Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of checking out Craft Spells fresh off the release of the new album Nausea. With Nausea, an odd name for an eccentric album, Craft Spells has definitely matured technically since 2011′s praised album Idle Labor. The often surf-like guitar is bolder, drums replace drum machines, and the synth and keyboard melodies are stronger, especially in songs like “Breaking the Angle Against the Tide,” and “Komorebi.” The vocals are discounted and are often delivered monotone in a style some might called “bummer rock.” The overall experience is a musical journey that keeps you guessing at what’s next. Read More
Last Wednesday, local act The Tropics sent a bolt of lightning through the chapel in their opening set for the extremely talented Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. The Tropics, a five piece act, are a band that several of us here at SFCritic took notice of with the release of the group’s first single “Sleepless.” Playing a blend of folk rock and pop, the group is highlighted by smooth and haunting lyrics from singer Claire George. A firm bass line and looping guitar and keys provide the perfect architecture for George’s voice, which often transcends lyrical delivery to become an instrument of its own.
Going into the show, I knew I liked the sound of “Sleepless,” but I was a little nervous about the overall show, because it’s their only song currently available. Thankfully, the tropics easily exceeded my expectations and surprised me with a well-developed catalogue of music and refined stage presence.
We’re weeks away from Outside Lands Music Festival (August 8th-10th), but we’ve already gotten a taste. This past Wednesday Proposition Chicken (1750 Market) hosted the second of the festival’s Summer Pairings, a Bay Area pop-up food and music series. Guests were treated to a four-course dinner and a chef-curated musical playlist of the festival’s lineup, along with beer pairings by Firestone Walker Brewing Company.
Proposition Chicken, from the owners of Hayes Valley’s Straw, is led by husband and wife duo, Maura and Ari Feingold. Unlike the couple’s kooky, carnival themed restaurant, Ari explains that Proposition Chicken is themeless. But he’s selling himself short. Dinner consisted of a kale salad, matzo ball soup, either fried or roasted chicken and a chocolate popsicle egg that Ari says is his attempt at a Cadbury Creme Egg. It’s comfort food. It’s your mother’s Friday night Shabbat (minus the Easter candy). When I took a bite of the soup, Disclosure’s “Help Me Lose My Mind” prophetically playing in the background, I became Anton Ego, the esteemed food critic in Pixar’s Ratatouille, sent instantly back to childhood memories. It was that good. I told Ari my step-mother would be jealous, and internally, wondered if she’d think I’ve betrayed her.
Four years ago the city debated the benefits of this “noisy” and “overcrowded” festival, but today that seems silly now. Thanks to the Outside Lands’ Summer Pairing series, I’ve discovered a new family run business in San Francisco. With hundreds of featured Bay Area restaurants, artists and vendors alike, the festival not only provides attendees a way to discover new musicians, but also the city’s other cultural offerings.
The final Summer Pairing will take place Tuesday, July 29th at the Beast and the Hare (1001 Guerrero) in the Mission. The dinner centers around a rather intriguing, worldly pairing: Italian delicacies such as charcuterie, offal, and grilled meats served alongside Japanese-style rice wine from Portland purveyor SakéOne. To purchase tickets, go here.
For a refresher on Outside Lands’ lineup, check out why we can’t wait. Also, we’d love to hear what you’re most excited to try or hear at Outside Lands this year.
The Olympia, Washington black metal band Wolves In The Throne Room is currently on a Summer west coast tour for their new album Celestite and will be at Slim’s on Thursday July 17th. Though the music of brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver checks all the genre’s boxes — heavily distorted flying-V guitars, long unkept hair, and Scandinavian influences — Wolves have also gained a dedicated following by breaking the mold. You won’t see these guys in corpse paint, or leading Satanic prayers, and moshing and flash photography are frowned upon for their audiences. WITTR’s music is about more than aggression. Between the shrieking and bass drum sixteenth notes, the music has a strong foundation in Washington’s natural beauty, as evidenced by the band’s arboreal album art and tendency to go glacially minimalist. They’ve been described as “eco-metal” and “astral black metal.”
