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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The Lonely Forrest

POPSCENE: The Lonely Forest, Semi Precious Weapons, Break Down Valentine


Popscene, SF’s premiere indie music club, has taken over (most recently) the Rickshaw Stop on Thursday nights for a decade. Hosted by LIVE105 music director DJ Aaron Axelson, this particular Thursday night was filled with billowing synthesizer hooks and psychedelic electric guitar riffs, complete with melodramatic lyrics. This week’s Popscene: The Lonely Forest, Semi Precious Weapons, Break Down Valentine.

Break Down Valentine, the first of the three bands, had the crowd hooting in approval to their dark industrial electro-pop introduction. After a shaky first song, nerves subsided, and goth-chic singer Olivia Barchard’s confidence and vocals grew stronger with each dark-wave, Depeche Mode-reminiscent track. The band’s 80’s flashback, post-industrial sound clicked with the Popscene scene; under-age front row fans got their dance on to the band’s slower and faster tempos, as heard on their debut EP Beautiful Distraction. Though their set ended right when they seemed to find their comfort zone, the SF-based band did a good job warming up the growing crowd for the second act of the night, Semi Precious Weapons.
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Actress Ingrid Schumacher Serban

Singer-storyteller, FOREST SUN, sings across the Golden Gate with INGRID SERBAN


Forest Sun is a rambling man who tucks himself away in a one room cabin in the hills of Mill Valley, CA. “I don’t go looking for shows anymore. I let them ask me. I want to play for people that want to listen.” Accompanied by Transylvanian chanteuse Ingrid Serban, Forest has just released his 9th studio recording ‘Just Begun’ on Painted Sun Records.

His bio tells us that this “troubadour and award-winning songwriter enlivens audiences around the globe with his wealth of songs and stories, all sung and told with a laid-back, California style. Sun’s soulful music draws on a deep well of Americana and is compared to everyone from Jack Johnson, John Mayer and The Avett Brothers to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. He’s opened for Bonnie Raitt, The Beach Boys, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Keb Mo and Brett Dennen among others and musical collaborations include Jolie Holland, Sean Hayes, ALO and Hot Buttered Rum.”

If you want to get to know him better, you could go on a 4-day cruise with Forest and crew through the San Juan and Orcas Islands this August. Here’s some info on that: FOREST SUN CRUISE

Meanwhile, hear a little tune while we drive and Forest Sun sings across the Golden Gate:

Photo and video by Victoria Smith

Sweden's The Sounds perform.

THE SOUNDS rumble The Regency Ballroom


The Sounds. I did not know. I was not ready. How did this band of 16 years slip between my jaded fingers? Swedish lead babe Maja Ivarsson was cool from the start: black leather jacket (like me), white shirt (like me), heels (like me), hair pulled back with bangs (like me) — I love me, she was IN and that’s not just why. Ivarsson lit a cigarette on the Regency’s stage, which is her law-given right under a cabaret license, and, when finished, flicked it strong and long into the crowd. Why does this activity rile us so?

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Tycho’s Dream Comes True With Sold Out Fillmore Show w/ Trails and Ways


San Francisco based Tycho (Scott Hansen) gave the hometown crowd a thrill Thursday night at The Fillmore, telling fans that playing the sold out venue was “a dream come true.” Hansen, who produces ambient-leaning electronic music under the moniker Tycho, brought his studio creations to life with the help of a drummer, guitarist and bassist. The lush mix of guitar riffs, electronic beats and intense drumming felt similar to shows put on by M83, but without lyrics.

Hansen is also a visual artist and each song was accompanied by a blend of video and graphic design projected on a screen two stories high behind the stage. Mellow melodies played out on guitar and synthesizer were accompanied by highly-saturated, slow motion footage of birds flying, surfers and other mind-bending, kaleidoscope video creations. The spectacle was truly performance art. Read More

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