Vashti’s progress: More than just another diamond night in San Francisco


Vashti Bunyan is giving a concert at Great American Music Hall this week. To give an idea of how rare this event is, Bunyan has played fewer shows here than she has released albums, and she’s released exactly two long song collections: 1970’s justifiably adored Just Another Diamond Day and last year’s equally exquisite Lookaftering. With a little help from a calling card, I spoke with Bunyan recently about her not-so-hidden current bond with Devendra Banhart, her rather more secret past kinship with Francoise Hardy, the artistic leanings and pilgrim’s progress of the Bunyan family bloodline, the making of a Diamond Day movie, the cruelty beneath Swinging London’s fun, the wonders of home recording, and some friendly coincidences.


Guardian: I just ran up a hill to buy a calling card. How are you?
Vashti Bunyan: I’m fine. I’m comfortably at home at Edinburgh, [Scotland].

G: Have you been living in the same place for many years?
VB: Yes, we’ve been here for 12 years, which is the longest I’ve been anywhere in my life. I keep thinking, “Maybe it’s time to go?” But yes, I’m back in the city after many years of country living.

Volume as a religion


By G.W. Schulz

Meant to blog a while back on a stack of records I’ve picked up recently. I’m only going to write about a few. I don’t articulate myself very well when it comes to music. I’m a reporter. But these records, I thought, deserved a mention. Below the jump is a list of the others.

(Tortuga Recordings)
Tortuga is a blood relative of L.A.’s Hydrahead Records (formerly of Boston) created several years ago by the singer of Isis, Aaron Turner. Both labels have always specialized in droning, deep volume, but there have been big rock, up-tempo releases in the past. 5ive falls within two of Turner’s ongoing obsessions: brutal stoner rock and dark ambience. The band is made up of just two guys – drums and guitars – but the way they calmly build into colossal crescendos has always struck me as remarkable. There isn’t necessarily a deep chug in the guitars, but the grime that replaces it is, as Nate Denver might say, “satisfying.” This is their fourth and newest record. I’ve owned both “The Telestic Disfracture” and “Continuum Research Project” for some time now, and I still enjoy each of them. Now’s the part where I admit that I’ll buy pretty much anything with Aaron Turner’s name even remotely connected to it. I’ve followed his career for years, and 5ive is another addition to what I’ve always believed was a great group of bands.

NOISE: Love Snowglobe, love their album


May I just say that Memphis band Snowglobe‘s second full-length, Doing the Distance (Makeshift), out earlier this year, is one of the finest unhyped sleeper-type recordings of 2006 thus far? Hip-hip-hooray for weird, whirling orchestral prog-pop by musicians who obviously listened to far too much AM pop in the ’70s.


Where have these guys been all our lives? Why haven’t they played here? Why does their My Space page list an SF show on Sept. 3 but no deets? Can I stop punching the question mark key any time soon?

NOISE: O, we come in praise of those random acts of music


Yes, Virginia, there’s much to catch up on since last week.

Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mars Volta for two, last Thursday at Oakland Arena. The scene was dumpy out in the parking lot before the show — doesn’t this look like the SUV pooped tin? Yeesh, clean up after yourselves, jerks.

Sloppy tailgaitin’ Pepper-heads. All images by Kimberly Chun.

We got inside just in time to see the start of Mars Volta’s set. Cedric was swiveling around like a mini-James Brown and the entire band got down admirably for some rad psych-prog jams despite the always-lousy arena sound. Nice pseudo-Satanic backdrops and occaisional sax skronk. For the finale the sax dude put his horn aside, sat behind a kit, while another player started wailing on a set of congas. Groooooovy.

As for the Chili Peppers, well what can I say? They are my guilty pleasure – I secretly love their pop hits and give them their props for being the first punk-funkers on the block. Yet why do all their other non-hit songs sooo similar. Despite the musicianship on Flea and Frusciante’s part, I must admit I was downright bored for most of the show – must they jam endlessly on the most mundane riffs? Must Anthony Keidis cavort like a graceless goblin? His voice seemed just fine but his dance moves paled after the agile MV. I’d much rather read his recent, strangely fascinating autobio (which memorably kicks off with an injection by a sexy nurse).

Next up, Friday night: 7 Year Rabbit Cycle with XBXRX and Murder Murder. I’m sorry I missed XB but I got there early enough to see a new lineup for Guardian contributor Paul Costuros’s Murder Murder, with Sic Alps’s Matt Hartman and Comets on Fire’s Noel Harmonson joining Costuros on sax and Ches Smith on vibes. Noise -and two drummers – t’was compelling.

Paul Costuros gets down with Murder Murder.

Then 7 Year Rabbit Cycle came on – and dang, did they tear it up. Ches Smith on drums has sort of become the centerpiece of the band, propping his foot up on a snare to reach a China cymbal, rattling and shaking, as everyone – partner Miya on bass, Rob on guitar, Kelly on vocals, fellow Xiu Xiu member Jamie Stewart, and Guardian contributor George Chen clustered around. Powerful stuff. Appreciative audience. Who could ask for anything more?


