Music Features

Divining truth

Singer-songwriter Piers Faccini gets to the heart of the matter
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"Basically, it's a mystery as to why someone who is brought up in Western Europe and is primarily the product of French and English culture should hear Ali Farka Touré at the age of 19 and feel like a thunderbolt just bashed them on the head," Piers Faccini says.

It was the late '80s, and after spending much of his childhood in rural France, Faccini was back in his native London, playing in a band that covered the Smiths. Read more »

Sail away

Ex–Red Threader Jason Lakis voyages solo with Mist and Mast
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Jason Lakis is proving to be his own best bandmate. The former frontperson of Bay Area country-slowcore outfit the Red Thread, which split this summer after three stellar LPs, has lately reemerged as Mist and Mast — a solo act, though you wouldn't guess it. Mist's eponymous debut, which Lakis released on his Oakland Petting Zoo label, finds the artist playing every part — and sounding sneakily like some well-rehearsed group. Read more »

Redevelopment blues

Devastation and hope in the Fillmore
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James Baldwin said it most eloquently and publicly: "Urban renewal ... means Negro removal" — during a 1963 TV interview on meeting a boy displaced by the Fillmore-area redevelopment projects of the '50s and '60s. Wondering what happened to the Fillmore's vibrant jazz, blues, and R&B clubs — which once drew musical giants like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington and fostered local neophytes like Etta James and Chet Baker? Read more »

The Fillmore mess around

Players recall the once sizzling, oft-forgotten Western Addition jazz era
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San Francisco's Fillmore District, Willie Brown once said, "had to be the closest thing to Harlem outside of New York." The Fillmore was in its golden era when the future mayor, then a teenager, arrived in 1951 from segregated Mineola, Texas. The 20 blocks that constitute the heart of the Fillmore then bustled with commerce and culture. Read more »

Goldie winner -- Music: Wooden Shjips

The dark star that lurks beneath flower power
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Wooden Shjips released their "Dance, California/Clouds over Earthquake" 7-inch single (Sick Thirst) last year in much the same way as they had their instigating, self-released Shrinking Moon for You 10-inch: packaged in an unassuming, clear plastic sleeve with hardly any information besides song titles. Beyond sending bloggers and journalists into a tizzy over their sexy, squalling grooves, this set confirmed Wooden Shjips as essential California. Read more »

Goldie winner -- Music: The Finches

The forest folk sounds of a marine girl and boy
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We wish they all could be California girls — or pure products of the Bay like the Finches' Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. On the phone from New York City, where she's playing a series of CMJ-related shows, the singer-songwriter is as laid-back about scheduling an interview ("Whatever's clever!" she says merrily) as she is playfully lickety-split with a quirky quip, a roll-off-the-tongue rhyme, or an unguarded revelation (of a new Los Angeles job that requires the 26-year-old be on her feet all day, she says, "I wear a knee brace. Read more »

Goldie winner -- Music: Kirby Dominant

New wave thuggin' and contemplative domination
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In hip-hop the path to wisdom passes through comedy. It's been that way since Biz Markie got people thinking about romance and friendship and De la Soul got touchy-feely over Steely Dan samples. Think of Prince Paul, who could teach Woody Allen a thing or two about using psychoanalysis as a filter for funny societal commentary. Think of Kool Keith, a man of many masks who has riffed on medical authority as creatively as Prince Paul. Kirby Dominant is adding hot-like-fuchsia chapters to this tradition. Read more »

Goldie winner -- Music: Non-Stop Bhangra

Lose yourself in the rum-tum-tum
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A swish of beaded cerulean silk, jingles of hammered gold, the rousing ring of a tabla — and it's on, desi darlings. Read more »

Global chilling

Pioneering UK producer Tom Middleton releases his debut
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In 1994 an album came out that nearly put a class of DJs out of work. Those manning the decks at so-called chill-out rooms in countless clubs had good reason to fear Global Communication's 76:14 (Arista), for its lush, emotive melodies and almost infinite attention to detail maintained the excitement that surrounded electronic music at the time while fostering a desultory, languid mood. Read more »

Hail "Conqueror"

The heavy evangelism of Jesu's Justin Broadrick
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"Is that the venue? It looks like a shack!" Justin Broadrick says, and his bandmates laugh uproariously. They've just pulled up outside their venue in Austin, Texas, and it's not looking good. "Sorry," he apologizes to me on his cell phone. "It looks like a shed!" Broadrick is only joking, in surprisingly good spirits for being sick and a man who has a reputation as the king of bombast, the creative force behind the grindcore of Napalm Death in the '80s and the psychotic industrial blast beats of Godflesh in the '90s. Read more »