Brandon Bussolini

YaHoWha 13

From spirit to song
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PREVIEW It's hard to know where to begin or end when it comes to telling the story of the Source Family, the commune out of which YaHoWha 13's recordings emerged. The Source — an organic, vegetarian Los Angeles restaurant founded in 1969 by the group's leader, Father Yod — had a distinct, documentable existence, but as these things go, the spiritual family that gathered around it was considerably more amorphous. YaHoWha 13 released nine LPs, all of which were improvised and recorded in one take. Read more »

Demon Days without end

Carl Craig's backlash-free club night roams to SF
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Like science fiction, techno can elicit automatic cringes when dropped as a descriptor in mixed company. Haters give explanations that aren't really explanations — much like vocabulary that doesn't add up to an argument: it's repetitive, boring, either icy and alienating or overblown and dramatic, frequently both at once. It's a weird scene. They seem to use drugs in a way that's both corny-sensual and ego-destroying. Read more »

Wow wow wow wow

Unapologetic collaborator Kevin Killian on Pepsi, Joe Jonas' eyebrows, and Action Kylie
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Kevin Killian is an inveterate and unapologetic collaborator: even when writing solo, there's always another presence. Whether he ventriloquizes through this other, or assimilates or deconstructs it is the reader's call, and it's a difficult one to make. The poems in Killian's most recent book of poetry, Action Kylie (In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni, 128 pages, $15) are places where T.S. Eliot's cats LOL, Antonio Banderas anagrams to "no brains on a date," and Kylie Minogue's derivativeness is more compelling than genius. Read more »

Mochipet

Danceable, bass-heavy, hip-hop adjacent beats
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PREVIEW In his recent profile of Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus, The New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones goes out of his way to avoid dropping the "lazer bass" bomb. Which makes sense: it's a term he jokingly and publicly coined on his blog to describe a geographically dispersed "affinity group" whose music seems to have both everything and nothing to do with hip-hop circa 2008, and he's gotten some shit for it. Here's where we rely on Daly City's Mochipet — David Y. Wang, if you're feeling friendly — to clarify things. Read more »

Torch songs

Sébastien Tellier's sweetly withholding jams
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In the best promo photo for Sébastien Tellier's third album, Sexuality (Record Makers), he sits in a shaft of light before a piano, his ever-present fitover sunglasses pushed up on the crown of his head, and a burnished gold hand rests on the shoulder of his Members Only jacket. Hovering over his left shoulder is a blank, benevolent casque belonging to the album's producer, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo — one half of Daft Punk. It's a silly scene of symbolic torch-passing. Read more »

Shwayze

Where LA plays itself
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PREVIEW Shwayze would be impossible without reality TV, not only because Buzzin', their own MTV vehicle, gives them the kind of exposure that YouTube, a place where music videos still circulate, couldn't. Rather, the music on their self-titled Suretone/Geffen debut is about and of Los Angeles in a way that wasn't thinkable before that form of programming legitimated some of the city's embarrassingly tired clichés. Read more »

Icy Demons

Where weirdness meets pop smarts and accessibility
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PREVIEW There's liberatory potential in choosing a pseudonym, but the members of Chicago-area septet Icy Demons — Blue Hawaii, Pow Pow, Il-Cativo, Smart Cousin, Yo! Hannan, Monsieur Jeri, and the Diminisher — are probably just goofballs. Icy Demons are the sort of band whose surface weirdness is accompanied by both pop smarts and something fundamentally warped. What makes this trickier: their three albums, culminating in last year's Miami Ice (Obey Your Brain), have inched toward accessibility while also housing some of the group's most fully realized songs. Read more »

Holiday Guide 2008: Seasonal sounds

Sifting through the year's albums and shows for melodic gifting
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culture@sfbg.com

Thanks to the continued explosion of musically-oriented Web sites and blogs, you'll probably be even more inundated than usual this year with "best of 2008" lists come January 2009 — far too late for your tuneful shopping needs. So we're cranking one out early, organized by affinity groups — some slightly imaginary, some more concrete — in an attempt to cut through the loud hype and scattered bombast while amping up your gift-giving options. Read more »

Lucky Dragons

Upsetting the usual band-audience interaction
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PREVIEW Los Angeles' Lucky Dragons make music that's not very musical: many of the sounds Luke Fishbeck and Sara Rara use could come from faked field recordings or electronic noodling, and these ethnographic forgeries are further subjected to intense sampling that reduces the sense of space or regular pacing that usually marks sounds as music in our brains. Read more »

Alice Russell

The blue-eyed soul revivalist's music is up without being overtly rebellious
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PREVIEW When I see the name Alice Russell, I think first of Alice Coltrane and Arthur Russell before I think of this Brighton, UK, blue-eyed soul revivalist. And I'm aware that this may unfairly predispose me to her music, which is not without its charms.

The two other major UK soul vocalists to make an impact stateside, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, arrived as self-generating publicity machines whose public images matched their respective styles. In contrast, Russell's music is up without being overtly rebellious. Read more »