7 Year Rabbit Cycle don’t go through the motions – they’ll impress the fur off youse.

I took a break to head up north to Lassen volcanic national park. Awesome bubbling mud pits and cute bluejays. But then last night I was back to see Jean-Jacques Perrey – protege of Cocteau, Piaf, and Disney and Incredibly Strange Music star – play a special RE/Search event at Asphodel Records’ Recombinant Labs in SOMA. Perrey fan Jello Biafra introduced the man.

Here’s your Jello.

Perrey was a hoot – loved his jams particularly on “Mame” and “The Typewriter,” his tribute to Spike Jones. I dare anyone not to crack a smile once during a performance.

Jean-Jacques Perrey shook his lil’ stuffed pal along with the beat.

The man oozes infectious glee while pounding his beloved Ondioline, an early synthesizer – hard to believe he made so many of the sounds he creates with tape records, scissors and the sheer urge to splice. The much-sampled “EVA” was his closer – pure hip-shaking mod fun.

At 77 years young, Perrey proves you’re never too old to mug for the camera.

NOISE: In praise of Live Music Archive…


Guardian intern Joseph DeFranceschi holds forth on his favorite music download site, Live Music Archive, and offers sundry tips:

If you’re reading this blog, you’ll probably be interested in the online musical goldmine known as the Live Music Archive.

Wilco — just one of those stellar bands you find on Live Music Archive. Courtesy of

In the constant search for free music downloads, it is rare to stumble upon some that are high quality, easily accessible, and don’t require neglecting everything experts warn of regarding viruses and spyware. Remember when Kazaa’s coolest finds were those MP3s of outtakes or live records of crappy, scratchy sound quality? This database features complete concerts, entire album outtakes, and full radio performances, all in usually fantastic sound quality. You won’t find the hit singles here, but you can download rare live concert recordings that cannot be found in stores.

Most artists — ranging from indie acts like Wilco and jam bands such as Grateful Dead to jazz players like Pat Metheny and bluegrass pickers such as Tony Rice – permit taping, and as a result there are more than 2,000 bands on LMA.

Check out live recordings of Pat Metheny on LMA, why don’t you? Courtesy of

While this short article will only introduce you to downloading shows in MP3 form, there is a huge community of live music traders and numerous sources that offer free music downloads. The self-proclaimed “leader in lossless digital audio distribution on the Internet” is Check out their website ( for tons of good information, software downloads, and links.

As for LMA: the easiest way to access the archive is by downloading one of their many shows in MP3 form. Although they sound fine to most people (including an audiophile like me) never burn these to CD and, should you get into trading these shows, which is perfectly legal, never trade anything from an MP3 source. Without such a rule, the quality will get worse as people repeatedly transfer the music from CD to MP3 and back again. That’s why those Kazaa tracks sounded so shitty.

Visit Some things you might consider are the source (soundboard recordings (SBD) are usually crystal clear with little annoying crowd noise), user ratings and reviews, venue (smaller venues usually make for better sound and radio studio performances are even better), and set list.

Note that not all shows on LMA are available in VBR MP3s. Some are kept as loss-less Flac and Shorten files. See for instructions on how to deal with these and the free program you’ll need to change them to CD form.

Here are some other online resources to check out: Get shows by the Meters, Ben Folds, Radiohead, and others. They come in Shorten and Flac file forms so read about how to convert these to CD form on Sign up for an FTP login and password for tons of free acoustic music from 1954 to the present. This site has almost 3,500 shows for download in bit torrent form.

To the Moondog, Ma!


Lately, I can’t stop listening to Moondog. Louis Thomas Hardin was often-to-always homeless, which is another way of saying the world belonged to him.


Blinded by a dynamite cap at the age of 16, Moondog traveled between the sounds of different countries and discovered some imaginary ones of his own — the type of exotic places where Jack Smith probably wished he could escort Maria Montez.

Death + metal


Maybe the best eulogy ever written (and certainly the first I’ve ever read to contain the phrase “Luciferian Fire”) is this one for Jon Nödtveidt, singer of the recently split Swedish band Dissection. He was also, uh, a convicted murderer.

From the band’s official website, via ohnotheydidnt:

“As rumours have started to spread we feel obliged to confirm Jon Nödtveidt’s death. Jon Nödtveidt was a man who lived his life according to his convictions and True Will. A couple of days ago he chose to end his life by his own hands. As a true Satanist he led his life in the way he wanted and ended it when he felt that he had fulfilled his self-created destiny. Not everyone will have understanding or acceptance for his personal path in this life and beyond, but all must respect his choice.

