Posts by: Sabrina Barekzai
December 9, 2013
It’s been a busy year for the members of Oakland’s The Hot Toddies. Keyboardist Jessica parted ways as she took a teaching job in Thailand, leaving Erin, Sylvia, and Heidi to keep playing as a three piece.
A friendly parting from Jessica gave the girls the go-ahead to keep on keeping on with The Hot Toddies. They wrote and recorded their new song, “Summertime Blues” as a threesome for the first time. The track is a slightly heavier, more garage rock than their previous retro bubblegum pop. Along with Kitten and Dog Party, the Hot Toddies will be playing their first show in several months on Saturday!
Heidi, Sylvia, and Erin were kind enough to answer a few questions for The Bay Bridged below. Also, listen to “Summertime Blues” ahead of their Saturday night show!
TBB: The last time we heard from you ladies was around last year when you guys signed to Tricycle Records. Care to give us an update on what you guys have each been up to?
Heidi Noble: This year I’ve been traveling (went to Mexico a couple of times), spending time riding my new scooter, and doing short road trips with the Toddies girls. All of which inspire new songs to come!
Sylvia Fajen: With just the three of us, we’ve been exploring getting louder and faster with our songs. I’m excited to see what it will turn in to.
Erin Skidmore: This year has definitely been about some fun traveling. The Toddies played SXSW in March and did a short tour with the lovely ladies of Bam!Bam!. I took a trip to Costa Rica to learn to surf, plus beach time in Mexico and a couple visits to NYC.
TBB: How did the departure of a member shake things up amongst you guys?
HN: When Jessica moved to Thailand we weren’t sure what was going to happen. First, we didn’t know how long she would be gone, so we took a short break. But when we realized she wouldn’t be coming back for a while, we decided to keep going as a trio. The sound is a little more stripped down, but we’re bumping up the distortion to hopefully get a little heavier.
ES: Jessica moving away was really sad for all of us and no one–including Jess–knew how long she would stay gone. After a six month hiatus in 2012, we missed playing so much, we had to get it together and see what worked at a three piece. I think the biggest change without her keyboard and voice is less of a pop sound and more garage rock.
November 15, 2013
British songstress Anna Calvi is bringing her haunting vocals to The Independent this Sunday, November 17. Calvi’s second album, One Breath, is quickly blossoming into one of the albums of the year across the pond. In 2011, her self-titled debut introduced her talents to the world and received the golden seal of approval from none other than Brian Eno. Big supporters aside, One Breath is well-crafted and thought-out. Here, Calvi is comfortable enough to expose her scars, and she exposes it all on this album–the personal and the vulnerable.
Calvi’s shining jewel is her control of her natural voice. Her creative vocal manipulation is truly spellbinding. It’s shocking that her voice was never classically trained. Struggling to find her niche in her mid-twenties, Calvi locked herself in her bedroom to sing along to the likes of Nina Simone and Edith Piaf and was gifted by the vocal gods. Though she may look the part of dark, stormy, gothic symbolism (holy smoky eye and bold red lip!), she’s much more than that. One Breath switches things up from echoing lovelorn ballads with tracks like ”Love of my Life,” a punchy song with a powerful message to boot.
A personal favorite is single “Eliza,” which hums with a driving beat. The song is a fast-moving train conducted by her powerhouse voice. Seriously. That voice is one you won’t soon forget or confuse with another’s. Check out Calvi’s killer performance of the track on Jools Holland for a taste of what this siren will be bringing to The Independent on Sunday night.
October 16, 2013
“The one thing we really want to do is go to a toga party,” said Will Doyle. Palma Violets‘ drummer is lamenting about the college partying experience the young band has forgone to instead tour the world. The London garage rock band, which shot to fame (across the pond, anyway) after the release of their much-buzzed about debut album, 180, are set to play UC Berkeley this Friday, October 18th and the Treasure Island Music Festival on Sunday the 20th. Mayhew was kind enough to speak to me via an evening phone call while they wrapped up time off in London.
Palma Violets are currently promoting 180, the fast and loud sort of British rock album that is just as raucous to hear over speakers as it is to see played live. The four Lambeth twentysomethings (at least two of them are on the sorry-side of 21) are all ready to sink their teeth into San Francisco.
Already in the midst of a second leg of touring the U.S., Palma Violets previously played their first San Francisco show at The Independent. Doyle said the band’s time to explore was limited during their short stay. “[San Francisco is] quite European — there’s a lot going on. Go do this and go do that, we didn’t have much time to do it,” said Doyle.”But we’ll go for a walk when we get there and explore the town.”
Earlier this year, the guys had the unbelievable opportunity to open for the Rolling Stones in the UK. According to Doyle: “Well, that was nuts! We saw Ronnie Wood at the NME Awards. And after he presented the awards he came and said hello and we just kept in contact with him and he said, ‘Do you guys want to play this Hyde Park gig?’”
Doyle and the guys seem really stoked on being a part of Treasure Island Music Festival’s Sunday lineup. “I remember when we saw Treasure Island [the first time we came to San Francisco], we thought, ‘That can’t be real.’ And then someone said ‘No, you’re playing that!’ And so I was like, ‘This is almost like the Muppets.’”
September 27, 2013
Arctic Monkeys roared through a raucous set during their first of two sold-out nights at the Fox on Thursday. Being a big fan, I got to the venue shortly before doors opened and saw the sight of dozens of other big fans, mostly of the younger variety.
Talk was high in line about the band’s latest album, AM, their fifth full-length that dropped earlier this month. AM made the highest chart debut in the U.S. of any Arctic Monkeys album, coming in at #6. While the usefulness of chart information is neither here nor there, it does speak to the British band’s growing popularity among U.S. audiences.
