matisyahu-akeda-interview

A Second Look at Matisyahu – An Interview with the Reggae Rapper

05/26/2014

Matisyahu reflected on his answers and changed his mind.

After sending follow up questions to his original response via email, the American reggae singer provided rewritten answers. Likely concerned with the reception of his initial responses, he replied saying “Being judged and feeling misunderstood has been a recurrent theme in my life.” His image has been a focal point of his career. An Orthodox Jew from White Plains, New York, Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, captivated the world with his 2006 performance at Stubb’s in Austin. His long beard, payos (sidelocks), and unusual blend of Old Testament storytelling with reggae melodies was a complete anomaly as Americans looked internationally for new styles like Shakira and Sean Paul that took top spots on the Billboard Chart.

At the end of 2011, Matisyahu shared a photo of himself clean shaven, declaring that he was “reclaiming himself” and ready to move forward with his career. But as much as any artist wishes to be creatively pure, no one operates within a vacuum unaware of critics and fans alike. On June 3rd, he will release his fifth studio album, Akeda, which is Hebrew for “binding” and a reference to the story of Isaac, where G-d tests Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his child. The story parallels where the artist stands today: his creative decisions decided, awaiting to see if his fans will follow.

This upcoming Friday Matisyahu will perform at Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa. In a series of emails, SFCritic spoke with Matisyahu about his upcoming album, his image and religious outlook. Read More

GOASTT AT GAMH

Sean Lennon’s ‘The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger’ (GOASTT) @GAMH

05/23/2014

I met Sean Lennon in Dublin, Ireland eight years ago. He was humble, a bit shy and somehow apologetic, playing to a seated crowd of about 50 in the upstairs of a pub called Whelans. There were no sorry’s at the Great American Music Hall Tuesday night as GOASST. Lennon’s project with model babe bass-player girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, seems to gives him permission to shine on. Sean is a bad ass, vibing and technical, guitar player. Still, I can’t help to say his spirit still feels like a musical giant bent over and cramped into a glass house. He has so much potential.

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Photos by Victoria Smith

Strange Talk Put on Insane Show at Rickshaw Stop’s Padded Room

05/19/2014

Friday as I was standing with our talented photographer Victoria Smith near the bar waiting for local opener The Hundred Days to finish their rocking set, I noticed a couple of guys trying to pay for drinks and a bartender that looked throughly unimpressed with their Australian chip-based cards. On closer inspection it was lead vocalist Stephen Docker and guitarist Gillan Gregory from headliner Strange Talk. If you have ever traveled overseas, you know what a cluster fuck it is to use a U.S. card over there or a pin and chip card here. I felt compelled to help them out, and bought their round so they could hurry back stage and get ready for their set. Read More

Photo by Tuomas Kopijaakko

Listen: Amen Dunes Releases New Album Love Tomorrow

05/12/2014

It’s Monday. All of us at one point or another hit that Monday slump where you just can’t accept the new work week. Luckily, there’s always new music to help us decompress and get us thinking like productive members of society again.

This past week I’ve been checking out a preview of Amen Dunes’ upcoming album Love. I find the music a perfect match for Monday’s with its mix of melancholy lyrics, haunting tones and folk inspired riffs, all delivered in a fuzzy Lo-Fi, calming package. Read More

RODRIGO Y GABRIELA LIVE AT THE FOX

RODRIGO Y GABRIELA :: Boil Down to Fresh Water

05/11/2014

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have come along way from busking on the streets of Dublin via Mexico City. A testament was Friday night’s sold out show at the Fox. It’s been a long time since a duo of guitars and nothing more –not even a voice – commanded such a rally. I don’t really know how long it’s been but they are like sweet fresh water in these times of Skrillex, cleansing from today’s electronic overloadA welcomed refreshment of basics with shredding.