Those of us who have met him in his last days can assure that he was more focussed, happier and stronger than ever. It is our full conviction that he left this world of lies with a scornful laughter, knowing that he had fulfilled everything that he had set up for himself to accomplish. The empty space that he leaves behind will be filled with the dark essence that he manifested through his life and black-magical work. His legacy and Luciferian Fire will live on through those few who truly knew him and appreciated his work for what it really was and still is. As our brother’s goal in life and death never was to “Rest in Peace”, we will instead wish him victories in all battles to come, until the Acosmic Destiny has been fulfilled.

For the glory of the Dark Gods and the Wrathful Chaos!

NOISE: Skating along the Bleeding Edge


You ran into the most intriguing pairings – and people – at the Bleeding Edge Festival Sunday, Aug. 13: what other event would find SF duo Matmos and a handful of other familiar SF rock folk down amid the leafy, upper-crusty environs of Saratoga (inspiring the question: just how many McMansions and outright mansions can one small town include?). I can’t help but compare the event to last year’s ArthurFest in LA – it was a similar wide-ranging if somewhat smaller gathering of intriguing artists in an unlikely, grassy, very non-clubby space. And as with Yoko Ono at that 2005 event, you could catch one-time events like this collabo between Matmos and Zeena Parkins below.

Zeena Parkins beats long-stemmed red roses and Matmos takes a stab at the duo’s recent “Roses and Teeth Ludwig Wittgenstein.” All images by Kimberly Chun.

But unlike ArthurFest, the selections seemed a wee bit random: I still don’t quite get the connection between the fine but not quite as experimental Yo La Tengo and, say, sound artist William Basinski, who impressed many in the Carriage House theater and also installed a site-specific tape loop piece, in collaboration with James Elaine, in the Main Hall.

Considering the long haul from other parts of the Bay Area to the site (the location makes it superconvenient for San Jose fans and Zero One attendees but necessitated carpools for Oaklanders), I’d say that if the organizers wanted to make draw listeners to this event they should have charged $10 or $15 for the fest rather than $50. The prohibitive ticket price didn’t help the shockingly sparse audience in the Garden amphitheater for lesser-known bands like Flying.

Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan hunkers down with a cozy, lengthy jam on “Autumn Sweater.”

Also admirable, with mixed results, was the juried competition winner showcase. Pardon my igornace but when did this competition occur? Who was invited to compete? Questions, questions – the mind is a-whirl. In any case, the best of the bunch was Canned Corpus Callosum, here shown below, cranking out the rickety-rock Tom-Waits-and-Dresden Dolls-like sounds.

Canned Corpus Callosum peel open their roots-industrial-noise-classical songbook.

In the end however despite power problems for Black Dice, who played for three seconds then blew out for about an hour (heard they were incredible, if reminiscent of their last Great American Music Hall show), the event was a pleasure – set in startlingly beautiful environs. You could take a nature walk and check out Jeff Cain’s Dead Air sound installation along a hill trail that had recently boasted mountain lion sightings. Toothy! Essentially for your average experimental music-noise connoisseur who wanted to spend a Sunday with mom amid pink lilies and sound art – this was the place to be.

NOISE: Sleater-Kinney’s last stand


Guardian music intern Michael Harkin made the trip up to Portland, Ore., for the last Sleater-Kinney show at the Crystal Ballroom on Aug. 12. Here’s his review:


A warm Saturday evening in Portland set the scene as Sleater-Kinney laid their axes down. The three of them – drummer Janet Weiss and singer-guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein – have an iconic status that’s duly earned and responsible for some of the best rock records in recent memory.

It all went down in the Crystal Ballroom, where the Thermals, terse garage-poppers and fellow Portland residents, opened the show. Next Eddie Vedder made a brief, flashbulb-bathed appearance onstage, playing a surprisingly well-received two-song set that included an acoustic, Dylan-esque political tune as well as a song sung with Janet Weiss as he played ukulele.

Other than the thank-yous and song dedications, the show didn’t have the resonance of a last hurrah: the heaviness normally characterizing their shows was sustained over more than 25 songs and two hours, filmed and recorded for later release on a DVD or live album.

Both at this show and on record, they never seemed like a band that had run out of ideas. Last year’s The Woods (Sub Pop), from which the set drew pretty heavily, was so damn good – it somehow proved refreshing even as it came from a band whose work never became tired or contrived. Opening banger “The Fox,” as well as the singles, “Entertain” and “Jumpers,” were among the most raucous that night, carrying the kind of stomp value rarely seen outside of Led Zeppelin’s discography.

Brownstein had the most rock-star demeanor of any up there, adding arm-swing flourishes to her guitar-playing, while Tucker would lift her right arm like a choir leader at a song’s chorus, subtly imploring the sing-alongs already requisite for a crowd at a band’s final show. They traversed their back catalog in properly comprehensive fashion, where “Oh!” and “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun” sat alongside “Words and Guitar” and the incendiary “Dig Me Out,” all prompting floor fluctuations that bordered on the unnerving. Weiss’s cool, adroit intensity behind the kit left one relieved that her other band, Quasi, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Your humble writer may have been hoping for a “Get Up,” but there was really nothing else to ask from the women, who totally killed throughout. It’s sad to see one of the Pacific Northwest’s greatest assets have to go, but records as awesome as The Hot Rock (Kill Rock Stars) should inspire many bands for years to come.

