Friday, June 14, 2013

music video race cover story for san francisco bay guardian

Bands on the run

20 Bay Area musical acts + 20 local filmmaking teams = 48 hours of fun, sweat, and music video magic 

In an airy third-floor loft in SOMA, not far from the Sightglass Coffee flagship and an antique mall with a pennant flag twisting out front, 20 filmmaking teams shuffle across a makeshift finish line some time before 8pm Sunday evening. Exhausted, they hold in their hands a digital file, the physical evidence of a brand new project — a joint effort between Bay Area bands, directors, producers, and editors. Something of this magnitude would traditionally take weeks or even months to complete, but in this focused case, it was all completed in a thrilling 48-hour period.
Flash back to the start of the weekend; it's Friday night in the lower-level grotto of Sports Basement on the Mission-Potrero border, and everyone is huddled near complimentary Lagunitas beer. There's a buzzy sense of anticipation. The bands and solo artists — truly diverse in sound and geography — are waiting to hear which filmmaking team they'll be paired with for the remainder of the weekend [...]

Sunday, May 19, 2013

tofu and whiskey: bleached for san francisco bay guardian

Love spells trouble

For Bleached, LA is the city of sisterly love. Plus Stero Total, Mariee Sioux, Mike Patton, more 

TOFU AND WHISKEY The twin star driving forces behind Bleached have been around. Not in a cruising with delinquents kind of way, but that's probably where their music is best blasted — careening down the California coast in a shiny convertible with a shitty ex-lover or two, rooftop down, an open bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, lipstick-stained cola can, and the stereo crackling [...]

tofu and whiskey: life coach for san francisco bay guardian

How to make it in rock'n'roll

Phil Manley's Life Coach, Anna Hillburg's solo album, King Khan and BBQ Show return 

TOFU AND WHISKEY "I felt like, if I don't put these songs out, they're just going to fade away," Phil Manley says from the enclosed playground in the Panhandle. He's doing double-duty as an artist on an interview and a father watching his 15-month-old daughter in the park. And he's prepping for a show at the Knockout later in the night [...]

dog park guide for san francisco bay guardian

San Francisco has more dogs than children, which might be a comment on the price of housing — even the largest canine companion doesn't need a bedroom. But with all of those furry beasts seeking exercise in a dense urban area, the city's made a point of finding places for dogs to run, romp, and play — with some success, and some ... well, not such great success [...]

Saturday, May 18, 2013

tofu and whiskey: sparks for san francisco bay guardian

Two men, one spark 

More than 40 years of Sparks, East Bay hip-hop royalty Glam.I.Rock, and UK goth-poppers Esben and the Witch 

TOFU AND WHISKEY It's the B-story scene that rules 1983's Valley Girl. Popped collar-sporting Skip is nervously riding his bike to the suburban home of his preppy high school girlfriend, Suzi — but we the audience know he's more interested in her young step-mom. (He met the feisty Valley mom when she served him sushi at a house party. Gross me out.) It's a palpable moment of orgasmic anticipation — with a surprise twist — that bops along perfectly to the soundtrack: "Eaten By the Monster of Love," by experimental pop duo, Sparks [...]

metal mother cover story for san francisco bay guardian

Precious metal 

With the release of her dark, avant-pop sophomore album, Oakland's Metal Mother is free to pursue her primal side 

MUSIC A lot of elements needed to come together to inspire Metal Mother's new record, Ionika. You can almost picture the woman behind the sobriquet, crouching in some foggy wooded wonderland, scooping up soil and critters, ancient buried treasures of forgotten societies and precious metals. Before we get into specifics, let's slip off the mask. Metal Mother is really, mostly, the glossy coating of one delicate Oakland musician: Taara Tati [...]

tofu and whiskey: golden grrrls for san francisco bay guardian

Name droppers

When you're golden -- Golden Grrrrls -- monikers carry weight 

TOFU AND WHISKEY I was in the back of a tour van in a suburban parking lot once, on a warm summer night, with a dictionary splayed open on my lap. It was still hot enough outside that the back doors of the van were swung open out onto the asphalt, and some of the band members stood outside while the rest of us faced them on the back bench. We were all doing Bible drops into the dictionary, squeezing our eyes shut and trying to let our fingers pick random words to be shoved together into a shiny new band name. Whatever we came up with that night, they scrapped it [...]

michelle shocked rant (web only) for san francisco bay guardian

Alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked goes on homophobic rant, Yoshi's says she won't be back

What is going on with Michelle Shocked? The Texas alt-folk singer-songwriter, formerly known as a leftist-feminist relic of the late 1980s/early '90s, apparently went on a homophobic rant at one of her two Yoshi's shows this past Sunday in San Francisco [...]

tofu and whiskey: stranded and 1-2-3-4 Go! for san francisco bay guardian

Vinyl addicts 

Record shop timeline: Youngster store Stranded hosts a reading, 1-2-3-4 Go! celebrate five years 

TOFU AND WHISKEY "Rock and roll has never been remotely monolithic," early Rolling Stone columnist Greil Marcus writes in the introduction to the 1978 book he edited, Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (Da Capo Press). "There have always been countless performers to pin your hopes on; though one may have found identity as a member of an audience, one also found it by staking a place in that audience, defining one's self against it." [...]

tofu and whiskey: pony time for san francisco bay guardian

It's Pony Time!

