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#FF Download MP3s: Mos Def, Tame Impala, Big K.R.I.T. and more...

Big K.R.I.T. : "Hometown Hero" (Ft. Yelawolf)
Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf are reportedly linking up for a joint mixtape, Country Cu$$inz. While the project has no foreseeable release date yet, the pair decided to sneak a taste of what’s to come with a remix of K.R.I.T.’s “Hometown Hero.” Yelawolf takes the second verse slow, tempering his double-time flow with a relaxed approach more akin to K.R.I.T.’s crawl, then he kicks the tires and speeds off, homeward bound.

Mos Def: "Priority" (A Cappella)
In parternship with the Enough Project, veteran taste-maker and former KCRW Music Director, Nic Harcourt, has enlisted the help of friends like: Bat For Lashes, Imaad Wasif, Konono No 1, Damien Rice, Amadou & Mariam, Norah Jones, Mos Def and more to donate songs to the Raise Hope For Congo compilation. The Raise Hope For Congo project aims to protect and empower Congolese women who are the subject of unspeakable abuse as a result of the high demand for the country’s conflict minerals used in cell phones and computers in the west. Listen to Mos Def’s contribution, “Priority (A Capella)” and go support the cause, take action now.

School of Seven Bells: "Bye Bye Bye"
School of Seven Bells is on a mission to spill enough dream pop to coat the world with bliss-kissed stupor—and it's working. "Bye Bye Bye" is the band’s latest foray down a gossamer-swathed rabbit hole, with a mean beat tempering a chorus of angelic vocals. It's the loudest a quiet song can get.

Tame Impala: Jeremy's Storm"
Aussie kite chasers Tame Impala were recently led down into the lair of jams known as Viva Radio, where they played a few songs sans their usual knee-deep puddle of phaser for the station’s Me + You program. Of the lot, the instrumental “Jeremy’s Storm” was the one that really clicked as a cross-legged all-guitars pow wow, and now we are wondering if Tame Impala take campfire offers so we can properly enjoy this while lighting marshmallows on fire and lounging in Crazy Creeks.

Dam Funk: "A Day At The Carnival"
We actually spent a day at the carnival on Sunday, eating lots of dubious fried products and venturing onto rides to test our stomachs’ ability to keep them down. It was fun but exhausting. From the sound of this, a day at the carnival with Dam Funk would be a much mellower experience–link up with some friends, maybe play a few rounds of that squirt gun game, and definitely not eat a deep fried calzone. Also, dance to some futurist boogie.

Freddie Gibbs: "Oil Money"

Check out this video for "Money Oil" by Freddie Gibbs from his new (unreleased) Str8 Killa EP. The track features a slew of talent, Chuck Inglish, Chip Tha Ripper, Bun B and Dan Auerbach.


Music Submissions: Javelin & Baby Jaymes

"No Mas"

Why Javelin's debut album is entitled "No Mas" is unclear--because the album totally leaves you wanting more. From front to back, the album journeys from 80s to 90s (when the tracks were first sampled) R&B/hip hop/soul/funk beats, never flinching to be "indie relevant." The cow bell and synthesizer on "On It On It" bring back memories of Detroit's legendary house scene. "Vibrationz" could be a summer hip hop joint for The Dogg Pound. Not since J Dilla's Donuts has it been so easy to listen to a beat CD through and through.

Sounds like: Groove Armada's children with Madlib with a dash of Chief Excel's parenting

Listen to: On It On It, Goal/Wide, C Town (shit listen to the whole album)

Baby Jaymes

There is never been a better time for Oakland to say, feel, and embrace “you got to keep moving, moving, moving.” Baby Jaymes, an Oakland soul, funk and R&B artist sent up "K.I.M" and while typically we shy away from single tracks--we had to share it with you. First, take notice of his voice. Absent of any unnecessary auto-tune, his voice rings like a church choir singing with the hope that slowly continues slipping away from East Oakland. On “K.I.M.” he sings “everybody has advice for us/ so much we didn’t know what was right for us,” and then “I don’t know which way to go / ain’t no time to be so vulnerable,” and one can’t help but shiver at his honesty. Then on “Posted,” we get a dance friendly track that mixes soul/funk/hip hop and boy is it sweet 90s-pop hip hop. "IYouWe" is a nice attempt at D'Angelo style, soulful with a funk push--but achieving D'Angelo is no easy feat, and might not be all that its cracked up to be anyhow (note: I feel bad for that dude).

Sounds like: Raphael Saadiq sits back in a session with Maxwell

Listen to: K.I.M., Posted, IYouWe, Every Nuance


Panda Bear Tomboy "7

The cynical part of me wondered why Panda Bear would bother releasing a two song single and then call it a 7" when hardly anyone even purchases music in physical form anymore. Sure, it has become a hallmark of non-trendy cool kids to have a record player these days and record collections have more cache than actual records but most people my age would have to Google “7 inch” just to know for sure what it was. But, then I heard “Tomboy” and “Slow Motion” and stopped worrying about it. While I am an avid Panda Bear fan I have never quite understood the appeal of Animal Collective and still don’t quite “get it.” Maybe, like my inability to determine whether or not red wine has spoiled, my mental taste buds are just a bit off. Anyway, I can hear the Panda influence in AnCo but I just find solo Panda far more interesting and appealing to my particular aesthetic preferences. I prefer brunettes too, in case you were wondering.

“Tomboy” and “Slow Motion” deploy the same hypnotic pacing that you’ve come to expect from a Panda Bear record. As he has before, he effectively deals in mood music that is expansive without being indulgent or bombastic. The percussion and guitars are noticeably prominent on both tracks, especially in the early going, while the unobtrusive harmonizing remains with hints of a latent echo that give the sound a light roundness. Complex arrangements are blurred into willowy consonance and it all feels pared down. Lyrics as words are of secondary importance to their resonance. A commitment to prosody holds it all together, perhaps too much so. The tracks are layered but never overwrought. In a way, the two songs are bit too neat. If that sounds like a quibble, it is, but I sometimes wish some of the production process’s roughness remained. An ragged edge or two could add some real bite. This Bear comes off a bit tame.

-William Clarke


Pure Ecstasy: Featured Artist

The wonderful thing about being a music enthusiast/blogger/collector is stumbling upon an unknown (by you or by most people) band and having to double take your player, "Who's this!?" I have three tracks on my Ipod by Pure Ecstasy, the Austin lo-fi, surf rock group that only has 77k page views on MySpace. Each time one of their songs ("Easy," "You're In It Now" or "DWLDWD") has come on, I've turned my head from the road (as I'm driving) to peak at my Ipod. "Oh snaps! Who is this Pure Ecstasy?"

The sleepy sounding lo-fi is light with bright vocal harmonies dulled against dark distortions, and dissonance. Hoots and howls re-verb against clashing guitars, while the rhythm calmly moves. Sonically fitting for overcast afternoons, and hazy summer picnics--Pure Ecstasy is one of the most fitting names for a band.

