Daniel Alvarez

Doves

The emotional landscape of its new release includes hope as well as despair
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PREVIEW After generously treating its fans to an agonizing four-year wait,

Manchester-based trio Doves decided it was time. They recorded the 11 tracks that make up their fourth LP in a converted barn in the sprawling Cheshire countryside, a part of England that — like the group itself — is roughly as fashionable as a rhinestone-bedazzled fanny pack.

The result of this labor is Kingdom of Rust (Heavenly/Astralwerks), a collection that combines unabashed, fist-pumping spirit with the murky melancholy that defines Doves' at times brilliant 10-plus-year career. Read more »

The Funeral Party

A new crew of whippersnappers has decided to boil up some East Coast/West Coast beef
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PREVIEW By the late 1990s, the better part of the country had reached a consensus. The whole East Coast vs. West Coast thing had officially run its course and was, decidedly, un-chill. A pimp-stick-wielding Snoop Dogg blowing a gasket at The Source Awards and doing his damndest to incite a riot was one thing. Read more »

3 Inches of Blood

One of the undisputed leaders of power metal's shocking renaissance
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PREVIEW Keyboard neckties. 'Ludes. Neck beards. Meerkat racing. The 2005 Dan Alvarez would have told you that all of these things have a better chance at becoming popular with kids than the dork fest that is power metal. This is coming from a guy who spent his formative years listening to groups like Rhapsody, known for their symphonic epics about goblins and dragons and their uncanny ability to induce crippling bouts of prolonged virginity. Read more »

Dengue Fever

A compelling mixture of surf, psychedelia, and indie rock with Cambodian roots
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PREVIEW Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. It came to organist Ethan Holtzman when he left Los Angeles behind for a six-month journey through Southeast Asia. As he traveled on the back of a pickup truck, his driver was blasting tracks by Cambodian stars of the 1960s and '70s, many of whom were eventually killed by the Khmer Rouge. Drawn to the slinky, bouncy sounds of legendary artists like Sin Sisamouth, Holtzman returned home, determined to bring the electric style to the west. Read more »

These Arms Are Snakes

Melodic, edgy post-hardcore
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PREVIEW Rising from a new-millennium Seattle rock renaissance, These Arms Are Snakes offers a new take on an ever-growing post-hardcore scene. Often compared to bands like mewithoutYou and As Cities Burn, These Arms Are Snakes raises the bar yet again with this year's brilliant Tall Swallower and Dove (Suicide Squeeze). Read more »

Bad boys reformed ... and together

Oasis and Ryan Adams and the Cardinal
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PREVIEW Superficially, Britpop arena monsters Oasis and alt-country whiz kid Ryan Adams appear to be strange bedfellows. But on further review, their careers bear a striking resemblance. Both Oasis and Adams burst onto the music scene from seemingly nowhere: Oasis with its Definitely Maybe (Creation, 1994) and Adams as the ringleader of critical darlings Whiskeytown. From there, both tasted their greatest successes. Read more »

Holiday Guide 2008: The game room

Fantastic new releases for computers and consoles
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culture@sfbg.com

The holidays have always been a time for toys. Back in the day, it was board games, baby dolls, and Rubik's cubes. Then came Nintendo, Dance Dance Revolution, and The Sims. And now? The world of gaming is exploding, with something for everyone — from sci-fi-loving kids to sports-fanatic adults. Here are a few of our favorite new releases, which are sure to please everyone on your list (except maybe Grandpa):

Spore

Maxis (EA Sports); PC/Mac

"Playing God" just took on a whole new meaning. Read more »

Everyday people

The Bay's hip-hop supergroup, the Mighty Underdogs, generation science fiction -- and full-tilt reality
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"Keepin' it real" narrowly edges out "real talk" and "it is what it is" for the most abhorrent platitude in hip-hop, and Bay Area supergroup, the Mighty Underdogs, refuses to be constrained by it. The outfit — which couples local lyrical legends Lateef the Truthspeaker (Latyrx) and Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) with producer extraordinaire Headnodic (Crown City Rockers) — recently released its debut on Definitive Jux: the varied, headnod-inducing Droppin' Science Fiction. Read more »

Kowloon Walled City

Sounds like metal, looks like metal ...
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PREVIEW If it sounds like metal, and it looks like metal, it's gotta be metal. Right?

Vocalist-guitarist Scott Evans of San Francisco's Kowloon Walled City doesn't think so. "I think it's heavy, but it's not metal," he said after KWC's recent Annie's Social Club show. "We occasionally throw in metal parts, but I stand by us not being a metal band."

Guitarist Jason Pace disagreed: "It may not be a heavy metal band, but it's a fucking metal band. Read more »

Speed Reading

Chuck Klosterman's Night Owl wakes up sleepyville
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DOWNTOWN OWL

By Chuck Klosterman

Scribner

288 pages

$24

Nothing ever changes. Until it does. Then everything is different.

Such is the case in pop culture laureate Chuck Klosterman's first novel, Downtown Owl. It tells the story of a sleepy town that isn't really there. According to Walter Valentine, the principal of Owl High, "You're going to like it here. It's not Monaco. Read more »