Posts by: Jackie Andrews
June 12, 2013
Thursdays are usually the night for shows at the former Eagle Tavern, now Eagle SF, but last night was a special Tuesday. It was the release date of the new Sonny & the Sunsets LP Antenna to the Afterworld on Polyvinyl and a ton of people came out to celebrate.
First up was Cool Ghouls who also opened for Sonny last March at Noise Pop. Their sets tend to start out as tuneful pop in a southern rock revivalist sort of way and then edge deeper into dark and psyched out waters. And it wouldn’t be a Cool Ghouls show if their impassioned friends and fans weren’t dancing and singing along in the crowd.
Burnt Ones came on next and filled air and ears with swirling, screeching feedback and fuzz before taking off on a summer tour. They won’t be back until August and then, according to their Facebook page, won’t play again for a while.
Sonny & the Sunsets then played a long set (hour? hour plus?) of mostly new songs and much older material that made asses shake. Wearing an eyepatch that he couldn’t quite explain (besides saying “it looks like Vietnam under there”) and pink bakelite cufflinks, Sonny performed in his typical charming way to a packed house. After grabbing a beer from the bar and waiting in the bathroom line for the majority of the set (bring back the port-o-potties, Eagle!!!) I had lost my spot, therefore this review includes zero Sonny photos so you are going to have to take my word for it. Sure, I could have snapped a picture of the stage and the backs of people’s heads, but I didn’t want to be that person. Because here’s the thing — no one was that person last night. The full crowd watched and enjoyed the set without the all-too-common sea of glowing screens and constant flashing near the stage. And it was really nice.
So, with that, you can check out the video for “Palmreader” off Antenna to the Afterworld below. Sonny and friends have west coast dates booked between now and September to support their new record but will be back in July to play Great American Music Hall with Calvin Johnson, the Sandwitches, and Wounded Lion, so keep an eye out for that if you are so inclined.
May 24, 2013
Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s absurdist older sibling, has released compilations before, like the excellent Chrome Children series with Stones Throw records. But something about the addition of Dr. Pepper combined with the garage rock bandwagon brought doubts. Until I saw the track listing and immediately downloaded that shit.
It’s called Garage Swim and there’s fifteen new tracks from Mikal Cronin, King Kahn with the Gris Gris, Weekend, Black lips, and more. Phono del Sol headliners Thee Oh Sees make an appearance as well. You can download it for free here.
May 24, 2013
This weekend is the latest installment of SF Popfest, the somewhat intermittent, but pretty much yearly, festival inspired by the sounds of the jangly, dreamy, and shoegazy pop ethos spawned from mid-eighties UK labels like Postcard, Sarah, and Creation.
A ragtag lil’ festival that could, SF Popfest is the grassroots, punk house party alternative to the Noise Pops and the Coachellas, organized and curated by musicians and music nerds, essentially. People who have nothing else to gain other than putting on shows that they themselves would want to go to, and hope you will too — and usually at the last minute when they realize it may not happen.
“Everyone’s sort of like, where’s Popfest, what’s up with Popest? And suddenly it’s like, ‘Oh crap, no one’s done anything! I better help!’ It’s like on Lost, ‘You don’t choose Popfest, Popfest chooses you,’” says co-curator Jamie Guzzi, who you may know as DJ Jamie Jams from Shine On and Debaser. He and a few others, mostly organizers from Shine On, Time Keeps Time, and SF Popfests of yore worked hard to make it happen.
As for the result? “It’s all very twee as fuck,” he jokes.
This year’s lineup is heavy on new projects from from veteran musicians: solo work from Dreamdate’s Yea-Ming, Dum Dum Girls’ Sandy Beaches’ new band Sisu, and Wil Ivy’s (Wet Illustrated, Lilac) Dream Boys, while #1 Smash Hits features members from the early aughts power pop band Lunchbox. The veritable supergroup Still Flyin’ boasts members from Track Star, Aislers Set, Ladybug Transistor, Love Is All, Maserati, and Red Pony Clock, among others.
