Kimberly Chun

Northwestern soul

Gossip do the right thing, major label or no. Plus: Budget Rock, Islands, and more
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER No way to keep it like a secret: word got out about Gossip. And so the direct descendants of riot grrrl were snatched up by whip-smart production savant Rick Rubin to join MGMT as two of the newish crown jewels in Columbia's auspicious yet aging catalog. Three years along from Gossip's last studio LP, Standing in the Way of Control (Kill Rock Stars) — a Euro chart-topper that landed Ditto on the cover of NME as a plus-size nudie-cutie pinup girl — one has to ponder, what is the Gossip today? Read more »

Solar flair

Flaming Lips bubble over at Treasure Island Music Fest. Plus: Jesus Lizard, Monsters of Folk, more
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER How to compare beat heads and pop pachyderms? Honestly, if I was given a buck for every time some discriminating music listener told me that this year's Treasure Island Festival lineup looked much more exciting than Outside Lands' bipolar program (Os Mutantes? M.I.A.? Read more »

Culture class

A '60s British schoolgirl comes hotly of age in An Education
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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Squeezed between cuts to California's higher education system and the dizzying price of tuition, students can take heart — as well as some bittersweet heartbreak — with An Education. Read more »

Ray of darkness

Fever Ray gives birth to icy electro ideas. Plus: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass explodes with green sounds
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By Kimberly Chunarts@sfbg.comSONIC REDUCER We've got a fever for the flavor of sleep deprivation: everywhere I look, our proud ladies of the recession are pushing prams filled with spawn, swinging Baby Bjorns crammed with newborns. It's baby time — the ideal way to fill the hours emptied by layoffs, buyouts, forced shut-downs, mandatory vaca.

Read more »

Godsend

Rock duo Om initiates "a conversation between the instruments"
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER God Is Good, the name of Om's new long-player on Drag City, may run the risk of landing the heavy, heavy drone dealers in the gospel section of your clueless big-box retailer, but founder-bassist Al Cisneros couldn't help the tug of title: "To me, at this point, in the journey of my life, that's really all I can say."

The soft-spoken, spectacled musician, all in black with his instrument tucked beside him, laughs a little — and who can blame him? Read more »

Rock me, Amadeus

Phoenix flies far, Monotonix rocks Israeli culture, and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER How do you fluff up sagging ole demon rock in the 21st century? Break it down to just one dude with a laptop and free-floating mix of hip-hop and hesher, ho'-pulling and hoary? Take it up a couple jillion notches and set it free of verse, chorus, and bridge to nowhere, heading into noise's bristling, gristly outerzone? Or just turn it around and send it through the filter of another country, another tongue, another cult-cha — and back. Read more »

She's a rebel

Jesus and Mary Chain meet Mary Wells through the sound of Vivian Girls. Plus: Power to the Peaceful and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Shop girls and Shop Assistants, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Mary Wells, "Da Doo Ron Ron" and Ronettes up-dos. All twirl, as if at a punk-rock sock-hop, around the rugged, vulnerable Vivian Girls. Girl-group songwriter Ellie Greenwich — tragically felled by a heart attack at 68 on Aug. Read more »

Taxi cab confessions

Comedian Brent Weinbach hails the laughs. Plus: Jonesin', Al Green, and more
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER We all have fantasies, and considering the fact that he happily goes to the sick, hilarious places only you and your silliest, closest pals go, comedian Brent Weinbach's is remarkably simple. He'd love to drive you ... no, not insane, but around in a cab. Read more »

Baader to the bone

Hipster terrorists? Uli Edel's new film exhaustively explores the Red Army Faction
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"The Baader Meinhof gang? Those spoiled, hipster terrorists?" That was the response of one knowledgeable pop watcher when I told her about The Baader Mienhof Complex, the new feature from Uli Edel (1989's Last Exit to Brooklyn). The violence-prone West German anarchist group, otherwise known as the Red Army Faction (RAF), still inspires both venomous spew and starry-eyed fascination (see Joe Strummer's RAF T-shirt, Gerhard Richter's paintings of its dead leaders, and Erin Cosgrove's 2003 satirical romance paperback, The Baader-Meinhof Affair). Read more »

No brainer

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Green Day's American Idiot is made over for the Berkeley Rep stage
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS PREVIEW Who would have pictured Green Day's anthemic 2004 punk-rock concept album, American Idiot (Reprise), as the stuff of musicals? It took merely two unlikely kindred spirits, meeting in the fall of 2007 for the first time: the Oakland band's lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong and Tony-winning Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer.

Armstrong — that punk-rock diehard who even now plays Gilman with his side project Pinhead Gunpowder? Read more »