Oaktown Indie Mayhem releases Yassou Benedict’s “Youngblood”


When I first heard Yassou Benedict‘s “Youngblood,” the first release off Oaktown Indie Mayhem (OIM)’s upcoming compilation OIM Vol: I, I’ll be honest … it wasn’t my jam. It has lurking in it many of the elements of dubstep, (to which only this guy knows how to dance), and I don’t really like dubstep. But – out of admiration for the work that OIM does to support the local music scene – I gave it another listen. And damned if the electro indie  darkness didn’t win me over completely, dubstepping hints and all.

This time, listening, I was shrouded in a lonely quiet. Late night, kid sleeping, wind shaking the hundred year old window frames. And suddenly a bridge opened between me and this song. A wiggling bridge. There is no single, undeterred beat here. The beat shifts emphasis every 10 seconds or so, which creates this feeling of falling side to side, jerking forward, leaning back as the bass tones blast. (This is one of the hallmarks of dubstep.) But bassist and lead singer Lilie Bytheway Hoy’s haunting alto anchors it all. Pushed just the slightest bit back into the mix, her vocals make me lean forward to listen closer, and in so doing, seem to take my hand and pull me along, guide me through the glitches.

While it seems like the heavy feeling of this song is present in their sound overall, from what I can tell, this particular song is something different. “Youngblood” is the opposite of Easy Listening. It is Dark And On The Move, and in my lonely quiet, I felt the urge to pull on a carmine cape and head off for a midnight wander through an abandoned city. A deep, dark, delicious solitude.

More about the band here.

We’ll have more about the OIM compilation in the coming weeks, including coverage of their residency at Leo’s in Oakland to celebrate the upcoming release (June 23rd):

May 21st – Foxtails Brigade, Whiskerman + Perhapsy
May 28th – Jennifer Johns, Waterstrider + Nyx
June 4th – Emily Afton, Yassou Benedict + El Elle


Organized Distortion: A Live Review of Wand at Bottom of the Hill


Praise that baby J: for those of you who’ve had an ear to the ground, psychedelic rock is back in full force. LA-based Wand stopped by Bottom of the Hill in Potrero last week and absolutely blew the fucking doors off.

To give you a quick intro, Wand recently released their second full-length album, “Golem,” in March of this year, and it’s a heater. Ominous riffs, shrieking wall-of-sound guitar and melodic vocals washed out in reverb (in an awesome way), the album delivers a stellar nine track escape from reality.

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Sturgill Simpson @ The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, Bay Area Approved Country


Sturgill Simpson played in Santa Cruz to a sold out Catalyst last Friday, smack dab in the middle of a tour that has taken him from Indio to Sacramento in the last few weeks. The Fillmore will see some San Francisco-approved country this week, in a show that is close to sold out, but definitely worth a scalped ticket if need be.

“Everything but Country…” is a popular expression used by the San Francisco music enthusiast upon a first-meet musical taste inquiry.  Well, you may want shelve your Baroque harpsichord tunes for a minute, or at least add Sturgill Simpson to the playlist. His shows will change almost anyone’s answer to just… “Everything.”

People already in-the-know will tell you Sturgill Simpson is a renegade country artist in the style of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, a counter to the bro-country that has given the genre its negative stereotype. Kentucky born, former Seattle rock scene attendee, former train conductor; he broke out in 2014 with the self-released Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.

Simpson has a brand of music even the staunchest anti-Marina SF local can relate to, think of contemporaries like Jason Isbell. A friendly crowd pre-show at The Catalyst came off as excited and invested in an upcoming live music education. Sturgill’s classic growled and mumbled country voice was paired not with ostrich skinned ranch-wear, but a pair of New Balance sneakers.

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Photos: Getting Lost and Disoriented With Panda Bear @ The Independent


Tuesday night brought Panda Bear out of the Coachella Valley to San Francisco for an intimate performance at the sold out Independent. Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, not only captivates his audience with his music, but also with a kaleidoscopic visual display of swirling colors and images projected on a screen, and on Panda Bear himself.

All songs were from his newest album, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, and from 2011’s Tomboy. I found myself getting lost staring at the visuals, trying to decipher exactly what I was seeing on the screen as snakes morphed into strawberries, which quickly twisted into flowers, all while Panda Bear masterfully blended his tracks with his dynamic and distinctive vocals. Every few songs, four large strobe lights would disorient the packed venue, adding to the feeling of being truly lost in the performance.

Panda Bear remained still for the whole show, rendering himself as a part of the backdrop on which the visual art of Danny Perez was displayed. Watching Panda Bear was like watching an artist in the act of creating their art– and there just happened to be a crowd present.

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Nightlife preview

Don’t Miss: Thursday’s Cal Academy of Sciences Nightlife Featuring Braille and Different Sleep


California Academy of Sciences never fails to surprise us. They’ve figured out the perfect formula for an entertaining and educational Thursday night. We’re especially excited for Thursday’s NightLife event, Giant Nightlife. Their recent exhibit, Whales: Giants of the Deep, gives visitors the chance to “journey into the world of whales and see them in all their glorious diversity,” but what we’re really excited about are the two music acts Different Sleep and Braille.

As a long time fan of the two, I’ve been waiting for the day I could finally see them. I’ll be dreaming about those such, bass-heavy beats from Praveen Sharma aka Braille (half of Sepalcure).

And I can’t wait to hear the effortlessly blended sounds of familiar R&B, pop, chill wave, and synth-pop hits from Different Sleep’s Rafael “Rafa” Alvarez.

