Bottom of the Hill
The brass blares, the bass percolates with merry abandon, and Nick Diamonds bubbles and bounces as if he’s in an indie-pop dance-party wonderland -- so goes the title track of Islands’ new Vapours (Anti-), out today and already establishing a major beachhead on my player. “It’s the bass line in your mind,” drawls Diamonds sweetly. “It’s a sexy way to cry / You know I had my share of doubts / Until I saw the vapours in your eyes.”
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.
There is something about Bottom Of The Hill, most likely in large part due to the infamous booker there, Ramona Downey (and Ursula Rodriguez, of course), but nonetheless they are always on the cutting edge of what's coming up in the San Francisco music scene. And perhaps that's the point when you place a club in the middle of an abandoned warehouse district, you better know what you're doing just to get bodies in the door. Case and point, last night local alt-rock power bands Robots Of Fury, Fighting The Villain and Scene Of Action schedule a bill filled to the brim with writhing guitar solos, pedal distortions, grungy female (and male!) lead vocals and so much angst it could barely contain the room.
After a slow couple of weeks on the show circuit, the second half of summer tours are beginning to pick up speed once again. From big names to small local fames, every single venue in the City seems to be featuring at least one showstopper this week. Check out our picks for the week:
If your band is handpicked by Joan Jett to join her label and your all-time hero, Morrissey, invites you to join him on tour, you must be something special. And Texas trio, Girl in a Coma definitely is. Sisters Phanie and Nina Diaz, and pal Jenn Alva have achieved more in less than a decade than most bands could dream of attaining in a lifetime. Named for the Smiths’ song, “Girlfriend in a Coma,” the group has gained critical acclaim and toured the nation both as an opening act and as a headliner. Now the girls are on the road yet again, promoting their new album, Trio B.C., and coming to SF’s Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, June 16. Find out below what lead singer Nina has to say about working with a punk rock queen, returning to SF, and adding a few tattoos along the way.
Stop the War on Fun! which started as a Facebook group and now has nearly 3000 members has emerged as a full-fledged website. The guerilla-style movement, spearheaded by local musicians, artists, club owners, club goers, and entertainment industry workers, is a direct rebuttal to the ABC's (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) mysterious harassment on local all-ages venues, namely Cafe Du Nord, Slim's, Bottom of the Hill (watch our video). The question at hand: What constitutes a restaurant?
The Rural Alberta Advantage are about as rustic as the throbbing synth that opens its newly re-released 2008 debut, Hometowns (Saddle Creek). But you don’t need to listen long to immediately glean the band’s backwater charm as the chimes and strings kick in. Like an indie-rockier American Analog Set, a more stately and minimalist Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, or a folkier, filled-out Matt and Kim, the Rural Alberta Advantage’s earnest feistiness shines through the homespun, lo-fi production of Hometowns.
Tonight a rare collection of local break-throughs combine forces to celebrate Battlehooch’s album release party for their latest electro-prog compilation, Piecechow. A bunch of UCSC grads, these guys have gained underground respect and fame from musicians and freak-noise fans alike. At the show, expect rampant spandex outfits, unpredictable stage antics and staggering genius musicianship. They’ve street busked, they’ve gained a huge following and now they’re taking it on the road for their Piecechow tour.