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PREMIERE: “Meteorite” from The Y Axes – playing Milk Bar on 1/29

01/26/2016

SF Critic is excited to premiere the new single, “Meteorite,” from San Francisco band The Y Axes. These are an infectious three listening minutes; a dreamy pop-wave anthem for your upcoming trip to the outer edges of the cosmos. The band – self-described post-apocalyptic alternative pop, making music not for the future, but of the future – orbits strongly around the tight drumming of Nick Schneider and the sweetly ethereal vocals of Alexi Belchere. Recorded in Oakland at Hellam Sound, the song pulls together grungy alt-rock guitar tones (think My Bloody Valentine) and polished synth pop (The xx) into a solid production that nods to The Cocteau Twins.

The band plays The Winter Wizard Formal, hosted by Milk Bar, on Friday night January 29th. Down and Outlaw and Lords of Sealand will round the night out. Don’t forget to wear your wizardly best. More details here.

“Meteorite” – The Y Axes

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Photos: The Devil Makes Three at the Fox on Friday Night was a Real Family Affair

01/26/2016

A different breed of bluegrass crawled out of the Santa Cruz mountains in 2002, and with it, The Devil Makes Three dragged the genre into the 21st century. The three piece string-band made its return to the Bay Area on Friday night after a phenomenal 2015 and turned in a real barnburner at The Fox.

A TDM3 show is a bona fide social experiment. You’ve got your shaggy, millennial hippies stomping alongside wasted, shirtless, teenage boys who are locking arms with, well, hipsters (it is Oakland in the year 2016 after all). It’s a a real family affair. You’re going to find yourself dancing in a lot of circles, spilling a ton of beer, and drinking even more. I even braved the mosh pit before being chased by a sweaty, rogue dreadlock.

As for the music, the good folks at the Fox didn’t book them back to back nights just for the hell of it. Their pace is furious. But this threesome knows how to work a crowd so in between fierce anaerobic stomping, I had ample time to imbibe as the crowd slowed from sheer chaos to a gentle sway. With tracks like “Shades,” I had my arm around my buddies like it was a goddamn Garth Brooks Karaoke hour and the next thing I know, they basically had me running in place like a maniac to “Statesboro Blues” (a cover of the americana, blues standard). Read More

Anderson Paak at 1015 Folsom

Anderson .Paak PAAKS the House @ 1015 Folsom

01/26/2016

Sorry not sorry about that headline… too goddamn easy.

Last Thursday night, breakthrough hip-hop & soul star Anderson .Paak fired up a crowded house at 1015 Folsom with his funky backing band The Free Nationals. The free show was the official release party for his excellent sophomore album Malibu, released just a week earlier. Word is there were over 5000 RSVPs for the 1800 capacity club- the entry line stretched farther than the eye could see. There’s no way they all made it inside, but from the sweat-drenched walls and kids hanging over every inch of balcony, you wouldn’t know it.

Read More

Forq shoot at Diamond Dog Studio

Greasy, Dynamic, Hard Hitting Grooves: An Interview with Jazz Band FORQ

01/23/2016

It’s easy to compartmentalize music. There’s crazy rock bands. There’s laid back, sit still-and-reflect jazz bands. There’s hip-hop, there’s jam. There’s a million “distinct” categories.

But every once and a while you find a band that’s something else.  Music that can satisfy the rocker and jazz snob in all of us. And if you’re in the Bay Area on Sunday, prepare to be satisfied, as New York City-based FORQ will be rolling through the beautiful SF Jazz Center, where they’ll be playing three sets (5:30 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm) at the Joe Henderson Lab.

Read More

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Photos + Review: Ty Segall Brings His Supergroup (Including King Tuff, Mikal Cronin) to The Fillmore

01/21/2016

Ty Segall and his band of Muggers stopped by the Fillmore earlier this week for two nights of debauchery, and San Francisco loved every second of it. If you’re not familiar with Ty Segall, the guy is an absolute machine. He’s put out eight solo albums, has played in (no joke) eight other bands and has countless producers credits scattered across Bay Area and L.A.-based bands to boot.

Here’s a little preview we did, in case you want to get yourself up to speed.

Before we get started, I want to say something real quick. I am a huge fan of just about everything this dude does. It’s a little hard for me to sit here and write an honest to goodness article on the Ty Segall and the Muggers show from Monday night, because honestly I’m still in a bit of shock. I don’t typically get star-struck, but Monday night, I was fucking star-struck.

Ty Segall and the Muggers is composed of a group of folks that I have an incredible amount of respect for – Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) and Emmett Kelly (Cairo Gang) on guitar, Cory Hanson and Evan Burrows of Wand on guitar/keys and drums (respectively), and Mikal Cronin (who has an impressive solo gig going and has also toured with Ty in the past) on bass and sax. Read More

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

01/18/2016

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

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

01/17/2016

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.

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

01/16/2016

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”

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TDM3 - Live Photo (Meredith Powell)

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

01/10/2016

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
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Photos: Tuesday Night Lights @ The Fillmore

12/12/2015

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

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