No rest for S.F. music junkies — wicked or wholesome — this week. Treasure Island Music Fest has done little to slow the wave of excellent live music coming our way here in the second half of October.
Hair of the dog, people. Hair of this dog, to be precise.
Things are all happening at once for Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. The phenom just nabbed Lyricist of the Year honors at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, and his new album good kid m.A.A.d city (you can hear a few leaked snippets here). It’s been a whirlwind year and a half, really, since his fascinating, unabashedly introspective album Section.80 won over the blog-rap world.
San Franciscans have a special place in their hearts for the psych-y lo-fi charms of bands like Woods. Their fuzzy melodies and seizuring guitar lines recall the experimental guesswork of the ‘60s psych-pop movement spawned right here by Grateful Dead and co. The band initially worked up the favor of modern tastemakers thanks to three consecutive exceptional albums: the supremely folky Songs of Shame, the backyard tripper jamming of At Echo Lake and a more polished and accessible Sun and Shade. And now with their 2012 album Bend Beyond, the band has its latest stunning ode to the old-school.
Speaking of the ‘60s, they’re still very much alive, and we’re not just talking about the spirit of the era. Bob Dylan — the man, the myth, the iconoclast — is carrying on, and carrying on quite well. His shows have scaled down a bit in length over the years, and Dylan plants himself behind a keyboard for the most part, but all of the signs of an artistic pulse are there. He’s reworking old songs and still writing new songs. I know it’s easy to get discography-fatigue with artists who keep churning out material decade after decade, but Dylan’s latest album, Tempest, is that rare tour de force from a musician with a renewed sense of inspiration and gumption. FWIW, Rolling Stone dropped five stars on it (out of five), which happens pretty much never.
Like drinking? Like folk rock? Like folk rock songs about drinking? OK, we’re getting somewhere. There’s much more to Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit than that, of course. There’s lead singer Scott Hutchinson’s ornate streams of consciousness, mostly about all the ways relationships jar the mind, liver and soul. Melodies take unexpected turns, but not just for the sake of taking turns. You’ll want to get there early for two reasons: 1) to beat the rush to the bar by your fellow thirsty FR fans, and 2) to catch kraut rock archetypes Arc in Round, a Philly band that’s earning comparisons to Stereolab and Broadcast. Trust.
Stars engineers intimate moods that border on that damning, taboo three-letter genre, emo. But emotions are nothing to be afraid of for this Canadian quintet. If it all comes from an honest place, then own it (or at least that’s what we’d expect them to put on their van’s bumper sticker). The lyrics may appeal to the sappy suckers like yours truly, but the instrumental ambition goes well past three-chord amateur hour. Songs regularly go for those peaks explored by indie rock’s most visionary voices.