Music Blogger

Magnetic Fields, Mark Kozelek, Atlas Sound to play Noise Pop 2010 Feb. 23-March 1



By Kimberly Chun

Word’s come in about the dates and lineup for Noise Pop 2010 – this year highlighting headliner Magnetic Fields. This from the organizers:

“Event Producers, Noise Pop Industries, have announced the dates of the West Coast’s premiere celebration of independent music, film and art – Noise Pop 2009. The 18th annual Noise Pop Festival will take place February 23 through March 1, 2009 at venues throughout San Francisco, CA.

“Early artist confirmations include Magnetic Fields [above], Mark Kozelek, Rogue Wave, Atlas Sound, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Four Tet, John Vanderslice, We Were Promised Jet Packs, Wallpaper, Zee Avi, The Limousines & Foreign Born. More shows will be announced in the coming weeks along with films, art shows, and more.

Sonic Reducer Overage: Timbaland, Grooms, Metallica, Grace Potter, Zero 7, Man/Miracle, and more


By Kimberly Chun

Love the rain, hate the frizz, love the fuzz box — more SF sounds than we could fit into print.

Captured! By Robots
Jokin’ thrash, the classic San Fran tradition. With Grayceon and Dirty Power. Sat/12, 10 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455.

The Thrones put the kibosh on their performance due to a busted-up van and illness, but Carla Bozulich’s immensely intense and talented ensemble carries on. With Late Young. Sat/12, 9:30 p.m., $12. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk., SF. (415) 923-0923.

Garage a Trois
Oh, what a fine, fierce jazz-rock super group it is. The misnamed foursome includes Marco Benevento, Stanton Moore, Skerik, and Mike Dillon. With DJ Dan Prothero. Sat/12, 9 p.m., $20. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1422.

SF Street Art: End of the line


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By Kimberly Chun

I always appreciate a good street-sign alteration: this one is on Eighth Street, near Gama-Go HQ.

Sonic Reducer Overage: Black Crowes, Califone, Rob Cantrell, and more


Whoa, get ready for the El Nino rains — time to duck inside for some quality sounds.

The Black Crowes
If you step into the Four Seasons you might get a glimpse of the free birds, in town for a series of shows. Sat/5, 9 p.m., and Sun/6, 8 p.m., call for prices. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-8497.

The Black Hollies
Give the psych combo its medication. With the Shys and Hot Lunch. Sat/5, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455.

‘Kill All Redneck Pricks’: KARP doc benefit goes off Dec. 19


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You must remember KARP, the combo that spawned members of Big Business, the Melvins, Tight Bros. From Way Back When, and many other loud, loud outfits? (Me, I remember seeing the group at Yo-a-Go-Go way back when.) Well, do that remembering on camera when a doc benefit gathers Dec. 19 in Oakland. This in from the organizers:

“In addition to being a band biopic, Kill All Redneck Pricks: KARP LIVES! 1990 – 1998 is the biography of a friendship. Set in the Pacific Northwest against the backdrop of the Olympia, Wash., post-punk and riot grrrl movements of the early ’90s, Kill All Redneck Pricks: KARP LIVES! 1990 – 1998 details the joys and tragedies of a band called KARP as each band member’s life serves as a lightning bolt to a separate destiny.

“The band debuted in ‘94 with Mustaches Wild LP, which K Records catalog described in the following way -‘album number one sinks to the pit of your stomach. Karp, straight out of Olympia’s Tumwater High, gay blades heavy and sweaty. Looks like a deck of cards playing war for real. Feels like a chunk of concrete stapled to your forehead.’

“All Music Guide commented that ‘the ability for one to incorporate mood swings into their musical creativity is apparent on the debut full-length by Washington’s Karp. At the drop of a hat, they can go from slow and blistering to upbeat and pounding, all while remaining at a very low, heavy tone. Deeply influenced by Black Sabbath and the Melvins, Mustaches Wild has the potential to be a very dark release
with their very tongue-in-cheek lyrics.’

