Music Features

Notes from the underground

Where's the party — after 2 a.m.? Welcome to the scene unseen
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kimberly@sfbg.com
Looking for hints of San Francisco's renowned underground nightlife? It pays to keep your eyes and nose to the ground — and to be textable. That's one of the few subtle signs that the hottest underground party in town is happening right here on an early Sunday summer morning: reedy, peg-legged hipsters standing out by the curb on this barren, bulldozed Hunters Point artery, busily texting and talking up fidgety, insomniac friends about their next landing strip. Read more »

Six-string samurai

Oakland metalists Totimoshi hitch their wagon to Page Hamilton and head out
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Discovering new metal bands worth their salt these days isn't just hit-and-miss — it's mostly miss. In fact, most kids now trying to crack the genre make me want to jump onstage, grab them by their greasy hair, and scream, "Satan is boring!" or "You are not Metallica!" into their prematurely damaged eardrums.
So when a friend slipped me the unmastered studio tracks of Totimoshi's forthcoming album, Ladron, I was hesitant. Read more »

Turf's up

Oakland MC Beeda Weeda is smokin'
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First nicknamed the Rolling 20s in the ’70s, then the Twomps in the ’80s, the group of East Oakland avenues below MacArthur and between 19th and Fruitvale avenues received its present designation, the Murder Dubs, in the early ’90s, when a neighborhood hustler named P-Dub began a lethal reign of terror in an effort to control the local drug trade. Read more »

Air Americana

Tangled up in Silver Jews
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Madonna and her scantily-clad kabbalah practice may have been ousted by the Russian Orthodox Church, but rest assured, oh ye faithful, the Silver Jews are finally coming to San Francisco. The band, often mislabeled as a Pavement side project, actually coalesced before Pavement, though the two backstories share a history of caustic revelation.
David Berman, guitarist-vocalist Stephen Malkmus, and drummer Bob Nastanovich formed the Silver Jews in 1989 while students at the University of Virginia. After graduation, they took the budding project with them to New York. Read more »

Songs in the key of quirk

Feeling Ohio and turning over the Black Keys
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“Let's bleed orange and brown all over this town.” Is it possible for such words of wisdom to induce skull fractures? Try inhaling this foul stench of a battle cry from doomed Cleveland Browns fans for 22 seasons as an Ohio resident, and you tell me if your gray matter doesn't feel starved for another kind of enlightenment. Hailing from "the Mistake on the Lake," a.k.a. northeastern Ohio, does have its share of rewards and quirks. The rent is supercheap and Black Label Beer is a staple in every twentysomething's diet. We have LeBron James — ’nuff said. Read more »

Back from the country

Vashti Bunyan returns to dispel myths and make more great music
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johnny@sfbg.com
At the end of our transatlantic phone conversation, I tell Vashti Bunyan to have a good night, and she tells me to have a good day. She's relaxed at home in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her friend Jenny Wright — whom the first track on the new album Lookaftering (Dicristina Stair) is dedicated to — is staying for a visit. "We really haven't seen each other at all over the last 30 years," Bunyan says when I first ask about Wright, not knowing that she's in fact sitting nearby. "She just happens to be staying with me right now! Read more »

Regaining consciousness

East Oakland rapper Ise Lyfe spreads the word, makes his mark
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"I want to be a mainstream artist," says East Oakland rapper and spoken word poet Ise Lyfe, discussing his rejection of the label "conscious rap." "I'm not trying to be some backpack cat performing in Davis. I want to be ..."
The 23-year-old trails off thoughtfully. "I think the only way to do it harder than Jay-Z is to have a real movement, something tangible that will effect change in the world through music. Read more »

Rock's black back pages

Black Fiction take us for a Ride
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Tim Cohen sits at a table cutting up playing cards.
The Black Fiction vocalist-guitarist-songwriter has convinced himself that the meaty torsos of every jack, queen, and king are spelling out something big. He flings the disembodied heads into a pile and arranges the stately bodies to spell out Black Fiction Ghost Ride. Across the table keyboardist Joe Roberts is gathering the heads. Read more »

Northern composure

Victoria's Shapes and Sizes unfold before our ears
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Four years ago, a high school junior named Britney Gallivan managed to fold a piece of paper in half 12 times, surpassing the eight-fold limit with a 4,000-foot-long piece of special toilet paper. For this girl, origami became more than paper frogs, cootie catchers, and hope-giving cranes. But those cranes are still essential. The four sprightly members of Shapes and Sizes do a lot of musical origami and showy unfolding on their self-titled debut. Read more »

This tune's for you

Catching up with What Made Milwaukee Famous
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We've all been there. You're entranced by some wonderful song that you can't live without, only to buy the album, hunker down to listen, and find it full of duds. Your purchase ... sucks. Read more »