SF Shows of the Week // GO4FREE to Ghostface Killah, EOTO or Dream Police

EOTO & Ghostface KillahWritten by Josh Herwitt & Scotland Miller //

Win a pair of free tickets to one of our SF Shows of the Week by entering your name and email below.

EOTO: December 5th (FRI) @ The Independent
Dream Police: December 6th (SAT) @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall & December 7th (SUN) @ Leo’s Music Club
Ghostface Killah: December 7th (SUN) @ The Independent




EOTO: December 5th (FRI) @ The Independent // BUY TICKETS
The livetronic side project made up of two String Cheese Incident members — multi-instrumentalist Michael Travis and drummer/percussionist Jason Hann — returns to The Independent for a Friday night headlining slot as part of their nine-date “Outer Orbit” mini-tour during a busy two-week stretch. Travis, who incorporates keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals into EOTO’s songs, and Hann haven’t actually released a studio album in five years, but they’ve come to be known as two serious road warriors, having gone on to play more than 100 shows a year since forming in 2006. If you want to groove your way into the weekend, The Independent is where you’ll want to spend your Friday night this week. -JH

Contest ends Friday, December 5th at Noon.




Dream Police: December 6th (SAT) @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall and December 7th (SUN) @ Leo’s Music Club // BUY TICKETS (Brick and Mortar show) // BUY TICKETS (Leo’s show)
Dream Police will be on patrol for this weekend in the Bay Area starting on Saturday night at Brick and Mortar in SF and then at Leo’s Music Club in Oakland on Sunday. Serving as a cauldron of sonic leftovers from their main project The Men, Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro released an LP earlier this year by the name of Hypnotized. Care to bounce around to some psychedelic electro-dance rock? -SM

Contest ends Friday, December 5th at Noon.




Ghostface Killah: December 7th (SUN) @ The Independent // BUY TICKETS
OG member of The Wu-Tang Clan Dennis Cole, aka Ghostface Killah, aka Tony Starks, aka Starky Love, aka Ghostdini, aka The Wallabee Kingpin is out on tour in support of his new album (and accompanying comic?!) entitled 36 Seasons. It is an exciting time for fans of the Wu, as they are preparing to once again deliver an undoubtedly masterful album called A Better Tomorrow. Drop by The Independent and get your lean on with the Bam Fam on Sunday night. -SM

Contest ends Friday, December 5th at Noon.


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New Music Tuesday: Pharrell • The Men • Drive-By Truckers • Real Estate • Eagulls • Kimono Kult

Pharrell

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.


Pharrell WilliamsG I R L

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Brand New”
“Happy”
“Come Get It Bae”

Album Highlights: It’s been eight years since Pharrell delivered his first solo effort, In My Mind, though he has been plenty busy in the meantime. Whether it’s his falsetto contributions to “Get Lucky” or backing Robin Thicke on his breakout single, Williams really has had the best year out of anyone in music. We all know and love (for now) the lead single off of G I R L, “Happy,” but the other nine tracks on this release will be new gems as we push into springtime.

Obviously this is a feel-good album, playing heavily on Williams’ pop neo-soul sound that he has been cultivated after his time with alternative hip-hop act N.E.R.D. Musically, nods to Jamiroquai, Jackson 5 and Prince are distinguishable while Hans Zimmer’s string arrangements add elements of sophisticated disco. Pharrell’s presence in the industry combined with his understanding of contemporary pop-music lend to a ton of standout tracks that really feel different from one another. Miley Cyrus guests on the funk banger “Come Get It Bae,” and is disgustingly infectious, sure to be a fan favorite. Though Daft Punk was officially left off the track list, “Gust of Wind” is the song they are featured on as Nile Rodgers-esque guitar sections lead to the manipulated vocals we have come to love from these French robots. Another standout appearance comes from Alicia Keys on the girl-power, reggae tinged track, “Know Who You Are.” Her sultry vocals do offer a nice respite before the auto-tuned closer “It Girl.”