My favorite vid: ‘Where the Dirty Hipsters Are’


By Kimberly Chun

Loved the Spike Jonze joint – in a downbeat, unassuming, morose way, of course. But what about this great spoof on the whiny, grumbling wild things? “Is that vintage?” Andy Signore, you wild thing – you’re a genius.

Marriage by fire: Grooms find the joy


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(Death by Audio)

By Kimberly Chun

Grooms is a slightly better name than Muggabears, the moniker of vocalist-guitarist Travis Johnson’s original teenaged bedroom recording project — it errs on the side of blah-blankness rather than cute-grotesquerie. Regardless, **Rejoicer** makes me want to look for Johnson in the future.

Sonic Youth and its **Speed Trials** ilk are the touchstones here — from the refined, sensuous use of carefully controlled noise blasts to Johnson’s smudgy, adolescent yowl — while the addition of drummer Jim Sykes conjures thoughts of his former combo Parts and Labor. It’s as if the threesome were on a treasure hunt for junked beauty among the grunge era’s corroded metal salvage shop — with breaks for twanging, seductively supple guitar torture — and listening to this thoughtfully assembled collection of songs, I’d say they’ve found what they were searching for.

Hey is for Horse’s Ha: English folk meets backcountry bossa


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Of the Cathmawr Yards
(Hidden Agenda)

By Kimberly Chun

Sidestepping the gutbucket ‘n’ gritty, tear-in-my-beer country of Freakwater and the solid indie psych of Eleventh Dream Day, Janet Beveridge Bean takes a whole other route — toward the music of the English folk revival — with the Horses’s Ha, a collaboration with Brit ex-pat James Elkington. Working with such talented players as cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (Wilco, Jim O’Rourke), bassist Nick Macri (Euphone), and drummer Charles Rumback (L’Altra, Via Tania), the pair have dreamed up a series of songs and sounds that lightly touch on the C&W soundtracks of ‘70s American cinema, the immaculate vocals and folk-rock orchestrations of Fairport Convention, and the agile southwestern fusions of a sleepy Calexico (Martin Wenk of the group contributes trumpet). Wryly named for the fictitious Welsh graveyard in Dylan Thomas’ zombie short story, “The Horse’s Ha,” Of the Cathmawr Yards is far from a carrion-chomping critter. Bean and Elkington and ensemble make English-folk bossa the most natural thing in the world to pick up and artfully play with.

Sonic Reducer Overage: Toots, Vic Chestnutt, White Pee, Dizzy Balloon, and more


Why succumb to the post-turkey day l-tryptophan lethargy? There’s music to see and hear when you’re not deleting your funds at the sales. (Anyone else notice that odd, oft-aired Sears commercial — an attractive black couple ask a salesperson about Black Friday and proceed to kinda-sorta flirt with him?)

Toots and the Maytals
The well-sampled combo had a recent brush with Amy Winehouse backing-band greatness. Fri/27, 9 p.m., $26. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000.

Does thrashsome, so-called groove metal get any more poppy yet menacing? With Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Chimaira, Unearth, Whitechapel, Born Of Osiris, Hate Eternal, and Dirge Within Fri/27, 3 p.m., $26-$30. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 421-8497.

Sonic Reducer Overage:Kiss, Fanfarlo, Lake, and more


By Kimberly Chun

Rick Springfield and Sister Christian should be forever indebted to Boogie Nights for being draped so unforgettably in that terribly tense deal-gone-drastically-wrong scene. Too bad Kiss never got the proper Ramones/Rock and Roll High School treatment with **Detroit Rock City** — but hey, they’ve got reality TV. More shows than we could fit into print.

High on life like Los Campesinos and a mite folkier. Sun/22, 2 p.m., free, Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200. Also with Freelance Whales and Mumlers. Sun/22, 8 p.m., $10-$13. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. (415) 861-2011.

Sweet on sour Filipino popcorn in Honolulu


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Garlicky goodness. All photos by Kimberly Chun.

By Kimberly Chun

Biggest food find in Honolulu this Thanksgiving: “Filipino Loco” popcorn.

My bro clued me into the phenom at the very popular shaved ice stand Shimazu Store. The shop is located on a somewhat scruffy, paved-over, truck-heavy stretch of School Street near downtown Honolulu.