Pure Ecstasy: "Easy"

Pure Ecstasy: "You're In It Now"


Bear in Heaven Interview: Best Rest Fourth Months

Poetically painting pictures, vocalist Jon Philpot of the psychedelic Brooklyn rock group Bear in Heaven has been honing his craft for years — but he is only now starting to see his own big picture. After plenty of a positive response to their latest album, Best Rest Fourth Months, the group recently returned to the studio. SFCritic spoke to Philpot in a phone interview while he was working on new material at a recording studio in New York. Bear in Heaven performs at Rickshaw Stop on July 26th.

SFCritic (SFC): Best Rest Fourth Months was not the original name of the album, what was it?

Jon Philpot (JP): I wanted it to be “West in Peace.” I just wanted to make it something goofy, but I got to call a song “Beast in Peace,” so I feel happy now.

SFC: How far along are you on the new album?

JP: The new album is coming along slowly. We just got a chance to start writing recently.

SFC: Do you write most of the lyrics, or does the group write collectively?

JP: As far as the band, I’m pretty much the only lyric writer. My friend Michael has been helping me with lyrics. It’s been really nice to correspond over email about lyrics. We used to skateboard together when we were younger, and now we’re exchanging poetry.

SFC: How did that come up? Did you write poems about skateboards?

JP: I came down to play in Atlanta and he came to the show. He was amazed by the show, and decided he wanted to give me some lyrics — and he did! Now he’s helping me out when he can. It’s my full-time gig so I’m doing the majority of it.

SFC: So you started playing when you were nineteen, and now are making it “big” at thirty-five. What kind of odds and ends jobs have you had to support yourself in between?

JP: I worked at a coffee shop in Athens, Georgia called Jittery Joes, which actually is a really good cup of coffee if you are ever in Athens. Then I went into video.

SFC: Was there ever a point where you decided to choose music over video, or has video always been a means to an end?

JP: Well the two are kind of simultaneously running for me. The thing is I’m kind of torn because there is not one that I like more. Right now, music is yelling at me a little louder so I have to focus on it for a little while.

SFC: Visuals can translate into your music.

JP: Absolutely, as I make stuff for video, or as I make stuff for music, the two kind of inform each other. Narrative, characters, and having stuff like that to me it’s very important in lyric writing, and also in the way it progresses cinematically.

SFC: From a lyric standpoint, do you start with a visual, literal idea, or does it start with an abstract thought?

JP: I usually pick an idea, and then the metaphors come with that. It’s a lot of speaking about specific people, and the specific things that they’re doing and then trying to describe it poetically.

SFC: I noticed that in your lyrics you use a lot of visual imagery — mountains, rocks, or birds. What do they mean to you? There is a theme of nature, you might say.

JP: It’s a connection between us and earth, our surroundings. I was just trying to make things bigger than what I can actually make happen, or see in reality.

SFC: Like bears in heaven?

JP: Well, I haven’t been to heaven. All the elements in the songs are just minutia that I think is important. It’s important to give them their time and space, and they’re all a part of it. There is a big connection to the nature and human relationship on this record particularly.

SFC: Are you a nature person?

JP: I do love nature, yes.

SFC: Are you a bird watcher?

JP: My dad is a birdwatcher. It’s kind of weird that you asked me that, because my dad is really a bird watcher.

SFC: If you could be a bird, what bird would you be?

JP: Shoot, that’s a tough one, probably a falcon or something that’s pretty radical.

SFC: That’s a vicious bird. What would you be doing if your music hadn’t caught on?

JP: I’d still be making music. We wouldn’t be touring as much. It’s amazing how touring can cut down on your productivity. I was actually talking with my friend, Joe, from Cymbals Eat Guitars, and I was telling him, “It’s so weird that we’re playing the same songs, and when you get done with it, you don’t have a new thing.”

What he said was, “What you have is fans — people.” Oh yeah, I guess I never really thought about that.

Bear In Heaven performs at Rickshaw on July 26th. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $12 at the door. Doors open at 7:30pm.

This interview is republished from SF Station.


#FF Pitchfork Music Festival Playlist Free Sampler

This weekend, indie bible Pitchfork host their annual music festival in Chicago’s Union Park, bringing the website into the realm of the corporeal for 72 or so hours. Headliners include Pavement, Big Boi, LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse, and Broken Social Scene, all of whom are admittedly absent from this twenty-three song playlist. Whatever, though! Championing the smaller bands is admirably Pitchforkian of us, no?


Album Review: Dark Night of The Soul

Dark Night of the Soul is not an easy listen. Not only is the title indicative of a somber concept album, but also telling of the album’s creation. Initially the collaborative album of Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous) was highly hyped (though now it seems passe), largely for its slew of guest performers that includes James Mercer (The Shins), Iggy Pop, David Lynch, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Vic Chestnutt and more. The album was scheduled to be released last summer--and was leaked around that time--but for legal reasons involving EMI was officially released this month. In an ironic and morbid twist, Dark Night of the Soul, which references a biblical poem about spiritual crisis, is suggestive of the lives of Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and Vic Chestnutt (featured on “Grim Augury”) whom both committed suicide between the time of the album’s creation and its official release.

The harrowing album conceptually swirls around a character’s search for love (or guidance), who haplessly spirals into an abyss of confusion and pain. As the album pushes forward it becomes increasingly harsher sonically and lyrically. The samples become alarming, scratching at the ears with sharp crackles and irritating chirps, letting up towards the end of the album in a sign of defeat. Even the arrangement of guest vocalists, moving from the dreamy vocals of Wayne Coyne to the eerie and edgy voice of Iggy Pop, indicates the albums shift. This shift will either entrance, or repel listeners.

For as much as pop critics will coo over this album (for its contributor and rigidity to its concept), this is not an album for everyone. While “Revenge” or “Just War” have Danger Mouse’s signature pop friendly production, “Angel’s Harp” and “Grim Augury” are almost too edgy, even off putting with lyrics like “catfish were wriggling in blood in the kitchen sink.”

Dark Night of the Soul is effectively (and thereby laudably) dark with a vivid storyline tightly told (a feat in itself considering its many contributors). This album is worth hearing, but will likely be stored on a collector's shelf, only revisited on cold nights apt for a glass of liquor served neat with the intent of feeling the burn.


Big Boi "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty" Album Review

By William Clarke

After what could be considered Outkast’s leanest creative period since they arrived on the scene in the mid-nineties, Big Boi’s first solo effort, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, is a welcome return to form for one half of one of the most innovative and consistently on point hip-hop acts of the past twenty years. Over the course of Outkast’s first five releases, from 1994’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to the 2003’s now eleven times platinum double-album Speakerboxx/The Love Below, Big Boi and Andre 3000 brought the purple fire. Even more impressive was the fact that their enormous success occurred in part because of their willingness to push the limits of what constituted the sometimes rigid boundaries of hip-hop. A quick survey of Outkast’s biggest hits over the past sixteen years reveals the breadth of their achievement. Even their disappointing and underwhelming Idlewild had it’s fair share of clever hooks, witty rhymes and original musicality that has long been the hallmark of Outkast’s sound. Big Boi and Dre’s ability to stand out from the bottle poppin' crowd remains unblemished.

