Year in Music

Year in Music 2013: Taylor Kaplan’s top 10s



1. My Bloody Valentine: m b v

2. Dean Blunt: The Redeemer

3. Julia Holter: Loud City Song

4. No Joy: Wait to Pleasure

5. Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven

6. Boards of Canada: Tomorrow’s Harvest

7. Kanye West: Yeezus

8. David Bowie: The Next Day

9. inc: no world

10. Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo: s/t


1. My Bloody Valentine: “who sees you”

2. Bibio: “A tout a l’heure”

3. Hannah Diamond: “Pink and Blue”

4. No Joy: “Hare Tarot Lies”

5. The Knife: “Raging Lung”

6. Oneohtrix Point Never: “Zebra”

7. Machinedrum: “Center Your Love”

8. Disclosure: “Defeated No More”

9. Dutch Uncles: “Nometo”

10. Justin Timberlake: “Spaceship Coupe”

Candy crush


YEAR IN NIGHTLIFE The drink of the year was the Chinese Mai Tai at Lipo Lounge. It’s $9, but it’s huge and you only need one. Or maybe a half, if you want to remember your pants. Oh, just drink the whole thing.

It was another supersweet, neon-bright yet sonically sophisticated year of clubbing and dance music, full of ups, downs, and twirl-arounds. Celebrated rave cave 222 Hyde and Hayes Valley drag outpost Marlena’s closed (boooo). But Mighty and 1015 got mindblowing new sound systems, Monarch and DNA Lounge expanded, Project One inherited 222’s speakers, Public Works and F8 doubled-down on adventurous bookings, and ambitious venues Audio Discotech and Beaux opened (and are still finding their footing). And we got a new dance music record store, RS94109, and rising dark techno star, Vereker.

As far as music goes: we’ve managed to fend off the worst of pop-EDM, while welcoming the drum ‘n bass and big-room ’90s sound comeback with open underground arms. (Also, there is an actual underground!) San Francisco’s still a major destination for techno up-and-comers — and even though you may stumble across some clueless tech-bros sporting 2k7-wear or novelty rasta wigs on our finer dance floors, give them a hug and hope they improve! It’s all good.

>>Read Emily Savage’s take on the YEAR IN MUSIC 2013 

Before I get into some of my favorite 2013 things, let’s tip a hat to two legends we lost this year: Scott Hardkiss and Cheb i Sabbah. Between them, they brought a whole world’s worth of music to our dance floors and spanned generations. Dancing forever in their honor.


Hip-hop got so good in 2013, the Year that Twerking Ate the Internet. Trap sounds and molly pops seemed to invigorate the East Bay scene: E-40 dropped a zillion slaps, while Iamsu! and Sage the Gemini (who can totally get it, hellieu) swerved onto the national scene. Buffed-up SF legends Latyrx dropped a nifty disc after two decades. In the bigtime, Kanye bought up every edgy electronic producer he could to impress Pitchfork, while Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar recontextualized essential ’90s rap tropes — gangsta and concept albums, respectively, but in a party way.

Unfortunately, another ’90s rap trope, tired homophobia, was also revived, with Eminem and Tyler, the Creator fumbling bigtime. This time, however, there was such a huge and thriving queer hip-hop party scene that we could look right past all that lazy ish. Queer rap broke big in 2012 when eye-catching artists blended witch-dark sounds, quantum vogue moves, and afro-surreal poetry with R&B licks, broken bass boost, and neon-bright performance art.

That scene deepened and brightened this year — here, at super parties like Swagger Like Us, 120 Minutes, Fix Yr Hair, and House of Babes and unstoppable homegrown talent like Micahtron, Double Duchess, and even cameo appearances by classic homohop babes Deep Dickollective — proving that spitting flames can still burn down the disco. And queer-rap resistance even grabbed the national spotlight when Daddie$ Pla$tic‘s electro-anarchic “Google Google Apps Apps” went viral.



The Honey Soundsystem crew ended its Sunday night parties at the top of its game with a huge blowout — surprise marriage proposal, performance by fabled ’80s singer Jorge Socarras, and slew of unannounced guest DJs included. Honey was an ostensibly gay club, but that might have just been a feint to pack the floor with hairdressers. While it never ceased brazenly shoving its raw homosexuality in the oft-frigid techno scene’s face, its influence went way beyond the queer sphere. For five years, it was our best weekly in terms of musical guests (Wednesdays’ fantastic Housepitality almost ties it on that score), bringing in a mind-blowing roster of international underground players.

But Honey Sundays were more. Will there ever be a party ballsy enough to take as a month-long theme the skyrocketing real estate market, condo-mapping its venue and printing “luxury house” brochures? Or base the décor of one of its biggest parties around a collection of putrid haters’ comments? What promoters, nowadays, even bother to actually design and print challenging works of art as posters and flyers, or truly transform their venues? (DJ Bus Station John, still our gold standard, is the only one I can think of.)

Fortunately, Honey parties will continue, just not weekly. But SF is full of such amazingly talented crews, both well-established (As You Like It, No Way Back, Sunset, Lights Down Low, Icee Hot, Opel, Pink Mammoth) and burgeoning (Isis, Face, Modular, Mighty Real, Trap City, Odyssey). My wish for 2014 is that many of these really invest themselves in building a whole vibe for their parties, top to bottom, instead of just relying on groovy headliners, online promotions, and audience goodwill. As the changing city chases out its artists and loses its edge, we need entire worlds of freakiness to escape into and call our own.



>> Nebakaneza, “Expansion Project, Vols. 1-11

What does our most forward-thinking dubstep DJ do when dubstep’s no longer an option? He deepens his crates, cycling through 12 months-worth of excellent mixes, themed by genres like yacht rock and classic soul, to rediscover his bass roots while transforming his sound into something even more thrilling.

>> Swedish House Mafia, Bill Graham Center, Feb. 16

I finally get it! All you need is a $1 million light rig, 40,000 glowsticks, an indoor fireworks show, and an arena full of half-naked teens. This EDM stuff is actually kind of fun.

>> The Disclosure Effect

Disclosure’s Grammy-nominated debut Settle (Cherrytree) will nest atop most critic’s dance picks this year, and rightly so: the young Lawrence Brothers brought lovely, 2-step-fueled house back into headphones and charts worldwide. But if it also brings more attention to breezy sonic relatives like Bondax, AlunaGeorge, Joe Hertz, the Majestic Casual roster, and the hundreds of bedroom producers who suddenly switched from making EDM and dubstep to deeper house sounds, then so much the better.

>> Deafheaven, Sunbather (Deathwish, Inc.)

Shoegaze plus death metal equals an arctic beauty and burning mystery that transcends even My Bloody Valentine’s wonderful, self-released mbv and, when listened to alongside this year’s icy electronic-ish masterworks like Tim Hecker’s Virgins (Paper Bag Records) and the Haxan Cloak’s Excavations (Tri Angle) — or more emotive ones like Chance of Rain (Hyperdub) by Laurel Halo, Psychic (Matador) by Darkside, or Engravings (Tri Angle) by Forest Swords — makes strange sense of a near future.

Steve Reich, “Music for 18 Musicians,” SF Contemporary Music Players, Jan. 28

The fact that there was a near-riot to get into a performance this hypnotic, hyper-complex 50-minute 1974 piece by minimalist icon Reich attests to SF’s ravenous appetite for “contemporary classical.” That the audience sat in stunned silence a full two minutes after the piece concluded before exploding with applause attests to the excellence of our local players. (And while we’re on “classical,” kudos, too, to the SF Opera’s summer production of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” — three fantastic hours of the most ravishing singing I’ve ever heard.

>> Patrick Cowley, School Daze 2 x LP (Dark Entries)

The instant Internet popularity of Montag’s trippy “Porn Archives Lo-Fi Mix” earlier this year should have tipped off the coming re-evaluation of porn soundtracks as electronic artworks. But when members of Honey Soundsystem released this two-disc compilation of fascinating, atmospheric early tracks by local electronic wizard Patrick Cowley (1950-1982) used in ’80s gay porn flicks, it became a critical sensation.

>> Regis, As You Like It and Public Works, July 26

Here’s a question: Do you need to actually be at a party to enjoy it? I was out of town when this joint went down. But after witnessing my feeds blow up and listening obsessively to the Soundcloud set, later posted to Youtube, it feels like I was there when the young Brit freaked everyone out with a hard, deep techno set. No FOMO, baby.

>> Throwback monthly, Mighty

I may be fascinatingly elderly, but all the young kids flocked to the ’90s big-room house sound revival this year. This party, a SF reunion brimming with new faces, classic tracks, and legends at the decks, is like Universe plus cool straight people, or maybe the End Up in the East Bay.

>> Jay Tripwire

I fell deep(er) in love with so many DJs this year: Guy Gerber, Kyle Hall, Osunlade, J.Phlip, Greg Wilson, Catz ‘n Dogz, South London Ordnance, Finnebassen, 0Phase, MK, Vakula, Robert Hood, Huerco S., Kastle, Psychemagik, Jeff Mills, Keep Schtum, Stretford Dogs Club — but this revered Canadian DJ’s DJ always sets my (vinyl!) standard, especially with this year’s banging techno DJ Mag and expansive Electronic Groove (best deep house buildup of the year on that one, imho) mixes.

>> Divoli S’vere, Ckuntinomksz Vols. 1-3

Vogue beats continued to come into, er, vogue harder than ever this year, their flashy attitude and underground authenticity influencing musicmakers, like our own up-and-coming Soo Wavey label. Young NYCer Divoli, however, gives you real quantum fishiness to gag on all day — and goes waaay above your wig, hunty. These three volumes of lightning-made bedroom beats might be overload, but take us into some incredible sonic landscapes, beyond the balls.

>> Mexico

Forget Miami, Playa del Carmen is the new Ibiza of North America — with all the tech house festivals, bare white flesh, and urbanizing displacement (and opportunity) that entails. And Mexico’s tech scene, like its economy recently, is coming on strong with players like Rebolledo and White Visitation. But the best nightlife sound in the world still comes from Plaza Garibaldi at 3am in Mexico City, when dozens of spangled mariachi bands play all at once for your attention. Pure musical bliss.



Haley Zaremba’s Top 10 Concerts of 2012


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

Haley Zaremba, Guardian
Top 10 Concerts of 2012

1. El Ten Eleven at the New Parish

2. Good Old War at Slim’s

3. Girls at Bimbo’s

4. St. Vincent and Tune-Yards at The Fox

5. Bomb the Music Industry! at Bottom of the Hill

6. Fucked Up at Slim’s

7. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at the Fillmore

8. Ariel Pink at Bimbo’s

9. Conor Oberst at the Fillmore

10. Titus Andronicus at the Great American Music Hall

Emily Savage’s Top 10 Albums and Shows of 2012


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

So, I (Emily Savage, Guardian music editor) included my top albums list in my Ty Segall cover story (also a part of the Year in Music issue). For easier access, here’s that list below, along with my “Top Live Shows That Created The Most Post Memories in 2012” list. Whew, what a year:

Emily Savage, Guardian

New Albums I Listened to Endlessly in 2012
1. Grass Widow, Internal Logic (HLR)
2. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory (Carpark)
3. Ty Segall, Slaughterhouse (In the Red)
4. Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)
5. Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Slumberland)
6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
7. The Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer)
8. THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE (Sub Pop)
9. Terry Malts, Killing Time (Slumberland)
10. Guantanamo Baywatch, Chest Crawl (Dirtnap Records)


Live Shows that Created the Most Posi Memories in 2012
1. Feb. 14: Black Cobra, Walken, Yob at New Parish
2. Feb. 23: Budos Band and Allah-Lahs at the Independent
3. March 30: Hot Snakes at Bottom of the Hill
4. April 10: Jeff Mangum at the Fox Theater
5. July 21: Fresh and Onlys and La Sera at Phono Del Sol Music Fest
6. July 28: Total Trash BBQ Weekend at the Continental Club
7. Aug. 11: Metallica at Outside Lands
8. Aug. 31: Eyehategod at Oakland Metro
9. Oct. 9: Saint Vitus at the Independent
10. Oct. 27: Coachwhips and Traditional Fools at Verdi Club

Michael Krimper’s Endless Desire List


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here. Ed. note.

