Interview: The Coffis Brothers Talk Music and Santa Cruz Ahead of Jan 27 Show at Slim’s


2015 was a big year for The Coffis Brothers, folky-blues rockers from the Santa Cruz mountains. They played with some of their musical heros and at venerable local venues like The Fillmore. We can look forward to an even bigger 2016 and they are kicking off the year at Slim’s Wednesday January 27th with Roem Baur. Grab tickets here.

Unsurprisingly at the core of The Coffis Brothers are brothers Jamie Coffis (keys & vocals) and Kellen Coffis (guitar & vocals). They are also joined by Kyle Poppen on guitar, Aidan Collins slappin da bass and Henry Chadwick with drums and vocals. Most of the band has been playing together since 2010 so you can expect some real chemistry.

If you can’t make the show at Slim’s catch the guys in Sacramento at the Torch Club February 12th or Smileys in Bolinas on February 13th. They also said they are booking studio time in January and February to work on their third full length album.

I asked Jamie Coffis a few questions to get some insight on what makes these guys go. Check out the interview below:

SFCritic: I try not to force bands to fit in any one genre, how do you describe your music to people?

Coffis Brothers: My initial answer to that question is always “Rock and Roll.” Unfortunately that doesn’t usually doesn’t paint enough of a picture for most people so I usually continue to say something like, folk, blues, classic rock. Rock and Roll is still my favorite term and I think it describes our music accurately and concisely. Read More

Ty Segall and the Muggers are Coming to the Fillmore on Jan 18 + 19


Ty Segall is back in the Bay Area this week at the Fillmore on Monday and Tuesday (the 18th and 19th of January) with a new project, Ty Segall and the Muggers.

The group recently gave us a sneak peek of their album, Emotional Mugger, this past Wednesday on NPR’s First Listen. Give it a listen here – seems to be a heater as is, in my opinion, pretty much everything else he does.

So, ok – as some of you may have heard, the promotion for the upcoming album and tour was kinda weird… in a cool way. They released this strange video where Ty, clad in his a lab coat, explains to us what “emotional mugging” is, sent out their pre-release album via VHS tape, and have released a bunch of other super weird videos where they’re all wearing baby masks.

They also have a quick teaser announcing the band – and it’s fucking incredible. Basically a supergroup of radness. Kyle Thomas of King Tuff, Mikal Cronin, Emmett Kelly of the Cairo Gang, and  Cory Hanson and Evan Burrows from Wand (who I got a chance to see and review last year. They’re weird and awesome).

And word on the street is that the band has been “defiling” stages, spitting beer everywhere and just all around getting after it. As the San Diego Reader put it,”between Segall drooling on himself and spitting his beer into the audience, the band’s fidgety guitars and sporadic rhythms of demonic crunch made the performance feel like witnessing a cannibalism from which you couldn’t unglue your eyes to.”

If you’re response to this isn’t “oh fuck yes,” you might want to stay at home for this one. But if you’re cool enough to be reading SF Critic, I’m sure I’ll see you there. Make sure to get your tickets before they sell out – and come spit some beer in my face, I can take it.

Find tickets for both shows via the Fillmore website here.

Full review + pictures to come.

The Lovemakers + Scissors for Lefty @ Bottom of the Hill cancer fundraiser


F*ck Cancer. Seriously. Indiscriminately grabbing at our loves and lives and wreaking havoc. In the midst of the turmoil cancer brings into a person’s life – and that of their family and friends – local non-profit entertainment organization Alternative Cure seeks to bring music by providing free tickets to concerts … and thus a moment’s reprieve from the stress.

Wednesday January 27th, the group will host the cult-classic new wave band The Lovemakers as well as indie pop darlings Scissors for Lefty — both of whom always seem like they are having the most fun possible — and DJ Aaron Axelson (host of Live 105, and curator of Popscene) at Bottom of the Hill. This venue is one of my favorites for its (typically) excellent sound and uncanny ability to feel both glorious and grimy. Tickets are in the $15-20 range, with proceeds from the show going towards cancer research and advocacy efforts for families and individuals impacted by the disease. This show will be hella fun and danceable.

Alternative Cure has a limited number of FREE tickets for cancer patients and their families – reach out to them at info (at) altcure (dot) org. And if you are one of those who plan to reach out for these tix, please give yourself a BIG HUG from us (who can’t imagine what you’re going through right now) and take a moment to read this next sentence out loud while looking in a mirror: “I’m a warrior and cancer is a wet piece of paper that I will metaphorically crush with my bare hands. Cancer will lose. I will win.” And may it be so, friend.

“By using the gift of music to lift the spirit, we want to provide an opportunity to live in the moment and create a lasting memory with your loved ones.” Alternative Cure founder Maggie Corwin.