But lo, Shimazu manages to survive and thrive by carrying some of the most unusual flavors on the isle: creme brulee, chocolate peanut butter cup, green tea, lilikoi, root beer float, red velvet cake (!), and zillions more. You can get them with all the add-ons: ice cream, azuki beans, and mochi balls buried within; the mountain of multi-colored shaved ice drizzled with evaporated milk without.

But the weirdest, most wonderful item at Shimazu Store has to be their selection of fresh popcorn: furakake popcorn (embellished with Japanese crackers), red dirt popcorn (don’t ask), and the fabulous “Filipino Loco” variety. The corn itself is flavored with an inspired blend of vinegar, garlic, and salt and then topped with a layer of pork rinds. Sour, salty, greasy good fun. OK, I confess, I did say, “I feel like killing myself” after a few handfuls. But what a way to go.

Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
330 N. School St., Honolulu

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In your face: Indie goes Icelandic in the hands of Skakkamanage


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All Over the Face

By Kimberly Chun

Sounding for all the world like the lost Icelandic kin of Spoon’s Brett Daniel with his happen-now snarl and way with a jittery Amerindie hook, vocalist-guitarist Svavar Petur Eysteinsson could have grown up in Ohio, Nebraska or Texas, listening to the Breeders, Yo La Tengo, Uncle Tupelo, and any number of Homestead and Saddle Creek combos. His Icelandic husband-and-wife band, Skakkamanage, bears more than a passing resemblance to indie rock brothers by other mothers. A sweetness, naked earnestness and on-edge undercurrent of anxiety permeates tracks like “Costa Bravo” and “Like You Did,” helped along by the boy-girl vocals of Eysteinsson and wife Berglind Hasler, on piano and synthesizers. Mum’s Orvar Poreyjarson Smarason contributes harmonica and backing vocals, and throughout such assists and audibly in-your-face inspirations, Skakkamanage appears to be quickly approaching, by dint of its raw courage, a sound of its own.

Sonic Reducer Overage: Grant Hart, ‘In C,’ Flobots, Talk Normal, and more


By Kimberly Chun

I recommend taking some cult-cha with your cold cereal — it’ll make the pre-Thanksgiving/Black Friday mania go down easier. More fun stuff than we could fit into print.

Ty Segall and Culture Kids
The raging Goldie ‘09 winner lets it fly with the buskable, combustible Bay Area noise makers. With the Baths. Sat/14, 9 p.m., $7. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-0012.

The Oakland combo likes its tempos convulsive and screams pitched a few notches above the deep, dark pit of post-punk hell. With Rats Eyes and La Guardia. Sat/14, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923.

Twinkle, twinkle, Bianca Starr


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By Kimberly Chun

It’s been months, but I’m still reeling from the loss of the Built by Wendy boutique on 20th Street. Yeah, yeah, I know – who could afford any of those cute lil’ indie-rocker outfits? A gal can dream…

But now a few doors down from the old space, a fab mutant lovely has moved in: Bianca Starr. The brand new girl on the block – all of six weeks old – combines Painted Bird thrifty cool with a major dollop of Krystle Carrington ’80s glam. The store motto: “A women’s boutique where you leave your inhibitions at the door.”

Lighting bolt-emblazoned heels, jewel-tone silky frocks, Ferragamo pumps with baby pyramid heels, and the works, all with a distinctively Reagan-era club-kid edge. And the vintage wares are rather reasonably priced to boot – so all those pennies saved with the loss of Built by Wendy can go straight to Starr. Zoom.

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3552 20th St., SF
(415) 341-1020

Duty calls: In line for Call of Duty


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By Kimberly Chun

Just what are these courageous souls queuing up for on a late Monday night on Powell Street, right outside GameStop? The new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game, that’s what. Looks like the first-person shooter is indeed locked and loaded and poised to become one of the biggest- and fastest-selling games in history (though this string of dudes – and they were mostly dudes – was shorter than the crowd bunked down for, say, PS2.