Michael Krimper, Guardian
The Endless Desire List

(in no particular order, or, out of order)

1. Les Sins/”Fetch”/12″ (Jiaolong)
Run, fall, catch your desire.
2. The Soft Moon/”Want”/Zeros (Captured Tracks)
Infinite want, can’t have it. O, ye of bad faith.
3. Frank Ocean/”Pyramids”/channel ORANGE (Def Jam)
Pimping Cleopatra, whoring the pyramids.
4. Daphni aka Caribou/”Ye ye”/Jiaolong (Jiaolong)
Affirmation on repeat.
5. Grimes/”Genesis”/Visions (4AD)
Whatever, you know you like it.
6. Todd Terje/”Inspector Norse”/It’s the Arps (Olsen/Smalltown Supersound)
Inspecting never felt so good.
7. Burial/”Kindred”/Kindred (Hyperdub)
Kindred outcasts, jealously desiring their solitude.
8.John Talabot/”Estiu”/Fin (Permanent Vacation)
If a permanent vacation wasn’t hell, this might be its soundtrack.
9. Purity Ring/”Obedear”/Shrines (4AD)
Nothing pure in this abject need.
10. Kendrick Lamar/”A.D.H.D.”/good kid m.A.A.d city (Interscope)
Crack babies: she says, distracted, endless desire.

Tycho’s Top Bay Area and Bay Area-Affiliated Acts


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

Tycho deals in vivid imagery. From blustery waves and bleached sands below orange sunsets to retro film cells, the graphic designer-producer blends sight and sound in mesmerizing live shows – two of which he’ll perform next month at the Independent (Jan. 18 and 19). This year, he gained fans touring the world thanks to shows built on 2011’s Dive (Ghostly International). This winter, he began work on a followup record.

I picked him as a one of 12 Bay Area acts On the Rise in a special issue at the start of 2012, so I asked him back as the year came to a close:

Tycho, aka Scott Hansen
Favorite Bay Area and Bay Area-Affiliated Music Acts

1. Toro Y Moi
2. Christopher Willits
3. Blackbird Blackbird
4. Jessica Pratt
5. Sam Flax
6. Ty Segall
7. Yalls
8. Doombird
9. Little Foxes
10. Dusty Brown

And here’s a video from Tycho’s Dive:

Antwon’s Top 10 Rap Jamz of 2012


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

If you’ve somehow been off the web all year, you might have missed San Jose rapper, Antwon. I certainly didn’t – I blogged about his awesome “Helicopter” video when it first went up in February, caught him live at Public Works, handed him a Best of the Bay award this summer, and wrote a print feature on his mixtapes, all in 2012. So naturally, I begged him to contribute to the Top 10s.

At first he wrote back “wait i have no idea to do these things haha cuz i dont really remember 2012 haha,” but then he sent in this:

TOP 10 2012 RAP JAMZ

1. DJ Nate, “Gucci Gogglez”
2. Chief Keef, “Ballin”
3. French Montana, “Shot Coller”
4. Chippy Nonstop, “Money Dance” DJ Two Stacks remix
5. Cash Out, “Cashin’ Out”
6. Future, “Turn on the Lights”
7. Gucci Mane, “Bussin Juggs”
8. Juicy J, “Drugged Out”
9. Lil Mouse, “Don’t Get Smoked”
10. Lil Reese, “Traffic” feat. Chief Keef

And for good measure, here’s one of Antwon’s killer vids from this year:

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Top 10s Galore


YEAR IN MUSIC Local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows, personal triumphs, and local acts.





TOP 10 OF 2012

1. Starting our own label HLR and releasing our own record (Internal Logic)

2. Total Control’s LP

3. Touring with the Raincoats and singing “Lola” with them every night

4. Getting obsessed with Silver Apples

5. Hollywood Nails

6. Wymond Miles LP

7. Scrapers (band)

8. Sacred Paws (band)

9. Making eight music videos and losing my mind

10. Wet Hair’s LP




TOP 10 2012 RAP JAMZ

1. DJ Nate, “Gucci Gogglez” 2. Chief Keef, “Ballin” 3. French Montana, “Shot Coller” 4. Chippy Nonstop, “Money Dance” DJ Two Stacks remix 5. Cash Out, “Cashin’ Out” 6. Future, “Turn on the Lights” 7. Gucci Mane, “Bussin Juggs” 8. Juicy J, “Drugged Out” 9. Lil Mouse, “Don’t Get Smoked” 10. Lil Reese, “Traffic” feat. Chief Keef







1. Les Sins/”Fetch”/12″ (Jiaolong)

Run, fall, catch your desire.

2. The Soft Moon/”Want”/Zeros (Captured Tracks)

Infinite want, can’t have it. O, ye of bad faith.

3. Frank Ocean/”Pyramids”/channel ORANGE (Def Jam)

Pimping Cleopatra, whoring the pyramids.

4. Daphni aka Caribou/”Ye ye”/Jiaolong (Jiaolong)

Affirmation on repeat.

5. Grimes/”Genesis”/Visions (4AD)

Whatever, you know you like it.

6. Todd Terje/”Inspector Norse”/It’s the Arps (Olsen/Smalltown Supersound)

Inspecting never felt so good.

7. Burial/”Kindred”/Kindred (Hyperdub)

Kindred outcasts, jealously desiring their solitude.

8.John Talabot/”Estiu”/Fin (Permanent Vacation)

If a permanent vacation wasn’t hell, this might be its soundtrack.

9. Purity Ring/”Obedear”/Shrines (4AD)

Nothing pure in this abject need.

10. Kendrick Lamar/”A.D.H.D.”/good kid m.A.A.d city (Interscope)

Crack babies: she says, distracted, endless desire.





1. Toro Y Moi 2. Christopher Willits 3. Blackbird Blackbird 4. Jessica Pratt 5. Sam Flax 6. Ty Segall 7. Yalls 8. Doombird 9. Little Foxes 10. Dusty Brown





1. Dawnbringer, Into the Lair of the Sun God (Profound Lore)

2. Asphyx, Deathhammer (Century Media)

3. Woods of Ypres, V: Grey Skies & Electric Light (Earache)

4. Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, Blood Lust (Metal Blade)

5. Pallbearer, Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore)

6. Windhand, Windhand (Forcefield Records)

7. Omens EP

8. Hour of 13, 333 (Earache)

9. Gojira, L’enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)

10. Lord Dying, Demo





1. The Shins, Port Of Morrow (Amazon — forgive me, I had a gift card.)

2. The Walkmen, Heaven (Urban Outfitters clearance — yeah, I know, but you can’t beat brand-new vinyl for $10.)

3. Various Artists, Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Boo Boo Records, San Luis Obispo. My hometown record store.)

4. Ella Fitzgerald, Live at Montreaux (Boo Boo Records, San Luis Obispo)

5. Mahalia Jackson, Christmas With Mahalia (Abbot’s Thrift, Felton, CA — Great thrift store in the Santa Cruz Mountains.)

6. Benjamin Britten/Copenhagen Boys Choir, A Ceremony Of Carols (Abbot’s Thrift, Felton, Calif.)

7. Thurston Moore, Demolished Thoughts (Urban Outfitters clearance)

8. The Hunches, Exit Dreams (1234Go! Records, Oakland)

9. Various Artists/Angelo Badalamenti, Wild At Heart OST (Streetlight Records, Santa Cruz)

10. Tijuana Panthers, “Crew Cut” seven-inch (Picked up at show — Brick and Mortar Music Hall, San Francisco)





1. Sleepy Todd

2. Tommy McDonald of The Range of Light Wilderness

3. Emily Ritz of Yesway and DRMS (biased opinion, I know)

4. Kyle Field of Little Wings

5. Alexi Glickman of Sandy’s

6. Michael Musika

7. Bart Davenport

8. Indianna Hale

9. Jeffrey Manson

10. Sonya Cotton





1. El Ten Eleven at the New Parish

2. Good Old War at Slim’s

3. Girls at Bimbo’s

4. St Vincent and Tune-Yards at The Fox

5. Bomb the Music Industry! at Bottom of the Hill

6. Fucked Up at Slim’s

7. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at the Fillmore

8. Ariel Pink at Bimbo’s

9. Conor Oberst at the Fillmore

10. Titus Andronicus at the Great American Music Hall




BEST OF 2012

1. “See All Knows All,” A Thing By Sonny Smith at The Lost Church.

2. “Silent Music” music ephemera show at Vacation (651 Larkin) curated by Lee Reymore, opening party set by the Fresh and Onlys, after -party pot cookie monsters invade the Gangway.

3. Dusty Stax & The Bold Italic Present: “Summer Soul Friday Night”.

4. Wax Idol’s Hether Fortune fronting the Birthday Party cover band at Vacation.

5. Jessica Pratt’s debut LP (Birth Records).

6. Bambi Lake at the Museum of Living Art.

7. Pruno Truman, aka Heidi Alexander from the Sandwitches “Sleeping with the TV on” b/w Carletta Sue Kay “No, no” (Weird World).

8. Opening for Baby Dee at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.

9. Kelley Stoltz’s cover of “Sunday Morning” on Velvet Underground and Nico by Castle Face & Friends (Castle Face).

10. Christopher Owens premiers Lysandre live at the Lodge.

11. Mark Eitzel’s Don’t Be A Stranger (Merge) and its accompanying promo video series. Featuring Grace Zabriskie, Neil Hamburger, Parker Gibbs et al.





