All ears

Pub date February 18, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features


Antony Hegarty’s got a delicate disposition and a hankering for the embrace of Mother Nature. His latest effort, The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian), extends the band in the direction of strange, rending meditations on life, love, and gender-line transgressions. Hegarty may never be described as a big-throated hollerer, but his are rousing intimations of human fragility that approach a chest-clenching volume of heartbreak, though he never raises his voice above a whisper. The vocalist’s got a slew of side-projects going on even as he fronts cabaret-pop mopers/maestros Antony and the Johnsons. Still, no project has achieved the Johnsons’ dimensions of fortune, fame, and critical acclaim, although Hercules and Love Affair became something of a local cause célèbre last year with its cerebral, minimalist — some would say undernourished — disco hymns. (Danica Li) Tues/24, 8 p.m., $32.50–$40. Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111, California, SF.


They’re breaking out of their kudos-drenched Microcastle (Kranky, 2008) — and a dwarfing arena slot opening for Trent Reznor. (Kimberly Chun) With Lilofee. Tues/24, 10 p.m., free with RSVP at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF.


"I’m really exited about the Malkmus show," Noise Pop co-honcho Jordan Kurland told me. "It’s the first time he’s doing a solo show." Amazing, since the Stockton-bred Pavement songwriter has hovered round these parts, band at hand, for so long. (Chun) With Kelley Stoltz, Peggy Honeywell, and Goh Nakamura. Feb. 25, 8 p.m., $20. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF.


The appeal of From Monument to Masses, like contemporaries Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, pulls from a wellspring of aggressive melodicism, diverse instrumentation, and careening thrash rock one banana peel from going ass-up. Composed of Matt Solberg (guitar), Francis Choung (drums and programming), and Sergio Robledo-Maderazo (bass and synths), From Monument to Masses formed in 2001 after Dim Mak owner and fellow hardcore fan Steve Aoki took a look-see at one of the trio’s demos and decided to release it as the group’s first self-titled album, which came out the following year. And that’s not even touching on the band’s fierce dedication to activism: they’ve formed liaisons in the past with groups like Challenging White Supremacy and the Kalayaan School for Equity. (Li) With Crime in Choir and Built for the Sea. Feb. 26, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF.


Anyone who has seen a Goblin Cock album cover — giant, pierced cartoon penis, anyone? — may be compelled to think of the band as a Spinal Tap–esque side project from Pinback’s Rob Crow. With band members boasting pseudonyms like Lord Phallus and Bane Ass-Pounder, it’s easy to see why such a misstep would occur. The San Diego group, which performs shrouded in smoke and hooded black robes, describes its oeuvre as "beyond time and beyond space" and certainly has the chops to create a sinister grind. The dirge "Stumped" and the epic "Kegrah the Dragon Killer" sound like lost Sleep or Melvins tracks, and while Satan probably hasn’t invited Goblin Cock over for tea yet, the band is earnestly writing him love notes. Opener Warship will set the mood by laying down its aggro Brooklyn metalcore after Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band heats things up with its alchemic indie anthems. (L.C. Mason) Feb. 26, 8:30 p.m., $12. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF.


Taking the ill flow to the next level, Kool Keith, a.k.a. Dr. Octagon among other aliases, often rhymes about defecation and isn’t afraid to blurt out sex-related slang. Think a rapper with Tourette’s Syndrome. Still, this self-professed lyrical king comes off as silly, nonsensical, and, when his satirical content shines, poignant. His work has attracted a list of admirers and collaborators ranging from Dan the Automator to Prodigy to Esham. The Bronx native has been at it since 1984 as a founding member of the legendary Ultramagnetic MCs before breaking out on his own with 1996’s Dr. Octagonecologyst (DreamWorks/Geffen), showcasing remarkable scratching from Bay Area fave Qbert. Keith has been reportedly institutionalized, which might explain his knack for multiple stage personas, albeit word has it he went in for depression, which may explain so much more. (Andre Torrez) With Mike Relm, Crown City Rockers, and DJ set by Kutmasta Kurt. Feb. 26, 9 p.m., $18. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF.


The Oakland band has been working the local scene hard lately, providing a barrage of stinging guitars with a pop catchiness reminiscent of Modest Mouse. Even the vocals recall Isaac Brock’s hysterics at times. But it would be unfair to limit these up-and-comers with such comparisons. See "Magpies" for proof that they have a creative musical range that goes beyond any formula. (Torrez) With Scissors for Lefty and Picture Atlantic. Feb. 26, 5 p.m. doors, free. Benders, 806 S. Van Ness, SF.


