Music

Welcome to the Asylum

Sic Alps clamber back into view

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Just one glance at the title of Sic Alps' forthcoming full-length, Napa Asylum (Drag City), triggers memories of what might have been one of the most infamous (a.k.a. perfect) moments in punk history: the sight of the Cramps' Lux Interior lurching among the patients at Napa State Hospital in 1978, as captured in The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital, by SF's Target Video. How does a humble assemblage of SF noisemakers live up to those memories and dare to go there?Read more »

Timbre!

Love is a Stream and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma knows how to glide along

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Local multi-instrumentalist and Root Strata label cofounder Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has titled his newest solo album, Love is a Stream (Type), but the watercourse this robust and unexpectedly sharp collection of dazzlers brings to mind is Niagara Falls.Read more »

Playlist

What we're listening to

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E.M.A.K.

A Synthetic History of E.M.A.K. 1982-88Read more »

Onra's future funk

The Parisian producer paves the way for the erotic robotic

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arts@sfbg.com

I first stumbled upon Onra's music three years ago when I picked up Chinoiseries (Label Rouge), a sprawlinlg beat-tape in the line of J Dilla's blueprint for the future of hip-hop, Donuts (Stones Throw, 2006). But unlike the late Dilla's many lackluster imitators, Onra proves a worthy disciple. Read more »

Don't stop this crazy thing

Ninja Tune XX traces Coldcut's path through decades of sampledelia

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arts@sfbg.com 

Coldcut used to brag that it was "Ahead of Our Time." In the late 1980s, they slapped the phrase onto a host of groundbreaking forays into cut-and-past sound mathematics like "Beats + Pieces," "Doctorin' the House," and "Stop This Crazy Thing," freewheeling tunes that treated the history of sound as an enormous candy shop, copyright laws be damned.Read more »

Dream, dream, dream

Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest floats like the everlys-on-dope

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MUSIC Deerhunter's new album is the most cohesive in the group's young career. Compared to the booming opening seconds of 2008's Microcastle, the lead-in to Halcyon Digest (4AD) is downright mousy. A simple drum machine sputters in and out like a robot clinging to life before a dreamy guitar line sets the scene for five minutes of textured feedback and a distorted vocal melody from lead singer Bradford Cox. It's a pretty start to what is often a stunningly beautiful album.Read more »

Love of sound

Aquarius Records turns 40 and throws a party

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MUSIC It's a typical music-loving day at Aquarius Records when I call up the store's Irwin Swirnoff to talk about its 40th birthday and accompanying celebration. "There's always been some confusion about when the store started," says Swirnoff, after ringing up a few purchases, as the translucent sounds of Washed Out swirl from the AQ stereo. "There original owners were awesome, but stoned a lot, so they weren't sure if it was 1969 or 1970. Read more »

Just a snack?

California girls (and gurls) and the retro scaffold-pop of Best Coast

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC If "California Gurls" is the dirge of pop music, the arrival of Bethany Cosentino ought to make you consider calling off the funeral. That's not to say her music is pop, exactly. It has pop potential but it's not a "radio-ready" sound ... yet. Her debut album, made with Bobb Bruno under the moniker Best Coast, is rife with short, sweet hooks and infectious choruses untouched by excessive production and studio intervention.Read more »

Twin stars

Space and silence and uncanny intuition add up to the xx

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Can two voices get any closer — or be laid any more bare — than those of the xx's Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim? The band's spare, pared-down pop is so minimally cloaked, with either instrumentation or pretense, that you could swear the pair were scarily close-knit sibs: the Chang and Eng of U.K. rock — the doubled letters of the xx seem less like a set of female chromosomes than a symbolic representation of Croft and Sim's doubling.Read more »

Keep the faith

Little Dragon escapes the R&B-according-to-hipsters pitfall

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