1. “Spinning Centers” Chelsea Wolfe: Unknown Rooms

2. “Who Needs Who” Dark Dark Dark: Who Needs Who

3. “Oblivion,” Grimes: Visions

4. “Old Magic” Mariee Sioux: Gift for the End

5. “Apostle” Marissa Nadler: The Sister

6. “In Your Nature” Zola Jesus: seven-inch (w/ David Lynch Re-Mix)

7. “Silent Machine” Cat Power: Sun

8. “Moon in My Mind,” Frankie Rose: Interstellar

9. “Serpents,” Sharon Van Etten: Tramp

10. “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey: Born to Die





1.Moons, Bloody Mouth

2.Patti Smith, Banga

3.Mykki Blanco, Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss Mixtape


5.Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid m.A.A.d city

6.Shady Hawkins, Dead to Me

7.Howth, Newkirk

8. Bikini Kill EP (reissue)

9. Sharky Coast, Pizza Dreamz demo

10. FIDLAR, No Waves/No Ass seven-inch





1. Air, Le voyage dans la lune

2. Naytronix, Dirty Glow

3. I Come To Shanghai, Eternal Life Vol. 2

4. Beak, >>

5. Steve Moore and Majeure, Brainstorm

6. Clipd Beaks, Wake

7. Brian Eno, LUX

8. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay


1. Pulp at the Warfield: Think that was this year. Cocker sings sexy

2. Red Red Red: just saw this guy play at a warehouse in Oakland…live house music made with actual hardware!

3. Flying Lotus at the Fox was pretty epic….. insane visuals.

5. Lumerians at the Uptown

6. Neurosis at the Fox: Fuck!

7. Deerhoof at SXSW ….. maybe the best live band in the universe

8. Indian Jewelry at the Terminal …. strobe light universe





1. Feb. 14: Black Cobra, Walken, Yob at New Parish

2. Feb. 23: Budos Band and Allah-Lahs at the Independent

3. March 30: Hot Snakes at Bottom of the Hill

4. April 10: Jeff Mangum at the Fox Theater,

5. July 21: Fresh and Onlys and La Sera at Phono Del Sol Music Fest

6. July 28: Total Trash BBQ Weekend at the Continental Club

7. Aug. 11: Metallica at Outside Lands

8. Aug. 31: Eyehategod at Oakland Metro

9. Oct. 9: Saint Vitus at the Independent

10. Oct. 27: Coachwhips and Traditional Fools at Verdi Club



1. Grass Widow, Internal Logic (HLR)

2. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory (Carpark)

3. Ty Segall, Slaughterhouse (In the Red)

4. Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)

5. Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Slumberland)

6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

7. The Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer)

8. THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE (Sub Pop)

9. Terry Malts, Killing Time (Slumberland)

10. Guantanamo Baywatch, Chest Crawl (Dirtnap Records)





1. Hiatus Kaiyote: Tawk Tomahawk (self-released) I could tell you that a bunch of white Australians somehow merged the sound-worlds of Erykah Badu, J Dilla, and Thundercat into a 30-minute, self-released debut LP that rivals the best work of any of those musicians, but you just might have to hear for yourself:

2. Lone: Galaxy Garden (R&S) This is the Lone album we’ve been waiting for. The British laptop producer’s past efforts, while exquisitely lush, were inhibited by a sense of hollow simplicity; Galaxy Garden, his danciest effort yet, shows improvement on nearly every front, from generously layered percussion, to a nuanced, bittersweet take on melody and harmony. A gorgeous fulfillment of Lone’s hedonistic vision.

3. Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD) Difficult as it is to proclaim Bish Bosch 2012’s best album, (its hulking weight and unyielding grimness renders casual listening a difficult proposition) no LP this year has matched its gutsiness and sonic adventurousness, or consolidated so many ideas into a singular space. An array of musical possibilities as dense, thorny, and encyclopedic as a Pynchon novel, with Walker’s quivering, operatic baritone as its sole, anchoring force.

4. Zammuto: s/t (Temporary Residence) Former Books member Nick Zammuto’s solo debut impresses with its vitality and strength of purpose. Despite the heightened emphasis on conventional songwriting this time around, Zammuto strikes that divine balance between bewildering sound-collage and pop approachability that made the Books such an endearing project in the first place.

5. Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular) Kevin Parker’s first LP as a lone, multitracking solo artist under the Tame Impala moniker, is a bubbly, golden pop album, despite its pervasive theme of existential dread. Its hooks achieve a weird form of transcendence, befitting the Beatles and Britney Spears in equal measure.

6. Laurel Halo: Quarantine (Hyperdub) Much like Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica (2011), Quarantine is ideal soundtrack material for those late-night, marathon web-surfing sessions that seem to transcend time and space. Halo’s cold, glassy electronics are anchored by dry, straightforward vocals on an album that occupies a mysterious void between vocal pop and ambient electronica.

7. Field Music: Plumb (Memphis Industries) Less a song-cycle than a series of hooks, Field Music’s latest is the work of a band with a hundred wonderful ideas up its sleeve, and only 35 minutes to communicate them. Channeling the impulsive energy of Abbey Road‘s second half with proggy dexterity, Plumb cements this vastly underrated British outfit as one of the most visionary songwriting duos around.

8. THEESatisfaction: awE naturalE (Sub Pop) Splitting the difference between progressive hip-hop and neo-soul, this Seattle duo’s breakthrough record zips through its 30-minute run-time with remarkable tenacity and economy. Bearing the exhilarating energy of J Dilla’s rip-roaring beat-tapes, and shrewd lyricism that effortlessly balances the political, the personal, and the cosmic, awE naturalE feels urgently, confrontationally NOW.

9. Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Live (ECM) Not quite nu-jazz, math-rock, or classical minimalism, Swiss ensemble Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin is as compelling, and innovative, as any live band around, tackling Reichian time signatures with the borderline robotic technical ability of Juilliard grads, and the undeniable groove of an airtight funk band.

10. d’Eon: LP (Hippos In Tanks) Approaching the tongue-in-cheek meta-pop of James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual with a twisted mythology of Christianity and Islam vs. iPhones and the Internet, and a bizarrely heavy dose of Phil Collins’ influence, d’Eon’s LP‘s totally dubious backstory is redeemed by solid songwriting, lush synths, killer keyboard solos, and a ’70s big-time art-rock sensibility. The most convoluted release to date from the prankish Hippos In Tanks imprint.

Honorable mention: Farrah Abraham: My Teenage Dream Ended (self-released) You can’t make this shit up: the year’s weirdest, most haunted and terrifying album wasn’t brought to us by Swans or Scott Walker, but the star of MTV’s Teen Mom. Trapped between the real world, and a web-based alter-reality, it’s the sound of an All American girl, brought up on The Notebook and Titanic, finding herself imprisoned in a Lynchian nightmare.


YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Blowing like the wind


SUPER EGO Look, if I was doing my job properly, there’s no way in Hello Kitty I’d remember what happened on the club scene the past year. It’s all fuzzy shapes and drunk colors, like Barbara Bush in a bathhouse. Last February, it took me two whole pages of tiny type just to list my favorite weekly clubs, so I’m not gonna go into all that here. (I will say that parties like Housepitality, Honey Soundsystem, Lights Down Low, Icee Hot, Dub Mission, Non-Stop Bhangra, No Way Back, As You Like It, Forward, Deep, Base, and Sunset continued to introduce us to incredible DJs. And wasn’t there someone from Detroit here, like, every week?) Here are some things, however, I do recall

Loudest: Body and Soul at Mighty — my ears rang for a week, my feet for three.

Wowest: Amon Tobin’s giant tetris of digital video projections for his ISAM Live 2.0 tour at the Greek Theater.

Scary-Hottest: International leather techno entity Luther at Folsom Street Fair.

Coolest: Marco De La Vega, cross-genre promoter of the year, watching from the DJ booth as a kick-ass $3000 light falls on a table’s-worth of Balam Acab and Andy Stott’s live electronic equipment at Public Works. Then finishing his cocktail before handling the ensuing panic.

Wowest, part 2: The SF Symphony’s American Mavericks concert series (including a Kate Bush-referencing piece by DJ Masonic), SF Opera’s “Nixon in China,” the amazing Soundwave Festival, the hella robust Electronic Music festival.

Trippiest: Those immersive projections at Public Works, which turned Laurent Garnier’s live show into a cartoon-heart-filled rave aquarium and Jeff Mills’ into a star-map vortex.

Cutest: The tiny flashing lights on the ceiling of the remodeled, excellent 222 Hyde.

Latest: We got a trap club (Trap City), a new wave of cyber-horror drag performance artists (at Some Thing, Dark Room, High Fantasy), a packed gay sports bar (Hi Tops), a great-sounding new club (Monarch), a lunchtime dance party (Beats for Lunch, also at Monarch), an outbreak of vogueing (everywhere), a queer nu-hip-hop club (Swagger Like Us), a queer funk classics party (Love Will Fix It), and a weird “sparkling alcohol water” (Air). But we lost Club Six, which I loved. Also I think dubstep died.

Loveliest: Dancing in a church with 30 other people to hip-house legend Tyree Cooper, singing along to “Turn Up the Bass.” Watching real house parties like The People blow up in the East Bay. Sipping homemade sljivovica behind the decks with DJ Zeljko of Kafana Balkan. Doing the jerk ’til I melted at Hard French. DJing (eek!) Club Isis classics on vinyl at Go Bang. I think I almost made out with Kenny Dope at Red Bull Music Academy? Oh, and running into you.

>>Check the rest of our YEAR IN MUSIC 2012 issue.



1. Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse” This was a dance music year that sometimes seemed to vacillate among three primary moods — prim sophistication, moneyed “indulgence,” and too-broad jokes. But Norwegian Terje dared proffer the sweetest humor in this instant earworm’s worth of re-engineered nostalgia, embracing the cheery electronic toodles of early ’80s British and Scandinavian TV show themes (cf. especially “Grange Hill” and “Swap Shop,” though not “Inspector Morse”) and bringing smiles back to the dance floor.

2. John Talabot, FACT Mix 315 A spectacular year for the Spaniard, whose expansive take on the decades-old Balearic sound already had him pegged for a 2012 favorite, even before he dropped excellent album Fin, which toyed with melancholic UK bass sounds and yielded my second favorite tune of the year, hopelessly romantic “So Will Be Now” with Pional. But this mix for FACT showed that the dark underpinnings of witchy house and the sunstroked uplift of Ibiza could be reconciled via a tingly rush of subtle, brilliant psychedelia. Trippy, lovely, and the right little bit of creepy.

3. Plan B, “Ill Manors” I detested The Prodigy the first time around — they were goofy twats who had nothing to be angry about. No surprise “Firestarter” was played for the Queen at this year’s Olympics opening ceremony. So much for anarchy in the UK, although Azaelia Banks mashing it up with “212” at Coachella was fun. UK rapper-singer Plan B managed to weld the Prodigy (and nascent drum and bass) revival to the real world anarchic energy of last year’s UK riots, his Tchaikovsky-sampling tune shivering with council flat rage, ambivalent violence, Olympic protest, and youthful nihilism. Watch his self-directed, horrifically poignant shoestring video, then laugh at the Grammys as accolades rain down on Romain Gavras’ extravagant ripoff for “No Church in the Wild.”

4. Rrose, Smoke Machine Podcast 069 Electronic Body Music for our time, rippling with muscular textures and ethereal trap doors.

5. Justin Martin, Crackcast 019 For all the diversity of the local scene, the Dirtybird crew is still our major player on the global dance music stage. (Of our three big breakout acts this year, Safeword is rad, Poolside is cute, Pillow Talk leaves me cold so far.) Fine, I adore them. Nobody else sounds like they’re having more fun while slyly executing tricky, emotionally satisfying bass maneuvers like Claude VonStroke and his stable. This year was stellar for the fiendishly clever Justin in terms of addictive mixes (his album “Ghettos and Gardens” was good, too, but I took issue with the insensitive tone of some of the promotional materials). This podcast, along with his Fabric and Clash ones, never left my iRotation.