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Juan MacLean’s drummer Jerry Fuchs, RIP; band to do DJ benefit set at Mezzanine



By Kimberly Chun

This in from the Juan MacLean’s people and the Mezzanine: the band’s drummer Jerry Fuchs sadly passed away Nov. 8 (The live band will obviously not be performing as scheduled on Nov. 20 at Mezzanine, but Juan will be out for a tribute DJ set to benefit Jerry’s family – all proceeds will be donated to them.):

“Gerhardt “Jerry” Fuchs, beloved and respected drummer for The Juan MacLean, Holy Ghost!, Maserati, !!!, and Turing Machine, amongst others, passed away in the early hours on Sunday, November 8th due to an unfortunate elevator accident that occurred in a Brooklyn loft building. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Medical Center , a few hours later.

“Jerry was born on December 30, 1974 in Marietta , Georgia . After attending the University of Georgia for graphic design, he left for New York in 1995 to join the band Vineland . His achievements were numerous as he became a New York fixture in the music scene, providing incredibly complex and energetic drumbeats that elicited wide praise and excitement from fellow musicians, critics and friends. On the rare occasion that he was not touring, Jerry did graphic design work for publications such as Chunklet and Entertainment Weekly. Throughout all of his endeavors and successes, Jerry remained one of the most humble and down-to-earth artists anyone could meet. His smile, and loving energy will be missed dearly, as will his talent and contributions to the music scene.

Deer Lady: Sonya Cotton’s ‘Red River’


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Red River

By Kimberly Chun

San Francisco-by-way-of-Connecticut singer-songwriter Sonya Cotton hails from the halcyon peaks of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Judee Sill: she’s a songbird of a soprano, given to praise though drawn to the dark side of folk song. She contemplates the corpse of a doe on the cover of Red River, but rather than dragging the dead deer of genre up a hill and into new turf, ala Grouper, Cotton prefers to pay her respect to the past and observe tradition with reverence and careful attention. Her immaculate footprints: the three-part harmonies on “Bear” and spare arrangement of “Hunters.”

Sonic Reducer Overage: Alternative Tentacles, Pixies, Paramore, Finches, R. Kelly, and more


By Kimberly Chun

You want to wipe away the gloom with some swoony, loony sounds, you know you do. More music than we could cram into ye olde newsprint.

Alternative Tentacles 30th Anniversary Incest-a-Thon
The proceedings kick off with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine — and it’s going to be raging and ornery from the sound of the outfit’s new The Audacity of Hype (Alternative Tentacles). The fun continues with Citizen Fish, Star Fucking Hipsters, and MIA (the hardcore band not the lady) opening tonight; Ludicra, Munly and the Lupercalians, and Knights of the New Crusade Friday, and Alice Donut, Victims Family, and Burning Image Saturday. Sounds like a good, loudly irreverent time for all. Thurs/5-Sat/7, 8 p.m., $20-$22 ($50 three-day pass). Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750.

Hank IV and Celine Dion
Hank Sr. gets a hard twirl in his grave, as the Bay Area troublemakers’ hearts go on. With Blues Control. Thurs/5, 9 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk St., SF. (415) 923-0923.

The early-20-something LA foursome have been listening closely to The Big Pink — namely the Band, not the UK 4AD duo. With Langhorne Slim and Austin Lucas. Fri/6, Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1422.

Post-punk stirrings: Bellini and Sleeper peel back the mask


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The Precious Prize of Gravity
(Temporary Residence)

Behind Every Mask

The return of David Yow and Jesus Lizard couldn’t be better timed, judging from releases like Bellini’s The Precious Prize of Gravity and Sleeper’s Behind Every Mask: there’s life in that post-punk corpse yet.

Working with old cohort Steve Albini, the Sicily-NYC-Texas-based Bellini growls like the dread ghost of Live Skull, with all the elastic power of Midwestern maulers like Jesus Lizard and Shellac. Vocalist Giovanna Cacciola croons and barks as if she’s had one champagne cocktail too many — in the bowels of hell.

Sleeper is more insinuating and less definable. These dusky ambient instrumentals seem to be fashioned with an ear toward both post-punk anxiety and brooding horror scores. Carlos Ransom puts his homemade instruments to good use, good enough to make me pick this up long after it’s release earlier this year. Play “Witch Hunt” in the darkest corner of your Blair Witch basement tonight for All Hallow’s.

