Music Features

Garage Days re-revisited

Musical mentors to J-Stalin and other post-hyphy Oakland acts, the Mekanix lure E-40 into The Chop Shop.

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MUSIC In 2003, at Moses Music in East Oakland, I stumbled across a CD labeled "Numskull of the Luniz Presents...Hittaz on tha Payroll, Ghetto Storm" (Hitta Records). I bought it and was blown away, not simply by the rappers — one of whom, Eddi Projex, has gone on to be a Bay hitmaker — but also by the cinematic expressiveness of the music, with its moody, minor-key atmospheres and rapid counterpunctual basslines, courtesy of the Mekanix: Dotrix 4000 and Kenny Tweed.Read more »

Out of the paincave

El-P finds a revelation within the destruction on Cancer 4 Cure

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Apocalypse doesn't exactly identify what Brooklyn-born producer and rapper El-P conjures in his music. Sure, furtive sirens blare out almost immediately in his new record Cancer 4 Cure (Fat Possum). Synthetic melodies disfigure themselves while break beats rumble with the intensity of the Bomb Squad, all drowned out through a wash of distorted noise. The lyrics are just as unsettling too: an overpowering technological violence brought to bear on soft human bodies, whose voices are fractured, rendered nearly schizophrenic.Read more »

Queen bee

Retrospective and review of Lil Kim's bitch-ass wordplay

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "You wanna be this Queen Bee, but ya can't be. That's why you're mad at me." That was one of many audacious lines delivered by a much younger Lil Kim in her beautiful, black, Brooklyn accent on Hardcore, her raunchy debut album from 1996.

Now coming up on her 38th birthday, she just returned to the stage at San Francisco's Mezzanine earlier this month; her performance not only had hip-hop fans who missed out asking, "How was the show?," but also, "How did she look?"Read more »

No time wasted

Japandroids' 'Celebration Rock' lives up to its name

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "The record couldn't be called anything else," says Japandroids' Brian King of the band's sophomore LP, Celebration Rock, released last Tuesday on Polyvinyl Records. "It just seemed to sum up — not just the album, but the sound of the band as a whole."Read more »

Time's on his side

How sifting through records at Rooky Ricardo's influenced Nick Waterhouse's R&B style

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Nick Waterhouse no longer calls San Francisco home, but the city's fingerprints are all over Time's All Gone, his effortlessly fun, debut LP. The retro-minded songwriter-producer crafts perfect little tributes to the punchy 1950s R&B sounds he's been drawn to since he was a kid, all steeped with an endearing reverence for old-school record culture and recording techniques.Read more »

Revival signs

JD McPherson ushers in a welcome return to rock'n'roll roots

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

MUSIC A few musicians with slick hair and black-frame glasses are seen setting up their equipment in Chicago's Hi-Style Studio: amps, a mustard Telecaster, glittering gold drums, a huge stand-up bass, and vintage condenser microphones. What year is this?Read more »

Destroy build destroy

Dan Bejar brings a new lineup to last year's divisive Kaputt

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "Harsh urban space, with a light misting." That's how Dan Bejar describes 2011's Kaputt, his ninth full-length under the Destroyer moniker; listen to it with headphones, on a foggy day in San Francisco, and you just might agree.Read more »

Trans-formation

Mark Matos crawls back from the brink with a cosmic new alter-ego
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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC After touring on 2009's Words of the Knife with his band Os Beaches, Mark Matos' world fell crashing from the cosmos. Internal struggles compelled him to fire his producer and his guitarist; Os Beaches' practice space that doubled as a crash pad burned down (relegating the fresh-off-the-road group back to van sleeping); and Matos began to develop a destructive relationship with drugs.Read more »

Tricky sings

Nixon in China director Michael Cavanagh on diplomacy's greatest opera

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MUSIC Compared with the smooth operator currently installed in the Oval Office, how nervous Richard Nixon looks now as a representative of America abroad, all stiff grins, rumpled shiftiness, outbursts of awkward rhetoric. Read more »

Landlocked

Stockton's Surf Club devotes tidal wave tempos, vocal harmonies to young love

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Pavement. That's all I really associate with Stockton. Personally, I've only been there once, few weeks back on my way to Yosemite, and I just drove through — 205 to 120 — stopping once for gas. So pavement all the way. Yet, despite the lack of waves, it's home to Surf Club, a sunny four-piece that's recently released its debut EP, Young Love, on Death Party Records.Read more »