Music

Answer me!

Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective, and Jimmy Reed answer the eternal questions
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SONIC REDUCER As changeable, transformative chameleon year ’09 draws to a close, El Niño flurries sweep out the past, and all present plunge into the hassle and hustle of the holidays, I'm looking for answers — signposts if not certainties. Read more »

Spacemen two

Killing time -- and orbiting Suicide -- with Moon Duo's lunar tunes
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"I think our interest in the spheres is less scientific, less intellectual, and more primal," Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo says, when asked if he and bandmate Sanae Yamada have a particular fascination with deep space. "I see it as a sort of existential mirror, or perhaps a visceral catalyst for existential experience."
The eye-catching quartet of NASA-ESA Hubble Space Telescope images on the cover of Moon Duo's four-song EP Killing Time (Sacred Bones) evoke untouched realms and a sense of unknowing, even foreboding. Read more »

Love sex fear death

Cold Cave generates a new wave of gothic eroticism
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Philadelphia freedom can become Philadelphia gothdom. Cinematically, I'm thinking of David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977), the very definition of black-and-white bleakness, and a Philly-filmed movie set within a nightmare. More recently (and obscurely), I'm thinking of Andrew Repasky McElhinney's far-from-literal 2004 film adaptation of George Bataille's Story of the Eye, seemingly based in blasted-out sections of the City of Brotherly Love.
Bataille's obsessive focus on eros' fusion of love and death is in keeping with Cold Cave, the latest musical project of Wesley Eisold. Read more »

Killer 'Droids

Don't call Japandroids post-hardcore. Plus: Savoy Family Cajun Band, Simian Mobile Disco, and George Hurd Ensemble and Build
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What is a Japandroid? Sure, it sounds like a mashup of two monikers (Pleasuredroids and Japanese Scream) hatched by guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse when the Vancouver, B.C., twosome were dreaming up a Yeah Yeah Yeahs-style power trio back in '06. But I imagine it looks way cooler than your average Transformer, less like a toaster and more like an Astro Boy-style skin job. Read more »

Gone, here

The promises of yesterday and tomorrow through Sa-Ra and Shafiq Husayn
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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC No one has ever heard the real Sa-Ra, declares Shafiq Husayn during an evening phone interview. And I believe him.

Formed in 2001 between L.A. musicians Om'mas Keith, Taz Arnold, and Husayn (a former rapper/producer in Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate crew), Sa-Ra Creative Partners is more powerful as a myth than an actual group. It emerged in 2004 as part of Kanye West's ill-fated G.O.O.D. Music venture with Columbia, fomenting buzz for its never-released debut, Black Fuzz. Read more »

Songs of Norway

Annie's Don't Stop brings the perfect pop
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MUSIC Hey Annie fans, relax. How many pop princesses are savvy enough to begin the intro verse of an album's kickoff song with a couplet that casually and subtly incorporates the titles of Shannon's "Let the Music Play" and Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You"? Years in the making, Don't Stop (Smalltown Supersound) has gone through more permutations than a combinatronics expert could comprehend, yet our girl brings the goods — the first seven songs are quip-sharp, catwalk-strut perfection, especially the initial one-two-three punch. Read more »

Punk-rock farewell

Recession sinks Annie's Social Club
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cheryl@sfbg.com

MUSIC In late October, I spent a particularly thrilling evening at Annie's Social Club, watching North Carolina-by-way-of-Venus band Valient Thorr fling copious sweat beads into a beer-soaked crowd. Annie's, one of my favorite spots in San Francisco, was the perfect setting for the show — cozy (but not cramped), dark and low-ceiling'd enough to feel like the coolest basement ever, and packed full of friendly punk and metal fans. Read more »

Trimmings

Talkin' turkey with Joker, Sergio Fedasz of Go Bang!, Monistat the Chaser, and Lowdown's Roost Uno
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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Child, there is no better place to digest your Thanksgiving giblets than a leather bar. (For all my non-homo homies and vegan amigos, meet me at the rather hopping Mission Hill Saloon — 491 Potrero, SF — for some cheap après-pie Chimay. I'll bring the family-recovery Vicodin. Is Vicodin vegan? Anyway.) Hunky and slightly distressed-skin leather queens will actually cruise the holiday fat off those chunky drumsticks poking through your peek-a-boo chaps with their hungry, hungry, laser-beam eyes. Read more »

Friends forever

Peter Bjorn and John celebrates 10 years of togetherness, Them Crooked Vultures dive into the wreck
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER We can't all cozy up like Plant and Krauss, Timberlake and Timbaland. Fantasy jam sessions sometimes remain just that, as Slash found out when Jack White rejected the ex-Guns slinger's request for a guest turn, but, hey, you can dream: Animal Collective's Panda Bear paired with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste — bear with me — or Droste coupled with Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth. Read more »

x plus x equals xx

Two takes on tracks by the xx from the album xx
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x one: 2009 is 1989 all over again. Exhibit 89: The xx intro themselves near Fascination Street, somewhere across the city from the fine times and vanishing points where Memory Tapes currently resides. Truth be told, that year is just one of many pre-millennial ones this sneaky group taps into and renovates. Their minor key, lowercase late night musings shine darkly like Young Marble Giants circa-1979. Read more »