That said, Sir Lucious Left Foot, despite sounding like a more traditional Outkast'ish effort (if that even exists) is very good and even straightforward album. Big Boi has scaled back on the avant-garde elements that were apparent on Outkast’s later albums and succeeded in making a very consistent album in what is recognizably his own style. Never quite as weird as Andre, Big Boi’s talent and perspective have always been the organic building blocks of Outkast’s sensibility, something that was most apparent on Speakerboxx/A Love Below, where his half was perhaps unfairly overshadowed in most mainstream publications by Andre’s truly genre bending other half. Part of the duo’s success is due to the way they seamlessly bond their two creative visions into four minute sonic collages. I’ve always felt like one of Outkast’s most infectious qualities was the inimitable sense of humor their songs are always suffused with. Perhaps because Andre’s voice couldn’t appear on the album because of label issues this is unmistakably Big Boi’s baby and, I think, gives off a clarity of purpose that makes the album the increasingly rare work that you want to listen to all the way through.

I would argue that the internet and the iPod commercialization of music has increasingly rewarded the production of infectious singles over good, complete albums. Whether it is a GM commercial, a film trailer, or the indie rock song heard at the end of a Grey’s Anatomy episode, more and more revenue flows into the music industry via advertising as illegal downloading continues to proliferate despite the music industries best efforts. Yet, here we have an album that is refreshingly coherent and clearly made with its totality in mind. That isn’t to say that Big Boi has magically forgotten how to pair a bluesy guitar lick with an unforgettable hook--"Tangerine," "Daddy Fat Sax," and "General Patton" are my favorites--but it is clear that this album was made by an artist unencumbered by the banal, material concerns that seem to have hijacked the music industry. He remains above the traditional, stale trappings of hip hop life, so to speak. Big Boi could give a damn whether any of these songs make 106 and Park’s top 10 or into a beer commercial (Mos Def, Jay-Z). Stripped of the affectations and pressures that thwart many a musician’s efforts, Big Boi gives us a refined, personal, hip-pop album that strikes me as somewhat familiar yet unmistakably brilliant. An album by Big Boi is almost cursed to be underwhelming after the sustained brilliance of Outkast’s discography. Sir Lucious Left Foot, however, is a revelation.


Oscar Grant Case and Reaction in Music

By Angela Bacca

On Thursday, July 8, we in Oakland were anxiously awaiting the verdict in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer accused of shooting the unarmed 22-year-old father, Oscar Grant, while he was face-down and compliant on the platform on New Year's Day 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station. At 4pm, the verdict was handed down in a Los Angeles court: Mehserle had been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Immediately the freeways and BART trains backed up with people fleeing Oakland, local media desperately awaited the much anticipated riots. Instead, what they got was 1000 peaceful protesters and a handful of out-of-town anarchist-opportunist looters and a media frenzy.

While the media focused on the sensationalized looting and vandalism, the people of Oakland and those paying attention across the nation were disappointed in yet another light conviction in a police brutality case. Whether or not you agree with the verdict, the music that has come out of the shooting and trial has captured the resounding sentiment felt not just in Oakland but across America: police are not here to serve and protect the people, but instead oppress and brutalize.

Oakland's own Too Short said it best shortly after the shooting in 2009: "We have been like a broken record ever since I have been alive," and that the election of President Barack Obama only a couple months before was an optimistic point tarnished by yet another violent act of police brutality. He continued on to say that law enforcement often acts like gang members themselves. Furthermore while the looting, rioting and violence only really hurt the citizens of Oakland, it feels as if it is the only way to get the media attention. He was right, when the verdict came down the local media (although not the national) was all too eager to report on the aftermath.

While some chose to garner attention through more violence and disorder, others have translated their anger into music. The track "Involuntary Manslaughter" by Nobe, Roman & Katz, opens with a sampling of an interview with Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, after the verdict was handed down, "My son was murdered," she says repeatedly, "...and justice has not been served." Nobe, Roman & Katz sum up the emotions of the peaceful protesters, "What are we supposed to do?/ When the people who are supposed to protect us/ are out smoking you."

Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B., whose tracks are usually not as heavy, was inspired by the Grant shooting and put together "My Life" featuring Jennifer Jones & Codany Holiday. The track delves into the anger fueled by the injustice in Black communities, particularly Oakland-- from the crack epidemic, poverty, racism, and especially police brutality. "Aint shit changed since Obama's in the White House," he quips.

IseLyfe, another native Oakland rapper, takes a much harder stance on the situation, repeating "Fuck 'Em [the police]" in the chorus of "Hard in the Paint." His words are angrier as he points out that not only was Grant unarmed and face down on the platform--his hands were tied behind his back, he was shot execution style. He brings up another important point-- these days every cell phone has a camera. "Investigate what?" he asks "You didn't see the tape?"

While the looting and violence bring brief and unfocused attention to what happened to Grant and the entire City of Oakland, the music heals through eloquently written-- although brutal --truths. A child has lost a father, a mother a son, a City their faith in the police.


Early Bird Tickets and Lineup for Treasure Island Music Festival

The Treasure Island Music Festival lineup was announced officially today, though our friends at Indie Shuffle had been linking "hints" early last week. The two day festival headliners will be LCD Soundsystem and Belle & Sebastian. For the full lineup, see below. Meanwhile, tomorrow "Early Bird" tickets for both days will go on sale at 10AM for $100, which will undoubtedly sell-out quickly.

- !!!
- Belle & Sebastian
- Broken Social Scene
- Deadmau5
- Die Antwoord
- Four Tet
- Holy Fuck
- Jamaica
- Kruder & Dorfmeister
- LCD Soundsystem
- Little Dragon
- Maus Haus
- Miike Snow
- Monotonix
- Papercuts
- Phantogram
- Phosphorescent
- Ra Ra Riot
- Rogue Wave
- She & Him
- Superchunk
- Surfer Blood
- The Mumlers
- The National
- The Sea and Cake
- Wallpaper.


Free Mp3s: N.E.R.D, Janelle Monae, Local Natives and more

Local Natives: "Wide Eyes" (Fool's Gold Remix ft. Aristotle Pop A Bottle)
Fool's Gold rolled a US tour with the Local Natives for about a month last November and December, and it was a total blast! After hearing "Wide Eyes" nightly, they put together this southern rap joint, with its half-time drums and deep-azz bass-line. At the time I was also mildly obsessed with Jason DerĂ¼lo's track ‘Whatcha Say’ in which they sample an Imogen Heap song for the hook in the chorus...Helping out with a verse is Oakland MC Aristotle Pop A Bottle. Check it out!
Download Here

Janelle Monae: "Tightrope" (Remix Organized Noize Ft. Big Boi)
Future funk fembot and ambassador to the androids Janelle Monae is giving her universally acclaimed LP The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) the old once-over, cherry-picking tracks to re-mix, re-imagine and re-cast in her image. Up first, the sonic architects of too many Outkast hits to tally, Organized Noize, give Janelle’s home-grown dance craze “Tightrope” the Dungeon Family twist.