OTHERS: MK, Old School Classics Mix; Le1f, “Wut”; Azaelia Banks, “Fierce”; Fantastic Mr. Fox, “San’en”; Andy Stott, “Luxury Problems EP”; Dutch Uncles, “Fester”; Ripperton, “Let’s Hope”; Sailor & I, “Tough Love (Aril Brikha remix)”; Jessie Ware and Julio Bashmore, “110%,”; Disclosure, “Latch”; Prince Club and Steve Huerta, “Can’t Let Go”; Bwana, “Baby Let Me Finish (Black Orange Juice Remix)”; Stereogamous, “Feel Love Anew”; Little People, “Aldgate Patterns.”

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Digital scraps and analog curiosities


YEAR IN MUSIC Are we being punked? Is this all some kind of stupid joke?

Upon first listen, the sound-world of Berlin-London duo Hype Williams (not the music-video director, mind you) is practically guaranteed to provoke a bewildered response. Incorporating half-baked hooks, brutishly cut-and-pasted samples, apathetic vocals, inept musicianship, crude effects, and grainy production into a gnarled, genreless mishmash, its approach gives off a superficial whiff of laziness and inconsequence.

After further inspection, however, Hype Williams reveals itself as a vital, innovative force in modern music, paving the way for a new form of artistic synthesis in an age when information flows like unchecked tap water.

The impulse to pillage the art-world for scraps and fragments, and reassemble them within a new framework, (see: postmodernism) has a diverse history, from The White Album to the writings of Thomas Pynchon; yet, it was once widely perceived as a snooty, elitist activity reserved for outsider artists, avant-gardists, and other seemingly unreachable, black turtleneck-wearers.

Hype Williams operates at the forefront of what I like to call “new postmodernism,” recycling musical idioms as a kneejerk response to the Internet’s constant outpouring of accessible information. Whereas pre-Internet postmodernism required relative effort, calculation, and resources to connect the dots between musical forms, anyone in 2012 with a laptop, a WiFi connection, a pirated copy of Ableton or Logic, and a Bandcamp account, was a legitimate artist, granted easy access to an infinite sea of musical possibilities.

You know how Brian Eno said his instrument of choice is the recording studio? In 2012, the people’s instrument was the iTunes library/MIDI keyboard combo: easier, and cheaper, to learn than the guitar, with a wider sonic range, to boot.

Given the declining relevance of record labels, studios, expensive gear, marketing campaigns, and other barriers preventing would-be artists from crafting and distributing their work, it was easier and cheaper to be a recording artist/collagist in 2012 than ever before. Hype Williams explored the potential of this new musical landscape more relentlessly, and enthusiastically, than perhaps anyone else this past year, rendering it, in my view, 2012’s most essential musical entity.

Within the context of new postmodernism, Hype Williams’ 2012 output sounds less like goofy amateurism than an unfiltered current of creative energy. On this year’s Black is Beautiful LP, released by Hyperdub under the pseudonym Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland (which may, or may not, be their real names), haphazard beats and keyboard melodies are seemingly recorded in one take, prioritizing creative flow and forward movement over the refinement of previously committed ideas.

The tracks are generically titled (“Track 2,” “Track 8”), opting to skip ahead to the next project in lieu of assigning an identity to the last one. Each of the album’s 15 pieces is a non sequitur to the one before it, evoking the scatterbrained impatience brought on by the Internet age.

“Venice Dreamway” (the only properly titled track of the bunch) slaps a rollicking, free-jazz drum solo over an ominous synth drone, while “Track 8” strongly resembles an underwater level from Super Mario Bros.; “Track 10” is an extended, weed-addled dub workout, spilling over the 9-minute mark, while the 35-second “Track 6” consists of little more than a shambolic MIDI flute melody. “Track 5” is a reckless, sloppily executed take on an otherwise competent vocal pop song; and, interestingly enough, “Track 2” is a cover of Bobby and Joe Emerson’s “Baby,” a ’70s R&B obscurity that Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti also reinterpreted on this year’s Mature Themes.

Highly regarded among DIY enthusiasts, Ariel Pink is often credited for rescuing postmodernism from the artistic elite, and thus providing the roadmap to Hype Williams’ aesthetic. In an interview this past September, I asked Pink to rattle off a list of favorite books, albums, films, and visual artists: a request he (politely) declined. “Favorites? No,” he explained. “My aesthetic is too all-inclusive. That’s the best part, and the worst part about it. It doesn’t make me a very loyal fan of any one thing in particular. But, at the same time, I love everything.”

Aside from fuzzy, queasy texture, this “all-inclusive” philosophy is the primary link between Hype Williams’ and Ariel Pink’s output. Just as Pink’s kaleidoscopic lo-fi pop makes no judgments between “good” and “bad” musical influences, forcing the entire art-world through his sonic meat grinder, one can picture Hype Williams hoarding digital scraps and analog curiosities, recycling them indiscriminately into new forms.

United by a simultaneous love for, and indifference to, all forms of art, both Pink and Hype Williams seem motivated not by ironic detachment or hipster posturing, (see: Hippos In Tanks, Not Not Fun) but by the pure joy and freedom of using everything available.

Another proponent of the all-inclusive strategy, SF party curator Marco de la Vega, orchestrated a club night at Public Works this past April, headlined by Hype Williams, with additional sets by Gatekeeper, Teengirl Fantasy, and Total Accomplishment.

De la Vega described his aesthetic to the Guardian as “the embodiment of this idea that there is such a huge cross-section between various musical genres, and particular production styles of music, so rap, electronic… post-dubstep, post-anything. There’s this huge intersection between all these scenes that doesn’t actually have, strangely, its own outlet.”

Named “Public Access,” the event set an ideal context for Hype Williams’ art, recognizing its position at the crossroads of musical approaches. The duo’s performance (its second US appearance, ever) was a wild success, the most engaging “laptop set” I’ve ever witnessed, and perhaps the best live show I saw in all of 2012.

With strobe lights flashing, and the stage enshrouded in fog, Blunt and Copeland were rendered completely invisible, reinforcing their mysterious public image, and keeping the specifics of their musical process under wraps.

Making full use of the club environment, and its thumping, punishing sonic capabilities, they delivered a seamless, hour-long barrage of heavy, industrial beats, cavernous drones, mysterious field recordings, and characteristically skewed melodies, with the occasional, approachable pop hook thrown in to provide a grounding influence.

With all too many live bands churning out unimaginative replications of their own studio output, Hype Williams’ set was striking, immersive, and wholly refreshing. Ear-splittingly loud, and physically exhausting, it exposed the dark underbelly of the post-everything, all-inclusive approach, daring the audience to submit to its overwhelming, cacophonous potential.

If Black is Beautiful exhibited the joyful liberation of new postmodernism, Blunt and Copeland’s live set was the equivalent of a system overload: inclusive to the point of devastation.

Between an LP for Hyperdub, a handful of web-only mixtapes, and a live SF performance for the ages, Hype Williams spent 2012 re-evaluating the significance, and egalitarian capacity, of postmodernism, in an age when anyone with a WiFi connection can go digital-dumpster-diving for musical scraps to quilt together as they please. As long as casual musicians keep on harnessing the vast creative potential at their fingertips, and “professionals” like Blunt and Copeland continue to expose the waning relevance of the art-world’s precious institutions, our culture of musicianship is bound to inch closer and closer towards democracy.




1. Hiatus Kaiyote: Tawk Tomahawk (self-released)

2. Lone: Galaxy Garden (R&S)

3. Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD)

4. Zammuto: s/t (Temporary Residence)

5. Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular)

6. Laurel Halo: Quarantine (Hyperdub)

7. Field Music: Plumb (Memphis Industries)

8. THEESatisfaction: awE naturalE (Sub Pop)

9. Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Live (ECM) 10. d’Eon: LP (Hippos In Tanks)

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Waiting for Four-O


YEAR IN MUSIC I’m at the Marina in Berkeley with J-Stalin around noon, waiting for producer-rapper Droop E to arrive so he and J can shoot a video for his upcoming EP, Hungry & Humble. I was invited, not by Droop but by his “Pops,” Bay Area legend E-40, to do an interview for 40’s epic, two-album collaboration with Too Short, History (HeavyOnTheGrind/EMI, 2012).

“Shiiit, me and you go way back, patna,” 40 said the week before over the phone, recalling prior interviews. “I just gotta film a cameo then we’ll do it there.” But since scheduling the article, I haven’t been able to reach him, either directly or by publicist, so Stalin took pity on me and brought me along to the shoot.

“I’m going on tour with Trae tha Truth,” Stalin says, referring to the Houston rapper signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label. “He flew out here and Ghazi from Empire Distribution picked him up from the airport; when Trae got in the car, he was like, ‘Who is J-Stalin? I need to work with him.'”

That word of Stalin has spread to Houston is an encouraging sign in the usually bleak landscape of Bay Area rap, and couldn’t come at a better time as the West Oakland MC prepares his fourth “official” solo album, On Behalf of the Streets, Pt 2. Like J’s debut, OBOTS2 is produced entirely by the Mekanix; the difference six years later is Stalin’s now the second bestselling local rapper after E-40 — according to Rasputin Records — and the Mekanix are among the Bay’s hottest producers, working with everyone from 40 on down. In the absence of local radio or major label support, the stakes continue to increase for the author of Memoirs of a Curb Server (Livewire/Fontana, 2012) and the proprietors of The Chop Shop (ZooEnt, 2012).

The day stretches on, tedious yet fascinating. Droop E’s got a serious film crew here and armed security to boot; the only thing missing is a permit. And 40. Various rappers drift in and out, like Cousin Fik, latest star of DJ Fresh’s ongoing Tonite Show series, or Lil Blood and Boo Banga, who released a syrup-drenched duo disc Cream Soda and Actavis (Livewire) this year. A member of Stalin’s Livewire crew from Oakland’s Dogtown neighborhood, Blood’s prepping his own official debut, Meet the Driver and the Shooter, for February. He takes off his ski hat and shows off his scalp, revealing an entrance wound and an exit wound about an inch and a half apart. Everybody laughs, but they don’t think it’s funny. It’s a stark reminder of how little insulation there is between the industry and the street out here.


Between takes, I get in some questions with Droop E. Besides launching his own career, Droop has had a big hand in his dad’s, co-executive producing four volumes of Revenue Retrievin’ (2010-11) and three of Block Brochure (2012) for his HeavyOnTheGrind imprint of 40’s Sick Wid It Records. Yet the 24-year-old veteran — who, as a teen, was one of the architects of hyphy, along with Rick Rock, Traxamillion, and ShoNuff — lives up to his EP’s title.

“I’m a partner but I’m still a protégé,” he says. “I’m learning a lot, seeing my Pops get into a whole nother mode of beastin’ and just making our own sound.”

That sound, judging from Block Brochure and History, has grown suspiciously more hyphy lately, in the wake of Drake’s double platinum “The Motto,” an overt homage to the Bay Area music of half a decade ago.

“That ended up being beneficial,” Droop says, “because look at the sound now in the Bay and L.A. ‘The Motto’ opened it up again.”