Album Lowlight: Though the album is admirably considered to be a slight concept album, focusing on a more positive outlook on females in music (slightly motivated by “Blurred Lines” backlash), it really doesn’t need agenda. Also, the lyrics Pharrell penned don’t shine brightly, especially compared to the music that accompanies. One wonders how long Pharrell had been working on the production side while he should have been spending some time with pen and paper.

Takeaway: Pure, unadulterated enjoyment at it’s freshest and finest. Seems like we should start calling him Midas as Williams has the golden touch these days, so it’s no surprise that G I R L is sure to be a success on multiple levels. Pharrell is still rising stock after 2013, and he’s likely doubled his fan base in 12 months whether it was the 24-hour music video to “Happy” or even, dare I mention, his now-owned-by-Arbys Grammy headwear. Williams has also seemed to further his popular falsetto singing, and really shines alongside, equally falsetto-heavy singer, Justin Timberlake on “Brand New.” With that said, this may be the final piece in what will be dubbed the ‘Pharrell Williams sound.’

~Kevin Quandt


Drive-By TruckersEnglish Oceans

3-Bams

Top Tracks:
“Grand Canyon”
“When Walter Went Crazy”
“Pauline Hawkins”

Album Highlights: The Drive-By Truckers did something they never do for their 10th studio album, English Oceans — they split song-writing duties between long time band members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. Generally, Hood has been the primary songwriter of all the Truckers’ material. The results of this shared duty is a contrasting album ripe with vivid lyrics and story-telling. My favorite part of the record comes in the final two minutes of the album, during “Grand Canyon,” when the band finds a great psychedelic groove to close out the record.

Album Lowlight: The lyrics shine on this record. However, there is much left to be desired in the instrumental department. Most of the songs are straight up alt-country rock songs that struggle to capture listener attention. The storytelling, however, makes up for the pedestrian musicianship. I think this is more a product of their genre and style than their actual musical ability, because it is quite apparent the Drive-By Truckers are extremely comfortable and accomplished musicians.

Takeaway: Fans of the Drive-By Truckers, and alt-country rock fans in general, will probably love this album. As great as the storytelling is on this record, I simply get bored by the musicianship. The Drive-By Truckers have been around since the 90’s and are clearly trying to mix things up — the dual voice quality to this record give it a very interesting perspective that many of the previous DBT albums lacked.

~Kevin Raos


Real EstateAtlas

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Had to Hear”
“Past Lives”
“The Bend”

Album Highlights: Real Estate are still one of the best purveyors of breezy, chill rock that is perfect for a day at the beach or a drive down the coast. Unlike Days and Real Estate, this day at the beach has a few clouds hanging overhead as the New Jersey crew begins to mature lyrically and look more inward. Though the subject matters have shifted, the sound has stayed true to their roots as swirly guitars are still the ‘king of the beach’.

“Primitive” is one standout track that features a slightly adventuresome guitar romp towards the end. “Horizon” is a late gift on Atlas as it features a more-catchy, upbeat vibe, and likely would have benefitted from an earlier spot on the album. In true Real Estate fashion, there is one instrumental “April’s Song,” as well as one song sung by bassist Alex Bleeker entitled, “How Might I Live.” One aspect of Real Estate which is different this time around is the addition of Girls’ keyboardist, Matt Kallman. This latest member is subdued in the mix, adding subtle elements and figuring his place in this once string-oriented act. An added density of sound is also present which will add to sustained replay value, hopefully long enough to reach those sunny months ahead.

Album Lowlight: I suppose if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Real Estate have crafted an empire off their laid-back sound years ago, and though the sound hasn’t really progressed it’s still entirely enjoyable. Basically, they are good at what they do, however this writer has to wonder if, and when, this trend will break to display an evolving sound and maturing musicianship that isn’t afraid to take a chance once in a while.

