Sonic Reducer

Mo' Jello

Punk icon Biafra's golden jubilee approaches. Plus: Neil Hamburger moans and groans, and shitgazers Times New Viking Rip It Off
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What do you give a 50-year-old punk icon who has everything? A silver-studded dog collar? A reason to believe — or rebel? Peace of mind?

"Boy, I can't think of much," Jello Biafra, né Eric Boucher, says with a chuckle at the question of what to gift him for his 50th birthday June 17. "I'm already such a pack rat, the last thing I need is more stuff. The main vice is vinyl, but I archive a lot of stuff. Read more »

Sealed with a fest

Upcoming shindigs, by the numbers: Harmony Festival, Berkeley World Music Festival, Outside Lands, Treasure Island, and Lovefest. Plus: little shows (and Little Teeth) not to miss
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "Obviously I wanted to be part of this wealthy cause ... whoops, I mean, worthy cause — a Freudian slip!" blurted Seal to amassed gowns and tuxes at a packed Davies Symphony Hall May 31. Well, it was pretty B&W at this, the Black and White Ball 2008. He went on to explain that he was more than glad to play the benefit bash for the San Francisco Symphony's Adventures in Music education program, until he realized that night's event was just a day before wife Heidi "And sometimes you're out ... Read more »

Burn this

Fiery Furnaces, REM, Immigrant, Swervedriver, and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER More power, I say, to sibling twosome Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces. FF's forthcoming 51-track, double-CD/triple-LP retrospective, Remember (Thrill Jockey), has been burning up my ear holes for more than two hours now, charged with the power of fraught familial relations, rock-out thunderbolts, and mysterious blueberry boats. And I confess, part of my wonderment at their artistry stems from the fact I could never be in a band with my own bro. Read more »

Fly boys

Flight of the Conchords, No Wave, White Rabbits, Dame Satan, and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER I never swooned over Jemaine Clement when his clueless geek-goon was busily copping quasi-Street Fighter moves in 2007's Eagle vs. Shark, and I never noticed the spacey Middle Earthly beauty of Bret McKenzie when he was striking sultry elfin poses in The Lord of the Rings. But somehow, two discs of season one of HBO's Flight of the Conchords and a couple jillion listens to the duo's new self-titled Sub Pop album later, I'm hooked. Read more »

Kills thrill

No drugs fueled the Kills' latest Midnight Boom, but the hangover lingers. Plus: Blow by Blowfly, Sky Saxon and the Seeds, and Clinic
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Kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "So ... what kind of drugs inspired the record?"

"What kind of drugs?" Allison Mosshart of the Kills has to puzzle only briefly over that question. "Mmm ... none. No, we didn't take any drugs when we were writing the record. None. No, ate a lot of kale, drank a lot of coffee, made cocktails if we were getting bored, but no ... "

Mosshart thinks I'm totally high. Read more »

Rhyme and reason

Doseone of Subtle sounds off about the state of hip-hop (and Nas's fancy pants). Plus: Poi Dog Pondering, Bloodhag, and more
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "All rap is, like, 'I'm rapping like a brain-damaged grandpa.' All this 'I'm so rich and ate so much. I'm not running on this beat, even if I have to.' It's arrogance — that's the style these days. Y'know, savvy and wit still show up once in a while in this modern rap, but, uh, style, discipline, such things, are fucking gone."

Best to just jump out of the way of the barreling train o' thought when the engineer is Adam Drucker, a.k.a. Read more »

Cover me

Shelby Lynne and Vetiver are the latest artists tempted into the shadow of giants. Plus: Peter Bjorn and John's Peter Morén breaks from the pack
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Cover albums — critics stuck on music-maker-as-auteur theories, singer-songwriter elitists, and band-as-prime-mover rockists have long believed them the easy way out. Cat Power has succumbed twice, Dirty Projectors once, Scarlett Johansson completely surrendered to the mix of her forthcoming Tom Waits covers long-player — only to be upstaged by the production of TV on the Radio's David Sitek. Read more »

Mad jags

On the fly with 60 Watt Kid, Indian Jewelry, Heavenly States, Kimya Dawson, and Triclops!
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "That was just a major experience that I'll never forget and I never, ever want to have again."

So sayeth 60 Watt Kid's Kevin Litrow of the mind-render that occurred shortly after he moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 2006. "I was contacted — or I might have contacted them. I'm not really sure." He goes on to tell me of being visited one night by a "tornado" of energy that swirled fiercely through his room and knocked him "out of tune," while talking to him in his head. Read more »

CO2 stew

How green is my music?
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER It's not easy being green, music lover. Because I've tried to shove my big fat cultural consumption hoof into a smaller carbon footprint, but I can't dance around the numbers.

I've ponied up the green stuff for nonprofits, come correct at the composting and recycling bins, and threatened to finally get the crusty Schwinn into shape despite the near-death horror stories from bike messenger chums back in the day. Read more »

Rock's future, decades along

Dinosaur days for REM, Springsteen, and those IMAXed Stones
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER The money, the fame / And the public acclaim / Don't forget who you are / You're a rock and roll star." These bitter words by the Byrds roll over through my mind while watching the resurrection of three generations of rock hope realized — reappearing at a time when industry majors like Universal, Sony, and Warner Music are busy bowing to the social networking sphere, i.e., MySpace. Read more »