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Ticket Giveaway + Interview: Magic Man Poised to Make You a Believer with High Flying Show at Slim’s 3/26

02/25/2015

If you missed Magic Man last time they were in SF…what were you thinking?! Now before you get too down on yourself, know that redemption lies just a few short weeks away.

On March 26th, Magic Man will return to the Bay Area with Great Good Fine Ok and Vinyl Theatre. With this show sure to sell out, SFCritic has your back. That’s right, We’re giving away two tix starting now.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I can’t say enough good things about the budding synth rock band’s last performance at the Independent, so ahead of their upcoming show I caught up with founding member Sam Vanderhoop Lee, formerly of the fabulous Yello Sno, to get his take on performing in our city, the band’s creative process, and learning the ways of “The Gronk.”

SFCritic: Your recorded music is great, but your live shows are out of this world. What do you think sets you apart in this respect?

Sam Vanderhoop Lee: A lot of our first shows were DIY shows—living room shows, basements shows, house parties, etc.—and that was where we really learned how to play together as a band. When you’re playing in someone’s sweaty, cramped basement, you can’t rely on a good PA or even being able to see the band, so it was really up to us to bring a lot of raw energy to the table. We were pretty wild when we first started, and I think one of our strengths was learning how to control that energy but also how to unleash it, even in bigger venues that aren’t nearly as intimate or immediate as the ones we started playing in. Read More

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Lotus to Light Up The Regency Ballroom with Electronic Jams Friday 2/20

02/18/2015

Lotus has been around the block a few times by now, after forming at the turn of the millennium in Indiana. From the beginning, they have been mixing musical styles that many people would think just don’t belong together — jam rock and electronica — and doing it well. When listening to their catalogue of music in its entirety, one is often struck by the technical skill of the instrumentals, while at the same time feeling the undeniable urge to move your feet.

Lotus is well-known for weaving together tunes with elements of funk, jazz and rock and making it all sound cohesive. Even during jams that can last for upwards of 15 minutes, which they’re known to do in their live sets, (think Sound Tribe Sector 9, kind of…), this band puts on a phenomenal show that never disappoints. Read More

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Swami John Reis to Drop Some New School Surf Rock at Bottom of Hill This Thursday 2/12

02/11/2015

Get stoked! The legendary “Swami” John Reis and The Blind Shake are making their way to San Francisco tomorrow to debut their newest album, Modern Surf Classics. And forget what you think you know about surf rock — because what these guys are doing isn’t your dad’s surf rock. Playing a mixture of recognizable surf-style licks and incredibly unique, epic progressions, the instrumental songs take twists and turns through a massively complex arrangement. Bending between shredding riffs, melodic structure and some seriously dark (and awesome) songs, this show is lining up to be one that will pack a punch.

Check out “Brown Room” a track off the new album below, and tell me this isn’t something that you could get into. I, for one, am excited to see how all this translates in a live setting, because I have a feeling that it’s going to be a smooth one. Not to mention, this isn’t John Reis’ first time around the block.
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Annie Bacon-by Christina E Campbell

Annie Bacon & her OSHEN premiere new video: “When Anybody Laughs”

02/11/2015

When writing one’s own review, it’s best to refrain to too many superfluous superlatives, ahem, and to keep it as close to fact as possible. So here, my friends, is a video that I (Annie Bacon) made with my friends for a song from a record that I also made with my friends (my OSHEN).

With a roaring honky tonk piano at its heart, this song is uke-folk feel-good all the way. The video is similarly footloose and fancy free, playfully morphing a gaggle of gendered folk into a fluid dancing mob. It was shot by designer Tomo Saito, locally famous for his Betabrand collection, and edited by another part of the SF Critic family: Bloom. This is the first release off of Stranded Songs, due out on March 4th, which is a small collection of tunes that never quite fit on any other album. My voice has been likened to Stevie Nicks and Neko Case, and of course, I aspire to grow into those compliments more with each new record. You can hear age, honesty, and earnestness in there. Read More

K. Michelle, Mezzanine, SF Critic-2

Photos: 0 F**ks Given as K. Michelle Pushes Through Tech Glitches to Thrill Fans

02/08/2015

K. Michelle kicked off her My Twisted Mind Tour at San Francisco’s Mezzanine on Thursday night. This was the R&B singer’s first opportunity to hit the road with these songs following the release of her latest album, Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?, at the end of 2014.