Takeaway: Fans of the group are sure to be thrilled to have another 10 tracks of lazy tunes to toss on during an early afternoon BBQ or an exodus to some body of water. Maybe it’s a surprise that there are really no surprises in Atlas, even if the lyrical content has moved towards something more personal than benign. Real Estate make great records, and Atlas continues this trend as they continue to break from the underground to something viable to a larger audience.

~Kevin Quandt


EagullsEagulls

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Tough Luck”
“Possessed”
“Nerve Endings”

Album Highlights: This English quintet get down and dirty in their self-titled release, delivering one hell of a rock album. The sheer grittiness of each song makes you eager to hear what the next one will bring to the table. “Tough Luck” is the standout song that pairs an extremely catchy hook, colossal guitar work, and a thunderous bass line. This song is a straight rocker that leads its way to a different, slower direction by the time the song ends, which worked perfectly. The next highlight is the swirling guitar work and the gritty snarls of George Mitchell belting out the lyrics to “Possessed.” This song is extremely catchy, but still brings that certain edginess that these guys are going to be known for.

Album Lowlight: There’s not a whole lot that I would call lowlights, but the album seems to melt together, so its hard to pick out songs. Many of the chorus’ are just the repetition of a single word, but there’s a side of me that likes that simplicity, so that could go either way.

Takeaway: These rockers from across the pond made a very solid and concise album that is sure to catch momentum, and I’m sure I will be playing this album quite a few times this year. This release makes me want to catch these guys live as it’s sure to be an energetic, raucous show. If you’re a fan of gritty English rock, or Brooklyn’s own Parquet Courts, then I highly recommend this album. BAM!

~Pete Mauch


Kimono KultHiding in the Light

2.5 BamsTop Tracks:
“Todo Menos El Dolor”
“La Cancion De Alejandra”

Album Highlights: Any die-hard fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or The Mars Volta likely knows that both bands were tied to one another in the past. Former RHCP bandmates Flea and John Frusciante, after all, were key contributors during the recording sessions for TMV’s De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003) and Amputechture (2006), and the two outfits spent quite a bit of time together on the road. So, it should be no surprise to see Frusciante, who left RCHP in 2008 to focus on his solo career, hooking back up with fellow axe man Omar Rodríguez-López, who put TMV on hiatus in 2012 (despite the band dissolving four months later) to start Bosnian Rainbows with Le Butcherettes vocalist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender.

While Frusciante and Rodríguez-López provide Kimono Kult with the star power most new bands dream of having, the project is really Swahili Blonde drummer Nicole Turley’s baby. Turley, who recorded and produced the sextet’s debut EP Hiding in the Light on her own label Neurotic Yell Records, has described the record as “four songs of electro/dub/afro-beat/avant-freak/jazz-like conversations of instrumental ecstasy.” If that means sounding like a more electronic version of TMV, then she might actually be on to something. With Gender Bender on board, it’s pretty easy to see the similarities. Between her Spanish lyrics and high-pitched vocals, you could easily mistake Gender Bender for former TMV frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala. That’s about where the comparisons end, though. With the longest song on Hiding in the Light clocking in at 3:23, these aren’t exactly the 25-minute sonic explorations that many longtime TMV fans grew accustomed to hearing.

Album Lowlight: After Turley cooks up a groovy backbeat on the opening track “Todo Menos El Dolor,” the ensuing “Las Esposas” is where things start to get weird — the kind of weird that we’re used to hearing from Rodríguez-López by now. Unfortunately, a lot of times that can also be Rodríguez-López’s biggest downfall when it comes to his songwriting ability, and in Kimono Kult’s case, sounding weird just for the sake of sounding weird doesn’t work all that well. Consequently, most of Hiding in the Light lacks much of the same listen-ability that “Todo Menos El Dolor” retains, making it easy to understand why it was the first track the band released.

