Music Features

Exchange is good

A retro art form is alive (and thriving!) thanks to the San Francisco Mixtape Society

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MUSIC The heyday of the mixtape was the 1990s, when a mix required a gentle touch with the pause button, careful calculations to make sure the songs fit on the cassette, and a delicate winding of the tape spool with the pinky finger, advancing the clear tape to the magnetic. They took hours to complete. They were fragile, often made in a torrent of teenage lust and given with sweaty palms.

With the San Francisco Mixtape Society, you get a semblance of that experience.Read more »

Freeing Frank Ocean

On the verge of a sold-out tour, the R&B star reveals himself

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC If there was ever a genre that needed a good kick in the ass, it was R&B. For every Aaliyah, there have been ten J. Holidays, content to toe the party line and continue singing those same ol' songs. Lucky for us, a slew of exciting artists (the Weeknd, Miguel, How to Dress Well) have revitalized the genre by crafting progressive work and bringing new influences and ideas into the mix. None has shone brighter than Frank Ocean.Read more »

Real swell year

Americana act Mornin' Old Sport moves out West to release its debut LP

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

MUSIC In Jimmie Rodgers' 1930s-era song "The One Rose," the country music pioneer wistfully croons "So blue, so lonesome too, but still true/Rosie haunts me, makes me think of you/You're the one rose that's left in my heart."Read more »

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 »