Rodrigo y Gabriela‘s fused style of metal flamenco with primal earthly undertones is a genre of music you may not be able to put a perfect finger on, but is perfectly executed.  A fury of fingers plucking every note right with hands that click and knock enough to satisfy a desire for a back line of drumming and melodic tones that strings everything together. R y G are synchronized gold medalists of sure footed rhythms. Oh and the visuals? The visuals were awesome, massive, scaling, moving, transforming art and I’ll leave it at that because you should go and see. Read More

© 2014 Dace Hines

The Voice is an Instrument: A Review of Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band & Tara Jane O’Neil @ The Independent

05/11/2014

Last Wednesday, The Independent served up a modern musical cocktail, concocted of three distinct elements that (like any good drink) combined formed an experience greater than the sum of its parts. Tunde Adebimpe (from TV on the Radio fame) rolled through town with his new project, and brought a couple interesting opening acts along for the ride.

Local jazz-rockers Black Cobra Vipers (previous coverage here) opened the show to a fairly thin crowd, breezing comfortably through all the songs on their excellent EP (appropriately titled EP). Because it was Wednesday in San Francisco, the audience did their best to act cool and careless, however they couldn’t help but tap their feet and bob their heads to the Vipers’ infectious groovin’. Nice job, boys.

Next up was Portland songwriter and visual artist Tara Jane O’Neil, who slipped onto stage silently like a sniper. Feathers of hair poked sheepishly from under her crooked baseball cap as she twiddled a few knobs on a floor-mounted pedalboard, bathed in a backdrop of deep blue stage lights. With such an unassuming presence, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was a guitar tech setting up… Read More

Eyes on the shore reexport 4-1

Where Surf Meets Blues: A Review of Eyes on the Shore @ Hotel Utah

05/07/2014

Heavy reverb. Huge sound. Crashing surf. Drop in some Hendrix-esque guitar licks, heavy bass, an extra floor tom, a clean white Stratocaster…and kaboom, you have Eyes on the Shore. The band headlined Hotel Utah last Saturday night, and all was good — actually, more than all good. The band is gearing up to play Oysterfest in Golden Gate Park this weekend, and rest assured — they’re firing on all cylinders.

For those who don’t know, Hotel Utah is an awesomely tiny venue in SOMA that holds maybe 100 people, and gives an incredible up-close and personal experience with the band. It was the perfect venue to see a band that’s in the early stages of what I like to think will be a long-winded run.

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Watch: A Million Billion Dying Suns Drops New Video For “Hey Man”

05/05/2014

Well…it’s about damn time [good] music videos made a comeback. The California-native psychedelic band A Million Billion Dying Suns (AMBDS) just teamed up with French Press Films to release a new video for “Hey Man”, and it’s perfection.

The video takes us on a mustachioed adventurer’s journey through hell and back, in a visually stunning, nightmarish and hallucinogenic portrayal of what it’s like to have your ass kicked by bikers, wizards, and lizard sirens — all to a sublime backdrop of screaming guitar licks and reverb-laden vocals. But don’t worry: our protagonist makes it back to the party just in time to pass out in the bathroom.

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mike3HighRes

PREMIERE: Mike Sempert strikes gold on his own – Coming to the Rickshaw Stop May 14th

05/02/2014

Maybe it’s because Mike Sempert and I are ascending into adulthood at roughly the same time that his album Mid Dream – devoted to this transition, and set to be released May 6 on the Velvet Blue Music label – strikes such a chord. What else is it really that touches us in music though? Isn’t it when, in the midst of a human moment, an artist describes that moment so well that everyone listening who is also in that moment has to scream yes yes yes? To Mid Dream I scream yes yes yes!

After 10 or so years fronting Birds & Batteries, with great local success and a good foothold on the next rung up, Sempert’s struck out on his own. It’s 2014. I have a kid. He’s married. We’re both getting lusciously, ripely into adulthood. Life is more complicated here, and Mid Dream speaks to this with a wise and humble eye. Read More

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