Let’s also be honest — it’s not easy to make a rock band that sings almost entirely in Spanish accessible to a U.S. audience. But it’s not just the language barrier on Hiding in the Light that presents a challenge for listeners. The jangly organ line that overwhelms the beginning of “La Vida Es Una Caja Hermosa” grows tiresome rather quickly, and although the Latin guitar effect offers a nice twist on ballad finale “La Cancion De Alejandra,” the song is too short for it to build any momentum. If Hiding in the Light is only a slice of what Kimono Kult has to offer, it may just be one of this supergroup’s early growing pains.

Takeaway: It’s hard to say anything definitive about a band that only has four songs to its name right now, so it’s probably best to take the wait-and-see approach with Kimono Kult — it just might require a bit of your patience. With Frusciante and Rodríguez-López bringing on board other talented musicians like instrumentalists Dante White (Dante Vs. Zombies) and Laena Geronimo (Raw Geronimo), you’d like to think that there’s bound to be some magic made in the studio. Still, there are no guarantees that will happen.

On the whole, Kimono Kult feels very much like an experiment at this point, and that’s probably fitting considering that all of these songs sound quite experimental at their core. Yet, by the same token, that’s also how Rodríguez-López has been looking at all of his endeavors lately, which means there’s no way of knowing what Kimono Kult’s lifespan will be.

~Josh Herwitt

FREE SHOWS: Smith Westerns & King Tuff at Brick & Mortar

Smith-Westerns-and-King-Tuff

Brick and Mortar Music Hall in the Mission is hosting two prime Outside Lands Night Shows this week, and we’ve got your free tickets.

WIN FREE TICKETS to these Outside Lands Late Night Shows:

  • Smith Westerns – Thursday 8/8
  • King Tuff // The Men – Saturday 8/10

This week it’s first come, first serve! If you see the show you would like to attend still available below, hurry up!!! You don’t want to barely get beaten out! Winners will be notified by 1PM Thursday 8/8, most likely earlier.

Please be sure you can attend the show. You may only go for one show this week.

CONTEST COMPLETE

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Smith Westerns‘ Outside Lands set begins at 12:45pm Friday, so odds are you’ll still be working or on the bus heading to the venue. Instead of it going down like this, head to Brick and Mortar Music Hall Thursday night.

BUY TICKETS


King Tuff is up against Daryl Hall & John Oates on Sunday — now you can do both. Plan on going to the King Tuff late night show Saturday night at Brick and Mortar.

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New Music Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix • How to Destroy Angels • The Men • Youth Lagoon • Rhye • The Cave Singers • Blue Hawaii

Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.


Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell and Angels

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Earth Blues”
“Hear My Train a Coming”
“Somewhere”

Album Highlights: The solo in “Hear My Train a Coming” is quintessential Jimim and it bridges the gap between beginning and end of the song perfectly. This early take on the classic song is quite powerful, and the solo alone deserves a listen. “Somewhere” has Hendrix showcasing his amazing Wah Wah pedal skills, and his stream of conscious style singing makes this song come to life. The album opener “Earth Blues” is probably the most complete song with great lyrics and classic Jimi riffs throughout.

Album Lowlight: I thought the album lost its place during “Let Me Move You,” even though the great Lonnie Youngblood was featured on Saxophone. The track seems out of place on the record, and the same could be said for “Mojo Man.” Also, the album ended with a whimper by picking “Villanova Junction Blues” as the outro song, and it isn’t even two minutes long. While I can’t exactly blame Jimi for this choice, I would prefer to hear a blistering solo to end the record.

Takeaway: It’s just great to hear Jimi Hendrix play guitar, and for that I am grateful this album has been released so far after his untimely death. It definitely helps us see which direction Jimi was going right after the Experience broke up. Most of the recordings are from sessions he played with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, the rhythm section from the Band Of Gypsies. Hendrix was straying from his psychedelic era sounds with the material that ended up on People, Hell and Angels, leaning more toward bluesy rock from Hendrix’s early years.

