Haley Zaremba

Ex-Girls singer Christopher Owens on the real Lysandre, and being 'a bit of a loner'

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Last year was a momentous one for San Francisco band Girls. Still riding the high from their critically fawned-over and publicly adored sophomore full-length album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the duo was at the height of its career, playing sold-out shows and reveling in buzz-band glory. Then in July, frontperson Christopher Owens announced via Twitter that he was leaving the band, leaving press and fans alike slack-jawed with surprise.

Owens wasted no time moving into his new career as a solo artist – putting to bed any hopes that Girls’ disbandment was a temporary misstep. This January he released Lysandre, a tight-knight album of autobiographical material from his first tour with a band. It’s a story full of first loves: girls, boys, fellow musicians, and far-off places. He'll perform songs off the album this Sat/23 at the Palace of Fine Arts. Read more »

Live Shots: The Hush Sound at Great American Music Hall

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I was introduced to the Hush Sound in high school, when a girlfriend burned "Like Vines” onto a mix CD for me. It was love at first listen. The awkward, adorably fumbling song structures and whimsical lyrics of the Like Vines album were the perfect mirror to my gawky teenage soul. Goodbye Blues, the last album the band released before going on hiatus, showed more advanced songwriting technique and much better production. It was a tragedy. Growing up had made the Hush Sound lose its charm. I kept burning old Hush Sound songs onto mix CDs for a couple of years, and then slowly forgot about it.

You can imagine my surprise when, walking into the Great American last Friday night for a Hush Sound reunion show, I found myself in a nearly sold-out venue. As it turns out, other people had also restlessly waited through the five-year hiatus for this opportunity to relive their youth. Read more »

Adam Green and Binki Shapiro pair up at the Chapel

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Adam Green and Binki Shapiro make an odd couple.

Green is a Manhattanite and acoustic singer-songwriter whose extensive lyrical topics center around black humor, blue language, and one Miss Jessica Simpson. He is best known for his role as half of the Moldy Peaches alongside Kimya Dawson. Shapiro, formerly of Echo Park’s American-Brazilian rockers Little Joy, is a retro-fashion icon in LA. She is perhaps best known for dating rock stars.

So what happens when east meets west and the social elite meets the man who once wrote a song called “Choke on a Cock?” An unexpectedly tender album of heartbroken duets and breakup ballads in a unique style, something we jaded listeners have yet to hear. Green’s humble baritone and Shapiro’s silky timbre blend beautifully, and in the recordings their joined voices soar to poignant, vulnerable heights. Read more »

Pinback delights fans at annual Bimbo's show

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The audience at Pinback’s sold-out show this Saturday night filled Bimbo’s with a pleasant air of mellow enthusiasm. The eclectic (albeit extremely white) crowd was excited without being obnoxious, and its quiet, genuine appreciation was the perfect match for Pinback’s own casual expertise.Read more »

Haley Zaremba's Top 10 Concerts of 2012

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For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year's best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I'll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

Haley Zaremba, Guardian
Top 10 Concerts of 2012
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Sufjan Stevens as the Christmas Unicorn at Great American Music Hall

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When I walked into the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night, I was handed a Christ-Mess Sing-a-Long booklet with a unicorn on the cover. While I had already gathered from the name of the event — Surfjohn Stevens’ Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice — that it wasn’t going to be a standard holiday concert, I wasn’t quite prepared for the awesome eccentricities that awaited me.

The Great American, which is already one of the Bay’s most gorgeous venues, was literally aglow with strings of Christmas lights reflecting off bows and baubles attached to headbands, elf ears, vests, and ugly sweaters throughout the dedicated audience. On stage, incense was burning and guitar techs were wading through piles of inflatable Santas and unicorns. Read more »

Live Shots: Titus Andronicus at Great American Music Hall

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If you want to stay in the good graces of Titus Andronicus (which played Great American Music Hall this Tuesday), don’t mention frontman Patrick Stickles' beard, or his recent lack of beard, or his uncanny vocal likeness to Bright Eyes vocalist Conor Oberst, or really much of anything else. But you didn’t hear it from me. Because of his sensitivity, Stickles has been churning out some of the best anger and angst-driven punk rock of this century. In spite of his sensitivity, he still seems to be a super nice guy. Read more »

Live Shots: La Sera at the Chapel

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It was nice to see that “Kickball” Katy Goodman hasn’t grown up too much since leaving the Vivian Girls. Her big smile, bubbling stage banter, and virginal attire—a lacy white dress to match her white Fender bass guitar — added a saccharine candy coating to the dark, jangly pop of La Sera, her Los Angeles-based solo project.

Swaying and hopping across the Chapel stage last Saturday night in all black Converse All Stars, Goodman whipped her all-male backing band through a surprisingly short set, clocking in at just around 45 minutes. Read more »

Live Shots: another Nobunny Halloween

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Walking to the Brick and Mortar Music Hall on Halloween night for the Nobunny show, I was disappointed by how few costumed people were roaming the streets of San Francisco. Doesn’t anyone have time for fun anymore? Turns out I need not have worried. My Halloween-loving peers pulled through, turning the small, darkened venue into a veritable haunted house full of Jedi, devils, skeletons, cats, and so much more. Read more »

Live Shots: Rasputina at Great American Music Hall

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Guardian music writer Haley Zaremba managed to snap a few shots of Rasputina during the stringed trio's appearance at Great American Music Hall on Wednesday.