Music

Doom and decay

The slow and stoned sound of Saint Vitus — born too late, or too early?
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MUSIC The Bay Area has a strange relation with its musical past — accounts of Phil Lesh's recent somnambulation among the living attest to this, but the same can be said about much of the past 10 years. For better or worse, as the early '00s crawled back into the woods to die, many of us were left with the impression that the past 10 years were composed of a series of disorganized, vaguely parasitic gestures, a theme party where every group of new guests seems to ape a different decade. Read more »

Sound effects

Mincemeat or Tenspeed put the pedal to the mettle
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MUSIC One can infer a lot about a musician's relationship to hardcore from their effects pedals. Black Flag pissed off the jocks by growing their hair out and exploring ponderous jam-band territory, but modulating the guitar signal might have been a more serious affront. Black Dice took the latter tack, with Bjorn Copeland's guitar playing the role of sound generator in contrast to Greg Ginn's Tourette's-stricken riff machine. Read more »

Welcome to violence

Madlib, now in his hardcore phase, hands out sonic pamphlets like a prophet of doom
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MUSIC Late last year, Stones Throw Records announced it would release a full-length album of tunes by its veritable resident producer, Madlib, in 2010 ... every month. Dubbed Madlib Medicine Show, the 12-part series sounds like a rap nerd fantasy.Read more »

Potrero punk power

Power threesome Dadfag makes things sink and make sense

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When I meet with the triad that makes up Dadfag at Four Barrel Coffee, Eva Hannan explains that they are operating on no sleep. She and fellow guitarist-vocalist Danielle Benson had woken up at dawn to drive their Sacramento friends from Ganglians home after they'd stayed in the city to see Dadfag play the previous night at El Rio. The exhaustion doesn't show. Instead, Dadfag have the same delirious energy one witnesses when they perform, except that Benson has blown out her voice.Read more »

Do make drone

Thirty years of Big City Orchestra's bent circuits, Beatlerape, and popcorn sounds

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MUSIC "One, 1,000 ... two, 1,000 ... three, 1,000 ..." I'm counting down the seconds, by phone, between rare Bay Area lightning flash and thunderbolt with dAS, experimental composer and core member of Big City Orchestra. He's at the 30-year-old noise-collage collective's studio in Alameda, preparing for the BCO radio show, ubRadio, streamed live every Wednesday afternoon through a Web site in Amsterdam. "Maybe I'll just put a box of microphones out in the storm today," dAS says with a chuckle, to catch the air's anticipatory crackleRead more »

Jay Reatard, 1980-2010

Even those turned off by his surly stage persona admired the garage rock hero
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MUSIC "It rocks, dude. Start to finish. Top to bottom." This was my brother's earnest recommendation of Blood Visions (In the Red), Jay Reatard's incendiary 2006 solo debut and the record that, in the year or so following its release, startled me and many others into awareness of this Memphis punk auteur's mesmerizing fury. Only a few years later, he has passed on, and no matter how many people he offended, slagged off, or punched out, it's such a damn shame that he's gone.Read more »

The mighty uke

The ukulele darts back into the musical spotlight, lickety-split

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MUSIC The ukulele has gone viral, again, via YouTube phenomena like the adorable Uke Kid and virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who both perform interpretations of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" — originally by George Harrison, himself a professed uke-aholic.Read more »

Flashing lights

DECADE IN MUSIC: 10 years on the Bay Area dance floor -- and still looking fantastic!
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Guardian illustration of DJ AM, Daft Punk, and Steve Aoki by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC Good lord. Who can remember all the strobe-lit twists and turns that Bay Area nightlife slid down in the past decade? Even if I wasn't utterly and gloriously hung over from 10 years of being 86ed, it would still be a sweat-drenched, dry-iced, hypnotic blear. That's a lovely thing. Read more »

2009 = 1989

DECADE IN MUSIC: The end of this decade sings a love song to the end of a decade past
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Guardian illustration of Cold Cave's Wesley Eisold, Robert Smith, and Crocodile's Brandon Welchez by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

2009, will you be mine — my bloody valentine to 1989? More than once this year I've felt the effect of a 20-year loop. This sensation wasn't quite déjà vu, but more a sense that the underground sounds of my youth were returning, slightly transformed, as outer-reach themes for another generation. Read more »

False Idols

DECADE IN MUSIC: Pop went meta, exposing its gaga machinery
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Guardian illustration of the Jonas Brothers by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC Forget what you've heard: stars aren't born — they're made. Pop music over the past decade has been defined by the music industry, with standout stars manufactured to be, well, standout stars. We've reached the point where the biggest names are chosen by reality TV, the media, and, more often than not, the Disney corporation.

Does that sound cynical? Read more »