Michelle Broder Van Dyke

The eyes of Skye Thorstenson

Video Issue: A video trip through the many selves of memory, and euphoria with a melancholy aftertaste

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VIDEO Birds chirp and branches part like curtains in the opening scene of the music video for Myles Cooper's anthem "Gonna Find Boyfriends Today." Suddenly the pristine wilderness scene is shattered and, along with pulsating beats, a big-lipped strawberry greets us with Mickey Mouse paws. A Cyclops-peanut runs across the screen and leads us to a stack of televisions; zooming into one we catch Cooper singing, "It doesn't matter what you wear/It doesn't matter if you have money/We'll find guys to buy us drinks/And tell us that we're young and funny."Read more »

A hologlyphic story

Walter Funk is here to show you that 3-D doesn't require glasses
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FILM/VISUAL ART The first time I witnessed Walter Funk's Hologlyphics, I'd spiraled up the whimsical stairs of Jaina Bee's Granny's Empire of Art, parted curtains and slipped inside the otherwise dark, slanted-roof attic. A circle floated in the center of the room that slowly morphed into a rhombus, then a rectangle. It was three-dimensional, but not real. Along with its movement, sound spread from keyboards and motion-sensor instruments and bounced off the walls.Read more »

San Francisco gaze

Young Prisms make sound from the light and darkness of the city
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MUSIC On certain mornings in San Francisco, I step outside and feel as if I'm enveloped by clouds. Dew drops slide off of wiry branches, sparkling as they hit the cement sidewalk. Is it pretty or is it dark? It's pretty and dark. Before I lived here, it wasn't clear to me that this was even possible. As the day unravels, it reveals both sunny and stormy moments. Read more »

Believe it!

Don't say house. It's an empire — Granny's Empire of Art

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VISUAL ART What would you do if you had been born with a treasure chest? This is a real-life Pippi Longstocking-tale: Jaina Bee is a quirky lady who sports a pink glam crewtop, was raised with minimal parental interference, and is undeniably devoted to her friends. Like Pippi, she was given a suitcase full of gold coins and owns a home.

Thirteen years ago, when Jaina Bee was in her late 20s, she purchased her Potrero Hill property with a vague vision of creating a collaborative-art utopia.Read more »

A chillwave primer

Washed Out caps one of a growing number of electronic new waves

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MUSIC Chillwave is atmospheric and can fill the background, washing over you and allowing you to float through the world, or it can work as foreground with drastic beats that make you dance. Chillwave relaxes and excites. You feel it all around yourself. It's multifunctional: the perfect backdrop for walks through SF on blue-sky days, for dipping your toes in the sun-speckled sand, for stealing kisses with your lover, for dance parties. It's faded and fuzzy synth-pop of blissed-out beauty.Read more »

Light into darkness

Now on the West Coast, High Places charts new spaces
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MUSIC High Places' upcoming release High Places vs. Mankind (Thrill Jockey) opens with the slow-tempered "The Longest Shadow." The chorus offers a supine first-person perspective of the sun's effect on the earth at dusk. The first verse focuses on letting love in, but by the second verse Mary Pearson's lyrics narrate the end of a relationship, which includes that universal nostalgia (a.k.a. confusion) of not really knowing why a relationship terminates, and includes the ritual stages of longing, wondering, and finally, remembering. Read more »

A gate so golden

Genius and patience in the music of Van Dyke Parks

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Van Dyke Parks -- who'll be perfoming Fri/12 at Swedish American Hall -- boasts an outstanding resume as an arranger, producer, lyricist, and studio musician for the likes of the Byrds, the Everly Brothers, Randy Newman, Tim Buckley, Phil Ochs, Rufus Wainwright, Frank Black, the Doobie Brothers, Sonny and Cher, Joanna Newsom, Ringo Starr, Saint Etienne ... the list goes on. Read more »

Potrero punk power

Power threesome Dadfag makes things sink and make sense

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When I meet with the triad that makes up Dadfag at Four Barrel Coffee, Eva Hannan explains that they are operating on no sleep. She and fellow guitarist-vocalist Danielle Benson had woken up at dawn to drive their Sacramento friends from Ganglians home after they'd stayed in the city to see Dadfag play the previous night at El Rio. The exhaustion doesn't show. Instead, Dadfag have the same delirious energy one witnesses when they perform, except that Benson has blown out her voice.Read more »

The mighty uke

The ukulele darts back into the musical spotlight, lickety-split

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MUSIC The ukulele has gone viral, again, via YouTube phenomena like the adorable Uke Kid and virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who both perform interpretations of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" — originally by George Harrison, himself a professed uke-aholic.Read more »

Manic pop thrill

The devil and Daniel Johnston — or, music touched with fire
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MUSIC In Guitar Hero 5, the avatar of Kurt Cobain is wearing a tee adorned with the cover of Daniel Johnston's 1983 album, Hi, How Are You? (High Wire). The t-shirt presents a pop-eyed frog, Jeremiah the Innocent, one of the recurring characters within Johnston's creative world.

Cobain helped catapult many musical cult heroes, among them the Melvins and the Raincoats, to new notoriety, and his devotion to Johnston was no exception. Read more »