Motion City Sound: "Cut Your Hair'
Considering the pants-wetting hullabaloo surrounding their current reunion tour, Pavement’s cultural relevance (and recognition, for that matter) is at an all time high. Even still, their fans aren’t exactly young. Which is why this cover of their biggest hit by younger-fan-having synth-pop juggernaut Motion City Soundtrack is awesome–maybe some of these kids will go out and buy Slanted Enchanted or Crooked Rain. Isn’t that what these things are for? To turn people onto stuff you’ve always loved? At least, we hope it is.

Crocodiles: "Sleep Forever"
Crocodiles’ swimming-in-space garage-pop met an interesting foil in the making of their new album, Sleep Forever: James Ford, one-half of Simian Mobile Disco and producer to such artists as Arctic Monkeys and Klaxons. The title track is our first listen, a predictably swirling, oftentimes beautiful psych odyssey that proves the infamous Joshua Tree (and, obviously, the band) hasn’t lost its supernatural influence.

N.E.R.D.: "Hot-N-Fun" (Yeasayer Remix)
Of all those who've contributed to N.E.R.D.'s "Hot-N-Fun" remix EP–Hot Chip, Boys Noise, Nero and Crookers among them–there can't be many more oddball than Yeasayer. True to form, the Brooklyn troupe turn in a madcap, club-ready banger built on slowed, shuffling funky house drums and curious synth whirls.


Fillmore Jazz Festival Controversial Budget Cutbacks

By Rip Empson

The Fillmore Jazz Fest has been rocking the Fillmore District on Independence Day Weekend since 1985, offering an earful of high quality local jazz and a venue for local merchants and vendors to showcase their wares. Billed as “the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast,” the two-day block party draws as many as 90,000 people and has seen some big names grace its stage over the years -- Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lady Memphis, Jules Broussard, and Paula West among them.

Though star power is always great for business, the real significance of the Fillmore Jazz Festival lies in its ability to show off lesser-known local talent to large swaths of party-goers that might not hear their music otherwise. Generally speaking, musicians are eager to gain the kind of exposure that playing at such a large festival offers, and as a result, many would play for free.

Even so, the Fillmore Jazz Festival became a subject of controversy this year among musicians and others in the music industry when a late email circulated concerning lowly compensations to musicians playing the event, insinuating that the festival may be under-cutting the very people it is allegedly promoting.

The debate began a few weeks ago when Steven Restivo of Steven Restivo Event Services, LLC, sent an email to hundreds of musicians soliciting local talent for the event: “We have a few slots left and our budget is $75 per musician/per band, so a quartet would be paid $300 for the band,” he wrote. “We wish we could offer more to you but the city permit fees to produce all our events have increased dramatically this year. We can offer you lots of free publicity and put you in front of thousands of attendees.”

Restivo had sent similar last-minute emails before the Union Street and North Beach festivals, both of which are held in June and are booked by his company.

Though some musicians look upon these festivals as a chance to increase their exposure, in the end, exposure alone won’t pay the bills. As a result, many are worried that promoters, agents, and venues are getting into the habit of exploiting talent and commiserating to set low wages.

Among the most vocal opponents of Restivo’s tactics is Stephanie Dalton, a local promoter and booking manager. Dalton, who dedicates much of her time raising awareness and promoting local music projects, responded to Restivo in her website’s newsletter, saying, “The Fillmore Merchant's Association contends this is a mistake on the part of Mr. Restivo, that these e-mails were targeted to reach out to up and coming talent and they assure me that no one performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival is being paid this unreasonable amount. This being said, I have spoken to most of the performers who played at the Union Street and North Beach Festivals — they tell a different story — one of intent not mistake.”

Dalton’s email sparked a heated debate on Facebook, where musicians railed against what they see as a dangerous trend. “Restivo is not the ONLY one and there are others in the Bay area even worse than him,” local musician Tom Wiggins wrote. “If musicians ever want to change this kind of situation they need to get more politically involved with these events and festivals in the planning stages.”

It’s true that the state of the economy has had a tangible effect on musicians’ wages, and no doubt sponsors are downsizing their contributions to festivals because of the economic squeeze. What’s more, most venues now expect musicians to do their own marketing and to play for food, drinks, and tips.

There are definitely two sides to this argument, and I’d love to hear from musicians – on both sides of the fence. Is this really a problem in the Bay Area? Is it worse here than in other cities? Your thoughts are encouraged and welcome…


Outside Lands Night Shows Lineup

Outside Lands 2010 will have night shows, which might prove even more exciting then the festival itself!

Here is the schedule:


California Academy of Sciences NightLife
Golden Gate Park

A Celebration of Outside Lands and Golden Gate Park


Jimmy Cliff

The Levon Helm Band Ramble
The Independent

Hercules and Love Affair

Tokyo Police Club
Freelance Whales
Rickshaw Stop


Pretty Lights
The Independent


Cocorosie Live Review at Regency Ballroom

Written by Angela Bacca
Photos by Eric Lawson

The CocoRosie show at the Regency Ballroom was opened by Cibelle, a native Brazilian who writes and performs her songs in French, English and Portuguese. Her performance relied entirely too heavily on sexy gimmicks—which would be fine if it didn’t remind me of the type of sex that makes you cringe when you think about it the next morning. Midway through her set she removed her pink bathrobe, revealed a skin tight body suit and fondled her electric guitar in front of her crotch. Every song gradually built up but never climaxed. When the set was over, she scurried around the stage picking up her garments before awkwardly running backstage.

And then CocoRosie took the stage, which was decorated with shiny plastic party balloons. The drum set was covered with a Lisa Frank-esque air brushed dolphin portrait. An enthused fan remarked to me before the show that all of their live performances were “magical,” and she was right.

CocoRosie, aka sisters Bianca and Sierra, came out swinging like 19th century literature; they were dressed like Great Expectations Ms. Havisham (the man-hating woman who wore a wedding dress for 30 years after being left at the aisle) and the Scarlet Letter’s Hester (the Puritan woman who was forced to wear the mark of an adulterer when she became pregnant out of wedlock). The entire show took on an air of a haunted child’s picnic frozen in time.

Their stage presence would have been lost in their own absurdity had the juxtaposition of the music with their persona not been so incredible. They frolicked around the stage in their flowing petticoats, but never missed a note. The soul of every song was never lost in their live translation.

Synthetic album beats and sounds were recreated with a grand piano, guitars, a harp, a harpsichord, and a human beat box. Yes, a human beat box—which was the backbone of every song. The sounds were combined with projector imagery of carnival rides, children’s toys, and waves crashing on an isolated beach. Their pure, enthusiastic energy was contagious to the San Francisco audience. Their show was so cathartic and true to the sounds that there really was no reason to pepper the live show with commentary and song explanations. They conveyed to the audience what they wanted to feel through their live performance.

Now if only their albums were as hypnotic and lesbi-erotic as their live shows…

Blitzen Trapper Show Review at the Fillmore

By Patrick Kelly

It was obvious from the start of Blitzen Trapper’s Fillmore set that the crowd- an odd-looking mix group of preppies, hipsters and older couples- seemed to approach the night with wary optimism. A fact that I found somewhat surprising considering the polarizing effect that Blitzen Trapper seems to have on indie rock fans; if you like them, you most definitely “love” them.

