Kimberly Chun

SFIFF: Unhappily ever after

Bluebeard and Hansel and Gretel -- the film fest's fractured, freaky, and feminist fantasies
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

We're living in topsy-turvy, fairy tale times: the mighty have fallen, and the once-marginalized have risen. We're painting the White House black, while Wall Street high-fliers are hitting the skids and the once-mocked scientists who cried "global warming" are embraced by Main and K streets. A hardscrabble era calls for equally toughened-up tales that provide moral instruction and plunge into the heart of the narrative's contradictions. Read more »

NorCal nuggets

NorCal bands gotta make some noise: The Fresh and Onlys and Raw Deluxe dive in. Plus: Flipper, The Grouch, and more
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Now playing: Locals Only II (see part one here). You can't stop it from happening, even if you crumble to the ground like Keanu, fire your pistol in the air, and scream, "Nooo!" NorCal bands gotta make some noise, Bay-bies.

Hey, what gives? The Fresh and Onlys promised to release their self-titled Castle Face debut in May, yet last week I spied the CD, prominently displayed, twinkling brightly on an Amoeba Music endcap. Read more »

Locals only

Happy gang-bang Muzak? Still Flyin' and Papercuts keep close to home. Plus: Crookers, Zodiac Death Valley, and more
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER April showers, worried world powers, CD towers — it's tough to keep the kite-high ebullience, party vibes, and gotta-jet wings in flight during tough times. Bands come and go, move to Brooklyn (otherwise known as Break-Up-Land), and wither away in day jobs. Read more »

Cohen koan

In praise of Leonard Cohen past and present. Plus: Richard Swift, Beausoleil, Friendly Fires, and more
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What becomes a pop legend? Mink, knighthood, screaming nubiles, Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction, or the Companionship of the Order of Canada? Read more »

Marissa Nadler

A damsel who has tumbled from a frayed tapestry in search of her unicorn
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PREVIEW Who is the shy girl casting her eyes downward on the cover of Little Hells (Kemado)? Here in Hell, Marissa Nadler could be a damsel who has tumbled from a frayed tapestry in search of her unicorn, a crystal doll who has escaped from her vitrine, or a tubercular maid who has slipped out of her Victorian deathbed photograph to traipse this earthly plane. Read more »

Agit-aggregator

All the news that's fit to implant in your Auto-Tune. Plus: Bruce Springsteen, Lily Allen, Ahmad Jamal, and more
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SONIC REDUCER Due to April 1 budget cuts, the original content in this space has been replaced by a selection of music news items from the wire.

MADONNA ADOPTING COUNTRY OF MALAWI

LILONGWE (Rutters) — Madonna announced her plans to adopt the entire southern African nation today after local friends told her that her adopted Malawian children, David and Mercy James, were lonely and needed companionship. Read more »

SXSW the un-Safeway

South by Southwest redux: Sparking with PJ Harvey, Metallica, codpieces, and buffalo checks
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SONIC REDUCER Sparks. No, not the band, or the caffeinated boozy beverage, toasts of rock collectors' circles and past South by Southwests, respectively. I'm talking about the real dealie, flying furiously off the spot where a sander met the metal-codpieced crotch of what appears to be a Suicide Girl-gone-to-seed, right here at the '09 installment of FXFY — otherwise known in impolite company as Fuck by Fuck You fest. Read more »

Outsider art

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa strange arc toward Tokyo Sonata
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Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director and cowriter of Tokyo Sonata (2008), is likely best known stateside for his contributions to the J-Horror genre (like 2000's Pulse). Read more »

Sleeper cells

Welcome back, Jacko. Plus: Bee Gees, Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam Band, Mirah, and more
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SONIC REDUCER Pop monoliths come and go, but these days they mostly seem to be going: tumblin' down quietly, as with the soon-to-be-shuttered Virgin Megastore on Market Street, or crumbling — and grumbling — noisily, as with the war of words accompanying Radiohead's reputed snub of Miley Cyrus and Kanye West at this year's Grammys. Read more »

Change on the range

U2 toes No Line, while Neko Case searches the dust for enlightenment. Plus: Lake, Telekinesis, and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Who's afraid of growing up in public? Chris Brown and Britney Spears both know the hazards of maturation amid the clatter of public chatter. Still, self-respecting musicmakers such as U2 and Neko Case, who know they must evolve — tax-dodging accusations, IMAX 3-D shrugs, fanboy crushes, and overwhelming side projects aside — are trying, judging from No Line on the Horizon (Universal) and Middle Cyclone (Anti-). Read more »