Sonic Reducer

Aughties Bay Area

DECADE IN MUSIC: Meet me at MySpace with your iPod and we'll dance
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Illustration of Kyp Malone, Joanna Newsom, and Devendra Banhart by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

Picture '06, the aughties about half over. Alissa Anderson, cellist of the sweet and elegant Bay Area country-folk ensemble Vetiver, was positively boiling.

"I think if you ask anyone who gets labeled as freak folk, they'll basically tell you they think of it as f-cking garbage and insulting. Read more »

Monster mash note

Lady Gaga: She's not just "another pop chick with blonde hair"
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "I'm from the underground. And I'm making pop music and I'm not a bit ashamed about it."

So sayeth Lady Gaga on the cellie last year on the way to a radio show at a Raging Waters in San Demos where she was dying to get wet. Alas, she forgot her Jellies at home and didn't want to get her towering D Square pumps splashed ("I'll find a private part of the park and just go in my birthday suit"). Read more »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Button pushers

Fuck Buttons bring the noisy ecstasy. Plus: Buraka Som Sistema, Lover!, The Black Heart Procession, and Bellini
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Bend an ear toward Fuck Buttons' ecstatic second album, Tarot Sport (ATP), and you're only a card flip away from shuffling the Rider-Waite deck of the mind and coming up with visual corollaries for the tracks. Frenetic opener "Surf Solar" obviously boogie-boards to the freedom-first of the major arcana's card zero, the Fool, whereas "Rough Steez" burrows into the deep 'n' dirty low end of the Tower card, and "The Lisbon Maru" cozies down amid warmly glimmering Doppler synths, akin to the Sun image. Read more »

Girls, girls, girls

Brilliant Colors glow, Madonna asks for "more tuna." Plus: Former Ghosts and Big Business
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arts@sfbg.com
SONIC REDUCER Ladies first. As pop's lads rotate in and out of the dawg house — and Lil Wayne pleads guilty to gun possession and Chris Brown decides to "Crawl" — the time has come for the XX-chromosome set to rise to the occasion: Girls, girls, no pushing, shoving, or elbows to the knockers. Just kick it on record, all ye femme talents, past, present, and future.

Tomorrow — and yesterday — is the way for the all-girl Brilliant Colors. Read more »

Northwestern soul

Gossip do the right thing, major label or no. Plus: Budget Rock, Islands, and more
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER No way to keep it like a secret: word got out about Gossip. And so the direct descendants of riot grrrl were snatched up by whip-smart production savant Rick Rubin to join MGMT as two of the newish crown jewels in Columbia's auspicious yet aging catalog. Three years along from Gossip's last studio LP, Standing in the Way of Control (Kill Rock Stars) — a Euro chart-topper that landed Ditto on the cover of NME as a plus-size nudie-cutie pinup girl — one has to ponder, what is the Gossip today? Read more »

Solar flair

Flaming Lips bubble over at Treasure Island Music Fest. Plus: Jesus Lizard, Monsters of Folk, more
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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER How to compare beat heads and pop pachyderms? Honestly, if I was given a buck for every time some discriminating music listener told me that this year's Treasure Island Festival lineup looked much more exciting than Outside Lands' bipolar program (Os Mutantes? M.I.A.? Read more »

Ray of darkness

Fever Ray gives birth to icy electro ideas. Plus: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass explodes with green sounds
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By Kimberly Chunarts@sfbg.comSONIC REDUCER We've got a fever for the flavor of sleep deprivation: everywhere I look, our proud ladies of the recession are pushing prams filled with spawn, swinging Baby Bjorns crammed with newborns. It's baby time — the ideal way to fill the hours emptied by layoffs, buyouts, forced shut-downs, mandatory vaca.

Read more »