The name fits in the case of Islands, a band that seems inspired by something exotic at almost every compositional turn. Their collective musical imagination puts them on a conceptual — wait for it — island (sorry) unto themselves, where songs double as recitations of elaborate opium dreams. The occasional steel drum doesn’t hurt the connotation, either. Bandleader Nicholas Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds, also of The Unicorns and Mister Heavenly) is at the wheel of this always-fascinating project, and is largely responsible for the genius of the sprawling 2006 album Return to Sea, and the recent abstract musings of A Sleep & A Forgetting, which has been massaging critics’ brains this year. Trust that you’d be wise to get thyself over to Hotel Utah for a tropical vacation of the mind.
You'd better have checked your music biz-related cynicism at the door if you were in attendance at BeatBox last night in SOMA, where Bay Area music industry movers and shakers gathered to welcome what could be a very valuable tool for the local music scene: the musician networking/discovering hub Hear it Local SF.
Slumberland Records, the less-under-the-radar-now label straight outta Oakland, is making some predictably sage deals in its 20th year repping some of indie world’s quieter success stories. A few recent notable signings include Brooklyn bygone-era-exercisers Pains of Being Pure at Heart and fellow Brooklynites/noise-pop makers Crytsal Stilts, both of which are netting key critical kudos and growing followings by the day. Then there’s SF’s own Brilliant Colors, which falls both in between and on the periphery of PBPH and Crystal Stilts stylistically, as heard on its second proper release Again and Again.
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?