The middle ground stood strikingly vacant; the fans went to the show and to root hard, while the others forgot the band’s name completely. But it was the backdrop of unbridled “meh” from the band’s fans that caused my consternation. Maybe it was because Blitzen- who admitted that they were “really tired”- was on the last night of a long tour and seemed to be gazing across California’s northern border towards home. Maybe the crowd was just preparing for the long night- a nearly 2-hour set, consisting of some 20 songs- by rationing their “WOOOOOOs," unrythmic body rocking, and applause for the later songs. It certainly felt that the latter was the case. It wasn’t that the first half wasn’t good; just that the second half- which was highlighted by an extremely well done version of “Heaven and Earth”- was almost on par with their unforgettable 2009 Coachella performance.

While I struggled to understand the lack of ”specialness” in a night at the famed Fillmore, one trend became extremely obvious. The fans- and therefore the band, who fed off their fans- lifted their energy noticeably when the band played songs from Furr and Wild Mountain Nation compared to when they played newer songs off their most recent release, Destroyer of the Void (released on June 8th). It’s understandable, as the previous albums hold much catchier songs like “Furr," “Country Caravan,” “God & Suicide,” “Not Your Lover,” and “Black River Killer,” but the sheer lack of enthusiasm was worth a double take. With the exception of “Heaven and Earth” and “Sadie,” the room practically deflated by hearing one of the newer takes.

That Destroyer of the Void isn’t even a month old, and therefore not yet set into the ears of the band’s many enduring fans, is a valid excuse. But it’s a trend worth paying attention to, especially in an era when independent bands seem to fall in and out of favor with an almost complete disregard to talent. Regardless, Blitzen Trapper put on a great show on a Wednesday night in one of the best venues in the country and half their effort would have earned a giant “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” in my book.


Ariel Pink Interview (Before Today): A Glass Half Empty

For a moment Ariel Pink steps out from behind the closed door. He seems lost within the cluttered feelings from his estranged childhood, the lauded praise as the godfather of “chillwave” coupled with the scrutiny of his live performances, and his desire for money. His first major release on 4ad, Before Today, retains his signature DIY lo-fi mixture of 60s, 70s, and 80s rock that nostalgically glows over viscerally somber lyrics like “it’s always the same as always / sad tongue tied” from “Round and Round.” Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffit House performs at Bimbo’s on July 10th. SFCritic interviewed Ariel Rosenberg over the phone while he was touring in Portugal.

SFCritic (SFC): Is your glass half full or half empty?

Ariel Rosenberg (AR): It’s half empty.

SFC: Why is that?

AR: I like to appreciate every last drop I have. For me it’s all in the process of going away, disintegrating, and dying. Everything is fucked up and that’s why you got to live life to the fullest. I suppose that’s a glass half full kind of thing too.

SFC: When did you adopt this principal?

AR: I suppose when I was very young I was death obsessed. Those were things that were worrisome to people that I was into it. I think that most of the positive tricks we use in our mind are just sad.

SFC: When you say “worrisome to people” are you speaking about your mother?

AR: If I was a parent I would probably be concerned too because you don’t want that to lead to something terrible. At the same time, it had to do [for me] with divorce parents, a sense of loneliness in the world, a sense of what was true and the whole nature of things.

SFC: Were your parents supportive of you recording constantly at a young age?

AR: My mom has always been very supportive of me. My father has been financially supportive in times when I’ve needed it. I’ve grown up behind a locked door more of less. I didn’t win many favors.

SFC: What does it mean you grew up behind a closed door?

AR: I was very private, insular, and very creative into my own dreamland. I did music in private as an escape from a lot of family hardships and stuff like that, and maybe just social hardships. I grew up with a kind of sense of inadequacy.

SFC: When you’re performing how does it feel to come from out of the closed door? Is Ariel Pink as an artist changing now that he knows he’s performing?

AR: I think the process of making this record is completely foreign to me. It’s a marked change from the Ariel of old, who would have rather than go through all the trouble taken the bull by the reigns no matter the cost.

I think the older [Ariel Pink] was a little more over eager, and excited to vie for affection. I was very desperate to get known. Thank goodness that it happened, because it very quickly, the pride and all of that stuff, drained out of me. It didn’t solve many issues, let’s put it that way.

SFC: How do you feel about your live performances these days?

AR: They’re getting better. There is no booing in the audience like people read in Wikipedia, which hasn’t been the case for years now.

SFC: You’re in quite a conundrum to prove yourself, since you’re music has never been intended to be performed.

AR: I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m trying to survive in the world, only as I know how to do. I can’t make money off recording music. If I want to get a job somewhere, doing something else, leading an anonymous life I could do that. Ultimately, I don’t want to do music unless I’m getting paid for it.

SFC: To survive you have to become a good performing artist.

AR: Well at this point. I’ve been working at it long enough and I feel committed to the process of recording and playing music for whatever the cost that now that I have had some meager tiny bit success, I shouldn’t drop out right?

It has no therapeutic value for me lately. The mystery is lost. I feel like I will always have been better before, the glass half-empty.

SFC: Music has lost its therapeutic value for you, so it’s now about surviving?

AR: If you’re like me you’ll make music anyway, whether it’s good or not. That’s fine and all, but I just don’t want to be somebody who is spreading their seed all far and wide just to fulfill therapeutic needs.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti performs at Bimbos on July 10th. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 8pm. The show begins at 9pm


Free Mp3s: Marina And The Diamonds, Semi Precious Weapons, A-Trak and more

Marina And The Diamonds: "Oh No!" (Active Child Remix)
It was Marina’s “serious pipes” that moved Pat Grossi to remix “Oh No!”, turning the brash, chart-bound original into something far more private and maudlin. No shock there, I guess, given that privacy and being maudlin are things that seem to happen to Grossi whenever he enters Active Child mode. Glo-fi’s saddest kid? Yes, but he can bring his Polaroid to our beach party anyways because that sadness inevitably turns into tracks as beautiful as this one.

The Rentals: "Honey Life"
The Rentals’ Songs About Time project produced a lot of content–three-hundred and sixty-five days of photography, fifty-two weeks of film, and four albums of music. Only a fraction of that music was actually released, the rest was saved for limited-edition box sets that are now available from their website . “Honey Life” was one of the unreleased cuts, a slow, pillow-soft pop song about being tired that doesn’t sound tired. It just sounds like the long-overdue return to a room that’s exactly the way you left it. Taking comfort in the familiar and all that.

Heaps Decent: "Anywhere But Here" (Ft. MC Huz & The Riverina Crew & Prod. by A-Trak)
Heaps Decent is a label/charity, co-founded by Diplo, that provides Australian youth with music and production workshops, often under the stewardship of a notable DJ/producer. Their latest release is “Anywhere But Here,” born from a session A-Trak conducted with residents of the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre in Wagga Wagga, NSW, where the Fool’s Gold boss built a beat around a didgeridoo sample for the centre’s aspiring rappers. It’s raw and elemental like made-in-a-day rap should be.

