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Catching up with The Presidents of the United States of America

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Though they hit the peak of their fame in the mid-'90s post-grunge era with hits like "Peaches" and "Kitty," the Presidents of the United States of America have enjoyed a more fruitful and fascinating career than many of their ilk.

From collaborating with Shonen Knife and Sir Mix-A-Lot to starting an indie label to performing a Pokemon tribute song at the Pokemon Black/White American launch party, their career is shaping up to be as long, delightful, and brilliant as their name. Read more »

Not just an Animal Collective side project: Entering the Slasher House with Avery Tare

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In spite of music videos that are more than vaguely reminiscent of the horror film genre — not to mention the band's name — the “jazz power trio” of Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks are far more than some campy side project.Read more »

New Zealand flow over Detroit beats: Ladi6 hits the Bay for the first time

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By Rob Goszkowski

There’s a commonality to a large segment of New Zealand music, much of it with a dubbed-out vibe that one would expect from an island nation. But there’s also an underlying fierceness to it. Karoline Tamati, aka Ladi6, represents this dichotomy well, and her blend of hip-hop and modern soul will be in the Bay Area for the first time this weekend, with shows at Brick and Mortar in the city on Saturday and at the New Parish in Oakland on Sunday.

The lifelong musician started playing music at a young age and was smitten with hip-hop as a teenager when she formed Sheelahroc with her cousin and a friend at 16 years old. She found her singing voice shortly afterward and hasn’t stopped singing. Read more »

No shame: Activist-rockers the Shondes celebrate Halloween in SF

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The Shondes are a dream come true for music-lovers with a political consciousness. The world can be a rough place, but doom-and-gloom is not this Brooklyn band’s style. With their bright klezmer-pop tunes and soaring, anthemic verses about love, perseverance, and messages of hope, the Shondes are out to better the world -- or at least move their audiences to dance hard and sing-along.
 
Currently touring on their fourth album, The Garden, the Shondes are embracing the power of pop. Whether you’re an activist or just enjoy a good live show, give The Garden a listen and try to get “Nights Like These” or “Running Out of Time” out of your head. Read more »

Heads Up: 6 must-see concerts this week

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Have you recovered from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass/the Castro Street Fair yet? Can you believe how hot and sticky San Francisco was last weekend? Do you need more salted caramel liquid nitrogen ice cream? These are all rhetorical questions. It’s time to move on, because this week Fuck Buttons are in town, as are the Babies, King Khan and the Shrines, rapper Le1f (at a arcade themed dance party, no less), and Andrew W.K. singing classic Ramones songs with drummer Marky Ramone.  Read more »

Just a pipe dream? SF’s Whirr gets 'Around'

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In the cyclical nature of sonic trends, shoegaze has risen from the grave and out of obscurity again. With old guard bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star releasing new material, acts from this generation are following in their footsteps, reviving what was once out of vogue.

And in the midst of this comes Whirr, a dichotomy of sound, layered and simplistic at the same time, wrapped up in a tight package. Formed in San Francisco in 2011, through what guitarist and founding member Nick Bassett describes as basic boredom, the six-piece outfit decries its shoegaze leanings, searching for a heavier sound. Read more »

Jamaican Queens on major influences, ‘Wormfood,’ and Detroit

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The Detroit-based trio, Jamaican Queens, makes instantly catchy, hip-hop-influenced, electronic-soaked pop gems and performs them in a dance-inducing glam pop fashion. Although Ryan Spencer, Adam Pressley, and Ryan Clancy have been laying down beats together for less than a year, they have already released a full-length album – Wormfood – hit their hundredth show, and written album number two (which they’ll record once they’ve concluded their lengthy West Coast and summer tours). Read more »

Catching up with Young Prisms: new video, new process, and those pesky Cure comparisons

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At their show at Elbo Room on Friday, Young Prisms are going to play new material that they’ve never performed in front of an audience.

“It should be interesting,” bassist and singer Gio Betteo told me last week at Mission Pie. Read more »

Taking flight with Juan Atkins, co-originator of Detroit techno

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Juan Atkins will perform songs from the Cybotron and Model 500 catalogues with a four-piece electronic group, including “Mad” Mike Banks of Underground Resistance, Mark Taylor, and Milton Baldwin, this Friday at No Way Back's three-year anniversary party at Mezzanine.

When I first Googled “Model 500” the search results surprised me. I expected to find a clue as to why Juan Atkins named his mid-1980s solo music project after what sounded like a blueprint for a piece of consumer technology, like some sort of hyper-evolution of the Model T.

But the choices between a rotary telephone from the post-war period and a newly minted Smith & Wesson revolver, both model 500s in their own rights, left me wanting. When I ask Atkins whether there was any story behind the name, he suggests another way of reading it: “It was something I used to repudiate ethnic designation. It wasn’t named after any model or any particular piece of equipment.”

A more illuminating answer.

Read more »

Das Racist's Kool A.D. on hip-hop, baseball, and losing his virginity

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Self-proclaimed, “second best rapper with glasses after E-40” and Bay Area native by way of Brooklyn Victor Vazquez aka KOOL A.D. of rap group Das Racist has had quite the prolific past year in the hip-hop industrial complex. 

He and his group Das Racist — featuring rapper Heems and hypeman Dapwell (Dap for short) — released their debut LP and critic darling Relax. Soon after that he released not one but two positively received mixtapes in the span of three months, The Palm Wine Drinkard and the Bay Area homage 51. Das Racist plays DNA Lounge this Fri/12.  Read more »