Seattle's Pony Time just wants to have fun -- LA punks the Bronx, and Dallas gospel-funk act the Relatives will melt faces. Plus: Rank/Xerox at El Rio! 

TOFU AND WHISKEY This week? It's Pony Time. No, that doesn't mean we're taking you to Ikea for meatballs. I'm talking about the band, which will be traveling here soon, and given its predilection toward weird news and pop culture, I feel like it might enjoy the above reference [...]

noise pop 2013 coverage (web only) for san francisco bay guardian

*Noise Pop 2013: Cruel Summer, Lake, and the Blank Tapes at Hemlock
It's a low-key kind of Noise Pop year compared to the past three or four, without the huge, attention-grabbing headliners of yore  (looking at you, Flaming Lips at Bimbo's), but Wednesday's show at the Hemlock Tavern could have been nuzzled in nicely in any very early NP lineups, which is what made it feel authentically true to the inherent spirit of the festival [...]

*Noise Pop 2013: The Thermals and Dirty Ghosts at Rickshaw Stop, Bender's happy hour
I first learned of the Thermals in 2005 from the DVD series, Burn to Shine, in which bands play a house that's set to be demolished. In an unlucky Portland, Oreg. home, the pop punk trio – by then together for just under three years – bounding with energy, played exclusive single "Welcome to the Planet.” That particular Burn to Shine installment also featured live, untouched performances by Sleater-Kinney, Mirah, the Decemberists, and the Gossip. A basic slice of life in Portland that year, all under one soon-to-be-gone roof [...]

bands on the rise 2013 for san francisco bay guardian

Bands on the Rise 2013

Teen surf pop, glam garage, Mission hip-hop, Brazilian shoegaze ... say hello to the vibrant new class of movers and shakers in the Bay Area's diverse music scene 

MUSIC Ask 10 artists the same question, get back a dozen answers. The replies to my very brief questionnaires this year — it's our second annual On the Rise issue — were revealing, like peeling back the skin of a tender orange, or rather fragrant onion [...]

tofu and whiskey: the residents for san francisco bay guardian

Freak show

The Residents talk eyeball masks, $100,000 box sets, and their 40 anniversary tour. Meanwhile, Beak> gets weird(er) 

TOFU AND WHISKEY As Homer Flynn describes to me the Bay Area musical landscape during the time when iconic, experimental music-arts collective the Residents first rolled into town in 1966, I can't help but picture a tiny gold hammer cracking the earth wide open like it was a piñata, with glitter, powdered wigs, freakish masks, oversized eyeballs, and gingerbread men spewing out in a magnificent tangle [...]

tofu and whiskey: brass menažeri, petra haden for san francisco bay guardian

Hello goodbye

It's the end of Brass Menažeri, the 10th anniversary of BAGel Radio, and the start of Petra Haden's foray into a capella film scores. Plus: Pussy Riot Night at City Lights! 

TOFU AND WHISKEY While it'll be hard to say goodbye,Brass Menažeri's founder Peter Jaques might have the best possible reason for dissolving his decade-old, San Francisco band. He got a Fulbright grant to study traditional Greek music — in Greece [...]

tofu and whiskey: bikini kill, lady gaga for san francisco bay guardian

Rebel Girls

Bikini Kill's Kathi Wilcox, the Lady Gaga experience, a soul troubadour, and the demise of a local punk band 

TOFU AND WHISKEY You should know how significant the forthcoming sentence is for me. Like, when I think about it, my heart speeds up a tick. I get that fluttery, crush-style, first-discovering-feminism blood pumping something fierce. Here it is: so, I was talking to Kathi Wilcox, of Bikini Kill, the Frumpies, the Casual Dots, and Julie Ruin...that's about as far into it as I can get for now.

Take a breath. I'll start again. The music that Wilcox helped create in the early 1990s riot grrrl scene along with Toby Vail and Kathleen Hanna deeply affected, empowered, and inspired a generation of women — and continues to do so. Bikini Kill technically existed from '90 through '97, now however, there's a new chapter. The former Kill Rock Stars group started its own label — Bikini Kill Records, naturally ( — and it recently began re-releasing albums, beginning with the 20th anniversary reissue of the band's debut 12-inch EP. As a fan who became aware of the band the very year Bikini Kill fizzled (I was 13), it's been my cruel fate to forever be indebted to a dormant group. Until late last year [...]

sf jazz cover story for san francisco bay guardian

Sacred Space 

On its 30th anniversary, SFJazz gambles on a 700-seat, $63 million concert hall and HQ. Can it re-energize a San Francisco scene? 

MUSIC There will be no bad seats at the new SFJazz Center in Hayes Valley; or at least, that's the goal.