Where 2011’s Suck it and See was cemented in the sunnier, poppy side, AM is clad in leather, slick, and pining to take you home for the night. The album could have also been called something along the lines of Mine & Yours, because it’s no secret this album has a clear theme of belonging and possession.
September 27, 2013
This past weekend, a couple hundred devoted fans of Woodsist Records snaked up and down Highway 1 and spent two days at the Woodsist Festival in Big Sur. The lineup included the likes of White Fence, Woods, Jessica Pratt, Little Wings, and Real Estate–generally former and current labelmates on Woodsist. The annual festival, which just wrapped up its third outing, is a relaxed environment unheard of at most music festivals. It’s like your friends are playing shows in your backyard: there are blankets on the grass, everyone brings their own food and band members are comfortably mingling with festival attendees and friends. Now imagine you’re friends with Real Estate and Tim Presley (and you very well might be).
The Henry Miller Library is an oasis of natural beauty. This is probably the most beautiful, small scale outdoor venue you’ve ever seen. The festival provided beer and wine but lacked food which would have been a nice touch considered many festivalgoers and bands themselves camped nearby. Another small miscalculation of festival logistics was the lack of Woodsist merch. A handful of records and shirts from each band were available at varying points throughout both days of the festival.
The first day of the festival opened with the lovely Jessica Pratt, a former San Francisco lady who just moved to Los Angeles. Pratt played alongside her keyboardist and the songstress was subdued with her brood of tender folk songs. She opted to play mostly newer material and strayed away from songs off of her critically-acclaimed debut. While Pratt’s stage presence at other venues has been slightly awkward in between songs, she seemed far more comfortable and relaxed here.
August 19, 2013
Electronic pop artist Porcelain Raft is back and moving out of his comfort zone. The solo project of Brooklyn’s Mauro Remiddi, Porcelain Raft’s first album, 2011′s Strange Weekend, was a buzzed-about landscape of dreamy-pop and loops in bubbling form. His new release, Permanent Signal, experiments with the unusual: slightly jagged, slightly off.
However, the pop sounds of Strange Weekend are still prevalent on Permanent Signal, out August 20th. Remiddi’s desire to experiment out of the hazy-vocals-dream-pop bubble is done right — just enough new elements still mixed with the vibe he previously perfected. “The Way Out”, for example, shows that while Remiddi is trying something new, he still sticks with the basics of what he’s best at.
Porcelain Raft’s hauntingly pretty new single is “Think of the Ocean.” The broken bits of this song are pieced together artfully, with Remeddi’s vocals adding an overlay of odd beauty. Remiddi will be playing Bottom of the Hill next month! Listen to the track and watch the official video below.
June 24, 2013
If you’ve seen Father John Misty three or four times like I have, you may know he has a fiery stage presence and isn’t too shy to make sardonic small talk in between songs.
What you may not know is that his signature dance moves were suspected to be the result of a medical condition in a letter to his label, Sub Pop. No, really, read this. Medical condition? No. Father John Misty, better known as Josh Tillman, has rather perfected a way to bring his collection of folk-pop songs to life on stage–I guess his gyrating and hip-shaking sometimes make him seem mentally ill to some. Tillman’s five-piece band played a sold-out show at The Fillmore this past Friday night where songs from their debut album, Fear Fun, dominated the set.
Before Father John Misty took stage, garage rock outfit White Fence warmed up the crowd. Having also seen White Fence a couple times as well, this was the best set I’ve ever heard them play–clean and tight. Every riff was a direct hit, and the setlist was an eclectic mix of older songs and tracks from their latest release, Cyclops Reap.
White Fence cleared the stage and Father John Misty launched into album-opener “Fun Time in Babylon,” and the crowd echoed the hopeful line of “look out Hollywood, here I come.” Tillman sang with a raw power to his voice, punching up the passion of each song. “Only Son of the Ladiesman” was a middle-of-the-set gem, with Tillman and co. enthralling all of The Fillmore with a tale of a man who was so smooth with the ladies.
Tillman dedicated “I Love You, Honeybear,” an unreleased track, to his fiance, Emma. Another set surprise came during the encore, where he played “We Met at the Store,” a move away from the brand of bubblegum-folk of Father John Misty and much more of a return to his solo work under the J. Tillman moniker. This song was surprisingly touching–evoking a heartfelt narrative of meeting one’s future partner at the store.
Father John Misty closed his set with a cover of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” Yes, this may sound corny on paper. But Father John Misty pulled it off with something distinctly non-corny: dance moves that make some question his sanity.
June 7, 2013
It’s hard to believe the ladies of The SHE’s are still teenagers. Yes, teenagers. As in, they are playing a show this summer but also squeezing in graduating from high school. When I was in high school, my friends and I went to the movies every weekend and I wrote for the newspaper–I wasn’t playing Noise Pop or shows with Mac Demarco, Surf Club, Girls, and Le Sera!
These ladies of The She’s certainly have talent–that classic rock n’ roll sound with a lighthearted beach-y feel and playing shows around the Bay are helping them to really make a name for themselves. Samantha Perez, Hannah Valente, Eva Treadway, and Sinclair Riley are kicking off their summer tour this month with a show at Milk Bar.
The She’s released their doo-wop, retro ode to those magical three months of the year, “Then It Starts To Feel Like Summer,” to much applause. They are planning a follow-up EP to be put out later this year.
Watch the video for “Running” below!
The She’s, Posole, Tango Alpha Tango, The Visibles
June 13th, 2013