The 18th annual Noise Pop Festival has officially begun, and we already got you covered on all the must-see marquee acts playing throughout the jam packed week. We thought we would take a moment, however, to introduce you to some of Noise Pop's more overlooked local treasures -- those opening this year, headlining next year acts that you will wish you caught before they blew up. While Noise Pop is always a week of extremely difficult choices, below are five rising local artists we highly recommend checking out. Don't worry, you can thank us next year.
Easily the most crowd-pleasing of our featured artist, Oakland's Man/Miracle caught us by surprise late last year with their stunning debut LP, The Shape of Things. With ten infectiously catchy tracks in under thirty minutes, The Shape of Things is that rare all-meat, no-filler album that you will find yourself playing on repeat throughout the day, subconsciously awaiting that self-satisfying moment where the last track ends and you get to start the whole affair over again. The Talking Heads comparison can hardly be overlooked here -- the quartet are clearly children of both David Byrne's unapologetic vocal styling and the group's legendary afrobeat inspired rhythm section, proof that the unique style has hardly lost its relevancy after all these years. There is little doubt that these guys are going to find commercial success in 2010, so you might want to start name dropping them to your non-SF friends now.
Far might be the wild card on our list, as they are by no means new, and have actually found some recent success with their admittedly cheesy 2008 cover of Genuwine's Pony. Yet despite their history and potential one-hit-wonder appeal, they still appear to be one of Noise Pop's most overlooked local gems. Founded in 1991, the Sacramento and San Francisco based band released two critically acclaimed full lengths that taught hardcore kids throughout Northern California and beyond that it was okay to get in touch with your emotional side and (*gasp*) even sing in key from time to time. The quartet is set to release their first album in twelve years on Vagrant, the de facto home for former emo-tinged giants that escaped the 90's with some shred of indie cred intact (see: The Get Up Kids, Saves the Day) -- only time will tell if they will go the way of Pitchfork or AbsolutePunk in 2010
Of all the local acts to emerge over the past year, none excite us more than San Francisco based Weekend. While there might be a temptation to lump the mildly noisy quartet in with the most recent wave of excellent reverb-drenched buzz bands, the sound here really pays more homage to Psychocandy era Jesus Mary & Chain, with a similar pop sensibility and love for tinnitus-inducing feedback as the shoegaze pioneers. Despite having only a handful of released tracks and live appearances under their belt, the group has managed to make quite a few friends in high places over the past year, landing opening spots for uber-hyped acts Japandroids and Little Girls, releasing a limited run 10" on the in-demand label Mexican Summer and most recently being added to tastemaker Gorilla Vs Bear's insanely stacked upcoming SXSW showcase. Not to jinx it, but our money is on Weekend being one of the bigger local success stories to come out of the year, so be sure to catch them in a local and intimate setting while you still can.
Show Info: 2/26 (5pm) - Hunx and his Punx, Spencey Dude and the Doodles, Weekend at Benders (Free)
4. Ghosts on Tape
Ghosts on Tape (aka San Francisco resident Ryan Merry) does electronic music the hard way, forgoing the now commonplace laptop and midi controller setup for a somewhat illogical mix of vintage drum machines and floppy disc based samplers that he proudly claims "no one would be caught dead using in the 21st century." Yet despite the shunning of all things digital, his dance-friendly style has quite a bit in common with local bass-thumping laptop nerds Lazer Sword, who not so surprisingly cite Ghosts on Tape as a consistent influence. For a quick overview of Ryan's genre-bending sound, we strongly suggest grabbing his locally focused Bay Heat Mix -- it is a red-hot mixtape, blending Ghosts on Tape's original hip hop, reggaeton and electro productions with tracks from an unusually diverse set of fellow Bay Area electronic stars.
Show Info: 2/26 (5pm) - Shlohmo, Ghosts on Tape @ Project One (Free)
5. The Baths
A relative newcomer, The Baths are poised to join the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, The Fresh & Onlys and The Mantles in the ranks of San Francisco psychedelic-garage rock royalty. In a similar manner to their more established peers, the quartet pounds out those fuzzy yet catchy lo-fi numbers that San Francisco is quickly becoming best known for, yet with a decidedly chilled-out, almost folky vibe. It is hardly a surprise then that the aforementioned Thee Oh Sees tapped The Baths to join them on a brief West Coast tour this month, giving the group a chance to make a name for itself outside the somewhat congested local garage scene. Their Noise Pop happy hour show Saturday is hosted by Brooklyn Vegan, a New York based blog that has earned a reputation for its impeccable taste -- with no door cover, we can't think of a better way to spend your early evening before hitting those bigger Noise Pop night shows.
Show Info 2/27 (4pm) Odawas, The Baths, That Ghost @ Benders (Free)