~Pete Mauch


How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Keep it Together”
“Ice Age”
“The Loop Closes”

Album Highlights: Welcome Oblivion is a brilliant experiment in collaboration between Trent Reznor and his wife, Mariqueen Maandig (formerly of West Indian Girl), also featuring his usual suspects, Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan. To take the industrial tension of Nine Inch Nails and have the vocals fronted by the sultry and angelic Maandig is a winning formula. Tracks like “Ice Age” turn down the synths and simply pair staccato strings with soft vocals, throwing the listener for a loop compared to previous tracks. Recently, Reznor has become the master of keeping his fans on their feet, this recently demonstrated by the quick and startling revamping of Nails, all before he’s even debuted How to Dress Angels on stage. Production is heavy on the chiller side of industrial/glitch electronic music, even industrializing the sound of vocals as seen in the beginning of “Too Late, All Gone.” Not all tracks feature vocals, something Reznor is a bit fond of.

Album Lowlight: The inclusion of Mariqueen as lead singer alleviates some pressure from Trent, and it certainly shifts the overall sound and feel away from something that is wholly Nine Inch Nails. With this stated, I would have liked to hear a bit more of Reznor’s characteristic vocal style. “Keep it Together” is a prime example of Trent augmenting Mariqueen’s steamy female vocals, and this would have been welcomed on more tracks.

Takeaway: Fans of Nine Inch Nails will enjoy this release, furthermore listeners who may have been scared away by the likes of the brutal side of NIN (see “Closer”) will feel it is more palpable, especially to female listeners. Reznor is not a musician who takes much down time, and he has kept himself busy since temporarily dissolving NIN a few years back. This project is not brand new, but has now fully taken flight with the impending live debut coupled with a debut LP. Welcome Oblivion is a satisfying listen overall, taking a great leap in con-temporizing the brilliant industrial sound Trent Reznor and his cohorts have polished over multiple decades.

~Kevin Quandt


The MenNew Moon

Top Tracks:
“The Seeds”
“Electric”
“I See One”

Album Highlights: New Moon is a different album than previous, likely pointing to maturity or fear of being lost in the ever increasing bands that sound akin. It leans more on the poppier side than the noise side of rock, especially when viewed compared to previous releases. Songs like “The Seeds” are a fun romp in folk rock that is becoming evermore popular, as demonstrated by Father John Misty and the likes. “I Saw Her Face” features a heavy, lo-fi guitar lead full of drudge and weight to accompany the lulled-out drumbeat and bass. “Bird Song” lends itself to a more personal side that would make Crazy Horse smirk. One can almost hear old Neil play his harmonica along with ‘em.

Album Lowlight: It feels as if the track order was a total toss-up, and gives the album a lack of direction and flow that is not easy to look past. Maybe they should slow down and take some time with these efforts, as this is the fourth release in four years.

Takeaway: An enjoyable spin on the current state of modern rock, full of hooks and unique tracks placed side by side in no distinguishable rhyme or reason. It’s lighter on the tinges of punk that these New Yorkers have been somewhat known for, but there is a sound for just about everyone on New Moon.

~Kevin Quandt


Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Mute”
“Dropla”
“Raspberry Cane”

Album Highlights: Trevor Powers, the boy genius behind Youth Lagoon, has created a sequel to 2011’s Year in Hibernation that continues the dreamy low-fidelity indie rock and succeeds in many spots. “Mute” sounds clear and cheery after the opening track “Through Mind and Back,” and it is the best track on the long player. It starts with a Bradford Cox-like wandering space into, but when the track transitions to it’s second phase dominated by repetitious keyboard strokes and Star Wars destroyer swoosh-byes as part of the conceptual build, the song begins to fly. “The Bath” and “Third Dystopia” are also stand-out tracks.

Album Lowlight: Overall, Wondrous Bughouse could be viewed as a soundtrack to a sinister clown carnival, and only rarely succeeds (“Raspberry Cane”) while looking at the record through this prism. Upon repeat listens, Youth Lagoon’s newest effort is more appropriately seen as a collection of tripped out lullabies. But what holds this record back from greatness is that it feels like an exercise in seeing how many carnival sounds Powers could layer on top of each other while still creating likable pop songs. Creating this sound aesthetic is a tightrope walk, and it often works. It does not work with “Attic Doctor,” “Sleep Paralysis” & “Daisyphobia,” and these tracks push the “trippy lullaby” theme to the edge of the listener threshold.