On Saturday, SF was treated to a rare sold-out DJ set at Public Works by London’s original cheeky house monkeys, Basement Jaxx (Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe). They’re releasing their first record in five years, called Junto, on August 25th, and we were lucky enough to catch one of only four appearances nationwide on this run.
Basement Jaxx are well-known for their risk-taking eclecticism and sense of humor, qualities often sorely missed in electronic music. In any given song, you’re bound to hear an army of bongo drums, goofy vocal repetitions, handclaps, and maybe even diva, Lisa Kekaula, belting out the last proud goodbye of a spurned lover, a la Gloria Gaynor. Since they’re so good at mixing genres, with everything from Latin, to lounge, to hip-hop and funk represented in their sound, you never really know what you’re going to get. Only two things are certain when you go to a Basement Jaxx show: you’re going to DANCE and you’re going to have a LOT of fun. Read More
As we settled into a warm summer evening at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, we couldn’t help feel we were about to witness something uniquely epic. The Word of Mouth tour, which is circling the U.S. this July and August, is no doubt historic. It celebrates the 20th anniversary of Jurassic 5; the first time in 10 years that the legendary Quannum Projects collective from Davis, CA (DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab, Chief Xcel, and Lateef) is back on stage all together, as well as the upcoming LP from underground champions Dilated Peoples, dubbed Directors of Photography. By the time the night wound to a close, the epic feeling was cemented in our minds.
Baltimore duo, Wye Oak, headline The Phono del Sol Music Festival tomorrow with Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Often labeled as indie folk rock after the huge success of 2011′s Civilian, new album Shriek has critics scratching their heads and searching for new ways to describe the band.
Shriek’s departure starts with the duo’s minimal use of guitar (as in pretty much none), supplemented with melodies from keyboards, drum machines and vocal harmonies. You won’t hear anything of the guitar signatures that defined their previous album’s tracks like “Holy Holy” or “Civilian,” instead the new singles like “Shriek” and “Glory” highlight looping keyboard riffs and vocals that dance across a wide range of octaves.
Before they rock Potrero, Jenn Wasner (vocals, guitar, bass and more) took the time to answer a few questions for us. There are still tickets available to see Jenn and, partner in crime, Andy Stack at the festival this weekend here. (It’s a steal at $25, trust us.) Read More
Sunday of the Boogaloo was mellower, as Sundays tend to be. Some of us had work in the morning, and some had been day-drinking since the Fourth. Quite a few attendees opted for the whole weekend, many of them notably more sunned and crispy than the day before.
On the second day I began to appreciate the side attractions. The Boogaloo food area featured, among other fare, a hamburger stand (duh), vegan food, iced coffee, and organic popsicles, all for…okay it was pretty steep, but not outrageous. And, as I mentioned last time, staff and goers were amicable–I witnessed no petty squabbles nor general displays of douchebagery throughout the entire weekend. Bravo, Burger Boogaloo. I’ll see you next year.
Peter Matthew Bauer, one of The Walkmen‘s founding members as bassist and organist, is now a lead singer-songwriter touring his new solo record Liberation! out now on Mexican Summer records. Bauer put out seven records with The Walkmen including indie anthem The Rat, produced by Dave Sardy.
In the first single, “Latin American Ficciones”, the sound is reminiscent of The Walkmen’s garage tambourine and sheen guitars, but you may find that the vocal stylings surprisingly remind you of Tom Petty-Americana, in a good way. Check it out: Read More
While I’ve seen Tycho perform a few times in the past, I definitely had never experienced a show from Scott Hansen, the SF-based producer and visual artist behind the name, quite like this. I’m pretty sure the last time I saw Tycho was in college, and I was most likely over-served and unable to fully appreciate the incredible show transcending in front of me.
Not the case this time, though. Performing a set with his live band in tow for a streamed Boiler Room audience viewing across the globe, I was lucky enough to sneak away from a long day to see it recorded live with about 20 other people at a funky little Airbnb rented studio, complete with a massive buffalo head on the wall. I did not feel nearly cool enough to be there, but it was awesome. The Boiler Room stream was sponsored by Sky Vodka and served up some girly cocktails in bright blue glasses with flashing lights that nearly gave me a stroke every time I took a sip. (Don’t worry – no strokes.) Read More