Semi Precious Weapons: "Semi Precious Weapons"
If filthy, debaucherous rockstars are your thing, you’d best be on the Semi Precious Weapons bandwagon. From their debut, You Love You, the lead track “Semi Precious Weapons” is everything that stadium music should be—a brash monster ballad full of artful yelling, sex, and flagrant tongue-wagging. Basically, an awesome exercise in vanity.

Delphic: "Doubt"
Delphic are citizens of that other Manchester—the one that gave the world New Order and The Hacienda, A Guy Called Gerald and N-Trance; or, to paraphrase: they’d rather dance than fight. And there is no two ways about that as it comes across, very clearly, in the glitch-infused, original version of their track “Doubt.”


Upcoming Concerts 6/30-7/7

Blitzen Trapper @ The Fillmore, June 30th,9pm ($20) Over the course of their four full-length albums to date, including their revelatory 2008 Sub Pop release Furr, front man Eric Earley’s considerable poetic talents and his band’s hard-earned chops have gained them a growing international audience. The band’s continuing exploration of American music that spans from the ‘60s folk movement to the country sounds of the ‘70s, to the pop balladry and prog rock of the ‘80s has earned it notice ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to late-night network television to Yo Gabba Gabba, among a great many others.

Dum Dum Girls (and Crocodiles)@ The Bottom of The Hill, June 30th, 9pm($12)Led by Dee Dee, Dum Dum Girls churn out pop music that adheres to her self-proclaimed M.O.: “blissed-out buzz saw.” Dee Dee formed DDG in late 2008 as a solo project the name a nod to both The Vaseline's album, Dum-Dum, and the Iggy Pop song “Dum Dum Boys.”

Cake @ The Independent, July 1st, 8pm, ($50) Setting out from Sacramento, California in 1991, CAKE quickly graduated from packing local venues to becoming a favorite in the thriving San Francisco scene. The combination of McCrea's captivatingly unwitting amalgam of Jonathan Richman, David Byrne, and Woody Guthrie – off-kilter yet strangely relatable – with CAKE's shambolic country funk took Northern California by storm. Key to the band’s sound then and now is DiFiore’s trumpet playing, which makes brilliant use of a timbre rarely heard in post-modern rock. (The event is called Climatepolooza which benefits Telegraph Hill, providing resources for their solar power)

Nite Jewel and Dam Funk @ Mezzanine, July 1st, 9pm ($15) A great combination of funky beats (Dam Funk), and ambient chill-fi (Nite Jewel). Our buddies at Betterpropaganda are giving away tickets to the show if you're interested. Check here.


Album Review: The Hold Steady "Heaven is Whenever"

By William Clarke

There are many reasons I love The Hold Steady. Their music has always felt vaguely familiar and affirming to me. Beyond my own connections to Minnesota that ensure a degree of shared references with Craig Finn, I also lived for the kind of life that he has made career out of describing in such rich detail. Finn’s lyrics convey a sort of rueful, unromantic nostalgia. He rarely sentimentalizes. Oftentimes his lyrics seem startlingly matter of fact, as if Finn is resigned to these events as they happened without moralizing. This mentality really shapes the narrative drive of his songwriting. Indeed, rather than missing any of these particular moments, many of which sound miserable, we sense Finn’s own latent and, in many ways, indeterminate melancholy.

As I suggested earlier, I connect deeply to these sentiments but after a few listens I found that Heaven is Whenever fell a bit flat. Finn insisted that the record was about “trying to age gracefully.” That idea is pretty evident at points, such as when he sings “God only knows it's not always a positive thing. To see a few seconds into the future” on “The Weekenders.” This phrase arrives after he repeatedly insists earlier, “he remembers.” The anxiety has in large part to do with the sort of vexed position of someone in his late 30s.

Certainly the enduring childishness of your late teens and early twenties leads to a sort of wistful remorse or remembrance as one belatedly enters adulthood. That tension has always been at the heart of Finn’s songwriting and though some elements more explicitly related to aging might be more obvious, Heaven is Whenever is not a real departure from The Hold Steady of old. At points some songs sound like B-sides from previous records, for better or worse. In some ways this is totally okay.

The Hold Steady have a great sound that has worked very well on their previous records but given that this is their fifth album they run the risk of sounding stale. I found the too long and overly grand “A Slight Discomfort” to be a particularly disappointing end to the album. Slightly different stories from Finn don’t signal a shift in direction for the band and the musical formula ought to be tweaked. The record feels like a transition piece. One I will gladly listen to, if not out of mere loyalty because they are still a damn good band. Heaven is Whenever isn’t quite a full step in a different, fruitful direction but given The Hold Steady’s body of work, I think it’s a safe bet they will get there.


Interview with Philadelphia Grand Jury

By Sara Morgan

“This one’s about a girl I was in love, her boyfriend wanted to kill me...” Berkfinger says of the track ‘When you’re boyfriend comes back to town’. Then adds with a smile “in fact pretty much all the songs are about one girl or another I’ve been in love with.”

Berkfinger kinda sounds like he’s been sucking on a helium balloon, making his raw vocals seem all the more surprising. Riotous fun, upbeat pop-punk is how to best describe the sound of Philadelphia Grand Jury, the name they’ve settled on after various incarnations, inspired by the Feiry Furnaces.

Berkfinger and MC Bad Genius, aka Simon Berckelman and Joel Beeson, formed this 3 piece. In person their shyness is cunningly disguised behind beards. They have that easy way with each other that only comes from having known each other since misbehaving as kids, which is why they probably admit things other bands would go to lengths to hide...

“With ‘The Next Neil Young’ we’re talking about how everyone is trying to be so different and innovative like Neil Young and they all end up sounding the same. Ironically we borrowed the bass line from ‘Kate’ from Ben Folds Five who we think borrowed it from The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’... should I have said that?”

It’s pretty endearing that they can’t help but reveal themselves and don’t tow a record company line. In fact the making of Hope is for Hopers, their debut release, didn’t involve the big guns at all. They wrote, recorded, engineered and released it themselves under their own label ‘Normal People Making Hits’ for under $3,000 (AusD). Berkfinger’s previous engineering credits include Architecture in Helsinki and Wolfmother.

To prove their commitment to putting the “fun into funk” they marked the album release by taking to the back of a truck and performing 7 shows in one day at various locations around Sydney. The first show was in the city centre at 8am as the suits rushed into their offices ties flapping over their shoulders. The last was 11pm to Sydney’s party set on the Purple Sneakers’ rooftop. Their goofball antics included smashing up pianos and throwing guitars into the crowd.

The Jury is in. Do your duty, check them out at


Concert Review: Fat Freddy's Drop at The Independent

By Erik Thybony
Photos by Victoria Smith

We get to the venue early and the door guy tells us the band won’t be on for another forty minutes and the only music is a DJ spinning reggae remixes of Zeppelin and The Doors and so we sit there and drink and take pictures and eventually the place starts to fill up and we make our way to the front and everyone around us is moving and I get separated from my girlfriend and some dready hippie chick starts grinding in front of me and she’s swaying and bumping into me and swinging her dreads into my face and I’m getting claustrophobic and sweaty and I’m out of beer and so I decide to cut my losses and I turn and push through the crowd toward the back bar and wash up there, much happier, before Fat Freddy’s Drop has played a note.

