Music Features

From our Bay to Norway

A trip beyond space disco through the super sounds of Oslo and San Francisco
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johnny@sfbg.com

I hear a new world calling me. It's beeping transmissions from some faraway place in the future and the past where a mysterious craft hovers near calypso rock and choruses of friendly voices — some human, some not — echo or call to each other. It's a free-floating territory charted by someone obsessed with creating and sharing sounds that would otherwise go unheard. Only those with a similar obsession seem to respond to its clarion call.

I hear a new world, so strange and so real. Read more »

Bubblegum and barbed wire kisses

The Jesus and Mary Chain resurrected
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Somehow it seems morbidly appropriate that a band like the Jesus and Mary Chain would reappear in a year that has witnessed the sad demise of country tunesmith and pop maverick Lee Hazlewood and the grisly murder trial of überproducer and pop maverick Phil Spector. Siblings straight from a David Cronenberg film, William and Jim Reid had an obsession with classic pop music matched only bya lugubrious death drive. Read more »

"A cautionary tale, carefully delivered"

Fighting words from Oxbow's Eugene Robinson
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duncan@sfbg.com

Make no mistake: Eugene Robinson is a throwback — to a time when people used words like honor without being ironic or embarrassed. Read more »

Death balm

Another Kevin Shields
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Thurston Moore–ites still absorbing the noiseless acoustics of Trees Outside the Academy, his sophomore full-length released last month on his Ecstatic Peace imprint, may be unaware of another basement romp from the Sonic Youth guitarist, which the Los Angeles label Deathbomb Arc put out as a vinyl-only split in August. Read more »

Ready to break out of the farm leagues

Oakland's Ike Dola makes the leap
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You can't imagine all the types of shit I've seen in my life

You can't imagine all the pain 'til you look in my eyes

Ike Dola, "This Is My Life"

I met Ike Dola two days after his father died. Not only did the 23-year-old East Oakland MC keep our appointment, but he'd also performed the same day his father succumbed to cancer. Read more »

Meat the Figurines

Sharing the fantasy with the would-be future pig farmers of Denmark
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duncan@sfbg.com

I have a meat map of the world in my head, so when I hear "Denmark," I think of ham. If I think a little harder, I'll come to kringle, that delicious pastry that's ubiquitous in Racine, Wis., which is the closest I've come to Denmark.

My baby-momma's of Danish descent, so I also think of the time her cousins came to visit and were amazed by the size of American freeways and our unnatural attachment to firearms. Read more »

Eat skull

Dyed, fried, and straight out of the hospitals
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I knew I was getting into some trouble when I first discovered that Eat Skull — a noisome bunch of skuzz rockers from Portland, Ore. — has two members who used to bring the motherfuckin' ruckus alongside Adam Stonehouse in the Hospitals. But I knew I was in for a treat as well. Read more »

More sad hits

Another dream date with Damon and Naomi
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It's been nearly two decades since Galaxie 500 broke through with their languid, fuzzed-out dream pop, and rhythm section Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang still live and record in the Ivy Leagued shadow of their Cambridge, Mass., alma mater, Harvard University. Perpetual college rock? It's true their recordings as a duo have retained Galaxie 500's moody overtones, but the self-consciously wide-screen canvas is gone: instead of soaring chorus and spiral-jetty guitar wails, Damon and Naomi emphasize smart pop arrangements and subdued vocal harmonies. Read more »

Acousticity

Colleen and Jose Gonzalez pull strings and sound out reverberations
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johnny@sfbg.com

The Night of the Hunter is at the top of a list of favorite films compiled by Colleen, a.k.a. Parisian musician Cécile Schott, and Iker Spazio's lovely cover art for the new Colleen album, Les Ondes Silencieuses (Leaf), more than hints at that film's magic and menace. In Spazio's paper cut–influenced dark and starry nighttime vision, Colleen is viewed from the back as she plays the viola da gamba at the edge of a forest by a body of water. Read more »

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Fresh air

Life after Smog with Bill Callahan
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"I could tell you about the river," Bill Callahan bellows on "From the Rivers to the Ocean," the opening salvo of his most recent record, Woke on a Whaleheart (Drag City). There's a pregnant pause, he drops his voice between ascending piano chords — "Or ..." — and then a sweet melody buoys the rest of the line, "... Read more »