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Viet Cong descend upon Rickshaw Stop this Thursday

03/03/2015

(photo from www.imposemagazine.com)

Red-hot Calgary post-punk band Viet Cong are on a tear right now, earning accolades left and right (including the holy grail of a Pitchfork BNM) for their unpredictable and explosive self-titled record, just released in January. You can catch them at Rickshaw Stop this Thursday- tickets are sold out, but I’ve found myself getting lucky by striking up conversations with patrons outside this venue before- it’s worth a shot!

Viet Cong’s brand of mathy post-punk and art rock tosses a barrage of unexpected sounds in your face, from the twangy, high-pitched guitars and droning noise interludes, to the dizzying rhythm changes and galloping kraut-rock basslines. Despite a lo-fi aesthetic, the tunes are solid and well-constructed, and it will be fun to see how they translate to a live setting… I’ve been looking forward to this show for months.

Every song from this record sounds pretty different but screw it, let’s try this one. Close your eyes, pop on your headphones, and let the band take you on an 11-miute journey that goes all sorts of places you didn’t see coming with album closer “Death”.

As mentioned, the show is sold out, but there MAY be some $12 tickets at the door. Show starts at 8pm. For more info about the show and the openers, check out Rickshaw Stop’s site, here.

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K Flay and Geographer @ The Fox

03/02/2015

Another year of the Noise Pop music festival brought another lineup of outstanding independent artists from all over the continent.  Yet, with it’s ever-growing reach, Noise Pop, a San Francisco born festival, will always have a soft spot for the Bay Area. Friday night’s lineup at the Fox theater was heavily Bay inspired, with appearances from Geographer, K. Flay, and Bells Atlas, all of whom have roots here in the Bay area. This is what I had been waiting for all week; a night full of dreamy indy rock, indy hip hop, and a couple of beers.

Opening the night was Bells Atlas, followed by Chicago-based, alternative rock band Empires. The energy  was pretty high from the start of the show, but once Stanford alum, K. Flay hit the stage, that’s when the party got started.  She went right into songs from her most recent album, Life as a DogSongs like “Fever,” “Thicker Than Dust,” and “Everyone I know” all made an appearance and hit the crowd hard. As a longtime fan though, I was secretly hoping for some of her older tracks like “2 Weak” or “Danger Starts.”

I’ve been a fan of K. Flay since her Mashed Potatoes mixtape came out in 2009, and it’s been a pleasure watching her skills as a musician evolve and mature. Her music has always been refreshing and innovative and has always proved to be relatable to me, but now I can tell that through years on the road and refining her craft, she has honed in on a lot of themes that make us young and human. Themes of loneliness, unrequited love, and self doubt, are still in her music, but have only been brought to a new heights.

It was no time before San Francisco’s very own Geographer finally graced the stage and played us several songs from their soon-to-be-released album Ghost Modern. Having already seen and photographed Geographer at BFD and  San Francisco’s Outsidelands music festival, I was highly anticipating another unbelievable, yet more intimate, show.  Lead signer, Michael Deni, and the band, did not disappoint. Seeing them perform “Paris” at the end of the set sent chills down my spine. As Deni said, “It was the song that started it all.” I can’t wait to listen to the new album when it comes out later this month (3/24). Until then, I’ll have 2010′s Animal Shapes on repeat.

As the Noise Pop music festival comes to an end, I’m anxious for what the summer has in store. When one festival ends, it usually means the start of another. More rock, more hip hop, and more beers

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Song of the Day: Life in Film “It’s What Happens Next That Matters Most”

02/27/2015

London’s Life in Film is here to get us ready for the weekend with new single “It’s What Happens Next That Matters Most.” The track starts out lo-fi and folksy then builds into a very danceable jam. Long strums and quick plucks of guitar give the song a very upbeat base, clashing with heartfelt and almost melancholy lyrics. It’s quite the musical journey when you consider the song isn’t even 3 minutes long.

This is the second single off the band’s upcoming debut album Here It Comes due out in May. Life in Film will be here in San Francisco May 16th, supporting The Wombats in what is sure to be a crazy show at the world famous Fillmore.

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Thao takes down the Swedish American with her bare heart

02/26/2015

Tuesday night, as part of the Noise Pop festival at the Swedish American Music Hall, I had the pleasure of seeing the excellent Thao Nguyen (of The Get Down Stay Down). Maybe you all know this already, maybe I’m late to this game, but yeah, wow. She lived up to every word of hype, and there is loads of hype.

From the moment she took the stage, Thao made two things clear: 1) She was there. 100% full-bodied THERE; and 2) she was really happy WE were there. In her own words:

“I love playing shows in the city I live in, cause we can talk like friends.”

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Ticket Giveaway + Interview: Magic Man Poised to Make You a Believer with High Flying Show at Slim’s 3/26

02/25/2015

If you missed Magic Man last time they were in SF…what were you thinking?! Now before you get too down on yourself, know that redemption lies just a few short weeks away.

On March 26th, Magic Man will return to the Bay Area with Great Good Fine Ok and Vinyl Theatre. With this show sure to sell out, SFCritic has your back. That’s right, We’re giving away two tix starting now.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I can’t say enough good things about the budding synth rock band’s last performance at the Independent, so ahead of their upcoming show I caught up with founding member Sam Vanderhoop Lee, formerly of the fabulous Yello Sno, to get his take on performing in our city, the band’s creative process, and learning the ways of “The Gronk.”

