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.
Ah, Iceland, with its bubbling volcanic action, pervasive fairy magic, and recent unfortunate financial meltdown. Such a small, sweet, chilly country – and yet it boasts such a seethingly creative music scene, one that encompasses both Bjork to Sigur Ros, both haunting traditional folk song and light-as-air indie-pop in the form of Emiliana Torrini.
Stopping by the Independent last night on his 10,000LB Hamburger Tour wunderkind A-Trak made it clear that the 90’s are making a come back. The Montreal native, clad in his signature ensemble of a leather jacket and shades rocked the crowd of 20-somethings with a sample-filled electro set. Remixes of cult favorites like Daft Punk and Justice were interlaced with hip-hop throwbacks that had us feeling nostalgic for our youth. Safe to say if you were looking for a hot summer dance party in the midst of the chilling San Francisco weather last night’s show is where you would have found it.