Given the bizarre local backlash against hyphy beginning mid-2007 — forcing its originators to prematurely back away from the sound — this is a remarkably philosophical purchase. Reached by phone, Traxamillion agrees, as his own 2012 disc My Radio (SMC) finds him revisiting the implications of the sound.

“I’m not mad,” he says. “I felt like I had an influence on music on a national level.”



The next night, I’m in a Dublin club, where we’re not allowed to drink, because this is a movie. Sympathetic to my long wait, Droop E’s somehow procures me some Jameson’s and the tawny liquid immediately catches E-40’s eye. “Gable, what you got there?” Dressed in a black pinstriped suit, 40 has finally arrived for his cameo, a series of elaborate tracking shots of him pouring a shot and toasting. Finally, I manage to catch him in an unoccupied moment and remind him about the interview; can we tape a few questions? He fixes me with a look of contempt.

“Nah, I ain’t fuckin’ with you.”

I feel the blood drain from my face. Then, with agonizing slowness, a smile begins to creep across his lips.

“Nah, I’m just playin’,” he says. “Let’s do it.”

Delays are nothing new to the Vallejo MC; he and Too Short first began announcing History in the late ’90s while they were both on Jive, but Jive never let it happen.

“It was 10 years in the making, but it didn’t take 10 years to make,” 40 says. “God work in mysterious ways so now’s the perfect time because we get all the marbles. We superindependent. We got a distribution deal through EMI.”

40’s made the most of his new freedom, only releasing albums in pairs and trios since parting with Warner after The Ball Street Journal (2008). Where BSJ bore clear signs of corporate overthink, 40’s prolific post-Warner output makes it obvious that he does his best work with a free hand. At age 45, the rapper scored one of his biggest hits this year with Block Brochure‘s “Function,” which in turn has provided a convenient new label to replace the toxic term “hyphy.” History‘s two volumes are thus divided into Mob Music and Function Music.

“Function music is more club, party music,” 40 says. “The difference between function music and mob music, function is the feel of the new era; we’re covering two and a half to three decades of music. We been doing it since the mid-’80s and here it’s almost 2013. Some people wish they could have one hit; I have had many hits in my life.”

“There’s people who don’t like me but I’ve carved my name into the history books,” he concludes. “There’ll never be another E-40 ever because I’m too different. One thing about the Bay Area: we some trendsetters and we got haters and they talk about us but they duplicate us later.”


YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Beach squelch shimmy


YEAR IN MUSIC Imagine a frustrated ghost floating above his own funeral. He might hear someone getting the eulogy wrong or even see an unwanted guest. One of the benefits of having your band come to an end rather than your own demise is living to react to retrospectives of your creative output and impact. But as I write this, Uzi Rash isn’t quite dead yet. In fact, it has one last breath of doing what it does best — live performance.



It was the type of weather where you only sometimes need a coat and had been raining on and off. Wearing too many layers, I found the address where the band said it’d be practicing. The garage was wide open and I got a friendly wave to come in.

The group’s final incarnation, featuring founding band leader Max Nordile, Steve Oriolo (Steve0) on bass, and new drummer, Erin Allen, was preparing for a new recording and its first national tour. Aptly titled “End Days — Last Tour” it would be its last altogether. (This was solidified when I was handed a swag pair of generic party-dude shades wrapped in cellophane. I opened them and found Uzi Rash 2007-2012 boldly written in black on white on one of the temples.)

A live sneak-preview performance of the cassette, The Garbageman’s Uniform (Minor Bird Records) was preceded by stage-ready versions of more familiar sounding songs. We talked baseball a bit during a beer run, even though the postseason hadn’t yet begun. The A’s were still doing well and that’s where we were — on MLK in Oakland.

“You truly are a noise-ician. Keep it stupid, stupid,” Nordile, clad in a Grass Widow t-shirt, quipped to his drummer on a particularly up-tempo number. Earlier, he complimented the newest member’s ability to learn over 20 songs in about a month and a half’s time. Allen smiled at some of the mistakes that were made and the three wondered if they needed to dumb it down even more.

They ran through another song twice because Nordile said it went too fast. His bassist conceded with the line, “You’re the maestro.” To which he lightheartedly replied, “The maestro has decomposed.” After a few chuckles practice ended somewhat abruptly when Nordile’s guitar string broke.


Despite any corrections or control, it didn’t seem like perfection in a refurbished sense is what he was going for. I don’t think they were hamming it up for me when they foraged from bins of discarded food, which included some less-than-fresh looking bagels outside a church down the block. Nordile would later articulate part of his concept as a stance against the desacralization of nature.

“Waste, detritus, trash and garbage are documents, like fossils of the wasteful and destructive aspects of civilization,” he said. It’s that very affinity for what some consider undesirable that has fueled themes, inspired songs, and had allowed for five years of non-stop live shows that thrived on chaos and confusion (sometimes there was blood).

The industrial-strength cacophony is apparent when you listen to the final product of Uzi Rash recordings. What started as a solo project out of Nordile’s desire to not have to depend on anyone became a virtual who’s-who of East Bay-band inbreeding some 30-plus members later. Ultimately, Nordile would be calling the shots, but he’d rely on his like-minded community of supporting players and embrace their complimentary abilities by having them around. Something he considered a huge improvement.

By the time you read this, their last performance will have come and gone and Nordile will have screamed along to “I’m a Trashbag” with the deepest conviction. Oakland has long served as a gritty breeding ground for so many acts that never got their fair due or enough recognition, but with Uzi Rash, we recognize their ability to put Dylan in self-deprecating drag, to recycle a riff, rip a melody (sometimes a whole song title straight up), but to put their own “beach squelch shimmy” spin on it and make it exciting.

“Rock’n’roll has been mostly boring white boys with guitars. I am too, but I realize it and strive to acknowledge it and move on.” With that we take the boogie or, booji, as he’d say in stride and wait while Nordile casually contemplates his next music project because five years is up.


YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Sinner’s exit


YEAR IN MUSIC “We weren’t supposed to be allowed to play live on the morning news,” Ty Segall says just moments after finishing a meal at In-N-Out, on his way down the coast from San Francisco, the city he can no longer afford to live in, to pick up his 16-year-old sister from his hometown of Laguna Beach. “Giving a bunch of long-haired weirdos really loud amplifiers and free reign on the morning news is just stupid. So I thought that was a great opportunity to do whatever the hell we wanted.”

“And I’m really happy we did that,” he says of the Ty Segall Band’s bizarrely mesmerizing performance of “You’re the Doctor” off this year’s Twins (Drag City), on the Windy City’s WGN Morning News in October. It ended with screeching feedback and Segall repeatedly screaming “Chicago!” into the mic. “It was way too early, so we were already feeling a little weird.” The weirdness rubbed off on the news anchors, who, when the camera panned back to them mid-song, were throwing papers up in the air and pogoing behind their desk. It made for a great split second.

The band also made its late night debut in 2012, on perhaps more appropriate Conan. Segall, drummer Emily Rose Epstein, bassist Mikal Cronin, and guitarist Charlie Moothart seemed a bit more in tune with that set-up and host, playing Twins‘ awesome “Thank God For Sinners.”

The group of old friends toured extensively this year, playing a whole bunch of festivals including Bumbershoot, the Pitchfork Music Festival (“I had no idea what to expect with that one, because like, you know, Pitchfork is almost a mainstream media outlet now. But that was one of the most wild, definitely craziest festival we played”) and Treasure Island in San Francisco (“most beautiful festival…the scenery — it was just psychotic”).

And Segall again had a full hand of releases over these 12 months. He began the year with a White Fence collaboration: Hair (Drag City), following that up with a Ty Segall Band record, Slaughterhouse (In the Red). Then in October he dropped a solo album, Twins (Drag City).

Each record stood for itself. They were recorded with different bands at various locations (Eric Bauer’s studio in Chinatown, the Hangar in Sacramento). Hair was a true collaboration between Segall and White Fence’s Tim Presley, exploring one another’s strengths through fuzzy noise, psychedelic wanderings and the occasional surfy licks. It was originally slated to be an EP, but it was going well, they decided to put out a full LP.

Slaughterhouse kicks off with foaming feedback and maintains a sonic assault of aggressive, noisy guitars, screaming in the ether, throughout — a loud, frenzied, psychedelic garage-punk masterpiece. Bluesy-punk thumper “Wave Goodbye” turns down the riffs on the intro and lets Segall’s nasal intonations take charge, with a ’70s punk approach: “I went to church and I went to school/I played by all of your other rules/but now it’s time to…wave goodbye/Bye bye.” He shrieks that last “bye bye,” simultaneously recalling early Black Sabbath, and sonically flipping the bird.

Twins was the solo triumph, lyrically exploring Segall’s dual personalities between his thrashy stage persona, and his casual, polite, dude-like demeanor off-stage.

“Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself?” — Patti Smith in ‘Just Kids.’

Segall first picked up the guitar at 15 after hearing Black Flag. “I was super into Black Sabbath and Cream and classic rock and then I heard Black Flag and I was like ‘dude, I can play punk.'”

The multi-instrumentalist still plays guitar, first and foremost. Currently, he sticks to a ’66 baby-blue Fender Mustang he calls “Old Blue” or “Blue-y,” but brings along a ’68 Hagstrom as backup.

During the week of Halloween though, Segall, 25, played drums with the first band he joined when he moved to San Francisco eight years back, straight-forward punk act Traditional Fools. It was at Total Trash’s Halloween show at the Verdi Club with a reunited Coachwhips (with Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer) and it made for an epic night of reunions for the two men most associated with the current garage rock scene in San Francisco. “I have always thought, and will always think, that John Dwyer is the savior of rock and roll.”

When I bring up the news of Segall’s pal Cronin signing to Merge recently, he has a similar compliment for him: “He’s going to be the savior of us all. I can’t wait until you guys hear his next record; it’s insane.” Segall swears Cronin will be the next big thing.

Late last week, In The Red Recordings announced it would be reissuing Segall and Cronin’s joint 2009 surf-laden, chainsaw-garage record Reverse Shark Attack. In a video from that era for the song “I Wear Black,” Segall and Cronin cruise through town on skateboards in washed-out clips, ever the beach-bred rockers.

It was just three years ago, but that’s lifetime in Ty-land.

As the city has watched him grow Segall has maintained a youthful glow, a raucous, energetic punk spirit surrounded by sun-kissed California locks and a fuck-everything attitude. His sound, however, has expanded. How couldn’t it? He put out three records in 2012, and a dozen more in his relatively short lifetime.

But youthful abandon has caught up Segall. He can longer afford to live and work in San Francisco, the city that loves him so. He plans to move to LA in March or April of 2013. Will the wide sea of local rockers here soon follow suit? How many have we already lost to the rising tides of tech money? It’s a question currently without an answer.

“It’s really expensive,” Segall says. “I’ve loved it there, but I can’t even play music…I can’t work at my home. It’s a drag. I think a lot of musicians and artists are being forced to move out of San Francisco because they can’t afford it, and they can’t really work anymore because they can’t afford housing that allows for noise.”

It seems backward, that a year full of such booming professional success and critical acclaim should be the final year he’s able to afford the life he’s lead for the better part of a decade. But perhaps he just needs a break, to go back and focus all of his time and energy on a single release in the far-off future. Give his tired mind a minute to grasp his explosive last year.

