This past weekend Dublin Ireland’s Villagers, project of sonic mastermind Conor O’Brien, reminded San Francisco what powerful songwriting can be.

Starting on Saturday night, the band took a break from their tour with Paul Weller and braved it alone for their first headlining show of their latest album Darling Arthmetic in San Francisco at the Swedish American Hall. The all-seated venue was the optimal environment to wrap oneself in O’Brien’s resonant voice. Touring as a stripped down three piece featuring welsh virtuosos, Gwion Llewelyn (Drums, Trumpet, Vocals) and Mali Llywelyn (Keyboard, Piano, Vocals) the band shuffled through top drawer tracks from the Villagers three albums, harmonizing like a finger ringing around a crystal glass — perfection.

The wide eyed audience was then hit with “Becoming a Jackal”, where full crowd participation harmonizing was required, and they obliged creating an environment where no drugs were required to feel the high.
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Song of the Day: Lung and Limbs “Signs Of Life,” Release Show 10/9 at Hotel Utah


Today we get a sneak peak at a new track from San Francisco-based Lungs and Limbs ahead of their official release show next Friday at Hotel Utah.

Here in San Francisco we know that October isn’t too late to release a fun summer jam, it’s actually probably the height of summer for us. Today we have “Signs Of Life” a new light and airy indie rock track with plenty of toe-tapping bass drum, and a repeating vocal hook that will get stuck in your head. The local act is made of of Karina Rousseau, Nick Tudor, Matt Power and Chris Casey. Vocalist Rousseau layers her lyrics with plenty of ‘ohs’ and is playfully mirrored during in the chorus by quick plucks of the guitar. A smooth bass line and synth tones accent the galloping pace of the drums to fill out the sound.

Check out the track yourself and see them live October 9th at Hotel Utah. Tickets are $10 bucks and you can pick them up here.

Photo provided by Breakup Records

Rock n Roll lives! (Slim Twig at the Hemlock)


When I wrote about Slim Twig playing at the Hemlock a few weeks ago, I wanted to see the live show mostly out of curiosity. The new album Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig (on DFA) is a strange, alluring, and massively-sounding production that seemed impossible to recreate live. What I didn’t realize is just how rock n roll it would all be smashed onto the Hemlock’s postage-stamp stage last night — rock n roll all the way through.

Let me set that stage for you:

Immediately before them, as support, was LA-based Jack Name. It may have been exactly their intention – LA Magazine reports that “nonconformity is a central theme in Name’s work” — but I found this band an utter assault on the ears. Decent beats and hooks were drowned by poorly executed guitar wanderings awash in an ear-piercing distortion. The vocals were buried in a similar distortion and barely audible, almost like Name was singing into a drainage pipe from the top of a building while a car alarm and a fire truck passed. Planted on two sides of a card table, looking at each other and never at the audience, with not even a second to breathe between songs, the visual presentation was as difficult as the sound. I could only take a few of these songs without feeling angry, like I wanted to break something. I left after three. Read More

Interview: Lincoln Durham Talks Cigar Box Blues, Mental Illness, and Upcoming Album


Noticing Lincoln Durham unpack his gear, it may be natural to assume five or six other musicians would later man the stage to help play so many instruments. There are nine or ten, maybe more depending on how you count. But surprise hits when no one else exits the Durham tour van (except Alissa Durham, later identified as Lincoln’s tour manager).

After he finishes arranging the instruments to form a central station fit for only one, the power of deduction prevails, albeit late to the party. Lincoln commands all the instruments and often does so simultaneously.

 “I fear being stagnant. From one album to the next, there’s a progression. [Along the way], there are a bunch of heavy, dark parts. I hope people continue to follow me down that path.”
– Lincoln Durham

Oh, that worn, hard shell suitcase is a funny stage prop, you might think to yourself just before Lincoln gives a subtle thumbs-up to the sound board in the back of the saloon. This is how he kicked off his headline show at Bottom Of The Hill this past Summer. Lincoln Durham has shown off his art to San Francisco twice in the last three years, both times at Bottom of the Hill. After he performed in support of Little Hurricane in 2014, Bottom of the Hill had no problems having Lincoln return to headline a show himself. Read More

Kamasi Washington – The New Guard of Jazz


In the wake of his recent collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington has put himself in the perfect position to reinvigorate jazz music, and if the young faces crowding the Warfield Saturday night are any indication, he is doing just that. Washington’s opening set for Snarky Puppy marks his first performance in San Francisco, and he left us wanting more. Wanting a lot more actually, because material from the tenor saxophonist’s sprawling solo debut The Epic, does not lend itself particularly well to a 45 minute opening set. That being said, Washington, along with his seven piece band, and several guest performers used their time effectively to melt faces and blow minds. The pace was set right out of the gate with an appropriately behemoth performance of The Epic’s opening track “Change of the Guard.”

