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Q&A: Blouse on the Dream Syndicate, forest life, and going synth-less

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Blouse, may have ditched the synths and drum machines of its 2011 debut self-titled album with new Captured Tracks full-length, Imperium, but the sound remains as hazy and dreamy as ever. Now it's just backed by rippling reverb and distortion.

The misty Portland, Ore. dreampop trio makes siren calls that would entice a shipwrecked sailor, floating endlessly in a gurgling oceanic abyss. See? Wistful. Check first single, "A Feeling Like This" or next track "No Shelter" for that particular mental imagery. It's all there, the swashing of fuzz, the wide open minimalism à la xx, the delicate, teetering vocal tracks, and an uneasy feeling of isolation. Read more »

Grouplove talks Haight love, the Seesaw Tour, and spreading rumors

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Grouplove’s existence is a strong argument for fate. In 2009, Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi met on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Feeling an instant connection, Hooper invited Zucconi to an artist residency in Greece on the island of Crete, which she was heading to just a few days later, and he said yes. At this residency, in a remote mountain village, the pair formed a fast friendship with three other musicians. Within the year, Grouplove was formed.

Two years after that, the band exploded into the music scene with its cheekily titled, megacatchy album Never Trust a Happy Song. Touring constantly since its inception, Grouplove is still going at full sprint, with its second album, Spreading Rumors, coming out Sept. 17, accompanied by the ambitious Seesaw Tour, in which the band will spend two nights in every city at intimate venues, playing one electric and one acoustic show. Read more »

Bomb the Music Industry!’s Jeff Rosenstock: Poster boy for manic depression in DIY rock’n’roll

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To get a feel for why Jeff Rosenstock plays the way he does, you have to go back almost a decade to the sweaty, now-defunct scene in New Jersey and Long Island that caught the tail-end of the big ska-punk boom and the beginning of the emo explosion.

In the late ‘90s-early 2000s, word-of-mouth was still king in that local music scene. Many bands, like Rosenstock’s pre-Bomb the Music Industry! group, the Arrogant Sons of Bitches, entertained consistently at all-age, low-budget shows. It got to a point where kids in nearly every skank pit in the area knew the band’s songs by heart. They had no real radio play, and were seen mostly on shaky handheld video camera footage from Bloomfield Ave Cafe or the like, but still were on tour forever, had discernable sing-along singles, and (almost) released a split in Japan. Read more »

Lia Rose lets go on new album ‘Bricks and Bones’

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Bay Area country-folk artist Lia Rose is a ball of sunshine both on stage and off. But if you listened to her songs, you’d know it’s not because life’s been easy, it’s just that she’s chosen to face its struggles head on, chin up.

Rose played the Great American Music Hall with Blame Sally in early May and performed on NPR’s West Coast Live in April, where she met author Ruth Ozeki, with whom she’s currently collaborating on a song. Her second full-length solo album Bricks and Bones will be released this Sat/20, the night of her record-release party at the Chapel in San Francisco. In short, the bubbly, talented musician is doing quite well. Read more »

Ex-Girls singer Christopher Owens on the real Lysandre, and being 'a bit of a loner'

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Last year was a momentous one for San Francisco band Girls. Still riding the high from their critically fawned-over and publicly adored sophomore full-length album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the duo was at the height of its career, playing sold-out shows and reveling in buzz-band glory. Then in July, frontperson Christopher Owens announced via Twitter that he was leaving the band, leaving press and fans alike slack-jawed with surprise.

Owens wasted no time moving into his new career as a solo artist – putting to bed any hopes that Girls’ disbandment was a temporary misstep. This January he released Lysandre, a tight-knight album of autobiographical material from his first tour with a band. It’s a story full of first loves: girls, boys, fellow musicians, and far-off places. He'll perform songs off the album this Sat/23 at the Palace of Fine Arts. Read more »

Flip on the Night Light: free show alert

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We've been hearing a lot about the Night Light thanks to its hosting of quality local shows; in the past year there have been performances by Warm Soda, Burnt Ones, Religious Girls, Jaberi and Deutsch, and the like. This Saturday, to celebrate 12 months of life, the bar-venue is hosting a free party, and there'll be eight bands, seven DJs, and three comedians to check out throughout the night. Yes, all free. Read more »

Dark side of the Dude

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More than a year ago, in his rundown on “top substances that have influenced music,” promoter-DJ Marco De La Vega said this: “I...raid my own medicine cabinet, take a couple Vicodin, and listen to a stack of records including [Girls],Tamaryn, King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe, and Zola Jesus.”

Already a fan of the others mentioned in that paragraph, I sought out King Dude (a.k.a T.J. Cowgill) and found that I'd already known his previous work, intimately. I'd seen his black metal band Teen Cthulhu in high school, and for many years had the band's sticker plastered on my black Nissan Maxima, later discovering his band that rose from the ashes of Teen Cthulhu: Book of Black Earth.

It was his turns as founder-creative director of his own clothing label, Actual Pain (Kanye has worn it, OK?), and solo “darkly spiritual acoustic-folk” singer-songwriter that have been the most surprising. Like previous King Dude releases, 2012's Burning Daylight (Dais) is a desolate affair, with subtle plucking and Cowgill's darkly raspy vocals meditating on death, murder, spirituality, and love – or as I wrote in this week's Tofu and Whiskey print music column (Jan. 9 issue), it sounds like “a gravelly demon inside, clawing to get out.” Read more »

Will John C. Reilly be the secret guest at Lavender Diamond's Chapel show?

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You know Lavender Diamond, right? The whimsical LA-based electro-folk band fronted by crystal-clear vocalist/tree fairy Becky Stark? The group plays SF's newest venue, the Chapel, Tues/11. Turns out, there's a super-secret surprise guest set to appear, and I've got a solid guess now we can announce who it is: John C. Reilly. Read more »

Kitty Pryde on Riff Raff, candy, and going viral

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What exactly does it mean to be a pop star these days? Does it mean you have masses of eager (young) fans, breathless feature articles, and a healthy growing buzz on so-called tastemaker sites? Can you do it without a major label, without a proper album, without really touring? Seems like the answer for now is...maybe. It's a world we're all just beginning to crack open. One thing I know for sure, Florida teen rapper Kitty Pryde wouldn't have blown up quite like this before the web.

She made her mark on Youtube, with casual, adorable bedroom rap track and video “Okay Cupid,” along with an ode to a certain youthful pop star (“Justin Bieber”). There's been plenty of speculation about Pryde. If she's actually a teenager. If she's “in on the joke.” If she'll sign to a major label and crush it. These questions are sort of beside the point. So far, her output has been cheerful, weird, fun, and uniquely telling of young life in America in 2012. Or, as the New York Times put it in its CMJ rundown, Pryde “offered cute, comedic expositions of unrequited crushes.” Read more »

The Grannies flaunt their finest digs for a good cause

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The Grannies know how to have fun. After over a decade of raucous good times, including two European tours and years of stage antics, the six remaining members of the local punk band are back, playing in Oakland Fri/22 with Midnight Bombers and the Ardent Sons.

Yet this show extends past the chaotic atmospheres of a typical Grannies show. This show is a benefit for the son of founder and lead guitarist Sluggo Cawley. Read more »