The brand new jazz venue in the heart of town, a three-story, glass-encased structure with a circular concrete stadium bowl of an auditorium, educational components, rehearsal spaces, a cafe run by the Slanted Door's Charles Phan, and multiple bars opens Mon/21. It's a $63 million, 35,000-square-foot addition to Performing Arts Row, near Van Ness-adjacent locations such as the Davies Symphony Hall, and the War Memorial Opera House. It's the birth of a nonprofit jazz institution [...]

tofu and whiskey: king dude, django unchained soundtrack for san francisco bay guardian

Actual pain 

King Dude on Chelsea Wolfe, breaking down the 'Django Unchained' soundtrack, the return of Cannibal Ox, and a new band for Ty Segall

TOFU AND WHISKEY Ah, the tormented love song. Chelsea Wolfe does it well. Vocally, she transfixes, sometimes sounding like she's calmly wringing every ounce of blood from a relationship totem, at other points whispering cries of help from a enveloping darkness, the vibrations of the plucked-hard guitar strings reverberating in the distance. This rush of gloom and pain, in a genre she's past described as "doom folk," came forth in a fierce package in 2011's electric Apokalypsis, and steadily zigzags beautifully through 2012's meandering Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs [...]

king dude Q & A for san francisco bay guardian (web only)

Dark side of the Dude

More than a year ago, in his rundown on “top substances that have influenced music,” promoter-DJ Marco De La Vega said this: “ my own medicine cabinet, take a couple Vicodin, and listen to a stack of records including [Girls],Tamaryn, King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe, and Zola Jesus.”

Already a fan of the others mentioned in that paragraph, I sought out King Dude (a.k.a T.J. Cowgill) and found that I'd already known his previous work, intimately. I'd seen his black metal band Teen Cthulhu in high school, and for many years had the band's sticker plastered on my black Nissan Maxima, later discovering his band that rose from the ashes of Teen Cthulhu: Book of Black Earth [...]

tofu and whiskey: vetiver and howlin rain for san francisco bay guardian

Gentle Mosh

Vetiver and Howlin Rain team up for a troika of shows 

TOFU AND WHISKEY Vetiver and Howlin Rain have both been haunting around the Bay for the better part of a decade. Sonically split, playing tender Americana folk and 1970s-tinged psychedelic rock, respectively, the bands share a common thread of superior musicanship and drive — each releasing a landmark album in the past year or so (Howlin Rain's The Russian Wilds and Vetiver's The Errant Charm). The other link? Mutual admiration [...]

Sunday, January 6, 2013

year in music: ty segall for san francisco bay guardian

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Sinner's exit

After another prolific year, San Francisco's beloved garage rock star waves goodbye to the Bay

YEAR IN MUSIC "We weren't supposed to be allowed to play live on the morning news," Ty Segall says just moments after finishing a meal at In-N-Out, on his way down the coast from San Francisco, the city he can no longer afford to live in, to pick up his 16-year-old sister from his hometown of Laguna Beach. "Giving a bunch of long-haired weirdos really loud amplifiers and free reign on the morning news is just stupid. So I thought that was a great opportunity to do whatever the hell we wanted."

"And I'm really happy we did that," he says of the Ty Segall Band's bizarrely mesmerizing performance of "You're the Doctor" off this year's Twins (Drag City), on the Windy City'sWGN Morning News in October. It ended with screeching feedback and Segall repeatedly screaming "Chicago!" into the mic. "It was way too early, so we were already feeling a little weird." The weirdness rubbed off on the news anchors, who, when the camera panned back to them mid-song, were throwing papers up in the air and pogoing behind their desk. It made for a great split second [...]

tofu and whiskey: thrill jockey for san francisco bay guardian

Thrill ride

Wooden Shjips and Barn Owl celebrate Thrill Jockey's 20th, Eliyahu Sills' reed flute record, the Babies and Antibalas return

TOFU AND WHISKEY Arbiter of good taste, Thrill Jockey Records is officially 20 years old. In another era, in another business, this would merely be a back-slapping milestone. In the present stuck-barreling-downwards roller coaster of the music industry, it's an anniversary worthy of widespread jubilation.

"It's a mind-boggling number of years," label founder Bettina Richards says during a phone call from the main office in Chicago, where the label's been based since 1995 [...]

tofu and whiskey: ash reiter for san francisco bay guardian

You'll be a woman soon

Hola, California! Singer Ash Reiter pens a love letter to her home state -- as the controversy about women in rock limps along.

TOFU AND WHISKEY The phrase "'woman' is not a genre" has been popping up again. It's been in articles, board threads, and subsequently, conversations I've been a part of. It's a good one. Kind of an earworm of a saying, because on its face, it's implicit, simplistic, obvious, even. But it's a good mantra, for music writers. "Woman" is not a genre.
Maybe it's a backlash against Rolling Stone's recent, ridiculous "women who rock"package, which sought out the "best" woman in rock with votes from readers, and somehow ended up with cloying pop act Karmin plastered across the cover, cleavage-y as all Rolling Stone cover ladies. Can you imagine a "best white guy in rock" contest in RS? [...]