Takeaway: The most joyous thing Powers established with The Year of Hibernation was a nuanced song structure. Most tracks thrived on introspective, exploratory introductions that thrived on building to a second-half sonic payoff. And it is the second-half building in tracks like “Afternoon” that smacked you out of your wondrous state, creating a contrast that is goose-bump inducing. Overall, this quality is less present in Wondrous Bughouse. However, the record is a grower, one where the nuances present themselves more and more, and most tracks subsequently get better with each listen.

~Mike Frash


RhyeWoman

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Fall”
“Open”
“3 Days”

Album Highlights: The highly anticipated debut album from Rhye, the producer duo Robin Braun and Mike Milosh, is an infectious, soulful, electro-R&B album. Women is highly sensual; this album is perfect for a late night romance or a long drive in the middle of the night. It’s upbeat enough to keep your head bobbing, but mellow enough to fall asleep to. And I say “fall asleep to” in the most endearing way possible.

The vocals are the true highlight of this album. Milosh and Braun’s voices work together in perfect venereal harmony that keeps the listener longing for more.

Album Lowlight: I’m nitpicking here, but I simply want more from Rhye. I can’t wait to see how their sound develops with future material, and I’ll be spinning this record for a while.

Takeaway: Woman has an incredibly developed sound that mixes elements of minimalist electronic with a orchestral components, highlighted by the incredible vocal performance. The album is extremely well produced and mature. For a debut album, it is a sensational effort. Dim the lights, open a bottle of wine and enjoy this album.

~Kevin Raos


The Cave SingersNaomi

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Have to Pretend”
“Shine”
“Northern Lights”

Album Highlights: The Cave Singers present a lighter, spring time soundtrack on their 4th album Naomi. The addition of Morgan Henderson on bass/flute (Fleet Foxes, Blood Brothers) and producer Phil Ex (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Modest Mouse) allows the northwestern folk quartet to stick to their simple yet original and audible recipe while dabbling in some new territories. Front man Pete Quirk also sings in tune…on purpose, throughout the entire album! We can thank Ex for that suggestion.

Album Lowlight: Naomi lacks a certain flow that 2007’s Invitation Songs and 2009’s Welcome Joy possess. “Easy Way” ventures into a generic cookie cutter rock song that pushes Quirk to stressful, at times uncomfortable harmonies.

Takeaway: Fans that are looking for the same dish that The Cave Singers have been delivering will surely be satisfied. The fuller sound and additional band member definitely works in favor for the band. Still, The Cave Singers use the same, simple rifts with very little key chord progression, relying heavily on lyrical melodies. Don’t expect the same foot stomping, glass shattering sensation that “Dancing In Our Graves” delivers. This album will be great for sunny spring time mornings.

~Sam Heller


Blue HawaiiUntogether

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Yours to Keep”
“Try to Be”
“Sweet Tooth”

Album Highlights: Divided into two separate installments, “In Two” highlight’s the dual nature of this album’s artistic influences and conception. Cowan and Preston are both able to communicate their individual spin on the track in an extended jam, mixed perfectly through electronic dance-style cohesion.

Album Lowlight: Although tight on the mixing and an impressive execution of skill, “Sierra Lift” would have been better without as much editing. Standell-Preston’s vocals are excessively staggered and nearly indecipherable due to the choppiness of the track. The effect audibly is interesting, but becomes exhausting throughout the song’s duration, and album in general.

Takeaway: “Try to Be” is the best representation of what Untogether is aiming to achieve both in sound quality and songwriting. Blue Hawaii, a duo of Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alexander Cowan, recorded Untogether with the intention to explore deviating genres and the audible patterns that lie between them. “Try to Be” showcases the natural symbiosis of their co-writing capabilities.

~Molly Kish