Music Features

After the gold rush

The Dying Californian begins to live
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johnny@sfbg.com
Lay up nearer, brother, nearer
For my limbs are growing cold
— "The Dying Californian"
A man's last testimony to his brother before perishing at sea, "The Dying Californian" is a mid-19th-century tune that documents the dark side of the Gold Rush. Read more »

Bitch's brew

All women, all noise - meet 16 Bitch Pile-Up
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com
San Francisco is full of a bunch of pussies. I'm sorry, it's not that I want to say these things. I feel strongly that a woman's vagina should never be used to describe something weak or negative. In fact I tend to correct people who use that word in such a way, being that I am shamelessly p.c. Read more »

Get the funk out of here

Transutf8g the hot Afrobeat of Fela Kuti at the Afrofunk Music Festival
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com
For more than 30 years, Afrobeat has been slowly grabbing ears in underground music circles like a revolutionary movement steadily arming itself for a coup d'état. Rawer than jazz, more organic than R&B, and as politically and socially relevant as hip-hop, this genre binds American styles to percussive African rhythms, chants, and 10-piece-plus horn-heavy orchestras. This is a high-energy music with the street appeal of blaxploitation grooves and the third-world desperation of reggae, a sound that is as mysterious and at times as daunting as the continent itself. Read more »

Roots and antennas

Brazil's avant-rocker Lenine breaks down boundaries
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mirissa@sfbg.com
After a miserable World Cup performance, someone has to redeem Brazil's cultural status in the eyes of observers. With a critically acclaimed performance at SXSW under his belt and his self-titled US debut on Six Degrees, Lenine may be just the man for the job. Brazil's überpopular singer-songwriter is spearheading the latest neo-tropicália movement, following in the footsteps of artists like Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes. Read more »

The planet of the mutants

Os Mutantes are back — in truthful Tropicália technicolor!
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johnny@sfbg.com
It's been nearly 40 years since Sérgio Dias Baptista of Os Mutantes saw Ten Years After at the Fillmore, but he still has, well, vivid memories of his first visit to San Francisco as a naive 17-year-old. He remembers sitting on a bench at a park in Haight-Ashbury and seeing a man on a faraway hilltop slowly walking toward him, until the man finally arrived — to offer Dias what he claims was his first joint. "I think it was also the first time someone showed me a peace sign, and I didn't understand what was that," the ebullient guitarist says. Read more »

A band of sisters

As Sleater-Kinney, Destiny's Child, and le Tigre bid farewell, an ex-all-girl punk band member wonders, where have all the music-making women gone?
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kimberly@sfbg.com
Cast your eyes on the Billboard chart and it seems like summer 2006 will go down in history as the season of the Latin diva, with Nelly Furtado doffing a soft-focus folkie-cutie image by declaring herself "Promiscuous" and Shakira holding on to the promise of, well, that crazy, sexy, but not quite cool chest move she's close to trademarked via "Hips Don't Lie." Rihanna and Christina Aguilera brought up the rear of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart last week — solo singers all. Read more »

Sunny side of the scream

In a world of disappearing all-female bands, the Bay Area's Erase Errata turn in their strongest recording to date
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kimberly@sfbg.com
The Greek deities might throw lightning bolts and issue stormy protests, but when I first saw Erase Errata in November 2001, they seemed less a fledgling local all-girl band than scruffy goddesses sprung full grown from the temple of ... Mark E. Smith. The year-and-a-half-old foursome opened for the newly reenergized, near-surfabilly Fall and they were staggering — seeming grrrlish prodigies who picked up the sharp, jagged tools discarded by Smith with a confidence that seemed Olympian (as in Washington State and Zeus's heavenly homestead). Read more »

Sweet 16mm

Small Sails float their own kind of rock show experience
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com
In 1967, the Bay Area's Brotherhood of Light transformed the average rock show into a full-blown psychedelic spectacle. Using 16mm film and Technicolor dyes and oils, the collective began projecting swirling visuals on larger-than-life backdrops at venues like the Fillmore. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and, of course, the Dead all got the Brotherhood treatment. Read more »

Sexy transmissions

Sublime Frequencies issue more transcendent sounds — and images — from across the pond
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Low-flying Seattle ethnomusic label Sublime Frequencies has been in business for less than three years, but in that time established itself as easily the most happening label around in terms of hard-to-find music from overseas. Read more »

The Wolf that Peter built

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Prohibition saw the blossoming of alcoholic communing. Antismoking laws brought smokers closer together. So what about this musical wolf craze, Wolfmothers and Wolfkings, the endless urge to shape-shift? We're becoming more human.
Note the outpouring of pop collectives that are truly collective. Observe Austin, Texas's Peter and the Wolf, Red Hunter's experimental folk project, whose acoustic performances in graveyards, in abandoned buses, even on an island, have put them on the map. Read more »