NOISE: Yes, there is a Grandaddy, Virginia


Yes, Grandaddy may be gone but the band’s not forgotten. In particular, poobah Jason Lytle hasn’t spaced on his group’s songs — though he did stumble and not quite fall during “Jeez Louise” off his latest album, Just Like the Fambly Cat. It was a sweet, hypnotic, dimly lit, and not-quite-acoustic set on Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Cafe du Nord, the first of two nights at our fave former speakeasy. Lytle switched between guitar and keyboards, playing with multi-instrumentalist Rusty Miller from Jackpot.


Nice Vans, by the way, JL.

NOISE: Whoo! I mean, Wu! Rock the Bells…


Guardian assistant art director Ben Hopfer checked out the Rock the Bells rap convo on Aug. 6 in Concord:

Redman carouses backstage at Rock the Bells.
All images by Ben Hopfer.

Rock the Bells sets the bar for what a quality hip-hop festival should be all about. Last year’s lineup was good — members of the Wu-Tang Clan appeared, including Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man — and this year’s bill embodied hip-hop at its highest level. The entire Clan — excluding the RZA — performed in tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.


Wu-tang Clan definitly brought the motherfucking ruckus with the highly energetic Method Man trading off on leads with Ghostface Killah.



Other members all had their own distinct styles. Pictured: Mastakilla, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and the GZA.

Festival organizers always find the right mix of quality hip-hop from the Bay Area and beyond. Local talent like Zion I, Del tha Funkee Homosapien from the Heiroglyphics, as well as the Living Legends were going to be on hand this time, so I knew in advance that the show was going to be insane. In addition to those artists, the lineup was back-loaded with some pretty big names: De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Redman, and of course, the Wu-Tang Clan. Toss into this already diverse stew the politically charged Planet Asia and Immortal Technique, and you have the spectrum covered.

Planet Asia introduced energy early on at the festival.

Immortal Technique offers revolutionary music to the masses.

Immortal Technique lets me know what he thinks of the Minutemen with the Brown Berets.

When it came to the music, the festival was top-notch. I can’t say the same about the venue. Call me a purist, but I like to see my hip-hop up close. Pack me in a club well past the fire marshall’s limit — I won’t care. Hip-hop crowds need to be enclosed. We’re kind of like cattle that way. The Concord pavilion just wasn’t built for this kind of show. Some ’80s arena rock, yes. Mos Def, no.

Zion-I holds it down for the Bay backstage.

De La Soul gives the crowd some love.

I don’t want a seat when I’m seeing hip-hop — I want to rush the goddamn stage! The cheaper seats were so far back that I needed a mini-Hubble to see what was happening on stage. Hell, even a $100 ticket couldn’t get me to the stage — thank god for press passes. Big ups for the Wu-Tang Clan. They told the crowd to rush the stage, knowing that without crowd energy, things just aren’t the same. But while one bar was raised, another was missing: the lack of alcohol for the 21-and-older crowd left a sour taste in my mouth. Actually, I should say a dry taste in my mouth, as I just wanted a beer or three.

Sway from the Wake-Up show talks with Domino from the Heiroglyphics Crew. Did I just hear that Heiro is workng with Prince Paul? Shhh!

Supernatural, now the world record holder for longest freestyle (nine hours!), showed his skills by freestyling only from items handed to him by the crowd.

Redman proved once again that his presence can bring the crowd to their feet.

A Blackstar reunion of sorts: Talib Kweli (left) and the mighty Mos Def (right).

Oh snap, is that Dave Chapelle? Yeeeah!

I don’t mean to complain about the show. I mean even at $100 you got your money’s worth of unbelievable hip-hop. I understand that Rock the Bells needed a bigger venue this year to get all of these artists together for the day. I just miss the intimacy of last year’s festival. Here’s hoping next year’s will be a little more crowd friendly while still bringing some hip-hop heat.

Murs of Living Legends shows everybody that he has much love for the Bay.

The Living Legends pulls no stops when performing as a group. Pictured: Asop, the Grouch, Luckyiam, Scarub, Sunspot Jonez, and Bicasso.

It’s (not) easy being Green Gartside pt. deux


Yes, I, Marke B., your friendly ghost club whore, am the Scritti Politti freak on the premises (see Johnny Ray’s post below), the kid who grew up with 1982’s vinyl Songs To Remember under his pillow right on top of Of Grammatology by the one and only Jacques Derrida.


That was in high school when I first discovered Green; in middle school it was Finnegan’s Wake and the Lotus Eaters. It was like poet Elizabeth Bishop eating stinky cheeses at Vassar — somehow I thought having such things at night would cause my dreams to be realer, and then I wrote poems about the opposite process occurring: what happens if you dream something’s real and you vomit Runny Uncle? But I digress.