THE LOVEMAKERS- “Everyone’s Fighting The Same Damn Fight”


Forget Your New Year’s Resolution, Celebrate Whiskey & Good Music with The Devil Makes Three January 22nd and 23rd at The Fox


Well, one week. It was good while it lasted, but it’s time to get into a little trouble. And, dammit, if you’re gonna do wrong, buddy, do wrong right. If you want to raise a little ruckus this month, do it right by checking out The Devil Makes Three at the Fox Friday (1/22) and Saturday(1/23).

The three piece string-band got their start playing keggers in Santa Cruz and has since enjoyed over a decade of success as one of the country’s finest bluegrass bands. They’ve become regulars at both Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and trust me when I say missing them would surly be one of your biggest regrets of 2016.

Seeing TDM3 is more of an experience than a concert. Near the front you will find people from all walks of life singing along and losing their mind. Mosh pit at a bluegrass show? Not unusual at The Devil Makes Three shows. In 2015 the band released I’m A Stranger Here with instant classics like “Forty Days” harkening back on vintage bluegrass sound with crisp vocal harmonies. Check it out below live:

Tickets are still available for both nights so scoop them up while you can.
Friday tickets here.
Saturday tickets here.
What to do once you get to the show? Easy: Stomp. Smash. Repeat.
Photo credit: Meredith Powell

Photos: Tuesday Night Lights @ The Fillmore


Tuesday, Lights closed out a night of high octane pop including co-headliners The Mowglis and local opener K.Flay. The evening had a little something for every kind of pop fan.

Starting the night off was K.Flay, definitely one of the most buzzed about local acts, having first made a splash while attending Stanford. Her songs straddle the border of traditional hip hop and more alternative electronic beats. The lyrics come at you fast but with gymnastic like precision, and one can’t help but marvel at the way she changes the inflections of words in her art. A lot of credit should go to the thoughtfulness of the live show; incorporating guitar and a live drummer brings an authenticity that can be lacking in when it’s just a rapper with a drum machine on stage.

The Mowglis are maybe the happiest band I’ve ever seen, to the point where I was questioning if I have ever truly experienced happiness. They feel like an airy, pop-forward version of Bombay Bicycle Club, packing the stage with musicians and singers and putting the harmonious vocals front and center. While I couldn’t personally connect with their music, I could not believe the passion shown by their fans. It was refreshing to hear everyone singing along and bouncing to the beat.

For me, Lights stole the show and proved she just might be Canada’s top pop export. I have to admit that I started listening to Lights late in the game with her 2014 release “Little Machines.” By the time I added her music to my playlists she was already a known commodity, especially in her native Canada. But people have more than just a connection to the music, she is a fan favorite because of her willingness to interact with people at shows, in social media and even in popular online games.

I knew I was a fan of Lights’ records, but I wasn’t expecting just how dynamic she was live. While the stage had some nice light elements she didn’t rely on gimmicks or in your face visuals. Lights at face value plays a blend of electronic rock highlighted by her vocals. She also plays with her vocals layering them and manipulating them for some really interesting song structures. I got my first real taste of her chemistry with the band when they transformed the outro song “Muscle Memory” into a raucous jam of synth, guitar and pounding drums. It’s always amazing when artists can take a song you think you know and and elevate it live. Read More

SONG OF THE DAY: “Darkness in me” by Eight Belles


Eight Belles, a band named for a prize race horse, is settled in Santa Rosa making a sweet Americana sound that is ripe with talent and impossible to resist. Evoking at once the classic richness of Patsy Cline, the sweeping emotional vocal twists of Neko Case, and the highly literate songwriting of Jenny Lewis or Iron & Wine‘s Sam Beam, this is a band to get to know.

Along with multi-instrumentalist Henry Nagle, this duo is releasing a full length album tomorrow on Saint Rose Records. Have a listen to the first release “Darkness in me.”

“Why did you wait for me? / I wouldn’t wait for you / If you did the things to me / That I did to you.” Stinging sweetness oozes from this song. It brings to mind the Tom Waits quote: “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”

Phillips says of the album:

“For a few weeks, I was working on a song with the line ‘my old life has become my whole life’,” says Phillips. “I never finished that song, but you could say that’s the central theme of the whole album. I think as I entered my thirties, I needed to make sense of all the important relationships of my twenties. There’s also a lot of references to home on this record, as I try to figure out where my home really is, especially as the Bay Area becomes an increasingly difficult place to live.”

We look forward to hearing the full album. Meanwhile, Eight Belles celebrates the release of the album with a show at The Rickshaw Stop on Thursday (12/10) along with Cave Clove and The Young Elders.

Press photo by Kelley Larson
Write up by Annie Bacon / @anniebacon

The Bay Bridged Celebrates 10 Years Promoting Local Music, Needs Your Support


Fostering growth in the Bay Area music scene can be a thankless endeavor, especially when you are a working nonprofit like The Bay Bridged. For the past 10 years they have fostered the creative scene with writing, and volunteer-run events like Phono del Sol Music Festival.

