The phrase “Renaissance man” is bandied about freely when it comes to Bay Area artist, composer and instrument-maker Walter Kitundu. But the term fits. The inventor of the phonoharp (an instrument that beautifully incorporates a photograph), Kronos Quartet collaborator, Headlands Center for the Arts artist-in-residence and distinguished visiting professor of wood arts at the California College of the Arts was recognized in 2008 with a MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the Genius Award. Bird photography is one of Kitundu’s lesser-known yet impressive talents.
You have to appreciate a lad brave enough to break with form and extend his reach. Such is the sound of Everything Is New (XL) by London singer-songwriter Jack Penate, who I had pegged as an anti-folk/rockabilly busker of sorts. Silly me. This new album finds the 24-year-old grandson of Mervyn Peake, the author of the Gormenghast fantasies, turning an unexpected corner. You can hear him picking up and examining all sorts of found pop sounds, from house to Northern Soul, Tropicalia to hip-hop.
Hirokazu Kore-eda may be the most incisive cinematic chronicler of the modern Japanese family since master moviemaker Yasujiro Ozu. His first feature, Maborosi (1995), centers on a widow coping with the suicide of her husband, while his acclaimed 2004 film, Nobody Knows, revolved around the hardscrabble plight of four children, abandoned by their mother and forced to scrape out an existence on their own.
Perhaps you missed Japandroids during their swing through San Francisco and the intimate Hemlock Tavern earlier this month. But it’s not too late to catch a pungent whiff of the Vancouver guitar-drum duo’s supercharged sound, thanks to the Japandroids’ recently released debut full-length, Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl).
Morning Benders make such delightful indie pop: may the Berkeley band always live in a land of lollipop licks, sweet-as-honey harmonies, and dulcet hooks, all in full, gorgeous flower on the outfit’s 2008 album, Talking Through Tin Cans. I checked in with lead Bender Chris Chu via e-mail on the occasion of the combo’s upcoming Outside Lands date.
Q: What's been going on with Morning Benders?
Chris Chu: We are busy making a new album. It's called Big Echo. We also just went overseas to do some shows in London and a few festivals in Europe. That was amazing.
Lean, mean, and propelled on the throaty thrust of a tough girl with a brand new hook-up -- what’s not to love when it comes to the Dead Weather’s Horehound (Warner Bros./Third Man). Jack White’s latest handcrafted collabo comes to S.F. for the first time at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival Sunday, Aug. 27. I’m betting cash money that it’s going to be a major challenge to find a scrap of grassy turf at that performance -- what with all those White Stripes and Raconteurs fans.
Fiery Furnaces’ Friedberger sibs are monsters of rock. And it’s genuinely tough not to admire Eleanor and Matt Friedberger’s crazily prolific music-making and live intensity -- ideas seem to simply shoot off the Brooklyn, N.Y., sister-brother team like sparks. Astonishing to think the two have only been making music in the public eye since 2000.
Jorge Colombo’s cover for the June 1 issue of The New Yorker stands on its very own merits, regardless of whether you know the backstory: It's economical, evocative, and haunting, an unexpected shadow view of an urban street-food scene. Here's the twist: Colombo painted it using a finger-painting app for the iPhone called Brushes. The NYC artist is visiting S.F. soon (“I'm planning to draw as much of San Francisco as I can”), and the time seemed right to check in with Colombo, born in Lisbon, Portugal, and once the art director at San Francisco magazine.
Q: How did The New Yorker cover come about?
Sheer girly charm appears to be the prime mover behind Belle and Sebastian poobah Stuart Murdoch’s latest project, God Help the Girl (Matador). The actual shooting of the cinematic musical that this music is tethered to is off in the future, but why not enjoy this delightful score right here in the now?