Green, I love you so, not least when your bleached hair was poofy and your late ’70s Marxist collective proto-rapped such lovelies as:

Rapacious, rapacious
You can never say she ain’t
But my desire was so voracious
I wanted to eat your nation/state

from “Jaques Derrida,” or hymned almost invisibly, most relevantly:

Learn to love the beats in the bar
Make me sick with repetition
Learn to love that one note sound, boy
No surprise or definition
I guess I can learn to love what I’m used to
You can get used to just getting used by
Rock-a-boy blues …

from Rock-a-Boy Blue, pretty much a summation of all my previous relationships.

It was so exciting seeing theory made pan-racial musical flesh, bopping around to the “Nazi shakedown” of “P.A.’s” (We don’t practice with P.A.’s/ We’ve got bills to pay) or puzzling out the lyrics of Bibbly-O-Tek. Then came the super-glossy, superstar Fairlight stage of Scritti Politti, and working with every cool musician alive; the Wood Beez that I remember first hearing in an ice cream shop of my hometown Rickmansworth in England in the 80s. It was astonishing: my prepubescent, queer body rose up from a melting cone.

I absolutely loved Anomie and Bonhomie, especially “Tinseltown to the Boogiedown” with Mos Def, the lyrics somehow predicting the coming apocalypse through a stardust metronome. The way Green can tuck a devastating poetical twist so far back in the spoken inanities of love that most people don’t ever get it. That’s why I love him: exclusivity. I’m a VIP bitch intellectually, and it’s a trip I like to take alone. I’m grooving to Green’s latest, “White Bread, Black Beer” and I’m still a charter member of Scritti Crush Connection, but now that Scritti Politti are being lionized a la Gang of Four, they’re no longer my dirty little secret. and that spells situationist subversive subcultural snob death. lalalala.

It’s (not) easy being Green Gartside


Yeah, so what that Sasha Frere-Jones has praised him in the New Yorker, and the New York Times is loving him, too. There’s still at least one Scritti Politti maniac on the Guardian premises, and I wanna know what he thinks about White Bread, Black Beer.


NOISE: News flash – the Best of the Bay party was a stone-cold corker


All photos by Kimberly Chun

Oh, yeah, we were suffering in the days following the Guardian‘s Best of the Bay blow-out at Club Six on Aug. 2. But oh was it worth it… The soju madras rocked hard, and the Ethiopian chow was the bomb. Much raucous insanity and quality music-making came courtesy of Zion I, Erase Errata, Numbers, T-Kash, and, above, Yikes.

Excellent noisy garage-rocking fun from vets of the Coachwhips, Curse of the Birthmark, and Big Techno Werewolf. Someone had the bright idea to throw every flier in the joint at the band – where are those huge sacks of confetti when you need ’em?


The band to beat was Extra Action Marching Band, who brought the fleshy, sweaty, savory goods in two sets.


Brassy, sassy, totally loud. In a good way.


A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence gets some non-sisterly extra action.


Flag team, not flaggin’.

NOISE: I see dead people Pt. III – We LOVE you, Arthur Lee, RIP


Guardian intern K. Tighe remembers the great Love leader Arthur Lee:

After his struggle with acute myeloid leukemia, psych-rock pioneer and Love frontman Arthur Lee died peacefully at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, a little after 4 in the afternoon on August 3, 2006, with his wife Diane by his side. He was 61.


Lee’s manager and friend, Mark Linn released the following statement:

“His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall.”

Arthur Taylor Porter, a Memphis native, relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Sinking his feet into the recording industry, he hired a young Jimi Hendrix to play as a studio musician on what was likely the guitarist’s first-ever studio session.


In 1965, Lee formed the band Love, first called the Grass Roots. He changed the moniker after realizing another band had beaten them to the punch. The name Love was decided on after polling an audience. Soon after its rechristening, Love became the talk of the strip, becoming the first rock band to sign to the folk label Elektra.

Though their most famous song was certainly “7 and 7 Is” from 1967’s De Capo, it was the following album, 1968’s Forever Changes, that would seal Love’s place in musical history. The latter was named no. 41 on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time.


Several fundraising events were put together to help raise money for Lee’s treatment following his diagnosis. His friend Robert Plant headlined the Beacon Theatre in New York on June 23, supported by Ryan Adams, Yo La Tengo, and Flashy Python and the Body Snatchers (a side-project of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontperson Alec Ounsworth). A few days later Love co-founder, Johnny Echols played LA’s Whisky-a-Go-Go with Baby Lemonade in another benefit for Lee.

According to Linn, the ailing Lee was appreciative of the support. “When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert,” Linn said in his statement. “He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public.”

