Posts by: Jackie Andrews
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.
February 27, 2013
It’s been 15 years since John Vanderslice opened Tiny Telephone, his indie recording studio where an impressive roster of musicians like Geographer, Magnetic Fields, Mike Watt, Deerhoof, and scores more have recorded albums.
What began as a comfortable space to record his own songs has turned into a world-class musical workshop with acclaimed session musicians (Magik*Magik Orchestra) and accomplished engineers. To celebrate another quinquennial and his clients, John has invited everyone over to the studio — a veritable museum of vintage mixers, tube amps, and reels of 2” tape — for a party this Thursday. We touched base with John to glean more details about the event and see what’s been going on at the studio.
The Bay Bridged: What are some of the more memorable Tiny Telephone moments since your last milestone anniversary five years ago?
John Vanderslice: Watching Avi Buffalo make a great record this month was pretty special. Also, producing Samantha Crain‘s record (which just came out) was very inspiring. I think that’s one of the best records to come out of the studio. Last month I bought a 64-channel Neve 8068 from The Plant in Sausalito, a classic console with tons of history, for our forthcoming C room. That might have been the most memorable.
TBB: What can attendees expect at the party?
JV: I think there will be DJs…I should really get on that! I think we’re all excited to NOT hear a band for a day in the studio. We will have really good beer, I’m thinking Racer 5 and one of the 21st Amendment ones. Also, Isabelle Fix, our accountant, is in charge of food and she has really good taste. The mirth will be a byproduct of the beer, the food, and the elevated company.
TBB: Your anniversary parties in the past have had covers. Why is this one free and open to the public?
JV: I’m a pretty democratic person, we have a lot of high school and college bands recording here and it didn’t feel fair to put the event in a club and exclude them. This party is really for our amazing clients. So I thought we’d give them access to a full keg and some medical marijuana as a thank you.
Thursday, February 28
Sunbeam Rd. talks new album ‘Breathers’ and remix collection (Win release show tix and the new album!)
January 25, 2013
Yes, it’s cold. Yep, everyone’s sick. We hear you and, luckily, The Bay Bridged is all about solutions: crank up the space heater (or if you’re lucky, one of these), pour the hot toddies, and throw on some shimmery and crescendo-ey goodness. Might we suggest a little Sunbeam Rd.?
Completely independent of even independent labels, this band has released material entirely on their own, including a couple of cassettes and digital releases to start out, followed by the lovely 2012 Breathers LP — crowdfunded through Kickstarter — and their most recent digital release, a Breathers remix album.
Sunbeam Rd. are embracing a time when bands take control of their careers via The Mighty Internet and are oftentimes in cahoots with their fans and supporters. These guys are really into things like collaboration and, of course, crowdsourcing. Take their video for the Breathers album opener, “Lucy”, for example — a trippy kaleidoscope of shadow and light, reminiscent of the color screens from the discovery museums of our youths.
Originally meant to be used as the visuals for live shows, it is a collection of crowdsourced submissions run through a digital filter of the band’s mascot — a cat. What started as an experiment to engage friends and fans became a musical narrative by adding the dreamy band shots to the imagery. “In the end, it might be sort of confusing to the viewer but it represents some sort of world in our imaginations that we’d like to visit one day.” Can we tag along?
To win a pair of tickets to Saturday’s album release show at Thee Parkside and your own copy of Breathers to pickup at the show, be the first person to email contest[at]thebaybridged.com with the subject line “Sunbeam Rd. Giveaway.”
While most of the songs and lyrics on Breathers were written by guitarist/vocalist Trevor Hacker, “we are a pretty democratic band, so all of the instrumentals are thoroughly worked through as a group,” they tell me. And while Harrison Pollock plays bass in the band, he also wrote one of the songs. “We were interested in changing up the dynamic and transforming the songs, by having different songwriters come through one voice on the record. Singing someone else’s lyrics or melody seems to bring out another quality in the song that we weren’t aware of previously.”
December 5, 2012
The Babies have a new record out on Woodsist (streamable via Spin), a new video, a new bassist, and a new outlook. They are returning to the Bay Area this week to play two shows — Wednesday 12/5/12 at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records and Thursday 12/16/12 at Bottom of the Hill.
A band that started as a casual way for two friends to make music together has evolved into a full time affair, while ditching the Babies’ dismissively inaccurate side project status for serious musicianship. Admittedly, there was something refreshing about a band who identified with infancy, playing simplistic jerry-rigged pop music held together with nothing but their own spirit. Chutzpah, if you will. Here is a band who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, one might think (while listening to their debut album on repeat).
For their sophomore release Our House on the Hill, Cassie Ramone, Kevin Morby, et. al traded their DIY recording digs at Rear House in Brooklyn for a production boost in Los Angeles working with producer Rob Barbato (The Soft Pack, La Sera). Hill has complex song structures. Hill is diverse, stylistically. Hill has organ and sax (?!). What Hill is not, however, is over produced.
The songs are expectedly catchy (except for a few tender moments), but where Our House on the Hill really shines is lyrically and the ability to connect with it’s listeners, many of whom are young to young-ish, broke, and just as frustrated with the many “dumb fucks” and “fucking stupid shits” one particularly infectious song references. The album opens with the heartfelt line “There’s no job to pay the rent, and there’s no love to make it better.” Bam. Just like that.
There are many such effortlessly honest lyrics throughout, like “I wanna get lost in the sound coming out of your mouth/ I wanna get high with you” and “that’s the train that I’m on/ If you don’t want on, then get off/ It’s just who I am,” with enough oohs and ahhs to sweeten the deal.
Their capacity to write such addictively anthemic and catchy songs combined with the energy of their live shows is what makes seeing The Babies on stage so damn awesome.
Unless you take your music with a side of heavy. In that case, move along.
The Babies, Twin Steps, Younger Lovers, Wet Spots
1-2-3-4 Go! Records
December 5, 2012
Grass Widow, The Babies, Scrapers
Bottom of the Hill
December 6, 2012