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Happy Friday from Happy Diving

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Feeling '90s-tastic this morning? (Okay let's be real, that is my baseline state of being.) SF's grungy power-pop four-piece Happy Diving helped today, though, with this new video for "Never Been," off the wholly excellent self-titled EP they released last month. It sounds like Pinkerton-era Weezer meets Sugar meets Dinosaur Jr. meets, er, 2014. Read more »

Locals Only: Steep Ravine

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There's something in Steep Ravine's music that sounds older than their (fresh-out-of-college) years: It's a calmness, a soulfulness, a complete lack of pretention — which is not something that can be said for many bands of young dudes who hope to be the Next Big Thing in bluegrass and Americana. These Bay Area natives (Berkeley, Mill Valley, Menlo Park, and Watsonville, to be specific) are far from over-serious, but they take this music and its history seriously, and the result is pretty sweet. Ahead of their album release show at the Starry Plough this Friday, Feb. Read more »

Live Shots: WATERS is stormier than expected at Brick & Mortar

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Live shows are an opportunity for musicians and music lovers to share an experience together. After all, you’re standing in the same room. Brick & Mortar Music Hall is a treasure trove for musicians. The small space offers an intimate setting that gives musicians the chance to embrace their audience.

I stood five feet away from WATERS’ lead singer and frontman Van Pierszalowski Monday night and not once did I feel embraced. Read more »

Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week

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The Bay Area music-related Internets was ablaze this week with the rumor that whiskey-fueled nights at the Mission's belovedly divey Elbo Room may be numbered, thanks to everyone's favorite new word to pronounce like it's an epithet: Condos. The Elbo Room's current owners and management say they're just that — rumors — and until we hear more, we refuse to panic. Read more »

The Flaming Lips save Valentine's Day

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It doesn't matter if you're single, dating, or attached at the hip to your spouse/live-in partner(s)/[insert questionable pet name here] — Valentine's Day has always presented a veritable Hallmark-sponsored landmine field of ways to screw up, disappoint your loved ones, and/or generally feel terrible about yourself. Until now.Read more »

Live Shots: Yuck finds its voice at The Independent

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“I remember the last time I was here the room was filled with the smell of weed,” said Yuck’s lead vocalist Max Bloom with his charming British accent, facing yet another thick fog looming over the audience. “I feel like I’m getting high out of proximity.” The herb-filled air wasn't new to The Independent, and this wasn’t Yuck’s first time in San Francisco. But the band that showed up there Wednesday night [1/30] was a very different band than Yuck has been in the past.Read more »

An ally and a union brother: Pete Seeger's legacy in the labor movement

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Pete Seeger's sweet voice was, among other things, a clear, articulate, consistently outspoken one for workers' rights. In honor of Seeger's legacy of activism, we reached out to longtime community activist and LaborFest co-founder Steve Zeltzer to hear about what he meant to the labor movement in the Bay Area and beyond. Read more »

Locals Only: The American Professionals

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Locals Only is our shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home — a chance to spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share.To be considered, email esilvers@sfbg.com.

With all the CDs that come across my desk, the American Professionals' latest, We Make It Our Business, caught my attention for a rather weird reason — it looked incredibly boring. At first glance, it seemed like a software or PR company had accidentally sent me some sort of business portfolio in disc form. Upon further review (i.e., actually reading the accompanying materials and listening to the music...this is why they pay me the big bucks) I realized it was anything but. Read more »

Live Shots: !!! lead a sweaty Saturday at the Chapel

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"San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco," chants !!!'s Nic Offer as he struts onto the Chapel's glowing red stage, facing a screaming sold-out crowd.  The practicality of Offer’s typical performance outfit — tonight he is wearing beat-up, bone-white monk strap loafers, short white shorts emblazoned with the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls cover art, and a black crewneck tee — quickly becomes apparent as he races back and forth across the stage, light brown curls flying, wrapping the mic cord around his neck.  Before the first song is over he leaps on the center monitor, thrusts his pelvis forward, and generously pulls his very short pant leg open so a fan can get his money shot.  Now that’s showmanship. 

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The worst music beats the best bomb: A conversation with legendary composer Van Dyke Parks

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“Yours falsely!” Van Dyke Parks chimes, as he picks up the phone at home in Pasadena, where the weather is “room temperature.” He adds, “all we have is the attorneys. Get rid of them, and we can have another perfect day.” Read more »