The infamously eccentric songwriter has been named as a key influence to dozens of musicians, notably Plant, Jim Morrison, and the recently deceased Syd Barrett.

“Arthur always lived in the moment and said what he thought when he thought it. I’ll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I’ll miss Arthur playing Arthur’s music,” said Linn.

So will we.

Take that, bitches!


Pharrell, for one, can only look up at her: The #1 album this week, debuting at the top of the Billboard Top 200, is LeToya by ex-Destiny’s Child member LeToya, aka LeToya Luckett. Say her name!


She’s looking kinda “If Your Girl Only Knew”-era Aaliyah here, but I won’t hate. After all, her former bandmate knows a thing or two about ripping off the one and only Babygirl.

If it isn’t too early, here’s my September 12, 2006 wish: Mario Vazquez, please kick Justin Timberlake‘s ass right off the #1 spot.

mark pickerel aug 8


>CHICAGO, IL: From Seattle Grunge to spooky Country: EX-SCREAMING TREES
>MARK PICKEREL (Nirvana, Neko Case) embarks on SOLO CD RELEASE TOUR of West
>Coast in support of debut Bloodshot Records release, “Snake in the Radio”,
>beginning Saturday, August 8, 2006 in Portland, OR.
>INTERVIEW REQUESTS RE: Mark Pickerel at Town Lounge (Portland OR.) 8-5-06:
>Seattle staple MARK PICKEREL, former SCREAMING TREES drummer/NIRVANA
>session man who has most recently collaborated with MARK LANEGHAN, BRANDI
>CARLILE, and NEKO CASE, sets out on his first ever solo CD Release Tour
>immediately following his debut performance at the “ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES”
>festival in the UK.
>Mark’s full band (billed as Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands) will
>accompany him on the last date of his summer CD Release Tour at Seattle’s
>BUMBERSHOOT festival on September 2, 2006. Mark is also scheduled to
>headline BLOODSHOT RECORDS CMJ PARTY in New York City on Saturday, November
>4, 2006.
>”Snake in the Radio” reunites Mark with longtime ally and legendary
>producer STEVE FRISK (Nirvana, Low, Posies, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees).
>The result: quirky phrasing, charming lyrics, and an uncanny record not
>unlike the works of the Magnetic Fields. According to NO DEPRESSION, Mark
>Pickerel’s new release “is music as perfectly suited for those late-night
>hours as a classic cult film.”
>Mark Pickerel has moved from behind the kit and, with his band The Praying
>Hands, he’s ready to start the next chapter in his musical life.
>Tuesday August 8, 2006:
>Mark Pickerel Bloodshot CD Release show, solo-acoustic!
>Sat 8-5-06 Portland, OR Towne Lounge w/ Johnny Dowd
>Tue 8-8-06 San Francisco, CA Annie’s Social Club
>Wed 8-9-06 Sacramento, CA Marilyn’s
>Thu 8-10-06 Los Angeles, CA Hotel Cafe
>Fri 8-11-06 Tuscon, AZ Hotel Congress
>Sat 8-12-06 Albuquerque, NM Burt’s Tiki Lounge
>Mon 8-14-06 Houston, TX Rudyard’s British Pub
>Tue 8-15-06 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
>Wed 8-16-06 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
>Sun 8-20-06 Austin, TX Longbranch Inn
>Thu 8-24-06 Albuquerque, NM Atomic Cantina
>Sat 8-26-06 San Francisco, CA Hotel Utah
>Mon 8-28-06 San Francisco, CA Makeout Room
>Sat 9-2-06 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot Festival w/ Shooter Jennings,
>Alejandro Escovedo, Laura Veirs
> >For more information, email
> >Mark Pickerel promo pics, bio, MP3’s, and tour dates here:
> >

NOISE: Lindsay gets spanked


Wow, I’m not sure this even qualifies as a music item, but check Lindsay Lohan’s written spanking from the Morgan Creek studio boss, on the Smoking Gun Friday:


‘Lindsay Lohan’s hard-partying antics and recent bout of “heat exhaustion” has left one Hollywood big shot steamed, The Smoking Gun has learned. In a blistering July 26 letter to the 20-year-old actress, James G. Robinson, who heads the L.A. firm producing Lohan’s current movie, calls her recent erratic behavior “discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional.” Robinson, the 70-year-old chief executive of Morgan Creek Productions, writes that Lohan has “acted like a spoiled child and in doing so have alienated many of your co-workers and endangered the quality” of “Georgia Rule,” a movie now being filmed and which stars Lohan, Jane Fonda, and Felicity Huffman.’

And now her mom has weighed in defending her daughter. I guess you’d support your gravy train’s, whoops, offspring’s clubbing too if you were in her shoes…?