If life were a movie, Martha Wainwright would be a gutsy heroine with a potty mouth, an assortment of endearing underdog friends, and a ferocious right hook. Because it’s not, Wainwright’s merely Canadian. With three albums’ worth of golden folk ditties beneath her belt, Wainwright’s more than battled free from the albatross of her illustrious musical lineage, which includes big bro Rufus and daddy London Wainwright III. A medley of folk and alt-country with tendencies toward pop structures and cabaret-style torch, her newest album, I Know You’re Married but I’ve Got Feelings Too (MapleMusic/Zoe, 2008), highlights a flair for incisive songwriting and powerhouse vocals. There’s still enough feminine curve to the music to belie the lyrical content, as when Wainwright warbles in her sweetly girlish voice about a "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" — a subtle reference to her famous folk-singer father. (Li) With AA Bondy, Ryan Auffenberg, and Karina Denike. Feb. 26, 8 p.m., $12. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF.


Adenoidal passion at the juncture of emo and indie from the road-friendly Phoenix, Ariz., fivesome. (Chun) With Kinch, Big Light, and A B and the Sea. Feb. 27, 8:30 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, SF, 1233 17th St., SF.


Grab that opp to get a taste of the proggily imaginative power-sixpiece. (Chun) With Sugar and Gold and Tempo No Tempo. Feb. 27, 5 p.m. doors, free. Benders, 806 S. Van Ness, SF.


We’re all familiar with the addictively creamy indie of the ‘Benders — less so with the glittering Cali pop of the co-headlining duo. (Chun) With the Mumlers and Rademacher. Feb. 27, 8 p.m., $12–$14. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF.


With her pale face, crazed hair, and beautiful bone structure, St. Vincent — née Annie Clark — looks something like a classically trained musician gone a little deranged in the headspace. The sense of leashed zaniness exerts an eerie tension in her music, which is all conventional pop balladry cracking open to rushes of pure weirdness and hellcat rock outros. Strictly speaking, the songwriter makes chamber pop. But it’s dissonant — with bang-a-pot dins and lyrical quirks galore. Clark centers the chaos on the strength of her deep, dark voice, bewitching in its balletic femininity. Originally a guitar player for the Polyphonic Spree and a member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band, she composes songs in layers of euphoric instrumentation. From the sleekly nightmarish "Paris Is Burning" to the hair-raising child’s plea of "Now Now," the music’s got harpsichords, horns, plinking piano, children’s choruses, and sun-drenched synth riffs in spades. Fingers crossed that she’ll show up with the whole orchestra in tow. (Li) With Cryptacize, Rafter, and That Ghost. Feb. 27, 8 p.m., $16. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF.


Watch the ‘craft soar. "Unplugged" and straight-up acoustic from the Hüsker Dü muck-amok and OG of noise-pop — with Eitzel joining in, accompanied solely by a pianist. (Chun) With Donovan Quinn and Jason Finazzo. Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., $20. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF.


Youthquakin’ and shakin’ up its hometown of Portland, Ore., Portugal, the Man loves itself a fresh blend of wide-scope pop, orchestral indie rock, and tens-of-years-after psychedelia: "I was born in 1989," wails John Baldwin Gourley. (Chun) With Japanese Motors, Girls, and Love Is Chemicals. Feb. 28, 9 p.m., $13. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF.


Don’t heave those stony accusations of cultural colonialism at the Los Angeles duo of Danny and Tiffany Preston. Though the project spun off on Danny’s love of Middle Eastern music and his collection of microtonal keyboards from the region, the husband and wife have plundered quite varied aural booty in the past: Danny was in the dubby Pigeon Funk and Tiffany in the math rock Pink Grenade. In fact the Eastern sounds of Rainbow Arabia’s The Basta EP (Manimal, 2008), inspired by Sublime Frequencies releases, will likely morph into something poppier, more "tropical new wave," more Cambodian, and more Congotronics-esque in the near future. "We’re going wherever it works. We’ll mix it up," Preston told me from L.A., where Rainbow Arabia finds kinship with the recently relocated High Places. Of their globetrotting musical mix, he said, "It was weird to eat sushi in the ’80s — now we’re eating everything, and music and film is the same. It’s just weaving together, and everyone is taking pieces, just like other countries take pieces of our culture." For a more ethereal pop vibe, look to opening SF duo Boy in Static and their forthcoming Candy Cigarette (Fake Four). (Chun) With Themselves and Yoni Wolf. Feb. 28, 2 p.m., free. Apple Store, 1 Stockton, SF.


Get ready to be blown away by the experimental punk sounds of these L.A. darlings on the Sub Pop label. Guitarist Randy Randall’s and drummer Dean Allen Spunt’s DIY outlook includes shows at nontraditional venues like the Los Angeles River and L.A.’s Central Public Library, and Randall’s guitar parts range from simplistic and jangly to downright assaulting. Nevertheless the duo — less than four years old and two albums along — maintains an unassuming degree of minimalism, which is why the music seems to work so well. (Andre Torrez) With White Circle Crime Club, Infinite Body, and Veil Veil Vanish. March 1, 1 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, SF, 1233 17th St., SF.