New Music by Craft Spells, SIREN and Chrome Sparks


Yes its Sunday and many of us have to work tomorrow, but lets look on the bright side. It’s a beautiful day in SF, Game of Thrones returns tonight and we have some great new music to listen to!

First up is Craft Spells new track “Breaking the Angle Against the Tide.” The Seattle-based indie pop rock act has roots in Northern California, and I am really digging the mellow lyrics along with surf-inspired guitar and string instrument sections. Read More


Photos: Odesza Electrifies Crowd @ The Independent


Friday night Seattle production group Odesza took the stage at the Independent in front of a sold out crowd that packed closely to the front to catch a glimpse. The electronic duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight teamed up in 2012 while attending Western Washington University, and have a generated a style of flowing ambient melodies and electronic beats that are heavy on pitch changes. Like most acts that come off more mellow in recordings, Odesza’s live takes their music to a higher, more immersive level. Both Mills and Knight would pump up their set by switching between a beat machine and drum pads to build the rhythms. The crowd’s response brought the dance floor alive with dancers.

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Born to be Rock Stars: A Review of Sleepy Sun @ The Chapel


Sleepy Sun headlined at the Chapel last Thursday, and good God almighty — I think I might have just found my new favorite local band in San Francisco, coming in the form of some strong psychedelic rock.

After about 30 minutes of Mystic Braves trying their hardest to be original and authentic, Sleepy Sun took the stage to show a nearly packed house just how it’s done. With an insane ability to play incredibly deep, powerful and energetic riffs at a slow tempo, the band unleashed a sound that is probably best described as “gnarly”. Lingering leads, trippy lights, and vocals that were reminiscent of a perfect mixture landing somewhere between Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, Sleepy Sun was able to deliver a swell, or maybe even a wall, of intense, spot-on sound. It was blatantly obvious to anyone listening that this was not their first rodeo — recently releasing their fourth album, the San Francisco-native band got their start in 2005 and have toured with bands like the Arctic Monkeys and The Black Angels.

The band kicked the night off with a thunderous “New Age,” which was delightfully drum heavy. One thing that sets most bands apart for me, and is something that Sleepy Sun did, was seamlessly go from one song to the next — none of this quick, start-and-stop routine that you see so much of today. The band wove from one song to the next, hair flailing, guitar waving bad-assery that was largely present in 90′s bands.

One song that really stood out to me was “Open Eyes,” one that I had heard before but translated incredibly well live (really, all of their songs did — but this one comes immediately to mind). A creepy tune that was psychedelic, emotional and came with a generous portion of vibrato and reverb, it really set the mood for the rest of the night for me. They really are a band that no matter what size the crowd, whether that’s 50 or 500 people, plays with the heart and soul of one playing for a sold out,50,000 person arena. These folks were just born to be rock stars, and I’m excited to continue watch them grow and release new material. Sleepy Sun can truly be placed into the psychedelic category, without trying too hard or faking anything — it really is some “drop some acid and get weird” type of stuff, which is just the way it should be.

The entire band’s sound was dialed in to a tee, with the guitarist playing a creamy white Stratocaster, and having several sit in’s from other local musicians like Isaiah Mitchell during Maui Tears, among others. I highly recommend checking this band out if you get a chance. You can pre-order their latest album, Maui Tears, here, and can also check out their upcoming shows on their website as well.

Photo credit: Chloe Aftel

The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs Shreds as Sold-Out Independent Looks On


The War on Drugs took the stage Tuesday night in the first of two sold-out shows at the Independent. Formed in Philadelphia in 2005 by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile (who departed for his solo act), the band is known for smooth, haunting vocals mixed with heavily distorted guitar riffs laid on top of a mosaic of driving percussion and keyboard melodies. Depending on what you are reading, their sound is compared to Petty, Springsteen or Dylan; often you hear shades of all three within the set. The music sucks you in, and, at times, it felt like the crowd at the Independent was entranced.

For lead vocalist and guitarist Granduciel, the show was a bit of a homecoming having spent time living in Bernal Heights. More interested in giving the crowd a solid show than talking on stage, he still made time to recognize his former neighborhood of residence.