SFCritic: Your recorded music is great, but your live shows are out of this world. What do you think sets you apart in this respect?

Sam Vanderhoop Lee: A lot of our first shows were DIY shows—living room shows, basements shows, house parties, etc.—and that was where we really learned how to play together as a band. When you’re playing in someone’s sweaty, cramped basement, you can’t rely on a good PA or even being able to see the band, so it was really up to us to bring a lot of raw energy to the table. We were pretty wild when we first started, and I think one of our strengths was learning how to control that energy but also how to unleash it, even in bigger venues that aren’t nearly as intimate or immediate as the ones we started playing in. Read More

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Lotus to Light Up The Regency Ballroom with Electronic Jams Friday 2/20

02/18/2015

Lotus has been around the block a few times by now, after forming at the turn of the millennium in Indiana. From the beginning, they have been mixing musical styles that many people would think just don’t belong together — jam rock and electronica — and doing it well. When listening to their catalogue of music in its entirety, one is often struck by the technical skill of the instrumentals, while at the same time feeling the undeniable urge to move your feet.

Lotus is well-known for weaving together tunes with elements of funk, jazz and rock and making it all sound cohesive. Even during jams that can last for upwards of 15 minutes, which they’re known to do in their live sets, (think Sound Tribe Sector 9, kind of…), this band puts on a phenomenal show that never disappoints. Read More

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Swami John Reis to Drop Some New School Surf Rock at Bottom of Hill This Thursday 2/12

02/11/2015

Get stoked! The legendary “Swami” John Reis and The Blind Shake are making their way to San Francisco tomorrow to debut their newest album, Modern Surf Classics. And forget what you think you know about surf rock — because what these guys are doing isn’t your dad’s surf rock. Playing a mixture of recognizable surf-style licks and incredibly unique, epic progressions, the instrumental songs take twists and turns through a massively complex arrangement. Bending between shredding riffs, melodic structure and some seriously dark (and awesome) songs, this show is lining up to be one that will pack a punch.

Check out “Brown Room” a track off the new album below, and tell me this isn’t something that you could get into. I, for one, am excited to see how all this translates in a live setting, because I have a feeling that it’s going to be a smooth one. Not to mention, this isn’t John Reis’ first time around the block.
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Annie Bacon & her OSHEN premiere new video: “When Anybody Laughs”

02/11/2015

When writing one’s own review, it’s best to refrain to too many superfluous superlatives, ahem, and to keep it as close to fact as possible. So here, my friends, is a video that I (Annie Bacon) made with my friends for a song from a record that I also made with my friends (my OSHEN).

With a roaring honky tonk piano at its heart, this song is uke-folk feel-good all the way. The video is similarly footloose and fancy free, playfully morphing a gaggle of gendered folk into a fluid dancing mob. It was shot by designer Tomo Saito, locally famous for his Betabrand collection, and edited by another part of the SF Critic family: Bloom. This is the first release off of Stranded Songs, due out on March 4th, which is a small collection of tunes that never quite fit on any other album. My voice has been likened to Stevie Nicks and Neko Case, and of course, I aspire to grow into those compliments more with each new record. You can hear age, honesty, and earnestness in there. Read More

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Photos: 0 F**ks Given as K. Michelle Pushes Through Tech Glitches to Thrill Fans

02/08/2015

K. Michelle kicked off her My Twisted Mind Tour at San Francisco’s Mezzanine on Thursday night. This was the R&B singer’s first opportunity to hit the road with these songs following the release of her latest album, Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?, at the end of 2014.

Following a few technical issues, namely with a video screen, K. Michelle took to the stage in a blinged-out sleeveless catsuit and put on a impassioned performance. K. Michelle is a singer who wears her heart on her sleeve. The songs came thick and fast, “Hard To Do” and “Damn” both being highlights from the early part of the set. Read More

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There’s something in Springtime Carnivore’s Atmosphere – Wednesday 2/11 @ GAMH

02/08/2015

Wednesday evening at the Great American Music Hall, Springtime Carnivore – the “nom de tune” of LA’s Greta Morgan – will invite you in to a dreamy, hazy pop that crosses not only genres but eras with ease. Morgan’s vocals might not be breaking any speakers, but the fluidity and flexibility floating across octaves is mighty impressive. The songs are catchy, with heavy reverb on the tambourines, “fuzzy guitars and blown out drums” (as her own bio so aptly describes) and that far-away psychedelic nostalgia you get from looking at pictures of 1960′s era San Diego surfer chicks in bikinis. The eponymous debut album, released last November, is also reminiscent of Motown classics (with backing vocals so tight they feel loose), the melancholy, rainy-day pop of Feist’s early album Let It Die,  and, for the locals, the rich soulful-sweet voice of Kacey Johansing.

But the tune “Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)” tells you better than I could what to expect on Wednesday: “Something in the atmosphere / Drink it up, drink it in / Til you’re hypnotized / Til it feels like a sin / Drip drop, rain wash, half-time swing / You won’t even feel a thing.”

Check them out as they open for local favorites The Dodos at GAMH on Wednesday February 11th. Tickets are here.

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