There is no shortage of virtuosity in the company Washington keeps. His band, The Next Step is made up of his long-time friends and collaborators, many of whom are in his previous project The West Coast Get Down. The live ensemble included acoustic bassist Miles Mosley, Ryan Porter on trombone, vocals by Patrice Quinn, Brandon Coleman and Cameron Graves on keys, and two drum kits manned by Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jr. One of the most endearing parts of the show was seeing excitement and enthusiasm of the folks on stage as they listened to their colleagues take a solo and explore the space of Washington’s grandiose arrangements with improvisation. Read More

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Oakland Music Festival 9/26- GoldLink, Los Rakas, Trails and Ways + Many More


If you rely on stereotypes, Oakland is a dangerous place whose population mostly face bleak futures. But it doesn’t take much to realize the bullshit in that. Oakland is alive. It has a rich history, as home to not only the Black Panthers, but also one of the most vibrant African American middle class communities in the country starting in the 1920s, the final destination of Amelia Earhart’s successful solo flight from Honolulu, and the creation of Rocky Road ice cream. It also has a rich musical history with legends like MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Heiroglyphics, En Vogue and the Pointer Sisters all calling Oakland home. Oakland is a place of proud culture and strong community and its present moment is worthy of celebration.

Oakland Music Festival (OMF) set out in 2013 to do just that: pay homage to Oakland’s badassness. Happening next Saturday September 26th, the festival will put 42 artists on 5 stages to close out the summer in style. The bill boasts local and international acts that span pretty much any genre you’d be interested in (hip-hop, electronic, R&B, indie, Latin, rock, World), most notably buzzing rapper Goldlink and local indie darlings Trails & Ways. Per Bay Area festival standards, there will also be an Epicurean array of delectable edibles from local restaurants, and beverages from local breweries.

We want to help you get there, and we’re giving away two passes to the festival.

a Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Song of the Day: ASTR is Back with “It’s Over,” Playing Mezzanine 11/8


Brooklyn-based electronic duo ASTR is back with a new track. Last time I saw these two they were opening for The Knocks at The Independent and I was blown away by the high energy performance from front-woman Zoe Silverman.

Perhaps best know for their fantastic and dreamy cover of Drake‘s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” they have built on the launching pad with a score of playlist worthy original hits. If you like what you hear cruise down to TBD Fest Saturday or Symbiosis Gathering Sunday. They will also be here November 8th at Mezzanine opening for Ryn Weaver, tickets for 22.50 +fees here.

Check out “It’s Over (ft. Mick Jenkins)” and let us know what your think: 

Slim Twig bewilders and beguiles @ the Hemlock 9/27


Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig is not just an album name for Slim Twig. It is also an honest bit of gratitude for those who have stuck with him through a wandering musical career across the last few years. In five albums he’s moved from “sample-stained” to symphonic to movie soundtrack and now “sonically immersive.” It’s hard not to think of Frank Zappa.

The album — released in August on DFA Records and available for free stream on YouTube (embedded below) with a Veuve Cliquot-sipping, bowling jacket-wearing Twig as your guide — is heavy on synthetic sounds, with warped, effected vocals on most tracks. Some tracks sound like they were pressed to vinyl, left on the dashboard to melt, and then replayed and recorded for the final version. There are live instruments in there too, often disguised beyond recognition. Read More

Music City aims to save our city’s music


Rudy Colombini has lived in San Francisco for damn near his whole life. He’s opened for Joan Jett, Elton John, Devo, Chaka Kahn, and The Beach Boys. He fronts a fantastically successful Rolling Stones tribute band, and now the rail-thin singer in leather pants has a dream: build a musical mecca in San Francisco that both pays homage to its storied history, and pays forward a lifeline to the current generation of musicians and artists here, most of whom are barely treading water in a stormy sea of affordability.

Columbini performing with the Unauthorized Rolling Stones The_URS_by_Stefan_3

Colombini is not the first person to have this all-inclusive dream. A few years ago, there was a push to create The Root, which was a beautiful, but failed, concept for a non-profit hub for music, utilizing city funds set aside in the early 2000s for this purpose. But he is the first person who’s had the property to bring it to reality. As a part-time broker and developer, Colombini owns buildings in the TenderKnob in which he’s creating his Music City. Read More

Song of the Day: “Gone” by JR JR (FKA Dale Earnhardt JR JR)


There is a lot going on so far in 2015 for Detroit’s Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott. This summer they made the big decision to chop down their name from Dale Earnhardt JR JR to just JR JR. They will test the new name for the San Francisco audience October 9th at Great American Music Hall (tickets for $20 plus fees here).

When I talked to Josh Epstein about the name in 2014 he said: “We never really considered another name. It all happened so quickly. We wanted a name that we felt wouldn’t pigeon hole us and it came up and was over in 15 minutes.” Name changes are risky for bands who have already established themselves, but for them the name was never the point.

Not wasting any time they have already released a couple singles under the new moniker. The first singe “Gone” debuted in July, so I am a little late to the game. “Gone” proves that the guys are still trailblazing their own style of music, far from being ‘pigeon holed.’ They play a style of electronic rock that feels old at its core, but at the same time totally experimental. Kind of like listening to an old Beach Boys cassette as it melts in a hot car. They put on a great live show including sax solos, and love to sample their own vocals and pull and stretch them into the hooks for their songs.

Check out “Gone” below and check out our photos from their show here in 2014 here.

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