Check out “Red Eyes” from the newly released album Lost in the Dream:

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Watch Wild Ones “Paia” Video


Another gem from Wild Ones, the Portland pop band that captivated us here at SFCritic with their cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Today, the group shared with us their music video for “Paia,” which you can download for free on their track Soundcloud.

They’re currently on tour supporting Typhoon, but for some unfortunate reason they’re not scheduled to play here anytime soon. For those outside of SF, here’s their dates.



At the Movies with Stones Throw – An Interview with Peanut Butter Wolf


When Peanut Butter Wolf was 24, his friend and musical collaborator was murdered. Charizma died shortly after the duo had finished recording their album. At the time, Wolf, born Chris Manak, was still signed to Hollywood Basic (a division of Disneyland Hollywood Records) and the label wasn’t interested in distributing the album. Three years later, Wolf left the label to share that album on his own record label, Stones Throw. In an interview with us a few nights back about the newly released documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, Wolf said he’d want the label to end with his own death.

The evening was not all somber. The movie was a great story about artistic creation for its own sake, and Stones Throw’s Haley Poticker revealed that theres a “Wall of Wayne” which features a whole wall of pictures that mock Jonwayne, an artist on the label who is usually sandaled, who has a song called “Fat Boy Face,” and who is regarded as one of the most interesting rapper / producers in the country. There’s also this and that.

I sat down with Wolf to talk about the documentary after the premiering of the film at the Noise Pop Festival.

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Chrome Sparks Skirts SoundCloud With Delightful ‘Fixtape’


For the first forty-five seconds of Chrome Sparks mix, Solé Fixtape Vol. 24 –he’s just talking. Why? Soundcloud has a rule that if you use a mix that samples music that wasn’t cleared–well, that’s not ok. So Chrome Sparks, born Jeremy Malvin, found a way to skirt the rule: talk.

All jokes aside, this mix is fantastic. The Michigan based producer has had our attention ever since his debut EP. In the Soundcloud description, Malvin explained some of his inspiration (copied below). You can catch him performing April 11th at 1015 Folsom. Get tickets here.

If you’re anything like me, you need some serious, possibly clinical help getting up in the morning. If you and I have anything else in common, it might be that the last thing in the world you want to put on while thinking about trying to begin getting out of bed is dance music. Give me Boards Of Canada or give me snooze. How then does BoC turn into grinding you coffee beans, putting on pants, and feeling like your diem is in dire need of carpe-ing?

This mix was made with these thoughts in mind. It starts off with the sounds to which I usually sleep— William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. following this, the first third is for assimilating into awareness. The next two thirds are for getting your pants on and moving your damn body. And then there’s Todd Rundgren because, well, sometimes I don’t know what to feel.

This is the twenty-fourth installment of the fixtapes presented by Solé Bicycles in association with Snowball Festival. A curated monthly mixtape series with the sole purpose to showcase our favorite artists’ tunes that both inspire and move them. Vibe with us as you ride off into the future.

-Chrome Sparks




The Black Lips Rile Up the Great American Music Hall as Usual


The Black Lips are country. From Georgia. Well, Atlanta, so I suppose that means Southern, not necessarily Country, but there’s something very country in them – not bumpkin though, more like scallywag. Are you still with me? And these 1960′s-vibe, swirled, gypsy pulker (punk+folk) scallywags start a riot. My legs are black and blue from being endlessly slammed against the round tables barricading the front of the stage. I could hardly shoot with all the feet near my head and the sway sway swaying before getting knocked for six. The crowd surfers were as common as light beams and as free as the smoke. The Black Lips rile up the Great American Music Hall as usual. Not that I’m surprised. Every show I’ve seen them play is the same chaos and rile. Read More

St. Vincent performs in Oakland

When St. Vincent, The Actor, Takes Center


Annie Clark doesn’t so much engage her audience as pummel them. During her performance at the Fox Theater Saturday night, she left most of the talking to her guitar, which she wielded like one of those massacre-inducing hammers that occasionally fall from the sky in Super Smash Bros. Throughout the entire set, from the enormous crunching riffs of ‘Regret,’ ‘Birth in Reverse’ and ‘Huey Newton’ to extended wheeling solos in ‘Rattlesnake’ and ‘Surgeon,’ the guitar overpowered everything else on stage (including Clark’s own voice). But no one seemed to mind, least of all Clark herself.
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