“[In 2013] I’m going to like, get my head wrapped around the next thing and take some time, [and] slowly and lazily start working on demos,” he says. “There’s definitely not going to be a record from me for a year. I just want to focus on one thing and make it as best as I can. I’ve never really focused on just one thing for a year straight, so I’d like to do that.”



1. Grass Widow, Internal Logic (HLR)

2. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory (Carpark)

3. Ty Segall, Slaughterhouse (In the Red)

4. Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)

5. Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Slumberland)

6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

7. The Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer)

8. THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE (Sub Pop)

9. Terry Malts, Killing Time (Slumberland)

10. Guantanamo Baywatch, Chest Crawl (Dirtnap Records)


Nite Trax: Nebakaneza’s top 10 dubstep tracks of 2011


DJ Nebakaneza of the always raging Ritual Dubstep weekly (every Thursday, 9pm-3am at Temple) has one of the finest ears on the dubstep scene and a generous taste when it comes to the often narrowly defined genre. The Anonymous-like masked mixer has definitely turned us on to some great tunes this year. Here’s his tops in the wobble department for 2011:

10. Natty Freq, “Luna Obscura,” Wizard Piss EP

Natty Freq – Luna Oscura (SB004 Clip) by Natural Frequency

9. Gomes, “Lower State,” Lower State EP


8. Bratkilla, “Underworld,” Deathstep

7. TKR, “Cluster Bomb,” Divergent Paths Vol. 2

[PL017] _ TKR – Cluster Bomb – Out now on Divergent Paths Vol2! by ParadiseLostRecordings

6. Silkie featuring Truth, “Feel,” City Limits Vol. 2

5. Genetix, “Stealth,” Beast Mode EP

Genetix – Stealth by Genetix Dubstep

4. Vinja, “Bombassador,” Bombassador/Flute Loop EP

Vinja – Bombassador by Vinja

3. Disonata, “Evoke,” Form Your Path/Evoke EP

Evoke / Form Your Path OUT NOW on DiaMind Records on 12″ and WEB by Disonata

2. 501, “White Lies,” Dubstep Dubplates Volume 1

1. Aya, “In Too Deep,” Not Here To Mingle EP

BONUS! Check out Nebakaneza mixing blindfolded:

Come, as you are


YEAR IN MUSIC While thousands of shoppers — many appearing unfocused in their consumerist abandon — swarmed around me in the midst of Black Friday madness a couple of weeks ago, I knew exactly what I was looking for. Indeed, it was the only thing on my shopping list — the only thing that could make me get out of bed early the morning after Thanksgiving.

Capping off this fall’s many assorted special releases marking the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Universal Music was issuing a special, limited-edition, four record, 10-inch vinyl singles box set in conjunction with Record Store Day’s Black Friday festivities.

The re-release of these seminal singles — “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “Lithium” and “In Bloom”— probably only appeals to die-hard Nirvana fans or the completests; though possibly also to all those who were around when Nevermind first started making waves, and can vividly remember the impact of each single (and its accompanying music video) as they were released in the fall of 1991 and throughout 1992.

I fall into all of these categories, so it was with reverence and much anticipation that I braved the crowds of Union Square, walked briskly into Rasputin Music, found a set, and grabbed it off the shelf. There were no new tracks to discover, nothing that I hadn’t heard before — but the sense of excitement and joy from racing down to the record store was a welcome feeling, transporting me back to junior high, when Nirvana was exploding, and I was first exposed to a new world of music that would forever changed my life.

It was with these same highly-charged emotions (albeit months earlier) that I made the pilgrimage to Seattle in September to visit a new exhibit celebrating Nirvana’s legacy and impact on popular culture at the Experience Music Project museum. “Nirvana: Taking Punk To The Masses,” opened in April and features a treasure trove of artifacts and interactive installations telling the story behind Nirvana — how it became one of the most influential and beloved rock bands of the last quarter century.

Seeing the instruments that were used to create the music that has had such a profound effect on my life was awe-inspiring; as was gazing at hand-written lyric sheets, original demo tapes, artwork, family photos, stage props and more. Oral histories from band members Krist Novoselic and Chad Channing, along with others who had worked alongside them including producers Jack Endino and Butch Vig, and guitar tech Earnie Bailey, provided a personal look at the life of the band.

When coming to the end of the exhibit, my friend and I both commented that while it was a touching experience, it somehow seemed too brief, that there really should have been more to it. It was then that we looked at each other and came to what should have been an obvious realization; for all its influence and impact on our lives and the lives of millions of fans around the world, Nirvana only existed for a mere seven years. The band’s career, like Kurt Cobain’s life, was cut much too short.

In that time, however, the band made an incredible impression on its fans — and at the end of the exhibit there’s a video station where visitors are invited to share and record their memories of Nirvana — what the music has meant to them personally. After walking past the final panels and displays that recounted the events of April 8, 1994, though, I (and several other people nearby) was a little misty-eyed, and didn’t feel much like trying to sum up what Nirvana has meant to me all these years, on the spot, in front of a camera.

Instead, my friend and I proceeded to do what Nirvana had inspired us to do as teenagers; we went into one of the jam rooms in the museum, picked up a guitar, cranked up the volume, and played some tunes off Nevermind.

How guilty?


YEAR IN MUSIC You call it godawful taste in music, I call it reverse colonization. Learn to like the schlock on the radio and instead of groaning through that car ride you too can passenger seat-rock fit to make the Acura in the lane next to yours take “lookit this spazz” photos. Famous!

Yes, it takes some synaptic refiguring to truly enjoy Top 40 music. And not just so that you can enjoy facile lyrics — certain idealistic underpinnings can change your head’s bob to Drake’s latest into a rueful shake real quick. Sexism? Yes.

But this year had some R&B and commercial hip-hop gems. The general trend towards dance music has been making the sounds in those worlds fluffier, more addictive. And the videos — well this is the best part about succumbing to the ways of the Billboard Hot 100. One gets to bask in the light of candy-colored, expertly choreographed, lip-pursing versions of heaven. Forever chain-pressing repeat, because you’re not really a fan of any of these jams until you know. Every. Word.

So we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about mitigating the damage that you’re doing to your psyche. And so here we have some favorite bubblegum-ish tracks of the year, arranged so that the true soul crushers bring up the rear of the list.



Rihanna entranced us in 2011 with her dance-ready beats, her off-kilter brand of hot (red hair dye, S and M wear, and oversize pastel cashmere sweaters playing equal roles), and sass. The yardstick by which all guilty pleasure songs must be judged is how loudly you feel like singing to them, which is usually tied to how much you can puff your chest out while imaging the lyrics apply to you. “What’s My Name?” is exactly the song you want to come on after you’ve celebrated a big win, say gotten a cup of coffee for free from your favorite grounds-slinger, or woken up on time. Plus, in the video Drake hits on Rihanna while she’s buying milk.

Guilty?: Not. Rihanna is the zeitgeist, the rest of us dust on her wind.



Queen B continued her reign of terror right on through pregnancy this year, enrapturing all those lucky enough to catch sight of her baby bump. Carrying a child did not prevent her from making nearly every song from this year’s 4 into a hit single, or even discourage her from sporting Lycra and jouncing about in the video for “Countdown” (whose dance steps were later proven to be an “homage” to a routine by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker). “Party” is a summer song, and judged by aforementioned I-wanna-be-that metric, it kills.

Guilty?: Do you hate babies? Not guilty.



Another defining characteristic of the guilty pleasure is the inextricably linked dance move that accompanies its entry into one’s auditory landscape. Minaj’s “Super Bass” inevitably inspires a pushing away from the chest movement, usually paired with some kind of stomping of the feet. Wait, but does that make you a Barbie (the singer-emcee’s term for her own fans)? Being one of Nicki’s flock might just speak more to your hip-hop philosophy these days: like Drake, she came from a performing arts background, and makes no bones about the hip-hop world serving as a canvas for performance.

Guilty?: Fans of hip-hop with teeth take it easy — this music’s always been about putting on a show. Not guilty.



How do we hate Let us count the ways. One, his group the Black Eyed Peas are the textbook example of sell-out. Nothing makes it past this group that will not sell Pepsis or $2 toasters at Target. Two, he told Elle Magazine that women who keep condoms around are “tacky.” Three, his participation in the Ed Lee “2 Legit 2 Quit” video (a production that seemed specifically engineered to enrage me). But then, this song, in which this hurricane of a man is surrounded by the beloved scamps of Sesame Street. It makes us want to high step. But is it right?

Guilty?: For above three reasons, all projects must be considered tainted — but positive behavior by him must be encouraged. Guilty, but harm to self is mitigated if you listen to this song while buying Trojan Her Pleasures.



A time-honored tradition contained within the “songs for women” canon of male hip-hop and R&B stars is the sweet hook versus the totally busted approach to the female sex in the lyrics. Pretty much the entirety of this year’s Take Care album qualifies for inclusion in this time-honored rite — although the way the singer-rapper calls an ex-flame out of his “old phone” in the track “Marvin’s Room” says as much about him as it does the girls that he’s calling. “Make Me Proud” is a big brother approach to the same hot chick he’s demeaning in every other song on the album. She’s good-looking, smart, she reserves sex because she’s sick of guys hitting on her. Ugh. Too bad Nikki Minaj has a verse on here rapping about being a Sagittarius and it’s now on my Spotify “starred” list.

Guilty?: Are you kidding? Lock yourself up.

The tops of 2011






1. Feb. 2: Motörhead, Clutch, and Valient Thorr at Warfield

2. March 11: Weedeater, Zoroaster, Kvelertak, and Begotten at Thee Parkside

3. March 12: Slough Feg, Christian Mistress, and Witch Mountain at Hemlock

4. April 3: Saint Vitus, Red Fang, and Howl at Mezzanine

5. June 7: Orange Goblin and Gates of Slumber at Bottom of the Hill

6. Aug. 12: Eyehategod, Impaled, Laudanum, and Brainoil at Oakland Metro

7. Aug. 16: Pentagram at Mezzanine

8. Oct. 13: Enslaved at Slim’s

9. Nov. 3: Mastodon and Red Fang at Warfield

10. Nov. 19: Kyuss Lives! and Black Cobra at Regency Ballroom





1. Container, S/T LP (Spectrum Spools) 2. Staccato du Mal, Sin Destino (Weird Records) 3. Bronze, Copper (RVNG Intl.) 4. Grouper, Dream Loss/Alien Observer (Yellow Electric) 5. White Fence, Is Growing Faith (Woodist) 6. Belong, Common Era (Kranky) 7. Widowspeak, S/T LP (Captured Tracks) 8. Total Control, Henge Beat (Iron Lung) 9. Iceage, New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?) 10. Brotman & Short, Heights (Cold Dick)