Following a few technical issues, namely with a video screen, K. Michelle took to the stage in a blinged-out sleeveless catsuit and put on a impassioned performance. K. Michelle is a singer who wears her heart on her sleeve. The songs came thick and fast, “Hard To Do” and “Damn” both being highlights from the early part of the set. Read More

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There’s something in Springtime Carnivore’s Atmosphere – Wednesday 2/11 @ GAMH

02/08/2015

Wednesday evening at the Great American Music Hall, Springtime Carnivore – the “nom de tune” of LA’s Greta Morgan – will invite you in to a dreamy, hazy pop that crosses not only genres but eras with ease. Morgan’s vocals might not be breaking any speakers, but the fluidity and flexibility floating across octaves is mighty impressive. The songs are catchy, with heavy reverb on the tambourines, “fuzzy guitars and blown out drums” (as her own bio so aptly describes) and that far-away psychedelic nostalgia you get from looking at pictures of 1960’s era San Diego surfer chicks in bikinis. The eponymous debut album, released last November, is also reminiscent of Motown classics (with backing vocals so tight they feel loose), the melancholy, rainy-day pop of Feist’s early album Let It Die,  and, for the locals, the rich soulful-sweet voice of Kacey Johansing.

But the tune “Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)” tells you better than I could what to expect on Wednesday: “Something in the atmosphere / Drink it up, drink it in / Til you’re hypnotized / Til it feels like a sin / Drip drop, rain wash, half-time swing / You won’t even feel a thing.”

Check them out as they open for local favorites The Dodos at GAMH on Wednesday February 11th. Tickets are here.

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Wrong Done Right with The Devil Makes Three

02/04/2015

There was plaid as far as the eye could see, more than a few cowboy hats and at least one guy dressed like a bumble bee at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Saturday night. The trio that makes up The Devil Makes Three originated in Santa Cruz, but they appeared to be right at home in front of the riled up and sold-out Bay Area crowd.

Large banners depicting radiant eyes served as a back drop for the string band consisting of guitar, banjo and double bass. Right from the first notes of the set opener “Stranger,” there was enough stomping and clapping in the crowd to more than compensate for any perceived lack of percussion. One whiskey-soaked Americana anthem after another kept the whole crowd, from the pit to the back of the balcony, whipped into in a frothing hoe down. Read More

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Photos: Beacon Blends Electronic Grooves and Smooth Lyrics at Rickshaw Stop

01/29/2015

Wednesday fans at the Rickshaw Stop were treated to a wide spectrum of electronic genres from acts Running in the Fog, Lord RAJA, and headliners Beacon. There was a surprisingly large crowd out on a weekday night and they filled the space with plenty of energy, dancing, and talking over each other between sets.

Running in the Fog, the moniker SF-based Amanda Harper, opened with a slowed down house beat and soulful female vocals. The music at points reminded me of a classic jazz singer set to heavy synths and drums, while other songs sound like straight up 90s R&B, baby-making music.

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Wednesday 1/28 @ Rickshaw Stop: NY’s Beacon Prepares to Drop Heavy Beats and Haunting Vocals

01/26/2015

Another bargain for music lovers this week at Rickshaw Stop, NY acts Beacon and Lord RAJA will be joined by local act Running in the Fog for just $12 at the door. I know it’s a Wednesday, but just convince yourself you don’t REALLY have to work Thursday and come out for some good music.

I’ve had Beacon on a few playlists for the past couple years, especially the recent remix of Tycho‘s “See.” The Brooklyn-based duo plays their own blend of electronic ambient beats with R&B inspired lyrics, and right before the new year they dropped their new EP L1.

For me the new EP is really a game changer. They still have the haunting, Thom Yorke-esque vocals but the new beats have a weighty, heavy feel to them. Where the older stuff would often spacious and super ambient, their is a new complexity with L1. Not that their previous stuff was bad, but the new stuff is just doing so much more for me and I’m looking forwards to seeing what the next full album brings. Read More

Kyle Benefit Jan 30 Amnesia

Benefit for Kyle Lesley @ Amnesia this Friday

01/26/2015

There are many pockets of the local SF music scene. One of them revolves around a little bar on Valencia Street called Amnesia, which has been a community center of sorts for the folk-freak scene (though the venue has no genre-limitation) through the 14 years I’ve been in this city. It’s a beautiful community of people who make music from the heart, some of which really breaks your heart and some of which gets you sweating and shaking on Amnesia’s dark and cramped little dance floor.

Friday night, Amnesia will host a fundraiser for a friend of that community, Kyle Lesley, who has been battling stage IV metastatic melanoma for a few years. I’ve had another friend battle this very stage of this very cancer, and it’s a nasty, persistent, aggressive fucker. (Really, isn’t that the one thing we can all agree on? Cancer sucks.)   Read More

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