Fresh bottle in hand, I watch the musicians take the stage. Holy shit, I think. It’s the Dave Matthews Ska Band. These guys look like they walked out of 1989 into 2010. I wonder if this is typical New Zealand fashion. Before I can wonder too far, the MC is telling us to put our hands together and the drum loop drops in and the keys kick up and the horn section purrs and the ambient echoes bounce down between the speakers and everything is flowing slow. Whoa, man, now I know what it sounds like inside a bong!

And that analogy is not a stretch in the slightest. Before I left for the show, Wikipedia told me that Fat Freddy is the name of the cartoon cat printed on the blotter acid the band was chomping down on (or, you know, “dropping”) during their first recording session. Also, the members have stage names like “Joe Dukie” and “Dobie Blaze.” Is this subtle? Nope. But at least the pieces fit.

Fat Freddy’s Drop formed as a jam band, and they still have a taste for improvisation. According to their bio, “no two Freddy’s shows are ever the same.” Their drum loops, however, are another story. An hour into the show, the dub reggae beat is still chugging away at just about the same tempo. It occurs to me I’m watching a band jam on stage without a live drummer. Can they do that? Sure they can. And they can do it well. But since I’m playing critic tonight, I get to say that I think it holds them back.

What makes great jam bands great is their ability to shift collectively with each other and with the vibe of the crowd, to hit peaks and then pull back, to build tension and release. But this sort of feedback loop requires a musician receiving the input and making corrections in real time. Twisting a BPM knob and cutting between samples, as good as it can sound, is not the same as having a drummer behind a kit being buoyed by same waves as everyone else in the room. Fat Freddy’s Drop effortlessly ascends to cruising altitude, but after that, all their improvisation is horizontal. They are tethered to the drum machine, and it makes it hard to soar.

But then again, I’m fairly sober. Let’s face facts: these guys sold out three shows at the Independent, in advance. They also independently recorded the highest-selling album by a national artist in New Zealand’s history. They’re also stony as fuck. Drummer or not, Fat Freddy’s Drop throws a fun party. Get into it.

If you're interested in learning more about Fat Freddy's Drop, check out their interview with SFCritic.

#FF Mp3 Downloads:Nada Surf, J Cole, !!!, Violens...

!!!: "AM/FM"
Late summer dance parties, beware. !!! (bka Chk Chk Chk) is unleashing a new album just before Labor Day. “AM/FM” is the first taste of the Brooklyn partystarters’ so-called Berlin club record, but to us, it feels more like rocking out, falling down, and scraping both knees on a diamond-encrusted dance floor. Equal parts blood and sparkle.

Violens: "Acid Reign"
Violens’ (pronounced "vy-lenz") agile savant-rock is a tough beast to tame. They make a lot of noise for three guys–things appear and disappear in new single “Acid Reign” relatively quickly; effected piano here, metallic guitar there; chorus explosion here, whippersnapper verse there. It’s all very busy, but also very memorable. Confused? Understandable. It’s just good, prickly rock music.

Stars: "We Don't Want Your Body
Since we recently reviewed Stars, why not share Stars. O, Canada. Your weepy alterna-musings are so killer, we suppose, because you arguably started this whole “indie” thing. Quebecois troupe STARS are pillars in a scene fraught with flippant trends and half-bands, having dominating our musical lexicon for the past several years. From their fifth LP release, The Five Ghosts is “We Don’t Want Your Body,” a finger-snapping tune made for smiling on a warm day.

Nada Surf: "Electrocution"
To many, Nada Surf will forever be the poster boys of the alternative anthem “Popular.” But, today they are enjoying a resurgence that few ‘90s bands do, and touting their mellower, less angst-ridden rock with a covers album and a giveaway of their lead track. Bill Fox’s “Electrocution” was already a sunny strummer/AM radio classic, and with Nada Surf, it thankfully stays that way.

J Cole: "Who Dat"
Raised on a rabid diet of Canibus couplets, Nas narratives, and Jay-Z melodies, 25-year-old Jermaine Cole is grown enough to wonder whether you’re familiar with this name but young enough to not care and just do his own thing. If he’s news to you, rest assured your favorite rapper’s rapper has been keeping tabs for some time. “Who Dat” is four minutes of good reasons to remember the kid.


Concert Calendar 6/24-6/30

Tussle, Boyz IV Men, Religious Girls and Kid Meets Cougar @ Milk, June 24th ($5)Besides a bunch of awesome named bands, this is our buddies at Epicsauce weekly showcase, which has proven, time and time again, to be awesome. Expect a lot of electronic music, up-tempo and danceable, and cheap drinks ($3 PBR & Trummers). Doesn't that sound appealing?

Pavement @ The Greek Theater, June 25th ($39.50)After ten years, Pavement has reunited to tour. We recently spoke with Scott Kannberg about the group's reunion. Tickets are steep, but at The Greek you can listen in the parking lot for free--which is the real indie experience.

Judgement Day @ Snob Theater, 9:30pm ($10) Mix string metal (Judgement Day) with an excellent comedy lineup,(Alex Koll, DJ Real, Red Scott, and Melanie O'Brien) in an intimate venue (Snob Theater) and you're guaranteed to smile. Our buddies at Katarokkar put this event on frequently, so if you like what you hear, check back with them for follow ups!

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings @ The Warfield, June 25th, 9pm ($22.50) Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings have come a long way since their humble beginnings nearly a decade ago. Steeped within the gilded and gritty sounds of gospel, soul and funk, this nine-piece Brooklyn collective has continued to electrify fans, disc jockeys, critics, record collectors, and bloggers the world-over with their authentic, heart-felt sound.

Backstreet Boys @ San Francisco Pride (Main Stage), June 27th, 4pm (Free) The boy band that makes me miss my youth will be performing at this year's pride festival. They will also be playing at the Warfield later that night if you're so DESPERATE to see them. Backstreet is back, alright!

The Music Submissions: The Sparking Arrest and Beach Fossils

The Sparking Arrest - "Live In The White Room Pt 1 EP"

Australia-based band The Sparkling Arrest is comprised of brothers Bharat, Anand, and Dhyan Chalmers. Despite only having been around since 2009, the first two have been playing together for years, and it is apparent in their sound. The soaring guitar riffs, dynamic chords and emotive vocals all come together in their digitally-released debut EP, Live in the White Room. It took me a couple listens to get into them, but they definitely have a unique sound that is more fitting to seasoned veterans than young rockers who have been playing publicly for less than a year. They have not cited any particular influences, as they are trying to sound different to anything else out there, and I must say that they have done a pretty good job thus far.