Today they need help from the community to continue to be a driving force for local music. As a volunteer writing site ourselves we know that to do anything at scale you need help and resources. The Bay Bridged has created an Indiegogo campaign to reach their goal. Check it out here and check out the video below.

The Bay Bridged 2015 Year End Fundraiser from The Bay Bridged on Vimeo.

Additionally they are throwing an event next Tuesday (Dec 1st) at Cease and Desist in La Mission. You can support them by buying a ticket and helping yourself to cocktails and small bites. Event tickets start at $60 and are available here.

It’s not a grand revelation to say that its hard right now for local talent. If you love local arts find a way to support them whether its via donations, patronage or other creative means.

SONG OF THE DAY: David Bowie blesses us with creepy new music


Have you seen this? David Bowie is putting out a new album, Blackstar (due out January 8), and released this nearly 10-minute long short film a few days ago as the first single. If this video is any indication of what’s to come, we are no doubt in for a sweeping and cinematic saga ripe with genre-defying sounds, dark and mystical allusions and the inimitable Bowie oddness that has been alluring audiences for over 50 years. I’m as awed as I’ve ever been with this rock icon who continues to be at the vanguard of musical innovation and exploration. See/listen for yourself.

“Blackstar” ~ David Bowie

Youth Lagoon Makes First Ever Appearance at The Fillmore


Last Wednesday night, a nearly sold out Fillmore welcomed lo-fi pop group Youth Lagoon to the stage for the very first time. Playing in such an iconic venue – where the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd all performed – one would think Youth Lagoon would come prepared to put on one of their best shows ever. Especially since this stop in SF was going to be one of their last before heading overseas for a month-long tour across Europe. But the lack of engagement from Trevor Powers (the lead singer of the group), as well as the dismissal of a few key songs, left many fans feeling dissatisfied. Remarks on the “ridiculously short encore” and clarifying questions such as “I didn’t miss any of the beginning, right?” were frequently heard as concert-goers filed out of the venue.

Powers started the show apologizing and admitting to the crowd that he felt sick. After theatrically taking a shot of honey to sooth his vocal chords, the group kicked into “No One Can Tell,” a song off their most recent album Savage Hills Ballroom.

Throughout the rest of the night, Youth Lagoon consistently alternated between playing songs off their three albums. A very clear distinction could be heard when the group played a song from The Year of Hibernation, their very first album, versus a song from Wondrous Bughouse or Savage Hills Ballroom.
The Year of Hibernation, which debuted in 2011, is filled with mellow keys and soft, conversational-style lyrics. The songs sound like they were recorded in a tiny bedroom, giving the listener a feeling of familiar intimacy. As soon as the lights dimmed and Powers sat down at the keyboard, the Fillmore crowd knew what to expect. Wondrous Bughouse and Savage Hills Ballroom are much more aggressive in nature, with layered drums and melodic precision. Powers and the group really showed off their diversity with this album, shifting away from the dream-like, hazy nature and moving more towards blunt force and kinetic sounds. This shift became extremely evident when Powers abandoned his mellow keyboard and started jerking and thrashing around on stage during the songs “Officer Telephone” and “Dropla.” Read More

PHOTOS: Sturgill Simpson @ The Fox Oakland – Evolution All The Way


Whether he wants to or not, Sturgill Simpson is evolving country music. To be honest, I hesitate to peg him as a country artist, even though I can’t possibly leave country out of describing him or his show Wednesday night at The Fox in Oakland. The problem is “country music” is a goddamned subjective matter.

On the one hand, there’s a strong faction — you can find their creed at, which should give you a sense of where they come from — desperate to be done with “Bro Country” as the music of mainstream country stars like Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton is called. That faction holds to the theory that pop-country is fed by the industry not the fans. That REAL country music isn’t dead, “it’s just being hidden from you.” These people claim Sturgill Simpson is making real country music, and they see him as one of the leaders in bringing it back to the mainstream, along with Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and others.

Sure enough, taking in the show with a sold-out crowd, there were strong currents of classic country singers and songwriters – those in the outlaw country tradition such as Waylon Jennings, to whom Simpson is most often compared, and of course Johnny Cash with that rich deep baritone voice. There are whiskey, drugs, dreams and demons, lost things. Not many minor chords, but still somehow you feel sad. And there’s this sense of anarchy. Structured chaos, as if the sound itself were rebelling against some other set of sounds. Simpson himself is about as outlaw as they come these days — literally clad in a blue collared shirt, he’s the grandson of a mining family from Kentucky and formerly associated with the Navy and the Union Pacific. When he set out in 2013 with his debut High Top Mountain, he told Saving Country Music, Read More

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