Posts by: Russell Jelinek
December 11, 2013
San Francisco’s Kelly McFarling just released an EP of covers, Others, featuring reworks of Whitney Houston, Tom Petty, and others. Covers can be tricky – too often the singer can over-sing in an effort to make the new version seem more like their own, or things can sometimes just get too cute. That’s not the case with McFarling on Others. She took familiar pop songs and crafted interesting new arrangements around her banjo and a pedal steel (an instrument I am particularly fond of), with her strong voice front and center. I’m partial to McFarling’s take on The Outfield’s “Your Love”, but all six tracks are worth your time. Listen to Others below, and catch McFarling live at the Awaken Cafe January 10.
December 10, 2013
Photo: Matthew Scott
Patrick Clos, the primary songwriter for Cocktails, brings a blue-collar Midwestern sentimentality to much of his work, and God bless him for it. Whether he’s singing about going to the lake on “Ozark Lake” or disillusionment with California’s grandeur in “No Blondes in California”, he makes you feel a simple workin’ man in the funnest way possible. Cocktails’ latest track, “Friday”, continues their trend of making catchy garage pop for the working man, giving us the perfect soundtrack for downing an ice-cold Milwaukee’s Best after a long day of hard labor. Recorded at Rob Good’s Fuzz City Studios, the drums sound characteristically perfect and everything else is perfectly fuzzy. “Friday” is the A-side of a vinyl single you can purchase from Grazer Records or at the Father/Daughter Showcase on December 12 that we told you about yesterday. “Friday” is below.
December 5, 2013
San Francisco’s Scary Little Friends, who blew me away with their stellar debut earlier this year, just dropped a video for their track “City at Night.” The video takes you on a fun little journey through, well, the City at night, where white kids from the suburbs are ordering burritos and “pretending they don’t give a damn.” It’s good to put faces to voices and instruments as well.
Scary Little Friends are celebrating their album release Friday at a Bottom of the Hill show, where I’m sure singer Chris Jones’ impressive pipes will be on full display. The “City at Night” video is below.
December 3, 2013
Guy Fox released a steady stream of EPs and singles over the last two years, and that trend continues with the premiere of the track “The City Line”. “City Line” is the first of a string of singles leading up to their debut LP set for a summer 2014 release, and departs somewhat from the upbeat party vibes on much of their earlier releases. “City Line” adds a slower, dreamier pace to the band’s catalog.
Thursday night, Guy Fox performs at Brick and Mortar with Bonnie and the Bang Bang and Growwler. A portion of the tickets sold will benefit the local non-profit Performing Arts Workshop. Details are below “The City Line”.
Guy Fox, Bonnie and the Bang Bang, Growwler
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
December 5, 2013
November 27, 2013
Oakland’s Bells Atlas released their strong debut LP earlier this year to pretty decent acclaim for an independent release from a previously “un-googleable” band. Saturday night, they’re opening for Tumbleweed Wanderers at Great American Music Hall, so I caught up with Bells Atlas guitarist Derek Barber to learn a bit more about the band.
The Bay Bridged: For those that don’t know, how did you guys get together?
Derek Barber: The band started a little over two and a half years ago. Sandra and Doug started collaborating musically a while before I joined the band — we played our first show in March of 2011. The band wasn’t complete, however, until Geneva joined up shortly after our first gig. Even though I had known Doug from my Jazz guitar days in Ann Arbor, it really felt like all of us found each other in a very kismet way…
TBB: You play with several musical projects – do they influence your work with Bells Atlas? How?
DB: Yeah, I play with a lot of my friends, but each band is pretty different from each other. For example, Astronauts, etc. is quite different from In Watermelon Sugar which is quite different from my solo project Perhapsy and so forth…
Playing with Bells Atlas, however, I really try to think in terms of what will serve the song or vibe best — it’s actually a blast to play in such a different group because you’re always trying to bring out a different side of your playing. A lot of times it’s a subconscious process though, and I think some of the best music in Bells Atlas gets made when we’re not over-thinking what we’re working on. For me, that’s when it’s really fun.
TBB: Has any of the feedback for your LP surprised you?
DB: In some ways, absolutely. Geneva and Sandra were saying that a bit ago, a woman came up to the two of them quoting some lyrics to “Dit Dit” even though they didn’t know who she was… I thought that was awesome and pretty cute.
It’s probably the best album I’ve ever taken part in though — which makes this group such a special thing for me.
TBB: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a band?
November 27, 2013
Last month, San Francisco ukulelist Kitten Grenade, (aka Katelyn Sullivan), released a video for the track “Grey,” the first single from her upcoming EP, which will come out on Breakup Records next year. Sullivan avoids the plague of boring ukulele folk singers by adding great layers to the arrangement that looped in my head over and over after I initially heard it. Kitten Grenade will be performing Wednesday Night at Bottom of the Hill.
This is one of the first (if not THE first) release for brand-new label for Breakup Records, which was founded by Alex Haager of Magic Fight. (Hint: Buy your tickets to see Magic Fight at The Bay Brewed if you haven’t already.) Currently, Breakup is working with Frozen Folk, clintongore, and others – be sure to look for more from Haager and team in the near future. For now, you can watch Kitten Grenade’s video for “Gray” below.
November 25, 2013
Last week, Pat Thomas, bassist, singer, and songwriter for Cool Ghouls premiered “Not Right Now”, the first single from his debut solo EP Coasters Riding in the Air. Pat tells me Cool Ghouls will continue to be his main focus, but he simply had a lot of songs written immediately after the Ghouls’ debut LP was released and didn’t want to disrupt their energy and practice time with his new songs. “So the quickest way for me to make these songs real was to lay em down on my 8 track on my own time. I was unemployed, so I had plenty of that,” says Thomas.
Coasters Riding in the Air will be available as a digital download from Empty Cellar and on cassette from Burger. To celebrate the release, Thomas will play a free show at Vacation on November 26 with Joseph Childress, who will also be celebrating the release of his Rebirths LP. Pat isn’t planning to play more solo shows and Childress puts on amazing live performances, so don’t make the mistake of missing this one if you’re in town. Listen to the smile-inducing “Not Right Now” below.
Pat Thomas, Joseph Childress
November 26, 2013
November 22, 2013
There’s always a ton of great music going on in Oakland, but Saturday night presents a somewhat unique opportunity to see no less than five different artists previously featured on The Bay Bridged at three different venues within walking distance of each other while spending less than ten dollars total to get through the doors. What fun!
To kick off your evening, swing by the Rock Paper Scissors Collective on Telegraph for a combination art exhibition closing and musical performance. Casey Chisholm‘s loneriffic bummer pop would be the highlight for me. Chisholm recently raised a nice amount of money for Philippines typhoon relief with a limited-edition album, and I’m sure he’d be very grateful if you purchased anything from his catalog or dropped a few bucks into the hat at his show. Listen to his latest release below.
From RPS, head on down to the Awaken Cafe, which has been doing a great job booking folk acts to complement their Broadway brethren the Night Light’s solid offerings of garage and indie rock. Let Duncan Neilsen, aka Doncat croon his way into your heart:
I don’t normally sneak out early, but it’s a special night, so at about 8:30pm, keep heading toward the Bay and drop by Pacific Coast Brewing for some craft beer and the end of one-man-band Born Petrified‘s set – his latest single is right here! [More...]