Sounds like: Something different
Listen to: In The Cloud, Not a Soul In Sight

Beach Fossils - "Beach Fossils"

Summer is officially upon us. And in San Francisco, that means lots of fog sprinkled with the occasional sunny day when it becomes perfectly acceptable to drop everything and head to the closest beach/park/pool. For these rare occasions, I am always in need of the perfect soundtrack. Beach Fossils' self-titled debut album, released May 25th, is the type that lends itself to daydreaming and lazy summer days lounging by the pool. Brooklyn-based front man Dustin Payseur seamlessly blends melodic bass lines with hazy lo-fi vocals that, while not completely knocking me off my feet, still make me want to put this album on repeat. After a while, the songs all start to sound the same and kind of blend into one another, and while most of the time I would consider that a bad thing, in Beach Fossils' case, it actually suits me just fine.

Sounds like: if Joy Division went on an oceanside summer vacay
Listen to: Youth, Vacation, The Horse


Weezer "Represent" the Unofficial Theme for US Soccer Team

"Represent" is River Cuomo's unofficial US Soccer team music video. It is not a hip hop inspired song (unfortunately). In a separate video interview/music video ("Lover in the Snow"), Cuomo explains his passion for soccer, which initially sounds like a save the sanctity of marriage advertisement; "Perhaps because my parents split up when I was four, and I rarely saw my dad when I was growing up I romanticized everything about him..." and proceeds to talk about his dad's (then his) desire to play soccer, how he has a bum leg, and then decided to become a rock star (boo hoo). Ok so clearly I'm not the biggest River Cuomo fan, whom in my circle is compared to Owl City (wiki: "Rock Star Get Rich Schemes"). I think ever since Weezer did a snuggie, I dropped him like it was hot. I love Pinkerton, and I even did "Island in the Sun," but that's all the praise they'll get from me. Below is the "Represent" video, as well as Cuomo's heart felt soccer interview.


"Lover in the Snow" (Heart felt soccer video)


Stars "The Five Ghosts" Concert Review

The up and down surprises of growing up in high school make for an interesting experience. I walk into the Stars’ performance knowing nothing about them except that all the members of group were formerly a part of Broken Social Scene. I venture into The Independent for their second sold-out show like a kid on his first day of school, anxiously excited and totally unprepared. Though their newest album The Five Ghosts hadn’t been released (released June 21st) at the time, the group chose to play the album from beginning to end. It’s an ambitious effort, which in some reviews I’ve read is meant “only for the true Star fans.” I’m not a “true” fan. I’ve never walked these halls, but I lend my ear.

At first, I feel like I’ve stepped into an advanced language class with a tongue I’m not suited to understand. After doing my homework (post-show), The Five Ghosts does not drift thematically from the Stars’ typical platform of dramatic, bordering melodramatic, bordering “stop whining!” Songs like “Changes” pair with blank stares out rainy day windows. “Dead Hearts” is dramatically charged like a Broadway musical on anti-depressants. Ominous lyrics like “this is last time that there’s going to be a last time, you’re going to wake up without it,” from “The Last Song Ever Written,” sound heavier than a mother’s guilt, and almost feel a little ridiculous. So being unaware of this lyrical soap opera, I feel like I am listening to a soundtrack for Sixteen Candles.

All Photos by Melissa Clark

So I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let out any judgments—a trick from my counselor. The background coos. The accentuated guitar licks. The gentle pulsating bass line. They get under my skin. I start tapping my feet. Then four tracks into the set “Fixed” takes a refreshing shift to an upbeat tempo as vocalist Amy Millan sings “it’s all in your head, wondering if I am fisticuffs.” I smile at the use of “fisticuffs”—feeling it’s bold, ridiculous, and awesome. The pace continues with the synth laden “We Don’t Want Your Body,” that echos krautrock and begs for a 80s dance off with zebra pants, and bobbing ponytails. The atmosphere turns to a dance party, and I’m thrilled by the opportunity.

During “Changes” both vocalist (Torquill Campbell and Amy Millian) embrace each other while singing. A fan screams “Makeout!” and the immaturity coupled with 80s prom dance music makes it hard for me to shake thoughts that I am in high school. But I’m okay as I find comfort in the sonic familiarities to personal favorites like La Roux, Bat For Lashes and Flock of Seagulls.

After completing The Five Ghosts the set breaks for a short recess. When Millian returns she excitedly states, “Now songs you will know!” She gives a good stage kick, and then dives quickly into their most ubiquitous hit, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.” There is more edginess to some of the older hits, which encourages me to dig into my history books for more Mp3s. I leave soon after because it was a school night, and though I was having fun, I had to prepare this review for you.

Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck, “IRM” Review

By Rip Empson

You may know Charlotte Gainsbourg as the stunning and talented French actress from The Science of Sleep, 21 Grams, or Lars von Trier’s Palme-d’Or-winning Antichrist -- but what you may not know is that she also happens to be the daughter of legendary gallic singer/songwriter and troublemaker, Serge Gainsbourg. It seems music has always been in her blood, even though she’s spent most of her musical life in the shadow of her father – and their strange, provocative 1984 duet album that included a song called “Lemon Incest.”

Fast forward to 2006 and you’d find Gainsbourg beginning to establish her own musical sound, thanks to her Air-backed, heart-break record, 5:55, which went platinum in France. She parlayed her success into a collaboration with jack-of-all-sounds, Mr. Beck Hansen, who produced her latest effort, IRM.

Written, produced, arranged, and mostly played by Beck, IRM unsurprisingly sounds a lot like … a Beck album. WEIRD, right? With the sonic swashbuckler at the helm, musically IRM is a Frankensteinian mix of psych rock, nerd rap, graveyard blues, and eerie ballads. As a result, the album feels a lot like the doppelganger of Modern Guilt, Beck’s 2008 collaboration with the ubiquitous Danger Mouse.

Thematically, IRM, which is French for “MRI,” was inspired by a head injury Gainsbourg sustained while water skiing that led to two years of testing and multiple brain scans to prove that she was healthy. The incident and its aftermath left an indelible impression on her, inspiring the album’s mood, which seems permeated by electronic resonances, biological cadences, and heavy, existential lyrics.

Though Gainsbourg’s vocal abilities seem somewhat limited, she gets the most out of her voice, varying her approach with each song. And in spite of the overall eeriness of the album, her reverb-soaked cooing, purring, and double-tracked harmonizing adds a sex appeal and joyful defiance to the sinister landscape.

The heavy bass, minimal guitar and breathy vocals of the album allow its songs to anxiously explore the darker side of pop music, as the distortion-tinged guitar of “Trick Pony” sounds like something Danger Mouse and The Black Keys would have created, as Gainsbourg’s vocal harmonies float over it in psychedelic reverb – as is “Looking Glass Blues,” which is another opiate-filled song riffing on Alice in Wonderland, backed by inverted organ and spooky blues guitar.

All in all, IRM seems to have brought out the best of both Beck and Gainsbourg, especially if you are a fan of the creepier side of pop. There’s a lot going on sonically, and a lot of pondering going on thematically, which gives the album depth and makes it worthy of multiple listens. I’m not always a fan of dour, abstract pop music, but a sexy French grim reaper is better than the alternative, am I right? IRM may be wispy-edged and hallucinogenic, but it succeeds in celebrating the fragility and darkness of life -- and, in the end -- the bliss of survival.

It’s definitely an interesting album and well worth a listen.

11 out of a possible 13 caskets.
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