On the Rise 2014

On the Rise 2014: A mixtape

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Dear local musicians,

There's kind of no non-awkward way to say this, but: We like you. A lot.

In honor of this week's On the Rise issue, which celebrates the diversity and energy and inspirations and favorite sandwiches of some of the Bay Area's most promising bands, we crafted this mix that's rife with coded messages about our true feelings for you made up of songs by this year's OTR artists.Read more »

On the Rise: Avalon Emerson

A playful combination of house and techno, preferably listened to on a big club sound system

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That delectable boom you hear on dance floors across the city and SoundCloud mixes throughout the cloud-cosmos, overlayed with an earworm diced-diva sample and frenzy-inducing keyboard clang? It's "Pressure," the January release from DJ and techno wiz Kahley Avalon Emerson (who goes by her last two names) on local label Icee Hot.Read more »

On the Rise: Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony

"Freddie Mercury and Tom Waits in a cliff-diving competition"

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Surefire way to stand out in the musical landscape right now: Have an obviously playful, self-aware, lyrical sense of humor about your music, and also be exceedingly good musicians, songwriters and entertaining live performers -- i.e., take it seriously without taking it too seriously. It's not easy to do, but man, do Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony make it look fun.Read more »

On the Rise: Friction Quartet

Post-classical determination

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Opening for infamously iconoclastic, 40-year-old Bay Area contemporary music heroes Kronos Quartet, as the young Friction Quartet did earlier this year, might launch even the most experienced string player into a bow-snapping fit of nerves. But the Friction foursome was built on determination and fearlessness. "I wanted to start a contemporary string quartet since I was in high school," co-founder and violinist Kevin Rogers explained. "Doug [Machiz] and I decided that if he ever moved to San Francisco, that we would form one together. Read more »

On the Rise: Rocky Rivera

"Golden Gate gangster of love"

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Take it from this one: Most music journalists are not secretly very talented musicians, toiling away in writers' clothes. Most emcees, of course, are not Rocky Rivera -- a San Francisco-born rapper whose love of hip-hop first took the form of a journalism career, including covering the Bay Area's hip-hop scene for this very publication, Rolling Stone, and others.Read more »

On the Rise: Astronauts, etc.

"Supermelodic pulp/arena pop"

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It'd be easy to resent Anthony Ferraro, the force behind Astronauts, etc., if he didn't seem like such an agreeable guy. In the months following his graduation from UC Berkeley last summer -- a time when many of us are flipping coins to decide between the barista job or the unpaid internship -- Ferraro had just become Toro y Moi's new keyboardist, and was juggling prep for their international tour with writing songs for his second solo EP. Read more »

On the Rise: Nu Dekades

"Sometimes the beat has a life of its own"

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"If Rakim and MC Lyte had a baby" is the short version, when you ask the Oakland duo Nu Dekades -- made up of writer-emcees RyanNicole and K.E.V., for Kickin' Every Verse -- for a description of their sound. But the longer version is worth hearing, too.Read more »

On the Rise: Tony Molina

Teenage Fanclub-inspired pop from a Bay Area hardcore veteran

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Hedonistic breakdowns and riffs similar to Thin Lizzy? Check. Songwriting and vocal delivery reminiscent of Guided by Voices and Weezer? Double check. These traits (along with a few other things) are what make for the musical genetic makeup of Tony Molina's bedroom pop solo project.Read more »

On the Rise: Annie Girl & the Flight

"Slow, hypnotic folk and/or loud, trance-inducing art-rock"

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The first time I saw Annie Girl & the Flight play, I started thinking about what it is, exactly, that makes a frontwoman: Annie Girl's voice is a disaffected sing-song (Mazzy Star meets Kathleen Hanna?) that belies a dark, jagged well of feeling at the heart of the music; that's surely front and center, layered over bandmate Josh Pollock's slow-building wall of guitar. Read more »

On the Rise: Useless Eaters

"Angular punk"

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"On the Rise" almost feels inappropriate for Useless Eaters, since it began in 2008 as Seth Sutton's bedroom recording project in Memphis, Tennessee. On the scene (now that its founding and creative force relocated to the Bay Area last year) and ready to take over might be a more appropriate description.Read more »