March 28, 2013
In high school I briefly lived on a cul de sac in a suburban development. For some reason, my father wanted to take a crack at suburban living, but it was very isolated and insular — metaphorically, everything that is wrong with suburbia. (Anecdotal side note: when I was grounded and my friend threw a pack of smokes up to my bedroom window to help a sister out, the nosey neighbors ratted on me, meaning they had nothing better to do than sit at their TV trays and narc out teens.)
Luckily we ended up trading Garage Mahal for a neighborhood with character (and neighbors with better things to do) in the nearby city after about a year. Even though McLiving was behind us, Teenage Me could really have enjoyed a band like the Woolen Men. Their new self-titled LP, out now on Woodsist, adds to their already excellent discography of DIY self-released tapes and records. Alex Geddes, Lawton Browning, and Raf Spielman take the spirit of The Wipers and Dead Moon to create energetic “fuck-the-establishment” rock and roll that appeals to adults in suspended adolescence like myself, as well as younger generations. After all, teenage angst is timeless.
Album opener “Mayonnaise” immediately reminded me of the character Elmo, the exterminator who seduces bored housewives in Steven Soderbergh’s Schizopolis, who said something like, “Fuck this shit, fuck this mayonnaise” — mayonnaise being one of his codes for suburban batshit. But that was a total accident. Lawton, guitarist and movie hound tells me, “I hate that movie, actually. Right now I’m on a serious Spalding Gray kick — everybody should watch Swimming To Cambodia.” Ditto.
The Bay Bridged: What inspired that song?
Lawton Browning: I didn’t grow up in the suburbs but I know plenty about them. I’m interested in the relationship between where artists live and those huge tracts of land just outside what most of us think of as “the city” and the zone of sophistication there. Those places can be terrible but they have a weird human beauty too. That song is from the perspective of someone who knows how complicated that relationship really is and wants to leave but can’t quite make it.
March 26, 2013
Glasgow/London’s Golden Grrrls are not riot grrrls. Can’t even say that they’re tough necessarily; I mean, just look at those doll-faces. If it weren’t for that and the vocal harmonies (all three members sing as sweetly as the Langley School), the uptempo, ramshackle drumming and quirky, hook-laden guitars might hint at a punk toughness, but would more so suggest the influence of ’80s pop bands like The Pastels, Feelies, Clean, and Beat Happening. Their new self-titled LP, out now on Slumberland here and Night School in Europe, might just be my favorite new release so far this year. They play tonight with SLR labelmates and buddies Veronica Falls and Brilliant Colors.
Guitarist Ruari MacLean and drummer Eilidh Rodgers met while working and then a year later asked friend Rachel Aggs to join in on a second guitar and add a third part to the harmonies. There’s a warmth and familiarity to the songs that could only have been produced by good friends. Rogers tells me over email: “Being close is something that makes the band fun for us. I guess it’s another means of hanging out with each other…It takes the pressure off when we write together because we feel comfortable and there’s no element of expectation. We know what to expect and that makes it feel natural.”
So we’ve established that they write catchy songs. But their videos are pretty great as well. To kick off their US tour, the band shared their video for the track “Take Your Time,” which, through the dark nebulae of superimposed images, hints at what to expect at their live show. Directed by Gordon McDougal, you can check it out below:
March 14, 2013
Once the dust from Noise Pop has settled and those of us who caravanned to Austin have returned, look forward to Debauch-A-Reno, presented by Reno’s Slovenly Records and The Sticker Guy in the Biggest Little Shitty in the World.
Slovenly owner Pete Menchetti, a.k.a. The Sticker Guy, celebrated 15 years with the first Debauch-A-Reno in 2008 and five years later will celebrate the big two-oh with three times the madness — three days of garage punk raunchiness on multiple stages in multiple venues with DJs and special surprise guests.
The Sonics are reunited, as are The Gories and The Sloths, with Bay Area support from Shannon and the Clams, Audacity (Burger Records is local, so whatever), Bad Coyotes, Pleasure Gallows, and DJs Jello Biafra, Russel Quan (from The Mummies and current Teenage Dance Craze DJ), and Dulcinea (from Midnight Snaxxx). Also on the Bill are Demon’s Claws, Nü Sensae, Acid Baby Jesus, and metric shit tons more. Check out the full lineup here, although mums the word re: Mysterious Guests.
