This past weekend, we had the long-overdue good fortune of checking out the Mission’s newest cultural gem — The Chapel. I already miss it. Find an excuse to check it out. Get inside, scope the bar, the gastropub grub, the upstairs balcony, the cavernous aesthetics, all of it. It’s already a treasure and one of the city’s more magnetized venues, pulling the likes of Marissa Nadler (on Saturday) and Mike Cooley (of Drive-By Truckers fame) in February. Go on, move your tail over there. Mush.
Anyways, onto the week at hand. Don’t be fooled by anyone who says it’s a slow week. That’s quitter talk.
One of Bay Area wunderkind Ty Segall’s many occasional projects, Sic Alps are coming off a breakthrough year of sorts. Their self-titled 2012 album cracked a few influential year-end lists and earned comparisons to Velvet Underground from various tastemakers. Segall is in and out, but the regulars — Mike Donovan, Douglas Armour, Tim Hellman and Noel von Harmonson — share Segall’s lo-fi, thrift store sensibility. But now that they’re chilling out a bit and toning down the angst, they’re hitting a brilliant stride. This is what I’m talking about:
Have you heard SF garage rock vets’ new record? Of course you have! John Dwyer’s constantly evolving project has predictably evolved further — Putrifiers II finds them at a new career pinnacle, and the view is effing lovely. They’ve found a way to strike that impossible balance of garage edge and accessibility, where beauty surfaces from the chaos. It took them a damn long time, but they’ve grown up without boring anyone or themselves.
When words don’t suffice, there is El Ten Eleven. The LA-based instrumental rock band paints soundscapes much the same way Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky express themselves, but El Ten Eleven only needs two dudes to capture a stadium of sound. If you’ve heard the band’s music, you’d think — impossible, right? But the guitar/bass doubleneck makes it possible, and sublime.
Immerse yourself in the strange, dark, dreamlike world of Chelsea Wolfe. Bear witness to her tortured voice, both literally and figuratively, much in the same way Conor Oberst once frightened the bejesus out of the sunny, happy-go-lucky set. She makes clever use of minimal arrangements, but the “thing” here is Wolfe’s haunting lyrics. Her recent album goes by the name Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, a reference to dream interpretation and the unfamiliar nooks and crannies of our own minds. Heady stuff for music fans who enjoy a little subconscious excavation with their acoustic ditties.
Homeboy’s still got it. One of the more prolific DJ/producers of the last 15 years, we’ll put RJD2 in the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop collection of artists around the globe. His blend of hip-hop, jazz, and any other genre under the sun has yet to wane over the years. Whatever he puts in his musical blender seems to come out tasting like caviar. And of course, he’s the owner of one of the most fun facts in music: His song “A Beautiful Mine” has been the theme song for Mad Men since 2007. Yep, that guy.
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