Max Goldberg

Noise Pop: Joy Rides and Darby Crash test dummies

Noise Pop's film program encompasses labors of love and cheap shots
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In the current glut of music biopics and documentaries, it seems any band or scene worth its salt in influence and innovation is fair game for the big screen. Chalk it up to corporate tie-ins or affordable filmmaking equipment, Behind the Music or DIY videozines, but chances are your favorite group will someday make it to a theater near you. Read more »

James Blackshaw

Young acoustic shaman in rare stateside appearance
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PREVIEW Those seeking musical majesty need to acquaint themselves with the 12-string acoustic guitar playing of James Blackshaw, a Londoner and, at 25, one of an ever-expanding set of John Fahey acolytes. Fahey expanded the purview of folk-blues structures in his 1960s and '70s prime to accommodate a roving interest in sundry classical forms. Read more »

"Enter the Center"

Ribbons Productions expands beyond direct collaboration
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REVIEW Full disclosure would take up the full piece, so I'll just say that in spite of knowing both David Wilson and Frank Lyon well as friends, I'm hardly alone in counting them as two of the Bay Area's most celebratory and engaging young creators. They've largely steered their efforts away from the typical venues that comprise San Francisco's music-art coordinates thus far, especially in their periodic outdoor music gatherings. Read more »

Bye bye beautiful

Let's Get Lost, again — Bruce Weber's melancholic ode to Chet Baker is restored
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There's a wonderful moment during the performance of "Bye Bye Blackbird" that opens the 1964 Chet Baker set preserved on a recent Jazz Icons DVD (Chet Baker Live in '64 and '79 [Reelin in the Years]). In the midst of the squarish piano player's solo, the star trumpeter shuffles into the medium close-up frame, shucking a cigarette from his accompanist's pack. Chiseled even when sporting a stuffy sweater, Baker takes a long drag and glides back to his place on the stage. Read more »

The stranger

Music's mystery man Jandek comes to town
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Where to begin with Jandek? First, a definition: Jandek is a phenomenon, as plainly uncanny as a lightning storm. Then on to the facts of the case: initially emerging in 1978 with the Ready for the House album (Corwood), Jandek has since released a steady stream of haunting LPs: 51 at last count, each talismanic of a cumulative mystery. The records originate from Corwood Industries, PO Box 15375, in Houston, a company that seems to exist solely to disseminate Jandek music. Read more »

Angels with dirty faces

Folksy lyricism makes Francisco Vargas's The Violin a quiet beauty
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The Bay Area boasts some of the most forward-thinking film programmers in the country, but even here there's often no getting around the circuitous, arbitrary workings of foreign film distribution. No matter how big a hit in its festival travels, the foreign film must dutifully wait untold months until it is dressed up by Sony Pictures Classics or released to no fanfare by a small distributor like Film Movement. Read more »

Bold as love

Entrance's visionary death-letter blues
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The only thing that prevented Entrance's resplendent Prayer of Death (Tee Pee) from being one of my top picks for 2007 was that it came out in 2006. Lately, when I want music to overwhelm me I reach for Prayer of Death. Alas, it wasn't always so with Entrance, the nom de plume of Baltimore-born Guy Blakeslee. I first saw him perform in a dingy college basement sometime after the release of his 2003 debut, The Kingdom of Heaven Must Be Taken by Storm (Tiger Style). Read more »

Year in Film: The other side of the mirror

The year the rock biopic swelled with self-awareness
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Is defining I'm Not There the same thing as defending it? Todd Haynes's kaleidoscopic antibiography of, to quote the tagline, "the music and many lives of Bob Dylan" has inspired all sorts of platitudes since it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, so many that it's hard not to feel late for the party only a few months after. Read more »

Year in Music: Grievous angel

Possessions, obsessions made visible
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An archival recording can assume many forms, contexts, meanings. This year saw the reissue of an album unappreciated in its time (Jim Ford's The Sounds of Our Time [Bear Family]), the compilation of genre-bound obscurities (Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series), the live performance (Gram Parsons Archive, Vol. Read more »

Talk talk

Beneath the mumbling lies the roiling core of Hannah Takes the Stairs
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"I don't like things that are about what they are."

The title character of Hannah Takes the Stairs says this to a coworker. The quip, though, constitutes something of a wink from the film's director, Joe Swanberg, a leading light of a group of loose-knit DIY filmmakers regrettably known by the mumblecore moniker. Read more »