Large portions of my life have been chronicled by music. Chopin waltzes from when I was starting to learn piano, Iron and Wine from my college Seattle days, and this summer, Spanish flamenco singer Buika. Sam Love and I have had her music playing literally non-stop, whether it’s while we’re editing photos, having dinner parties with friends, or driving north to Point Reyes for a hike. We’re totally addicted.Read more »
Cafe Du Nord always feels cozy, and the sounds of Bay Area based Ash Reiter and Idea the Artist were a perfect fit for Wednesday night’s crowd of rapt listeners. Although Idea the Artist’s music was sometimes slower paced and more sentimental than Reiter’s rocking pop ballads, both vibes struck the right chord with this crowd. Read more »
Once while talking music with friends on a long road trip I was posed with the task of describing Portishead’s sound. Struggling to articulate the sum of their collective parts, I did a hasty mental cut-and-paste and said, “They’re sorta like…if Pink Floyd was a hip-hop band…and Billie Holiday was their singer.” It’s a clunky description, not so much for the references, but because Portishead’s greatest attribute is their ability to bend genres so seamlessly that it all morphs into their own sort of singular sonic universe. Even the prevailingly appropriate moniker of trip-hop (of the Bristol variety) really seems more of a launching point than a description. Read more »
Once a metal album has surpassed a certain threshold of ambition, it is obligated to begin with an instrumental intro track. If said album is a concept album, this is doubly important. Warp Riders, the latest album by Austin, TX quartet the Sword, is a concept album in the most deliciously nerdy sense.
Weaving a dense science fiction tale of a distant plant caught in the throes of “tidal locking” (confining one hemisphere to dark and one to light), its songs regale the listener with visions of archers, mystical orbs, time travel, space travel, time/space travel, and beings called Chronomancers. The instrumental intro, “Acheron/Unleashing the Orb,” is therefore exactly as epic as you would suspect, erupting out shuddering guitar effects into hard-charging downbeat thrash.
The Sword have traveled a long way since their debut Age of Winters landed them on tour with Metallica. Warp Riders' second track (and first single) “Tres Brujas” bears the trappings of this journey, boasting a chunky, arena-ready riff that prepares to bang heads in the nosebleed seats without sacrificing the band's distinctive sound.
Between the pre-salers and the at-the-door buyers, Pentagram fans shelled out around $20 each for the DNA Lounge show Wed/24. Though the complications of the band's discography could fill the pages of a sizable book, suffice to say that they are not promoting a new album -- the concert-goers in attendance were universally excited for a healthy portion of Pentagram classics (especially those diehards who saw July 2009's command performance, also at the DNA).
The set that followed was a sham. It started auspiciously with “Forever My Queen” and “Review Your Choices” -- two of the favorites that everyone expected. Then singer Bobby Liebling, 56-year-old butt poured into turquoise skinny jeans, reached for his harmonica.
It's hard to believe, but black metal is around 20 years old. During its second decade, the music has been gradually subsumed into the metal mainstream, cannibalized, recombined, and reinvented. Pulled in one direction by the commercialization of bands like Dimmu Borgir, and in the other direction by the hermetic inaccessibility of solo studio acts like San Francisco's Leviathan, fans and metal taxonomers have circled the wagons around arbitrary criteria, judging bands on whether or not they use a keyboard, or whether or not they're from Scandinavia.
Wielding his custom-made nine-string axe, churning out tone so thick it could flaunt hot pants in a rap video, and crafting an ever-expanding arsenal of neck-snapping riffage, High on Fire guitarist Matt Pike has done it again.
His playing on the Oakland trio's new album, Snakes for the Divine (Koch Records), surmounts a new, fiery height. That the things he already did well (effortless, legato hammer-ons, heavy-handed, scything chords) are done better is hardly surprising – it's the expanding versatility of the snaggle-toothed shredder's songwriting and technique that impresses, along with his ever-improving vocals. Though Pike's work in Sleep will inevitably serve as a preamble, it is likely that the virtuosity and creativity of his High on Fire output will reverberate longer, and heavier, in posterity.
I've been thinking about how Moon Duo's name sounds a little like Amon Düül. Maybe that's just tangential coincidence, but the SF twosome's songs allow for the kind of daydreaming that produces such thoughts.