A quick but important note for San Francisco jazz and hip-hop fans: The San Francisco edition of Yoshi’s has been sold to a group called Fillmore Live Entertainment, which will shift curatorial focus from jazz to hip-hop and R&B. But worry not, jazzheads. The new SFJazz center in Hayes Valley has already asserted itself as a world-class destination for world-class jazz.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming:
Even new Guided by Voices material manages to conjure old images and thoughts of 1994. The seminal lo-fi rock band just released a wondrously dated (in a good way!) new album called Motivational Jumpsuit, which bears little resemblance to anything created in the last 20 years, minus what GBV has done in the interim. Yet there's something decidedly modern about Guided By Voices songs, which are less traditional "songs" and more unfleshed, micro-hook epiphanies. So much of modern music plays on the ADD tendencies of contemorary audiences, but GBV has kept things short and uber-palatable for decades. It would certainly be safe to say they were ahead of the game — nothing short of a visionary act, according to just about any critic who has come into contact with the band over the years.
Humor a comparison for a second: Mount Eerie, the side/continuation project of Microphones frontman Phil Elverum, is basically Bon Iver stripped of all the horn and electric accoutrements. The two acts share a common pain, a common soul tortured by isolation, but each mindful and realistic enough to realize things aren’t so bad. Things are just weird when you have a moment to yourself to, ya know, pay attention. Mount Eerie tends to dwell in the spaces between acoustic plucks and erratic pitter-pattering of soft percussion, lo-fi in totality. Elverum’s stream of consciousness jars the senses and psyche, his own self-awareness serving as a reality check for our self-neglect. Brace yourself.
Detroit's Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus’ enduring electroclash will always have an audience in the dark dance halls and black back rooms of urban-industrial America. Or at least that’s how we picture it. ADULT.’s sound always seems positioned in some not-too-distant future, the band's vocals and pace and meter and effects more alien than human when taken in sum. The Way Things Fall, the duo’s fifth album, takes that idea further, to its most appropriate destiny yet.
We really don’t get enough Cajun cooking in San Francisco — Brenda’s being a rare and most notable exception — but we do get plenty of Nawlins’ culture served to our dome. Between Trombone Shorty’s annual visits, Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s routine residencies and Rebirth Brass Band’s regular pilgrimages (trust that the list goes on and on and on), we are embarrasingly spoiled. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is somewhere near the top of oft-anticipated New Orleans jazz bands list, equipped to recruit, convert and consistently satisfy new fans with each visit. We DARE you to sample Dirty Dozen Brass Band. DARE, I SAY. Those fearful of life-long commitments need not inquire.
“One With the Freaks” still stands as one of the great songs of the past 15 years, Markus Acher’s confessions and inquires and declarations comprising a makeshift anthem for the maladjusted, suggesting anyone outside the freak zone isn’t much of a person at all. Have you ever been all messed up? Have you ever searched painstakingly, desperately, vainly for answers? Have you ever needed a beacon on which to focus all your attention to block out all the noise? The Notwist keeps such questions close to the vest, from day one to now and beyond.
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