December 10, 2013
As usual, our year-end wrap-up podcast comes leaden with hemming, hawing and caveats aplenty. How can another wide-ranging year full of impressive Bay Area releases be distilled down to a coherent list of “best” works? The obvious answer is that it can’t. Ultimately, this podcast collects thirteen bands that had impressive 2013s, including a number of groups that won’t be a surprise to attendees of Bay Bridged events or close followers of the blog.
2013 was once again banner year for local garage rock, with another stellar album from Thee Oh Sees and extremely catchy debut LPs from Cool Ghouls and Warm Soda. The Bay Area also delivered some compelling heavier releases, with Deafheaven‘s breakout Sunbather and the retro psych rock of Fuzz. If it’s something poppier you’re after, though, consider the noisy pop of Tony Molina or Mikal Cronin‘s great MCII. Local songwriters also devlivered this year, including Wymond Miles, Joseph Childress and Dan Casey.
Another two excellent local songwriters will actually be touring together next year with their bands, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down and Sonny & The Sunsets. Sonny Smith may win the award for hardest working (or at least most prolific) local musician this year, releasing an LP with the Sunsets and the third volume of his 100 Records series, and compiling the wonderful I Need You Bad compilation, which showcased a variety of great local bands. Finally, we’ve included here one from SF electronic pop artist Giraffage, from his stellar 2013 mixtape Needs.
Here’s to more great local music in 2014!
August 7, 2013
Sonny Smith has never been known to limit himself to just one project, or just one genre, or even just one identity. Antenna to the Afterworld, the latest release from Smith’s band Sonny & the Sunsets and the direct follow up to last year’s country-rooted Longtime Companion, takes yet another route in Smith’s catalog of musical personalities.
Of course Antenna to the Afterworld is not without concept, much like the band’s other albums. It carries veins of new wave synths, giving a new psychedelic glow to Smith’s usual folk sound. The third video from the album (all of which depict an interaction between two of the band members, playing characters filmed in fuzzy black and white) is for the song “natural acts”. The video hones in on bassist Ryan Browne and drummer Kelley Stoltz as they play a goofy, farcical tennis match, full of twists and pratfalls that give homage to old silent movies.
In addition to the new video release, the band has also announced its summer tour, with several stops alongside fellow folk-rock legend Kurt Vile. Sonny & the Sunset’s San Francisco show, however, will be sans Vile, at The Chapel on August 31st.
Sonny & The Sunsets, Warm Soda
August 31st, 2013
9pm, $15 adv/ $17 door
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 21, 2013
San Francisco’s Sonny and the Sunsets have premiered another track from their upcoming record, Antenna to the Afterworld, via Stereogum. The new song, “Palmreader,” follows “Dark Corners,” which was dropped back in March. The new album is said to be inspired by the passing of singer Sonny Smith’s friend and will be out in June 2013 on Polyvinyl Records.
Listen to “Dark Corners,” Antenna to the Afterworld’s first single, below.
Record Store Day 2013 is tomorrow (pick up vinyl from locals Ty Segall, Golden Void, Moon Duo and more)
April 19, 2013
Lovers of vinyl will go to bed tonight with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads, as Record Store Day – the high holiday for audiophiles around the world – returns tomorrow, and more than 25 Bay Area independent record shops are participating in the madness. This year’s event (the seventh official RSD) features not only its usual array of special releases from high profile musicians, but a handful of local acts are jumping into the fray, dropping limited edition wax that will no doubt delight many scenesters from the Bay and beyond.
Included on that list of local denizens participating in RSD is SF’s reigning prince of indie rock, Ty Segall. Ty is back with his umpteenth release in recent years, a 7-inch entitled Ty Rex 2, which, like his 2011 effort Ty Rex, features covers of a handful of classic T. Rex tracks, “Cat Black (Wizard Hat)” and “The Motivator”. Listen to “The Motivator” below (via Soundcloud), and if you’re not familiar with the 1971 original, go here.
