Theo Schell-Lambert

Noise Pop: Do's and the Don'ts

The Don'ts down it all
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San Francisco's Dont's are JJ Don't (bass), Ken Don't (drums), Jonny Don't (vocals), and Joey Don't (guitar), but as with the Beatles, a fifth Don't looms like a specter. In this case it's the Mountain Don't, a fearsome triumph of mixology that involves a shot of vodka, one of Robitussin, a touch of absinthe, and a splash of Mountain Dew Code Red. Read more »

Noise Pop: Retooling along Americana's byways

Blitzen Trapper take alt-country higher
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By the fall of 2003, when Eric Earley's Portland, Ore., outfit Blitzen Trapper released its self-titled debut on Lidkercow, alt-country was in fairly desperate need of its own alternative. Tweedy was too far afield, Adams was too far gone, and the subgenre teetered on the brink of becoming a slur. A track like Earley and company's "Whiskey Kisser" was a blessed antidote to post-Whiskeytown blues, serving up dirt-road stylings at their least stylish: bilious slide guitar, freewheeling harmonica, tarted-up kid sisters, and maverick state cops. Read more »

Drink, then Swallows

The Portland twosome are building a pop factory in the sky
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When Jon Miller was a boy, his parents pulled off an impressive trick: convincing him there was beauty to be found on the New Jersey Turnpike. Wondering, as any hopeful naïf might, about the strange fogs puffing from roadside refineries, the lad was given a celestial explanation. Those were, he was told, cloud machines.

Miller is old enough now to be a bit more suspicious of Garden State industrial output, but that entrancing image gets new life as the title of his second record with Portland, Ore., duo Swallows. Read more »

They need more

Leopold and His Fiction are gonna be your boys
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It's probably not fair to expect that if your duo goes bass free, if its rock falls somewhere under the crude banner of garage, and if your early riff education occurred in Detroit, you won't be assailed with comparisons to the White Stripes. It's even less fair if the best song on your debut pulls off the protoblues swagger and gnarly scale work that once made Jack and Meg interesting. Read more »

Sail away

Ex–Red Threader Jason Lakis voyages solo with Mist and Mast
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Jason Lakis is proving to be his own best bandmate. The former frontperson of Bay Area country-slowcore outfit the Red Thread, which split this summer after three stellar LPs, has lately reemerged as Mist and Mast — a solo act, though you wouldn't guess it. Mist's eponymous debut, which Lakis released on his Oakland Petting Zoo label, finds the artist playing every part — and sounding sneakily like some well-rehearsed group. Read more »

New haunts

Jake Mann brings his low-watt singer-songwriter rock to town
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When Jake Mann ponders his recent move from Davis to San Francisco, he puts it in terms of a song. "Left behind the right things I know / How does this one go?" Mann muses on "Beat the Drum," as though making your way in a new scene were like playing a tune whose chords you haven't quite learned. That SF has scenes at all was part of Mann's concern. "People are specific about their genres here," he notes. "I've always felt spread across a lot of sounds."

This is borne out on Mann's new LP, Daytime Ghost (Crossbill). Read more »

The Old-Fashioned Way at Hemlock Tavern

Beer and Lucky Strikes
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LOCAL LIVE The first triumph of the night was simply that no one lost an eye. The Hemlock Tavern stage isn't much more than a low corner deck, and the Old-Fashioned Way work a swooning fiddle into their akimbo art pop, which meant that whenever Marie MacBain launched an arpeggio, her bow looked like a weapon.

Such are the risks of bringing bits of a philharmonic onto the barroom circuit, an increasingly popular move — blame Montreal — that's rarely handled with the charm of this six-piece. You won't find bespectacled frontman Chris Wu miming Win Butler. Read more »