NOISE: Manu Chao at the Greek


Guardian art director Mirissa Neff checked out Manu Chao and Kinky at the Greek Theater on Friday, July 28… here’s what she saw and heard:

All images by Mirissa Neff

After only playing LA and NYC when he’s made it to the states, Manu Chao finally played a Bay Area show last night. He didn’t disappoint…

A few of us did a Q+A with Manu before Kinky went on. One of the highlights was when the Chronicle’s Delfin Vigil asked Manu about the World Cup and whether he sided with France or Spain. Manu replied, “I am not a nationalist. I have a passport for both countries but I don’t understand this mentality of seeing that someone is from a different place than you and wanting them to die.”

I asked Manu if he had plans to release Siberie M’etait Contee [a French only release] here and he said, “No… maybe someday. But I have a new album that just needs to be mixed. Then it will be ready for release.” Hmmmm…

Kinky opened the night with their unique Norteno-flavored electronic funk. Ulises Lozano and Gil Cerezo got the crowd going:


People just lost their shit when Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba Sound System hit the stage. Here’s sexy guitarist Madjid Fahem:


Meanwhile bassist Gambeat held down stage right with lots and lots of reverb:


After about five encores the crowd was still screaming for more…

NOISE: The immutable Os Mutantes


Guardian art director Mirissa Neff checked out Os Mutantes on Monday, July 24, at the Fillmore and sent back these words and images.

All photos: Mirissa Neff

Reuniting for their first tour since 1973, Os Mutantes were greeted by a ravenous SF crowd ranging from hipster admirers to rowdy Brazilians. Here, Zelia Duncan and Sergio Dias have a moment during the Tropicalia legends’ set at the Fillmore.


The word on the street is that they are planning to put out a new release — perhaps targeting the US market? Maybe that’s why so many songs that were originally in Portuguese were performed in English.


Francoise Hardy, I Love You


Have you heard Francoise Hardy’s If You Listen? First released in 1972, this collection of songs sounds very 2006 — proof positive that Devendra Banhart could uncork some wild worship at Ms. Hardy’s feet just like he does at Vashti Bunyan’s. Last night and this morning, I listened to her takes on compositions by Buffy St. Marie (an exquisite “Until It’s Time for You to Go”) and Randy Newman (“I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”) and imagined her performing a concert in San Francisco. But what local venue can do her justice?


This isn’t heralded as one of Hardy’s best albums, perhaps because she largely sings in English, and perhaps because it comes near the end of her ye-ye-era popularity. (Today, when she isn’t guesting with Benjamin Biolay, she’s still a handsome solo artist: all young dudes should check her website to be turned on — and to learn how to wear a suit.) But If You Listen is dating so well it’s verging on timeless. Pristine, cool, like the Nico who covered “I’ll Keep it With Mine,” yet with a little lightness of phrasing and a lot more pitch-perfect ability, Hardy lords over the impeccable instrumentation. Her versions of Beverley Martin’s “Ocean” and “Can’t Get the One I Want”? Perfection.

NOISE: More dispatches from the all-girl band front – from All Girl Summer Fun Band


What better band to speak to about all-female groups than Portland, Ore.’s All Girl Summer Fun Band. I e-mailed to Kathy Foster (drums, bass, vocals), Jen Sbragia (guitar, vocals), Kim Baxter (guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals), and Ari Douangpanya (bass, drums, vocals) for my story, but alas didn’t have the space to get in their responses. So here they are now.


By the way these women come with impeccable musical pedigree: Baxter played in the Young Astronauts, Cherry Ice Cream Smile, and One Two; Sbragia with Pretty Face, Kissing Book, and the Softies; Foster with Haelah, Hutch, and Kathy, the Thermals and Butterfly Transformation Service.

Bay Guardian: Would you say it’s harder to find all-girl bands these days? Is it a form of musicmaking that’s waning (thinking about prominent ones such as Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre that have called it quits)? Does the idea, associated issues, and the mode of working and making art among solely women seem irrelevant, for whatever reason, today?

Kathy: I think there are more and more girls/women playing music these days. It may seem like it’s less relevant because the mainstream media doesn’t pay much attention, but that’s mostly all crap anyway. On the more independent level, there are tons of great female musicians.

Kim: If it is harder to find all-girl bands these days, then perhaps that is a good sign. In the past girls/women were not always given a lot of respect in the music world, even within the independent music scene. I personally started my first all-girl band in high school because I felt frustrated trying to play with guys and not getting much respect from them. There are definitely more and more females playing music everyday, especially because of the onset and expansion of the rock camps for girls as well as all of the positive attention that bands like Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre have received. Perhaps the relationship between males and females in music is improving and female musicians are more spread out between all-girl and co-ed bands. I think this is the case, at least within the independent music scene. The mainstream music scene will probably always be stuck in their old-fashioned, unprogressive ways.

Jen: It seems there are always new female vocal groups that rely on their sex appeal, which is frustrating for me. I wish more women wanted to learn to play instruments. It seems lazy to me to just tart up and sing, especially when there’s the technology to fix less than stellar voices.

