Our Weekly Picks: January 11-17



The Finches

The Finches are keen on the sounds of the 1960s and '70s. While checking the band's website recently, I found a couple of mixes that founding members Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and Aaron Olson put together, comprised of songs by Harry Nilsson, Donovan, the Byrds, Joni Mitchell, and others. You might have been able to guess that they listened to some of those when writing their own songs. On the Finches' most recent album, 2011's On Golden Hill (their first in four years), there are smidgens of proto-punk, psychedelic rock, and singer-songwriter folk soaked in '60s sheen. But while the band may quote from the past, the music is for now, distinctly their own. (James H. Miller)

With Brainstorm, and the Key Losers

9 p.m., $7

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 596-7777



Victims Family

With wailing guitar, gruff vocals, and jazzy bass lines, Victims Family has long crouched above the standard crusted punk pack, creating an aggressive punk-jazz-metal hybrid assault with political-circus style lyrics that satisfy the thinking-man's pit. The long-standing hardcore act — born of Santa Rosa circa 1984 — is on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label; AT describes Victims Family's music in a fittingly verbose fashion: "groove/thrash/bad-acid/punk/noise/metal/samba." All of the above. The band's Elbo Room show this week is its first of the year, and the lineup is an Alternative Tentacles Showcase, fleshed out by the excellent Fleshies and Pins Of Light. Here's to a pit-filled 2012. (Emily Savage)

With Fleshies, and Pins of Light

9 p.m., $10

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788



Burnt Ones

Though I'm not sure what it is about San Francisco that sparks the formation of retro garage-pop bands, I'm positive that Burnt Ones are doing it better than most. This trio laces sweet pop melodies with heavy reverb for some sweaty, good old fashioned fun. It's been a while since Burnt Ones released its catchy debut LP Black Teeth & Golden Tongues (Roaring Colonel), yet it remains a staple in my rotation. Check out the addictive single, "Gonna Listen To T.Rex (All Night Long)." If this heavy hitter doesn't get stuck in your head for the rest of the week, you might wanna get yourself checked out. (Frances Capell)

With the Mallard, and Koko and the Sweetmeats

9 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0925


French Cassettes

While there may not be anything explicitly French about this quartet of garage rockers from the Bay, the Baroque pop ménage they embrace along with their refined musical sensibilities suggests the French Cassettes are more quintessentially so than one might imagine. It's a preference towards subtlety over excess, and an emphasis on the minutiae. A touch of strings here, a tinge of electric energy there, and a deep reserve of catchy hooks borrowed and reinvented from some of their forerunners in pop art. Think Kinks and Beatles, but more demure; The Shins but less morose. Their first EP Summer Darling came out last year and now the band starts the year off rocking ever-so-effortlessly at a divey venue in the Mission. (Courtney Garcia)

9 p.m., $8

Brick and Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782



"Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien"

Here's the stereotypical scandal in a nutshell: According to Roman Catholic legend, Saint Sébastien was martyred in the third century BCE during Emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians. First he was shot through with arrows (the homoerotic possibilities of a half-naked youth being pierced many times while in religious ecstasy has not escaped centuries of artists), then he was clubbed to death. In 1911, French composer Claude Debussy, with Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, wrote a five act mystery about the saint's life, incorporating narrative and musical accompaniment. But the star ballerina, Ida Rubinstein, was a Jewish woman, so Pope Pius X (himself later canonized) instructed Catholics to shun the performances, martyring the work. Le sigh. Now here's the music: grounded yet unearthly, full of Debussy's restless, swirling chords augmented with sacred-sounding chants and hypnotic figures. This multimedia interpretation by the SF Symphony, featuring narrator Frederica von Stade, should shoot to the stars.

Through Sat/14

8 p.m., $35–$140

Davies Symphony Hall

201 Van Ness, SF

(415) 864-6400



"For Your Consideration"

Unless you have the time, coin, and stamina to globe-trot around to every festival, you're likely missing out on quite a bit of tasty international cinema. Sure, the latest Pedro Almodóvar will always hit the local art-house joint, but more obscure (and no less worthy) films that lack big-money distribution probably will not. Fortunately, San Rafael is a lot closer than Berlin or Cannes, where "For Your Consideration: A Selection of Oscar Submissions from Around the World" unspools starting today, with Sweden's Beyond (starring Noomi "I Had the Dragon Tattoo First" Rapace); Hungarian standout Béla Tarr's latest, The Turin Horse; Bulgarian youth-gone-wild treatise Tilt; and several others, including a movie from the Philippines (The Woman in the Septic Tank) that spoofs awards-grubbing "message" films. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Jan. 19, $6.35–$10.25

Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

1118 Fourth St., San Rafael

(415) 454-1222



Ellis Avery

"La Belle Rafaela" (1927) is a decadent, highly erotic painting by the Polish Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka. The model de Lempicka used for the piece was Rafaela Fano — a woman she hired off the streets of Paris, painted several times, and with whom she became romantically involved. "La Belle" depicts Rafaela as a curvaceous nude, bathed in shadows, and flinching with euphoria. It conveys such feverish sensuality that probably would have been unachievable had the artist's desires not been utterly real. The painting inspired author Ellis Avery to write The Last Nude, a historical novel that re-imagines the love affair from the perspective of Fano. At Books Inc., Avery reads from this story that plunges into the depths of a forbidden romance set in glamorous 1920s Paris. (Miller)

7:30 p.m., Free

Books Inc.