1. Helm. Luke Younger from Birds of Delay, Halloween weekend in London. Best noise set I’ve seen in a while, it helped that there was a fan blowing his bangs out of his hoodie. He has an album called Cryptography out on Kye. 2. White Lung. Youngins from Vancouver B.C. playing sick, straight forward punk. Saw them in a bowling alley. 3. Village of Spaces’ Alchemy and Trust album. It took a village to put this out, or at least four labels working in conjunction. Dan Beckman’s (Uke of Spaces Corners) quiet folk masterpiece. 4. Divorce. A band from Glasgow that exists in kind of a cultural vacuum there, a bit like the early ’00s trapped in amber, but then cracked open and given adrenal supplements. They are coming to America in July 2012. 5. Trash Kit put out an album in 2010, but I only got to see them once in 2011. Sadly, they have broken up. Finger-picky jaunty punk with weird rhythms. 6. Andrew W.K. This was not particularly “good”, but distinct encapsulation of the zeitgeist. My band played a show with him at Dem Passwords. He didn’t actually watch us or anything, he showed up right before going on with an entourage. Fans started force-feeding him bananas, Redbull, and whiskey and it turned into a freakish spectacle. I took a nap during his set, came back in, and he was still going for like two and a half hours, driving his fans away. Respect, the modern Andy Kaufman. 7. This Invitation. Chen Santa Maria went on a California tour with Warren in April and it was sparsely attended, but perhaps we’re to blame for that. It’s nice to see one of your oldest friends get some recognition for their work, which Aquarius did by giving their stamp of approval to his three (!) double CDs. 8. Cacaw from Chicago, a few ex-Coughs peeps project. They are now broken up, but this summer they came through and it was a monstrous sludge engine. Dark and fierce. 9. Anika. Technically a 2010 release, but she played at the Independent in October. The lady herself has a passive stage presence, but the music of the whole group (members of Portishead and Beak>) is best described as “Nico fronting PiL” (someone at the LA Times can claim that one). 10. SF Comedy. I still feel like an outsider at all this, but holy shit, there’s good stuff going on right now. Perhaps it is a national, even international renaissance in comedy, but the energy and talent going on here feels as exciting to me as the music scene used to feel. I actually don’t want to name names although the free show at the Rite Spot is a good place to start. I also noticed that none of the music I put on this list has anything to do with the Bay Area. Sorry, music. I just listen to podcasts now.






1. “Cruel” by St. Vincent 2. “Don’t Fuck with my Money” by Penguin Prison 3. “Holocene” by Bon Iver 4. “Bam Bam” by King Charles 5. “King of Diamonds” by Motopony 6. “Don’t Move” by Phantogram 7. “5 O’Clock” by T-Pain 8. “White Lie” by Jhameel 9. “Love U More” by Sunday Girl (RAC Mix) 10. “Imprint” by Amtrac





1. The Fall, Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall (particularly the tape that includes singles)

2. The Spits, Kill the Cool (demos and rarities, LP on In the Red)

3. Reigning Sound, Time Bomb High School and Too Much Guitar (LPs on In The Red)

4. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica, and Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You.

5. Devo, Workforce to the World (early live bootleg)

6. The Marvelettes, Greatest Hits (LP on TAMLA)

7. Coachwhips, Bangers Versus Fuckers (LP on Narnack)

8. South Bay Surfers, Battle of the Bands (LP on Norton)

9. Tav Falco and the Unaproachable Panther Burns, Panther Phobia (In the Red Records)

10. Jonathan Richman, Rockin’ and Romance (LP on Twin/Tone)





1. WU LYF, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain Recorded in an abandoned church, the full-length debut from British heavy pop quartet WU LYF was funded by membership fees for the band’s deviant fan club, the Lucifer Youth Foundation.

2. Death Grips, Ex Military The sinister debut mixtape from Sacramento’s Death Grips is an explosion of dark, twisted shout-rap and noisy, industrial beats.

3. Nick Diamonds, I Am An Attic Former Unicorn and current member of Islands and Mister Heavenly, Nick Diamonds (a.k.a. Nick Thorburn) released his understated, haunting solo album via Bandcamp.

4. Clams Casino, Instrumental Mixtape Clams Casino’s collection of swirling, synth-laden instrumentals crafted for the likes of Lil B and Soulja Boy reveals the genius of this visionary New Jersey producer.

5. Big K.R.I.T, Return of 4Eva Of all the exciting rap mixtapes released in 2011, Southern heavy-hitter Big K.R.I.T.’s Return of 4Eva is my favorite.

6. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, Ultra. This R&B pop gem presents Frank Ocean as, perhaps, the only member of the OFWGKTA family who proved worthy of the hype in 2011.

7. Fort Lean, Fort Lean (EP) Though it’s only 12 minutes long, Fort Lean’s infectious, summery debut EP is a promising glimpse of things to come for this indie five-piece from Brooklyn, NY.

8. Friendzone, Kuchibiru Network II I chose East Bay duo Friendzone’s Kuchibiru Network 2 over Main Attrakionz’s 808’s & Dark Grapes II, as it showcases Main Attrakionz at its best along with tasty selections from Oakland’s Shady Blaze and Finally Boys, Japanese producer Uyama Hiroto, and more.

9. Small Black, Moon Killer In addition to some of Small Black’s catchiest electronic pop songs to date (like the Nicki Minaj-sampling “Love’s Not Enough”), this mixtape features two appearances by Das Racist’s Himanshu Suri, and some inspired remixes from Star Slinger and Phone Tag.

10. The Weeknd, House of Balloons This is a no brainer. Canadian-Ethiopian R&B prodigy the Weeknd’s debut mixtape House of Balloons is the best album of the year, period. (Frances Capell)





1. ELECTRO: This is the band of 8-year-old girls I mentored this summer as a volunteer at Bay Area Girls Rock Camp. After learning two chords from scratch, they wrote a droney, unintentionally avant-garde five-minute anti-bullying opus with a rap breakdown that blew my mind at their July showcase at the Oakland Metro. This is the future.

2. Uzi Rash: Swamp reptile Max Nordile and his band of trashy weirdos play music that is both grating and catchy, and deceptively complex. See them live and they will freak you out, and possibly hit you in the eye socket with an empty 40 oz. (it happened to me).

3. Shannon and the Clams: Seeing the Clams live feels like being magically reunited with your childhood dog — happy and nostalgic, a little bit sad. This metaphor is especially apt if you and your childhood dog loved to DANCE! 4. Younger Lovers: Killer guitar parts, dance-crazy beats, and singer-drummer-songwriter Brontez’s onstage bitching makes Younger Lovers’ shows unpredictable and exciting. Plus, their guitarist is super-cute!

5. King Lollipop: Elfin hillbilly plays bubblegum rockabilly (or something like that!) backed by six drummers who sound like a marching band meets drum circle, minus the lame.

6. Human Waste: Freaky spacesuited dystopian moog-punk from the Moon. Rumored to consist of members of Uzi Rash, Shannon and the Clams, and Dirty Cupcakes. More space waste to come in 2012.

7. Glitter Wizard: Intricate, impressive glam rock. And once, mid-song, I saw frontman Wendy Stonehenge light his hand on fire!

8. PIGS: This three-piece plays metal for people who love metal. Ripping it up soon in a scummy warehouse near you.

9. Knifey Spoony: Oakland punk rockers with impressive live show and unexpectedly melodic hooks. Singer-guitarist Steve Oriolo studied music in college but uses his powers for good (rock), not evil (anything that doesn’t rock).

10. Sweet Nothing: I’m a sucker for two-piece bands and girl drummers, and Ian and Melissa always rock my face off.





1. Los Rakas, Chancletas Y Camisetas (Soy Raka Inc.) 2. Am and Shawn Lee, Celestial Electric (ESL Records) 3. People Under The Stairs, Highlighter (Piecelock 70 ) 4. Toddla T, Watch Me Dance (Ninja Tune) 5. Boris, New Album (Sargent House) 6. Kendrick Lamar, Section.80 (Top Dawg Entertainment/Section 80) 7. Youth Lagoon, The Year of Hibernation (Fat Possum) 8. Little Dragon, Ritual Union (Peacefrog Holdings Ltd) 9. Jay Rock, Follow Me Home (Strange Music) 10. Vybz Kartel, Colouring Book EP (Tad’s Records)





1. Adderall: Not just because Bay-local comeup, Kreayshawn, spits bout slangin’ em (“gnarly, radical, on the block I’m magical… see me at your college campus baggie full of Adderalls”) or even because of Kendrick Lamar’s thoughtfully spaced out track “A.D.H.D.” but mostly because of its association with hyperactive, creative, and willfully scattered children. Odd Future blew up, Tyler the Creator dropped Goblin, A$AP Rocky put out one of the strongest releases of the year with LIVELOVEA$AP. All kinds of kids were spittin’ up mixtapes right outta high school and then signing multimillion dollar contracts.

2. DMT: Dimethyltryptamine is some fucked up shit, and I mean that in the most complementary way possible. A small glimpse behind the fabric of reality. There were a few releases this year that resemble and reflect this completely alien and confusing greater truth. Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica, James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual, and Laurel Halo’s flawless EP, Hour Logic (Hippos In Tanks).

3. Nitrous Oxide: whippets are back and that shit makes everything sound like you’re living in a vacuum cleaner. As much as I despise the hyperwobbly, fist pumpin’ sounds of brosteppers like Rusko, and (cringe) Skrillex, I can’t deny that that shit is selling cars; dubstep car commercials. Also, to be fair, real dubstep and what is often called post-dubstep is some amazing music and some of its less commercially viable/more critically acclaimed artists have put out some beautiful work. Zomby dropped Dedication this year on 4AD and that shit is sick. James Blake’s debut album is also impossibly good.

4. Pills: maybe it’s just the kids I roll with, but I assume that most sensitive, well thought, independent rock is made by people on pills (think old Brian Jonestown Massacre or Jesus and Mary Chain). The second I heard that track “Vomit” off of friends and local heroes Girls new album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, I had to raid my own medicine cabinet, take a couple Vicodin, and listen to a stack of records including that, Tamaryn, King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe, and Zola Jesus.’Bout as close to heaven as a guy like me can get.

5. Coke: coke always has and always will rule the dancefloor. It goes further than that though; coke rap is alive and well. Trap rap (rap about drug dealing) in general is continuing to run shit. And when you got Lex Luger droppin’ some of the illest beats around for songs that are 90 percent chorus, how can you go wrong? This is a very serious statement — the Ferrari Boyz (Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame) mixtape that came out about a week before that overhyped, tired, abomination that is Watch the Throne, has some of the best tracks this year.

6. K: club drugs in general are back, and nothing says party like as strong debilitating dissociative. I mentioned this album earlier when I was talking about DMT, but it’s good and weird enough that it needs to be mentioned twice. James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual.

7. Acid: my favorite substance. LSD is an extended barrage of overwhelming sensory input, particularly sight and sound, and should therefor be discussed in those terms. Sight: this year has been all about projections, lasers, and smoke — there are a lot of amazing producers playing live right now, and a dude with a laptop ain’t a show, so it’s important to add some flare. Sound: from mixtapes like White Ring’s tranced out Chaind and Nike7up’s crazy melted-pop gem 33:33 to Araabmuzik’s breathtakingly unfuckwithable album Electronic Dream, this has been the strongest showing dosed out music has had since the mid ’90s.