Last time around a rumor was started that after the event at around 4am, once everyone stumbled home drunk, “those guys from the Bay Area wrapped in filthy rags” sauntered in and destroyed the back bar stage, suggesting the The Mummies were one of the special guests. This is the funny part: a video was posted of Pete and friends in Halloween costumes and even though it had “OCT 2000” all over the video (The Mummies hadn’t even played since the 90s at that point), people still believed it.
Alas, it was just a rumor. Emotions were toyed with. Folks got played. They got over it.
However, this year Russel Quan is DJing so who knows?
Review & Photos: Sonny & the Sunsets, Magic Trick, Cool Ghouls, and Dune Rats @ BOTH 3/2/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 5, 2013
Noise Pop 2013 – Sonny & the Sunsets @ Bottom of the Hill 3/2/13 – photo by Jackie Andrews
I was excited to check out Dune Rats, who came all the way out here from Australia to melt ears with their slacker rock, but a single-tracking BART train from the East Bay made me late. Luckily I was able to catch the last half of their set. Self-described as a “budstep” band, they do a pretty good job of channeling the early 90s aesthetic of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Nirvana, Wayne’s World, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for starters. In other words, they are your new best friends. Seriously, these guys are FUN.
Next up was Cool Ghouls, who create energized 60s-style garage and flower power psychedelia that got the crowd moshing almost instantly. They recently played a show in the cave adjacent to Sutro Baths, so they obviously live up to their name.
Next, Magic Trick took the stage and, after a rocky start (guitars were out of tune which lead to an abrupt stop and a little bickering, followed by guitarist Noelle Cahill flipping Tim Cohen the bird with smile), they settled in with their crescendo-y ballads accompanied by thoughtful, sage-like delivery of vocals and large hand gestures from Cohen.
Sonny & the Sunsets shared drummer James Kim with Magic Trick, so set-up was quick. Sonny Smith greeted the audience and assured the crowd that it was his bandmates and NOT he who had done illicit substances when he was clearly the one who was befuddled and more than a little intoxicated. He was on fire, charmingly interacting with the crowd (“I lost my belt somehow”) and his bandmates, tossing LPs and t-shirts into the crowd, and toward the end of his set requesting that the lights be turned down to play in intimate darkness. They played all of their most rocking songs, including fan favorite and crowd request, “Too Young to Burn.” Definitely the best and most entertaining Sonny & the Sunsets performance I’ve seen yet, FTW.
Review & Photos: The Thermals, Dirty Ghosts, The SHE’S, Ev Kain @ Rickshaw Stop 3/1/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 4, 2013
Friday’s Noise Pop show at The Rickshaw did not disappoint. From the angular math rock of EV Kain to the Sunny, crystalline pop of The SHE’S, this lineup fell on many pleased ears.
EV Kain opened the evening with complicated time signatures and hypnotic drumming while guitarist Brian Belier and drummer Jon Sortland’s vocal harmonies completed the sound — a heavy reggae-Police vibe, with maybe a touch of AnCo-style psychedelia. The festival tended to name-drop Hella when referring to this band (bassist Jonathan Hischke was a member) but these guys won’t require such prefacing for long.
The SHE’S formed when the foursome were in the seventh grade and, remarkably, are still in high school. They channel the nostalgia of Josie and the Pussycats, Beach Boys, and 60s girl groups better than some musicians twice their age. Named for the acronym formed when you put their names together (Sami, Hannah, Eva, and Sinclair), The SHE’S have opened for Surfer Blood, Girls, and La Sera and continued the tradition of supporting heavy hitters at this show.
Dirty Ghosts’ Allyson Baker and Erin McDermott, donning a pair of super sick and complimentary Flying V and Explorer guitars, played their signature funk and new wave-infused rawk and covered Payolas’ “Eyes of a Stranger” which can be recognized from the very tripindicular Valley Girl soundtrack.
The Thermals played an incredibly energetic set to an equally, if not more so, charged crowd. Celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their More Parts Per Million LP, of which they selected heavily from, the trio tore through their set of scrappy and poppy emo-tinged punk while the audience pretty much lost their shit — an awesome and heartwarming sight and sound to behold. The band is anticipating the release of their sixth album in April, and Sup Pop has re-released their first three and long out of print LPs.