-52s!'”

The band also toured Europe and Japan briefly, playing alongside its Japanese equivalent, the’s.

“The Germany shows were weird,” Pimm says. “We played somewhere in East Berlin, and all these metalheads walked in and we were like, ‘this is our audience? They’re going to hate us!’ The crowd ended up not letting the Trashwomen leave the stage, standing up front with folded arms, begging them to play more.

From all the stories, it seems like an aggressive, wildly exciting time for the band, but it’s easy to see why it eventually fizzled. Lucchesi has gone on to form acts like the aforementioned Bobbyteens, and is also currently in two-person garage-punk band Cyclops with her boyfriend Jonny Cat, and Midnite Snaxxx, with former Bay Guardian staffer Dulcinea Gonzalez. She also runs Down at Lulu’s a little vintage shop and hair salon in Oakland she opened seven years back with Seth Bogart, a.k.a. Hunx, and now runs solo.

Pimm too opened a salon, Marquee, last year in Oakland, near 1-2-3-4 Go! Records.

Zolot works in catering at wineries in the Napa area, dressing like a pin-up girl and shucking oysters with a mobile oyster bar, and also does photography. She’s not currently in another band, but says she has some secret music projects in the works.

“We didn’t even know that!” Lucchesi says when Zolot reveals this.

“It’s not the same style as people would expect, so I don’t talk about it much,” Zolot says.

“I want to know — is it hip-hop?” Lucchesi jokes.

“No! That’s for Tasha, she’s got that covered,” Zolot says, speaking of her daughter, Natassia Zolot, a.k.a rapper Kreayshawn. (Kreay can be heard at age five screaming the lead on the Trashwomen single “Boys Are Toys.”)

“That’s for the younger generation,” Pimm says.