2275 Market, SF

(415) 864-6777



"Midnites for Maniacs: The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste"

Oh, you didn't think Midnites for Maniacs programmer Jesse Hawthorne Ficks would program a Friday the 13th flick to coincide with today's sinister day-and-date combo? (Well, he might, but he'd pick one of the more ridiculous entries, like the one where Jason takes outer space.) Nay, fiends, tonight's triple-feature is face-warping enough to be themed "The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste." It kicks off with Sam Raimi's 1992 Army of Darkness (Bruce. Fucking. Campbell.); followed by American Psycho, which came out in 2000 but remains eerily current in all ways (fashions excepted); and Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, a 1975 concert film capturing the shock rocker in his prime. All this for $12! Hockey mask optional. (Eddy)

7:30 p.m., $12

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120




If there is any band that is a testament to the variance in public recognition, it's Devo. To many, it is simply the band with the flowerpot hats that sang "Whip It." Another group, however, will assert that Devo is the greatest musical act to ever come out of the Akron, Ohio area (Ha! Take that the Black Keys!) and that those "hats" are in fact Energy Domes. But while its 2010 album Something For Everybody — the first in 20 years since 1990's Smooth Noodle Maps — was ostensibly market tested to please all camps, it largely represents a return to the formula of cynical yet mind-numbingly catchy pop that made it a quintessential cult band in the first place. (Ryan Prendiville)

Through Sat/14, 9 p.m., $50


1850 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000



Coast Jumper

I recently put together a list of my top 10 self-released albums of 2011, and I'm now kicking myself for not listening to Coast Jumper's ambitious Grand Opening before I did. As far as debuts go, this Bandcamp gem is surprisingly lush and cohesive. There are a few glimpses of Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear, but above all Grand Opening presents a young indie rock five-piece making an exciting contribution to our local music scene. So, I'm making a late New Year's resolution to pay close attention to Coast Jumper in 2012. (Capell)

With Dogcatcher, Briertone, and Colin Carthen

9 p.m., $10

Hotel Utah

500 Fourth St, SF

(415) 546-6300



Max Cooper

With a PhD in computational biology and a tendency to name, if not organize, tracks after abstract scientific concepts (see the Serie trilogy of Harmonisch, Stochastisch, and Chaotisch) the UK's Max Cooper could come across as a purely heady figure — a brain floating in a jar in some IDM lab. But Cooper has made a name for himself — appearing on Resident Advisor's Top 100 DJs of 2011 — with ambient techno that manages to be moving. A delicate, light touch at work, whether a twinkle of keys or burst of static, Cooper's evocative effects create familiar cinematic imagery: a walk in the rain, a passing car, a gasp emitted from bright red lips. (Prendiville)

With William Wardlaw, Max Jack vs. Pedro Arbulu, Max Gardner vs. Brian Knarfield

9 p.m., $15–$20


101 Sixth St., SF

(415) 284-9774




Vetiver's lead singer Andy Cabic proved the value of wandering when his strolls through the Richmond District led to another critically-acclaimed album for one of San Francisco's most compelling folk bands. The band gained serious traction last spring with the release of The Errant Charm, a title hinting there may be inherent misdeed in such vagrancy; though the music, channeling '60s-style acoustics and California daze, is meant for musing. Through the close of last year the disheveled crooners were playing what seemed like every city in the country, promoting their newest record, and spreading the love. Now they return to their roots. The oracle predicts a jam session on a sparkly night in the Bay. (Garcia)

With Magic Trick, Prairiedog, DJ Britt Govea

8 p.m., $20


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



"Martin Luther King Jr. Day Double Feature"

"All of us have something to say, but some are never heard" — Richard Pryor, Wattstax (1973). MLK Jr. Day calls into question how we remember the past. The Wattstax concert is sometimes recalled derivatively as "the black Woodstock." But while soul music may have been the response, the event was put on by Stax Records to commemorate and come to terms with the seventh anniversary of the Watts Riots in LA, which challenged the limits of MLK Jr.'s nonviolent philosophy. As a double feature the Wattstax documentary will be shown with The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011), a revelatory look at a movement's era that sadly took the distance of continent and a few decades to make. (Prendiville)

Wattstax 3, 7p.m.; The Black Power Mixtape 4:55, 8:55 p.m., $7.50–$10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120



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