There’s something vaguely Cobainian about San Francisco’s latest prodigal punk son gone national, Ty Segall. Perhaps it’s all on the surface — the stringy blond hair covering his face, his nihilistic, alyrical groan, his haphazard yet taut soloing. But there’s a certain grunginess to his band’s aesthetic, also a nuts ‘n’ bolts alignment of guitar, bass and drums. All of it begged a certain question: were we watching something special on Saturday night at The Independent? Was this what it was like to see Bleach-era Nirvana in a Seattle club in the mid-‘90s, when all that mattered was the channeling of angst?
For those who show their stoke by wailing on an air instrument, the 2011 Air Guitar SF Regional Championships is where it's at this weekend. Head out to The Independent to cheer on local competitors as they vie for a spot at the Air Guitar National Finals in Chicago next month. The winner of the Nationals goes to Finland in August for a sort of Olympics of air guitarsmanship.
Kelly Malone, the undisputed DIY queen of San Francisco and head maven of Workshop and Indie Mart, is one of the most headstrong ladies in town and a friend to many. She was recently re-diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer (she was first hit with it a few years back) and sent out a call to the community to help her kick it in the butt once and for all–with rock n' roll, of course!
Royal Baths (hands down one of our favorite SF bands), Social Studies, Art Museums, Sandwitches, and Carletta Sue Kay are coming together at the Independent next Tuesday, June 7th in a fundraiser to help Malone pay for hospital bills. When she started Workshop two years ago, she sacrificed her salary and medical benefits to keep the awesome DIY classes affordable to everyone. Now, she's asking us to return the favor.
A further sign that SF just can't stop owning the national music scene: Weekend. For a band that's only been around for a blink of an eye (two years), they've already chiseled out a sound (a roaring, wistful barrage of hooks, ravenous basslines and ferociously forboding shoegaze blasts of noise) and taken it around the world on a tour for their debut album Sports (Slumberland), which dropped last year.
The world is long overdue for a new iPod-dominating album from behemoth TV on the Radio, and luckily for our starved ears, the day is finally here. Their latest, the gorgeous Nine Types of Light (Interscope), drops April 12, but is now streaming in its entirety on Rhapsody. Get in on that here.
For months, the only way to hear Adam Haworth Stephens’ solo material was to go to a Two Gallants show and see it happen by chance. Finally, the San Francisco native has a full-length album of his own. The recently released We Live on Cliffs achieves an intimacy to which Two Gallants—Stephens’ well-established indie-rock project with Tyson Vogel—cannot comfortably venture. With an unwavering lyrical center and vocals that assume a rare magic under strain—all neatly hemmed by seasoned producer Joe Chiccarelli, who has worked with indie giants like The Shins and The White Stripes—We Live on Cliffs generates a number of electric moments that clearly demonstrate what all the buzz is about.
Have Plants and Animals gone Hollywood? The Montreal trio’s new album, La La Land (Secret City), finds the outfit hitting its stride with songs that boldly hark to the days or AOR radio, classic rock, and hazy, lazy California sunshine-dazzled days -- though strangely enough, the group got it all down on tape in Montreal and outside Paris (the latter spot was an old mansion crammed with vintage gear). It’s recording made for rocking out -- a sight to be seen when Plants and Animals arrive at the Independent on May 25.
Q: How did La La Land come to pass?
Matthew “Woody” Woodley: A voice told us it was time.
Q: What sort of ideas were simmering during its making?
The most dance-floor ready album by Caribou yet? Yes, of course, London-based songwriter Dan Snaith said recently from Austin, Texas, where Caribou had stopped to perform during its current tour. There’s no reining in the man behind one of the most shockingly powerful live shows I’ve ever seen at Bottom of the Hill -- listeners have been enthusiastically embracing Caribou’s new Swim (Merge). One can only assume their ears are well attuned to the onetime Manitoba mastermind’s electro-esque indie -- Swim simply foregrounds the beats to beautiful effect. And if you’re ready to take the plunge, Caribou performs two nights, May 23 and 24, at the Independent.
It’s always inspiring to see a band stretch its wings - bending them toward the sky, if you will - and fly. And that’s what Bay Area indie-rock combo the Morning Benders have done with its sophomore full-length, Big Echo (Rough Trade), beckoning to listeners to reach for their headphones and follow.
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf -- or synthesizers? Two UK bands playing this week in San Francisco -- Editors (Monday, Feb. 8, at the Warfield) and Wild Beasts (Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Independent) -- find swathes of fresh intrigue in those patches and plug-ins, all while baring their breasts and revealing busily percolating emotional lives.