8. MDMA: like I was saying earlier, club drugs are huge right now. Best part about the ecstasy thing though is that we’re not talking pressies here, just pure crystalized love. You can hear it in the work of groups like Sleep 8 Over and (of course) Pure X. But I think it’s most evidenced by song’s like The Weeknd’s “High for This” and on Pictureplane’s brilliantly positive album Thee Physical (Lovepump United).

9. Weed: not that weed ever goes away, but it’s had a really strong year. Seems like everybody’s smoking blunts and flipping pounds these days. Wiz Khalifa, A$AP, Lil B, Lil Wayne, Miley fucking Cyrus. and of course Zip and a Double Cup himself, Juicy J., which brings us to our big winner…

10. Promethazine: Lean, purple drank, double cup, sizzurp — codeine cough syrup has a lot of names, and it’s been an important factor in rap, particularly Southern rap, for a very long time. But that influence is spreading. Bands like Salem have created whole new subgenres of music built off applying the late great DJ Screw’s production sensibilities as liberally as possible. New York Rappers like A$AP Rocky are singing the praises of Screw and Pimp C while repping Harlem and putting New York back on the map. I think 2012 is gonna be all about double cup dinner parties and art walks. Do yourself a favor, call your doctor and fake a cough, pop in Clams Casino’s Instrumental mixtape and/or LIVELOVEA$AP and chill for a bit.



Year in Music "Here in my car / I feel safest of all / I can lock all my doors / It’s the only way to live in cars." — Gary Numan, "Cars"

Are friends electric? In 2011, synthpop sounded like a safe vehicle with which to whirl forward, one wheel in the quickly receding past and the other in the fast-coming future.

As the light turned green on ’11 and roared on through 11/11/11, those binary 1’s pointed to the synthetic pleasures harking back to Human League, Yazoo, and Depeche Mode. Early in the year, La Roux’s Elly Jackson took home a Grammy for her eponymous debut — signifying the U.S. music mainstream’s approval.

You could detect the synths popping beneath the beckoning, bright textures of Vetiver’s "Can’t You Tell," the Paisley Park-meets-"Enola Gay" washes of Nite Jewel’s "One Second of Love," and the Doppler effect textures of Toro y Moi’s "Talamak," while the much lamented departure of James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem from the intersection of synth beats and rock squall threw up yet another sign that synthpop was on the move. Tellingly, Holy Ghost!, on Murphy’s DFA imprint, cast its eyes back longingly to the chilly dreamtime of the Ministry’s "I Wanted to Tell Her," lodging it in a busy thicket of bumping, rumbling bass and keys.

Don’t fear the ’80s: Yesteryear synth populists the Cars released its first LP with Ric Ocasek since its ’88 split, and the year closed with Gary Numan getting the avant seal of approval as an honored guest at the recent Battles-curated ATP show. Adding fuel to the firing pistons, locally, was a look back at the real Bay underground article: this year’s comp BART: Bay Area Retrograde (Dark Entries) wiped the "Clean Me" messages written in dust from tracks like Voice Farm’s "Voyager." The latter almost seemed to lend its synth tone directly to the sinewy, eerily sensual "Nightcall" by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx off the Drive soundtrack (Lakeshore).

Much like that violently dreamy film’s Danish-American hybrid, "Nightcall" and College’s "A Real Hero" teetered between the almost OTT strain of romanticism and superchilled detachment embodied by the best of synthpop— the simple hooks and breathy, girlish vocals perfectly complementing the propulsive, forward-thrust mechanism of the tracks. You can’t drive those songs from your head.

In one of the strongest contenders for (double) album of the year, M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute), synthpop was only one component of the deep, ambitious, magnificent sprawl, a recording much like French transplant Anthony Gonzalez’s adopted L.A. home. Its breakout single, "Midnight City," tapped both the brooding nihilism of Grand Theft Auto and the noirish retro-epics of Michael Mann in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, as leader Anthony Gonzalez emotes wistfully, "Waiting in a car /Waiting for a ride in the dark / Drinking in the lounge / Following the neon signs / Waiting for a roar / Looking at the mutating skyline / The city is my church / It wraps me in the sparking twilight."

Cue the orchestral, rollercoaster synths, faux bird calls, and reclaimed-from-the-cheese-bin skywalking sax. It may say as little as Numan’s "Cars"—making it the perfect tabula-rasa fodder for both Victoria’s Secret commercials and capitalism-happy How to Make It in America —but like a European native finding inspiration in the simultaneously alienating and freeing highways of El-Lay or J.G. Ballard, both songs prove that you needn’t rely on language to move a listener.

Rearview mirror


Year in Music “Out of all the records I’ve recorded, that was the worst experience,” says prolific Dinosaur Jr. bassist and Sebadoh guitarist Lou Barlow. He’s speaking of Bug, the classic, feedback opening alternative rock album Dinosaur Jr. released on SST in 1988.

Why then, did the band tour the East Coast during the spring of 2011, playing the album start to finish, and why does it continue to play it now — appearing at the Fillmore this week? “All the negative associations I had with it are gone. What I hear now is a really great batch of songs that J [Mascis] wrote.” He goes on to describe the early days of Dinosaur Jr., “when we formed it was my first textured, creatively ambitious band — and that was at the age of 17 — so it’s a real part of my DNA now. Musically, it’s a very familiar spot to be at.”

There, in a history-rich bed with a familiar texture, is the spot where aging rock fans crave to be. According to Simon Reynold’s exhaustive and polarizing 2011 tome Retromania, it’s also the space in which we all now inhabit, new listeners and old. His introductory words are harsh, if provoking. “The 2000s [was] the decade of rampant recycling: bygone genres revived and renovated, vintage sonic material, reprocessed and recombined. Too often with new young bands, beneath their taut skin and rosy cheeks, you could detect the sagging grey flesh of old ideas.” Brutal.

In some sections, Reynolds is dead on, and his methodology applies equally to the year in rock that was 2011 (though the book was written in the summer of 2010). We couldn’t possibly look back at these twelve months without including the grander trail of rock’n’roll, and how it was again repackaged throughout the year.

Given the retro-crazed times we live in, to judge the year, we must also fall deeper down the nostalgia inkwell, in part due to the onslaught of monster reunion tours, complete album trips, rereleased records, anniversary celebrations, and retro reverential new rock/garage/punk acts of 2011. One point Reynolds makes, is that the span of time elapsed between creative endeavor and nostalgia for said endeavor is rapidly fading.

Just recently the Weakerthans — which formed in 1997 — spent four power-pop nights at the Independent, playing one whole album from its catalogue each night. Earlier this year, Archers of Loaf launched a reunion tour (13 years after its demise) and the reissue of four of its studio albums on Merge. There were also reunion shows and tours from the Cars, Kyuss, Pulp, Cibo Matto, Masters of the Hemisphere, Death From Above 1979 (big up to Treasure Island Music Festival), and strangely, J. Geils Band, the Monkees, and System of a Down.

There were rereleased Smashing Pumpkins albums, a Throbbing Gristle greatest hits, and a Hot Snakes one-off (at press time) at All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Nightmare Before Xmas in Minehead, England — a fest also headlined by Archers of Loaf.

There was Nirvana’s Nevermind 20 year anniversary celebration, and Metallica’s 30 years strong, though the output for these celebrations was obviously disparate given the nature of the acts. Nirvana’s label released a series of singles and special edition anniversary batches. Metallica took perhaps the most surprising turn a no-frills metal act could — it paired with Lou Reed and released a confusing collaboration, Lulu, though the real anniversary celebration was yet to come — a four-night, devil-horned, juicy guest-starred tête-à-tête for hardcore fans at the Fillmore.

There were also the bands that just felt retro, or at least, stood with one foot in rock’s not-so-distant past. But the good ones were more reverent than carbon vintage copy, acts like Dum Dum Girls and Cults, played on romantic ideals of ’60s garage and slipped in some doo-wop and girl group-esque vocals, but neither directly mimics a particular era. In its debut follow-up, Only In Dreams (Sub Pop), Dum Dum Girls also referenced a distinct ’90s Mazzy Star vibe. Meanwhile, Canadian chanteuse Austra looped back to the ’80s with prominent synth and operatic love songs, and the Beets happily alluded to its own ’60s garage-meets-Ramones influences on fourth album Let The Poison Out (Hardly Art), like something out of a Nuggets boxset; a modern, bilingual Seeds.

Locally, longtime Ty Segall band member Mikal Cronin finally made the move to San Francisco in 2011. Raised on surf and garage rock down south, he brought with him a distinctive nostalgic sound; his solo self-titled record — released this year on Trouble in Mind — was one of the most intriguing of the year. Like many now living and playing in SF, he’s drawn to vintage rock’n’roll and garage, but his style stands out above the pack.

This year he released a multifarious record of crusted garage-punk and swirling psych-pop, glamorized with the hazy, sand-swept beach days pictured in vintage Polaroids. Opening track “Is It Alright” could be plucked from a psychedelic Beach Boys LP, laid thicker with grime. And Cronin, when pressed, reveals a long history of influences — along with current bands such as Thee Oh Sees and Strange Boys — mentioning longtime favorites “Emitt Rhodes, Del Shannon, the Beatles, the Beach Boys,” adding “I’ve been trying to relisten to the classics” And yes, the remaining Beach Boys were said to be planning yet another reunion for next year, a thrill for likely a few young fans (though the same can not be said for Brian Wilson’s 2011 Disney covers album).

Here’s another spot where Reynolds and I tend to split: I’m an unabashed rearview mirror fan. And while I agree that the “re-s” in our sonic world are sometimes overwhelmingly dull, the opportunity to see live bands that broke up before I was cognizant has just too strong a pull on my psyche. Even Reynolds seems to consent to that last bit, stating in Retromania, “The exceptions to my ‘no reunions’ policy are a few bands that I loved as a youth but never managed to see live.” So wouldn’t that be the case for someone in every audience? The giant pink headphones-wearing toddler I saw at the Iggy Pop show undoubtedly missed the punk singer’s first 40 odd years of shows. Now, will somebody please reunite Operation Ivy, Minor Threat, and Neutral Milk Hotel for complete album tours, or is that too sacrilegious for your precious memories? It’d just be for my own comfort, obviously. *




Feb. 26: No Age, Grass Widow, and Rank/Xerox at Rickshaw Stop

April 27: Steve Ignorant plays Crass songs at Slim’s

June 1: Gayngs at Independent

July 13: King Khan & Gris-Gris, Shannon & the Clams, King Lollipop/1-2-3-4 Go! Records Showcase at Oakland Metro Opera House

Sept. 22: Hightower, Black Cobra, and Walken at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Oct. 6: CSS at Fillmore

Oct. 13: Gardens & Villa at Bottom of the Hill

Nov. 5: Wild Flag at Great American Music Hall

Dec. 4: Iggy Pop at Warfield

Dec. 10: Tycho at Independent

Year in Music: Pantha du Prince’s Top 10 (+1) of 2010


Phill Niblock, Touch Radio 57
Efdemin, Chicago
Konrad Sprenger, Versprochen
Avey Tare, Down There
Foxtrot Echo Lima Tango fanzine
Autechre, Oversteps
Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Live In New York
Live jams by The Sight Below in New York
Sohrab, A Hidden Place
John Roberts, Glass Eights
Craig Haines, Until the Point of Hushed Support

Pantha du Prince, “Stick to My Side”: