Sing it with me: ”It’s the most / wonderful time / of the year…” Yes, Noise Pop is here to rescue San Francisco music fans from their winter hibernation (well, semi-hibernation). There are way too many shows to list here, and many are sold out, so we tried to focus on the shows that somehow haven’t sold out yet. For all of you who don’t have tickets to Flaming Lips, Sleigh Bells, Bob Mould, Wye Oak, Budos Band, et al, try appeasing your FOMO with these Noise Poppers:
Craig Finn, Tuesday, 7 pm, Bottom of the Hill
Mr. Indie Bar Rock Craig Finn takes the stage at one of San Francisco’s finest bar-venues. The Hold Steady frontman is taking to the lonesome road by himself, but his idiosyncratic vocal approach remains. Finn’s storytelling remains one of indie rock’s most compelling forces, and his classic rockin’ sensibility makes for a nostalgic sonic tonic. The song “Rented Room” is distinctly emblematic of such things, a story that captures one man’s sad-sap existence but also that of an entire generation accustomed to late nights and minimal commitments.
Sub Pop newbie and local indie pop outfit Papercuts boast another kind of throwback charm. Their songs blend spare guitar lines, urgent percussion and hushed, abstract vocal musings (Robert Quever’s voice reminds of The Smith Westerns’ Cullen Omori), and the effect is the stuff of a 1960s psychedelic dream. They’ll make an appropriate match for fellow San Franciscans Sonny and the Sunsets, another past-is-present whimsy-core band. Bandleader Sonny Smith may seem eternally stoned onstage, but there’s a certain genius behind these ridiculously catchy pop songs. Check out the track “Too Young to Burn,” or "Heart Of Sadness" which offers evidence to both points.
Yes, the show is sold out, but we can’t pass up on an opportunity to discuss one of our favorite rock bands of the past 10 years. For those lucky enough to witness this aging but still relevant band's set, make sure to take a cue from Doug Martsch, who keeps his eyes closed for much of his live shows. Let your ears do all the work (there really isn’t much to look at onstage, unless you’ve got a thing for bearded bald dudes), and take in Martsch’s expansive solos and slow-mo howl. Let the jams wash over you and pray they never end.
Oh Dear. How is this not sold out? Dear has been a critical darling since his 2007 album Asa Breed make people realize there was much more to this electronic artist than initially thought. Dear also has an inventive way around a pop song, and when the twain meets, good and godly things happen. Dear’s voice is a bit creepy, but that happens to be a bonus in our book, and it serves the dual purpose of making us listen up, or risk some sort of soulful mutilation. Other times he gets just plain weird, manipulating his voice in ways only James Blake could understand.
For the Permaslacks who couldn’t stand the lo-fi geek charm of Guided by Voices, there was Archers of Loaf, a band that sounded grungy and of a specific time, but toed no party line. Their seminal breakthrough album Icky Mettle still resonates with anyone interested in hearing angst articulated. After a decade of making sophisticated, adored alt-college rock, the band disbanded in 1998. Last year, Archers of Loaf reunited and have been touring consistently since, playing mostly their seminal album Icky Mettle, but we suspect (read: hope) there might be a new Archers record in the works. Until then, we’ll happily relive the days of flannel and Puck and Ethan Hawke and Archers of Loaf.
Should you crave some down and dirty rock n' roll, get dosed at this show. Bleached is the pair of sisters, Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, who masterminded Mika Miko some years ago. They excel at scrappy sunfried punk strummers whose awesome cacophony on stage is perfect for mellow headbanging paired with cold beer. Veronica Falls is a London quintet that's the perfect antidote to Bleached's spiny musings. Their sleek boy-girl harmonies and whirling C86-tinged pop has a gorgeous, arching sense of urgency that fits the Noise Pop credo like a glove.