I don’t think female-based art and music is irrelevant at all, but I can see where the masses – hypnotized by shows like American Idol – see fame as the reason for doing it, and that it can come instantly if you’re lucky. Who wants to spend years perfecting a craft? Lots of people…but maybe it’s becoming less and less popular.

On the other hand, Sleater-Kinney and the Donnas have undoubtedly inspired a whole new group of girls that are still learning how to play, and maybe in a year or two there will be more all-female rock bands. I would love to see that.

Gus Van Sant shoots the girls.

BG: Do you find it disheartening or encouraging to have your gender emphasized? Any thoughts on the emphasis put on “women in rock” in the ’90s?

Kim: I definitely appreciated the emphasis put on women in rock in the ’90s. I was just starting to play music at that time and it allowed me to find out about a lot of great all-girl bands such as Tiger Trap, Slant 6, and Bikini Kill. I guess I find it a little disheartening that it is now 2006 and people are still treating women in music as “new” and “interesting.” Women have been playing music for so long now, it is ridiculous to me that we are still even having to discuss it.

BG: Why is it important to work in an all-female context today? Do you find that sexism in music, the music industry, or music subcultures still persists?

Kathy: I’ve never thought of it as important. I’ve never consciously made a choice to be in an all-girl band. AGSFB is the second all-girl band I’ve been in, and both times it was because I liked the people I was playing with and felt comfortable around them. I’ve played in several bands with guys for the same reasons. Any person who feels I’ll suck because I’m female is not someone I want to be around anyway. I don’t think I know anyone like that. And I don’t want to waste my time with that.

Kim: Although things are improving, unfortunately sexism and ignorance does still exist in music. Living in Portland, Ore., we do not have to deal with it as much, but I know that in other parts of the US and in the world it is still difficult for female musicians to gain the respect they deserve. Playing in an all-female context can be very protective and empowering and I personally love collaborating and creating music with other females. It seems like the goal, however, should be for women to feel comfortable playing with males or females without having the music scene and industry push them one way or the other.

Jen: I think as long as women are making music, it doesn’t really matter who is in your band. Being in all-female bands is great, especially when you’re all good friends. I have also been in bands with men, and I never found it oppressive or less than optimal. As far as sexism in music is concerned – I really think the whole idea of women not being able to “rock” as hard as men is a thing of the past. Who really still believes that?

Ricardo and Girl Talk


From the desk of: Johnny Huston

It’s Monday, it’s hot as hell, I’m wearing devil red from head to toe and I’m counting the hours until Os Mutantes save us all!

Other music I’m loving at the moment? Let’s start with the Ricardo Villalobos career-span comp Salvador, especially the hypnotist’s power of the lead-off track, his 2006 remix of “Que Belle Epoque.” So the Germany-based (by way of Chile) Villalobos likes Baby Ford? He can oochy koochy and beach bump onto my stereo anytime.


Then there’s Girl Talk and his three recordings, especially the new Night Ripper. Mash-ups? Please. More like plunderphonics with DJ Assault’s attention span and sense of dirty humor. The wishes of the Justified Ancients have been granted. Gimme more. And what if god was a project bitch, anyway?


NOISE: Camera Obscura eyed


Guardian intern Michael Harkin went to the Camera Obscura show on July 20 and this is what he thought:


Scottish delights Camera Obscura treated the Great American Music Hall to a tidy set o’ fey, pretty pop on Thursday night, putting their immense songwriting abilities on display in the most modest of manners.

Singer-guitarist Tracyanne Campbell led the group through a few slower tunes at the start before playing “I Love My Jean,” a fragile, fluttery pop number that they wrote as a tribute to John Peel, eventually opening up to louder, quicker new songs like “If Looks Could Kill” and “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.” The snappier bits prompted head-bobbing and sorta-dancing all around. That was a contrast to the back-and-forth sway that otherwise characterized the spectatorship’s movement.

The band seemed like the nicest gosh-darn people you could ever meet. Guitarist and backing vocalist Kenny McKeeve had a particularly friendly demeanor: he addressed the mezzanine sitters by asking if anyone up there could make out the insect bite on his scalp, and uttered the gently surprised reaction, “Thanks so much!” when the stage lights were turned up after his offhand observation of darkness in the room.

More humorous banter came from Campbell, who wouldn’t specify her understanding of the word “jock,” which apparently means something different “where [they] come from.”

Their two-song encore concluded an hour-long (and not overlong!) set with “Eighties Fan,” one of their finest tracks and a song originally produced by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, a companion of theirs in the British Isles’ pop canon.

Not to be overlooked are openers Georgie James, who provided the necessary proof that cheery indie-pop has its place in DC (the District of Columbia, not to be confused with Daly City).

Singer and guitarist John Davis was most recently the drummer for Prince-ified post-hardcore squadron Q and Not U. Here, he collaborated with singer-keyboardist Laura Burhenn, letting on no indication whatsoever of his prominent former project with the sheer tightness of their melodic structures and sentiments.