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Fela redux: ‘The Best of the Black President’ ushers in reissue series



The Best of the Black President – Deluxe Edition
(Kalakuta Sunrise/Knitting Factory)

By Kimberly Chun

Ripe for revival and just in time for FELA!, the Broadway musical, as well as the real-life black president, Fela Kuti was a legend in his own time — the fact that he passed more than a dozen years ago seems surreal. Watch him today on YouTube (below) or on the Slice of Fela DVD that accompanies the new Best of the Black President (Kalakuta Sunrise/Knitting Factory) and includes excerpts from the film Music Is the Weapon and a Berlin Jazz Festival performance. You’ll get a glimpse of the visonary’s shamanistic sonic power.

No need to rely on the visuals though – just let Black President‘s two discs’ full of hypnotic grooves wash over you. “Army Arrangement,” “Roforofo Fight,” “Lady,” “Water Get No Enemy” — the first in Knitting Factory Records‘ remastered reissue series of 45 Kuti titles shines a light on his ’60s band Koola Lobitos and takes you higher. Guarans. It’s the first time all 45 albums will released on vinyl in North America — something to look forward to in the next 18 months.

Here’s a taste of latter-day Fela with Afrika 70, shot by Ginger Baker (not included on the DVD):

Sonic Reducer Overage: No Age, Soapbox, Emerald Triangle, Kawabata, and more


By Kimberly Chun

Halloween and NYE — yes, it’s amateur hour once again for non-locals, gawkers, and ‘burb brats. Still, ya gotta fill the void — here are a few more ways that didn’t make print.

Art Brut

Are the Anglo-Teutonic arty farties the next best thing to poppers like Fountains of Wayne? With Princeton Fri/30, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., $16. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016.

No Age

The LA twosome skipped the Grammys for the road (“Best Recording Package?”). With Residual Echoes and Magic Bullets. Fri/30, 9 p.m., $16. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750.

Dreamy machines: Little Dragon roars


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Machine Dreams

By Kimberly Chun

“A New,” for sure. Dripping with mellotron sounds and windswept synths, Gothenburg, Sweden’s Little Dragon declares itself definitely, though far from overbearingly, with the opening track of Machine Dreams. Coming on the clicking, clamoring heels of its 2007 self-titled debut, this second full-length is an intoxicating sauce of synthpop bounce, faraway steel drum plonk, percolating bass lines, and Yukimi’s winsome, subtly soulful vocals. You know you’re in good hands when the ever-so-gently sharp synth stabs of “My Step” kick in. This is about machines blissfully dreaming of electric sheep, digital damsels, and Unix unicorns — all bathed in enticing sweetness and light.

With Nite Jewel
Nov. 4, 9 p.m., $20
628 Divisadero, SF
(415) 771-1421

The Rakes split, cancel Slim’s show


This in from UK band the Rakes’ publicists:

“The Rakes have announced they are to split with immediate effect.

“The band who formed in 2002, came together as a foursome of childhood friends and kindred sprits and went on to release three critically acclaimed albums; the first Capture/Release in 2005, followed by Ten New Messages in 2007 and Klang (2009). Both the October UK tour and American dates are canceled, and full refunds will be given to ticket holders.

“A statement from the band reads:

“‘The Rakes have always been very adamant and proud of the fact that we give 100% to every gig we’ve ever played. If we can’t give it everything then we won’t do it. That was the rule we set ourselves from day one.

Sonic Reducer Overage: Pelican, Kid Sister, Le Loup, Sunset Rubdown, and more


By Kimberly Chun

We got places to go, people to see, crazy sounds to hear — more for your show-going pleasure and more than we could fit in print.

Cheney better watch himself when the Brighton, England, combo steps on it. With Ezra Furman and the Harpoons and Rachel Goodrich. Wed/21, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. (415) 861-2011.

Fu Manchu and Dirty Power
Heaviness is as heaviness does — with the added oomph of the SF-bred Power brokers. With the Solid. Wed/21, 8:30 p.m., $21. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455.