May 6, 2013
The lovely people of Wood Shoppe are at it again. This time around, the monthly music series is bringing Southern California-based outfits PYYRAMIDS and The Hindu Pirates up to San Francisco to join the jangly rock and rollers of Cool Ghouls, four guys who have been making the city proud and earning accolades from the likes of Filter and Impose since the March release of their eponymous debut LP. Most recently, the band caught the attention of UK-based music and culture publication The 405, who premiered the music video for “Natural Life” last week. The video reflects exactly what makes Cool Ghouls so infectious: it is uncontrived and unapologetically filled with joy in the most refreshing way. It also features a bear suit, whiskey, and some of the most beautiful locations around the Bay Area. My favorite part: the full-body wiggle dance montage that starts at 1:40.
These guys have fun making music and leave the brooding to other outfits, so come have fun with them this Tuesday. Wood Shoppes’ own Wilson Zueng will be filling in the sound space between sets, and of course Brick & Mortar will be offering the standard Wood Shoppe deal — free entry, cheap drinks, rad bands, awesomeness.
Cool Ghouls, PYYRAMIDS, The Hindu Pirates, DJ Wilson Zueng
Brick & Mortar
May 7, 2013
May 1, 2013
In Live This Month, we sample some of the great local and out-of-town bands performing in the coming month in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Few recent artists have transitioned from lo-fi to hi-fi better than Kurt Vile, whose latest album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is another winner from the Philly-based musician, full of long, languid songs that feel spacious but not aimless. A sense of space also guides Clinic‘s psych-pop offering Free Reign; in fact, the group just released an alternate collection, Free Reign II, with the original album’s songs reconfigured in an appropriately mind-expanding fashion by Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin. More tightly constructed is Shout Out Louds‘ album Optica. The Swedish band’s new release fuses elements of disco and chamber pop into lively, addictive tunes.
Like Vile, Mikal Cronin is also making the move from low to high fidelity look easy. Cronin’s been making great music for a while now, solo and as a member of Moonhearts and Ty Segall’s band, but MCII, arriving on Merge Records, feels like the big screen debut of a real power pop talent. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s Tera Melos just released a new album of frenzied, mathy rock called X’ed Out and are embarking on a US tour to support. With new records also arriving recently from Cool Ghouls and Metal Mother, it’s certainly a busy time for Bay Area bands.
Enjoy the podcast and then go see some shows!
About the bands:
Cool Ghouls releasing debut LP on Empty Cellar, playing release party tonight at Brick & Mortar Music Hall
March 25, 2013
San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls are gaining some serious momentum so far in 2013. Shortly after the New Year, they may or may not have played a brilliant gig in the Sutro Baths caves that yours truly and another blogger may or may not have attended. Next up was a Noise Pop gig supporting scene mainstays Sonny Smith and Tim Cohen at Bottom of the Hill. Now, the quartet is set to release their debut LP, a self-titled effort that is due out April 23 on Arvel Hernandez’s Empty Cellar Records, and they’re celebrating tonight at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.
The forthcoming record, Cool Ghouls, is a collection of tracks that had been played at shows before the band headed into the recording studio. “The recording process was essentially a matter of putting down the songs as they had already existed in a live setting,” bassist Pat Thomas recently told me over email.
The band’s three primary songwriters – Thomas along with guitarists Pat McDonald and Ryan Wong – all write songs on their own, and then bring their ideas to the group for the full treatment. “The ones that I sing lead on are the ones that I write; the ones that Pat and Ryan sing lead on are the ones that Pat and Ryan write,” Thomas wrote. “Most of the time, the songwriter has guitar riffs, vocal harmonies, drumbeats, etc. in mind before bringing the song to the band. But ultimately, the arrangement for every song is figured out as a group, jamming together in our rehearsal space.”
It was the band’s strong songwriting skills that caught the attention of some local mainstays, who eventually played major roles in the self-titled record’s release.
The album was recorded by the aforementioned Mr. Cohen (of The Fresh & Onlys and Magic Trick fame), who the members of Cool Ghouls met through their label’s founder. “Arvel hooked us up with Tim. We showed Arvel some recordings that we were hoping to press on vinyl (six of those recording ended up being the Alright cassette), and he told us he didn’t think they were vinyl caliber, fidelity-wise. Then he offered to set up recording time with Tim and release those recordings on Empty Cellar.”
