Perhaps no one is better suited in the band name category for the campy wilderness of Golden Gate Park, venue for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival this weekend, than Brooklyn’s Woods. Their sound — a psych-y lo-fi mix of charming melodies and fuzzy, seizuring guitar lines — should also match up well with the hallowed outdoor space. The band has caught the attention of various taste-makers with its last three albums: the experimental and folky Songs of Shame, the backyard tripper minimalist jamming of At Echo Lake and their slightly more polished and accessible Sun and Shade.
What could be dubbed the Really, Really, Ridiculously Good-Looking Tour rolled through town last night at the Great American Music Hall, courtesy of era-chameleons Twin Shadow and the truly independent artist known as Diamond Rings. Both acts have been touring in support of stellar debut albums for about a year now and recently joined forces, a coup for indie glam rock fans. The results make it look like some sort of if-looks-could-kill rock equation.
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.
The father of an old friend once shared some sage wisdom with me, albeit reluctantly, lowering his voice as if he were divulging an insider’s stock tip: “When meeting someone for the first time, usually the first sign of intelligence is a sense of humor.” His thesis still seems far-fetched some ten years later, but then I talk to someone like Demetri Martin, a Yale graduate and a former NYU Law student who also happens to be one of the funniest people on the planet.
It’s back to forward thinking for Bob Mould, who spent the better part of the last two years testing his hindsight vision. The alt-rock trailblazer-turned-electronica champion recently finished writing his autobiography, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, a process that put him in the odd position of reflecting back on a life spent mostly considering his next move. Mould, who has been living in San Francisco for the past two years, will treat his adopted hometown to a public conversation with fellow proto-punk artist Shepard Fairey on Tuesday, Sept. 20 as part of City Arts & Lectures.
Rarely does a music venue match a band’s aesthetic as well as it did Saturday night when the alter boy-folk revivalists known as Fleet Foxes played an al fresco show at Berkeley’s Greek Theater. Strawberry Canyon in the Berkeley hills is exactly the type of place that inspired the band’s most recent album, the ridiculously successful Helplessness Blues, where the wonder of wilderness interacts with a generation coming of age (the venue is adjacent to the UC Berkeley campus).
“Look at all you people. What are you doing here?” Taylor Guarisco asked the crowd when he and his fellow bandmates from GIVERS hopped onstage Wednesday night at the sold-out Rickshaw Stop, as if he thought his band was the butt of some flashmob public stunt joke. Of course, there was a time when that would have been a reasonable question, before word got out about this magical pop quintet from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Take note, people of unbridled ambition. This is the new career path to fame:
1) Make a series of web videos DIY-style.
2) Make them irresistibly funny.*
3) Post them on YouTube with little regard for future employment.
4) Wait a year or two.
5) Watch them inexplicably go viral.
Call it the Yoko Ono effect, but the husband/wife rock ‘n’ roll tag team has long been an endangered species, as if to be married in life and song were a surefire way to career and personal carnage. But boldly and perhaps blinded by the love, a few musical couples march forth without regard for the sometimes-toxic business/pleasure tonic. And a few do it with such astounding vigor and energy that it reinstills a bit of faith in the quasi-Faustian bargain.
Feeling down? Lonely? Spiritually absent? Undersexed? Or — god forbid — oversexed? Feeling like you need a change? Charles Bradley has some advice for you.
The one-man answer to cynicism put on a resounding and thought-provoking soul/funk/R&B revivalist show Tuesday night at The Independent that doubled as a self-help sermon. The 62-year-old phenom has lived quite the life, and his wisdom came across matter-of-factly–sometimes in his lyrics, other times in his impromptu evangelistic addresses, imploring the audience to stop being such bastards to each other (my words). “Love each other,” he said a few times. “Let’s change the world!”
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