Other Bay Area acts joining in the RSD fun are The Bay Bridged favorite Golden Void, which is premiering two new tracks on their 7-inch release Rise to the Out of Reach b/w Smiling Raven, Moon Duo (with Circles Remixed), and Sonny & the Sunsets (with Imagine).
Check out the full list of special releases on RSD’s website, and figure out which local record shop will get your hard-earned money here. See you out there, and try not to trample anybody as you race to grab your favorite band’s limited edition vinyl.
Rock/See: A Concert for the Roxie! tonight at Verdi Club, 4/5/13 (Thee Oh Sees, Sonny & the Sunsets, & more)
April 5, 2013
Poster Design: Philip Pascuzzo
The Roxie Theater, the Mission’s last remaining independent movie theater, is putting on a benefit concert at Verdi Club tonight, with all proceeds going to support the theater’s campaign to renovate and upgrade their smaller sister theater, the Little Roxie. The neighborhood cinematic institution recruited “four of San Francisco’s finest lo-fi/garage bands” for the event: headlining are the seemingly ubiquitous Thee Oh Sees, with fellow locals Sonny & the Sunsets, Future Twin, and Assateague opening.
In 2003, the Roxie opened the 49-seat Little Roxie, a “mini theater” just two doors over from the main theater on 16th Street, and is now looking to make improvements to its tiny neighbor on its tenth anniversary. The event is designed not only to celebrate the theater itself, but also to call attention to the Mission’s position as one of our city’s thriving artistic and cultural centers:
ROCK/SEE promises to be a memorable evening that merges music and movies with community and history. One theater and four bands all rooted in providing audiences with a unique, intimate, and mind-bending experience will come together to deliver just that. The event will celebrate the San Francisco Mission District neighborhood they all emerged from, while raising money to support one of the city’s last remaining independent cinemas.
The Roxie made a point of partnering with four bands from SF’s indie music community – instead of the path taken by other non-profit arts organizations that are “joining forces with corporate entities and developers” – to help raise the funds “to continue supporting diverse, independent creative works not driven by financial interests.” The show will incorporate projections by local filmmakers Barry Jenkins, Jim Granato, and others.
Headliners Thee Oh Sees are gearing up for the release of another new LP, entitled Floating Coffin, out April 16 on Castle Face Records. Watch the video for the album’s first single “Minotaur”, and get full details on tonight’s Rock/See benefit, below.
Rock/See: A Concert for the Roxie! (Thee Oh Sees, Sonny & the Sunsets, Future Twin, Assateague)
April 5, 2013
8:30, $25 (SOLD OUT)
April 3, 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.
We’re due for an onslaught of anticipated new albums from Bay Area bands, and that outpouring begins this month with a number of the local artists we’ve included in this mix. Both Life Coach and Tartufi have gained members since their last records — Life Coach recently became a duo with the addition of The Mars Volta’s Jon Theodore on drums, while Tartufi gained a third member, bass player Ben Thorne (also of MINOT). On the garage rock front, we’ve included a selection from Shannon and the Clams‘ Dreams in the Rat House, which arrives in late May, and one from Burnt Ones‘ new album on Burger Records.
Plenty of reliably strong live performers are also touring through SF in April, including guitar wizard Marnie Stern, whose The Chronicles of Marnia has great songs as well as the best/most ridiculous title I’ve heard all year. If you’re more inclined toward country rock with an experimental twist, do check out Phosphorescent. I was really impressed by Matthew Houck’s band at South by Southwest; it’s a tight group of musicians who do great service to his rich songs. Finally, Telekinesis knows its way around a great indie pop song, and the band’s live shows find bandleader Michael Lerner drumming and singing with equal vigor.
Enjoy the podcast and then go see some shows!
About the bands:
March 19, 2013
Polyvinyl just offered up this teaser of “Dark Corners,” the first track on Sonny & the Sunsets‘ new album, Antenna to the Afterworld. The album comes out on June 11th, and that’s all the information we have right now. In case you missed it, here also is Sonny and his band’s cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” coming out on a 7″ on Record Store Day.