If you like what you heard with the small taste above, make sure you make it to Thursday’s Nightlife. Tickets are still on sale, so hurry and get yours here for $12 + fees.


Action-Earl 389

Chef Bronson’s Delicacies Delight at The Warfield


New York got together with California to cook up a delicious hip-hop chowder on Tuesday evening. The city by the Bay served as the host for a meeting of the minds between Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, and an entourage of guests.  The performers and crowd alike were riding high on the excitement of new releases, and good strong Cali bud.

After an opening set by Queens up-and-comer Remy Banks, the crowd was prompted to “turn up,” and they were happy to oblige when Earl Sweatshirt hit the stage. The floorboards flexed under the inexhaustible energy of  OFWGKTA fans.  After a nod to E-40’s Bay Area anthem “Tell Me When to Go,” Earl took the time to make sure that everyone in attendance was familiar with the hook from the new track “DNA.” What followed was a glorious group catharsis that can only be achieved by belting out profane rap lyrics. While some of the tracks on I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside sound dark, introverted and subdued on record, when they are blasted at full volume and you are surrounded by a rambunctious mob, they take on new dimension.

After Earl’s set, L.A. producer and DJ heavyweight The Alchemist took his post at the turntables, and deftly kept the crowd at a simmer between sets. When Action Bronson emerged in all his bearded glory, it was like seeing a mythical beast. The energy radiated by the crowd was reflected in the performance, and while Bronson did not do any cartwheels, or stage dives (thank God), he did not miss a line all night. His flow was on point across a range of material including tracks from the brand new album Mr. Wonderful, 2012’s Alchemist produced mixtape Rare Chandeliers, and 2013’s Saaab Stories. Guest appearances by frequent collaborators Meyhem Lauren and Big Body Bess allowed the husky star several entertaining opportunities to catch his breath. Read More


Interview: Brooklyn’s Dreamers On Cosmic Rock, Touring With STP and New Music


Brooklyn trio Dreamers are headed to The Fillmore tomorrow night supporting legends Stone Temple Pilots. It must be pretty awesome for an up and coming band to play the Paramount in Seattle and The Fillmore here in SF in back to back gigs. I also hope that while the guys are on tour with STP they take the opportunity to master the 90s rock voice.

Tickets are still available for tomorrow and can be found here.

Dreamers play what they call cosmic rock. For the uninitiated, it’s upbeat, driving alternative rock instrumentals with a heavy dose of reverb and guitar flair. Listening to their self titled EP I got an OK Go meets original Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack vibe. It’s new, but it has a familiarity that you’ll like. Once I learned that 2/3 of the band hails from Seattle, I could definitely also hear the influence of a steady diet of grunge growing up.

Check it out for yourself starting with their single “Wolves” below. You can also find more music here.

I had a chance to ask Nick Wold a few questions ahead of their Fillmore show tomorrow.

I’ve seen your music described as cosmic rock, where are you drawing the inspiration for your music?
We draw a lot of inspiration from the actual cosmos, and wonder about the strange nature of existing. Rock’n’roll is philosophy as well as fun, science and art as well as ‘fuck-all’. Read More


Young Fathers Shake Things Up at The Independent 4/25 With Mas Ysa


The Mercury Prize winning UK trio Young Fathers will be making a stop in San Francisco at The Independent on Saturday, April 25th. The group just released its newest album White Men Are Black Men Too on April 7th with the Big Dada label.

The newest single from the album, “Shame,” embodies their hard to define sound. The song has multiple rhythmic layers of instruments and vocals that clash and harmonize throughout demanding the body to bounce with the beat. It’s a bit of rock, a bit pop, some hip hop and pretty much everything in between. There is something great about a band that is named so literally (all three members are named after their fathers) playing music that is so abstract.

Check out the brand new video for Shame here:

Opening for Young Fathers is Mas Ysa, pronounced mass ee-sah. Read More


Song of the Day: “Drag” by Day Wave


Ahh… Wednesday. A day where some (or most) of us convince ourselves that, hey – we’re basically done with the week, so let’s go drink / see some live music / hit the beach / etc.

Welp, here is a song that will pair nicely with any of those things: a new joint from Day Wave called Drag. A super chill and melodic tune perfect for kicking back midweek. Smooth guitar, satisfying reverb on both lyrics and guitar, and a well-timed falsetto whistle make this a Wednesday anthem I can get down to.

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The Max Savage Show – Live in Emeryville Thursday Night


Apparently those of us who missed Episode One of The Max Savage Show are less prepared for the coming Golden Age, but all hope is not lost. Thursday night, Max Savage – once a contributing writer here at SFCritic, who has also contributed to La Blogotheque, NPR and the Bay Bridged – will host Episode Two of his eponymous talk show with some epic local musical guests: rapper Kool A.D., the French Cassettes, and Antique Naked Soul, as well as Anna Sussman of NPR’s Snap Judgement and a cooking demonstration from the excellent Oakland eatery Homestead.

Since I haven’t been to one of these events … yet … I can’t tell you exactly what will happen. But local blogger Apes on Tape says, “Even if you’re unfamiliar with the above, Thursday offers an entertaining, rowdy, live studio show to sink your teeth into.” And Max himself says it’ll be a night of “joy, folly and existential wonderment.” Hard to resist.

The fun happens Thursday April 9th at Scandinavia in Emeryville. Show starts at 8pm and tickets are $8 advance/$10 door. Buy them here.

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