No tracks off Cool Ghouls have been officially released yet, but you can still catch a preview of the record, a track called “Witch’s Game”, which the band previously included on their 2011 Sneek Peek release. It’s a proper dose of the band’s trademark ’60s-influenced surf/psych rock ‘n’ roll sound. Listen below:
Cool Ghouls won’t slow down after the new LP drops – no, they have already begun recording their follow up album. “For our next record, which we hope to start recording before the summer, the process will probably be similar,” Thomas said. “Ideally, I would like to have more experimentation/exploration while recording this time around. And these songs aren’t as developed/show-tested as the last ones, so they’ll be more malleable as we lay them to tape.”
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.
December 13, 2012
Now this is what you call a stacked line-up: Night Beats, The Mallard, Cool Ghouls, and The Woolen Men, all playing together at Brick & Mortar this Friday night. It promises to be a seriously psych-rockin’ good time. Plus, my man Al Lover will be DJing between sets, so you know shit will be gettin’ trippy, with no let up.
And we want to send you and a friend for free.
To win, be the first person to email me at email@example.com with “Night Beats” in the subject line and the reason why you are the ultimate psychedelic warrior in the body of the message.
Also, you must be listening to Night Beats’ very 13th Floor Elevators-esque track “Shadows in the Night” while you email me (not really):
Night Beats, The Mallard, Cool Ghouls, The Woolen Men, DJ Al Lover
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
December 14, 2012
September 14, 2012
San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls recently released the outstanding EP Alright Cassette, which is available for download on their Bandcamp page. Formed by Benicia natives Pat Thomas and Pat McDonald just a year-and-a-half ago, the Ghouls have already developed an intriguing sound. Heavily influenced by pop, psych, surf, and folk-rock of the sixties, Cool Ghouls sound a lot like what I imagine the Byrds would sound like if they always cranked it to 11. They write catchy melodies, but their tight harmonies sung at the top of their lungs are highlights for me. Throw in a little lo-fi production, and you have some material that is meant to be played loud with a smile on your face.
Below you can stream a couple of my favorite Ghouls tracks, “California” and “First Taste of Spring”. Make sure to listen to the rest of Alright Cassettes along with the Ghouls’ first release Sneek Peek—every track in their catalog thus far is a keeper.
Cool Ghouls will release a vinyl LP on Empty Cellar Records later this Fall. You can catch them live at the Elbo Room September 17th with Natural Child and Buffalo Tooth, and in Santa Cruz at the Blue Lagoon on September 18th with Natural Child, Warm Soda, and Bummer City.
Natural Child, Cool Ghouls, Buffalo Tooth
September 17, 2012
Natural Child, Warm Soda, Bummer City, Cool Ghouls
Blue Lagoon (Santa Cruz)
September 18, 2012
April 11, 2012
The next monthly benefit for KUSF-In-Exile hosted by Bender’s Bar and Grill falls on 4/20, so there are plans to make this one extra special. I don’t think that means they’ll be passing out the sticky-icky at the door, but it does mean there are plans for it to be a “blowout” that will allegedly “BLOW YOUR MIND!!!” (Yes, I believe those are weed puns. And yes, all three exclamation points are from the original — they mean that shit.)
Check out this video from headliners Uzi Rash. Looks like someone got into the 4/20 supplies a little early…
February 6, 2012
Ready for another Noise Pop party before the music kicks off February 16th? Yes! Yes you are. On Tuesday, February 7th Bottom of the Hill hosts an opening reception for the Noise Pop Photo Retrospective (6-9pm, Free, 21+), a visual look at the previous 19 years of one of the Bay’s most influential and important musical events.
Everything that helped mold the festival into what it is today – the musicians, the fans, the venues – will be featured, thanks to these photographers who caught it all: Eduardo Acorda, Marlu Aufmuth, Jeanne Ellenby, Peter Ellenby, Charlie Homo, Sheila Menezes, Paige Parsons, Mike Rosati, Julie Schuchard, Shoka Shafiee, Matt Seuferer and Deb Zeller.
The party will feature sets from local rockers Plastic Villains and Cool Ghouls, as well as Trumer Beer specials. Check out Plastic Villains’ first ever music video for the song “Fish Hook Esquire” off the album Whoever You Are Today.