/*Google*/ /*Hosting*/ February 2010 | SFCritic Music Blog


Har Mar Superstar at Noise Pop 2010

All photos by Victoria Smith

Though Har Mar Superstar looks like a combination of John Belushi and Ron Jeremy (in his older years), as an entertainer he's more of a Justin Timberlake. Standing a mere 5'5", Har Mar Superstar has a stage presence of a giant that warrants the attention of all drunken spectators. Whether doing handstands, stripping, necking or singing within the crowd--as one man, he brings more show than a gang of 80s hair band rockers. With Diesel buying out the bar, the booze-friendly crowd was primed for the sex-flare-drenched-pop-rock-n-roll so uniquely Har Mar Superstar (Peaches excluded).

Never one to disappoint, though dressed in a poncho and jeans, Har Mar Superstar eventually, as always, removed his clothes down to his skivvies. His motto should be "Shake what your momma gave you." While it's easy to focus on his antics, which needless to say there are plenty more, his bubbly-sexualized pop song's are as delectable as Janet Jackson's nipple slip. A song like "Power Lunch" is almost fitting for a pelvic thrust dance---if not, acceptable. Backed with a bassist, and drummer, playing over the original instrumental, Har Mar Superstar was front-center, just how he likes it.

Midway through his set, which is always discernible by the amount of clothes he still has on, Har Mar jumped on top of a bar table. It teetered, as did Har Mar, both falling to the ground. Falls don't stop superstars! The show continued, as he approached the closest girl to the stage, kisses her, then returned to singing seamlessly with the track. Soon after, a girl put a dollar bill in his jeans because he is Superstar.

His sets don't pay as much as his ladies do.

Don't you want me baby! Don't you want me OOOHHH.


Tinariwen Live Review at San Francisco Jazz Festival

Like meeting a friend in a foreign country, Tinariwen's performance felt familiar, yet unusual. It was a feeling that stemmed from a juxtaposition of foreign and domestic. The Northern Malian group performed at The Palace of Fine Arts in conjunction with SF Jazz Festival.

The sellout crowd shouted and clapped as Tinariwen took the stage. The six band members (the band's lineup changes frequently) were dressed traditionally, wearing sandals, long robes and turbans. In front of a bare back drop, their foreign dress was the only spectacle. The bareness of their set paled in comparison to mainstream American bands.

Musically, Tinariwen crosses boundaries sounding like a combination of Ali Farke Touré (know by some as the John Lee Hooker of Africa), Keith Richards and psychedelic rock. The group combine blues guitars and rolling African rhythms, into a re-imagined worldly rock 'n roll. Musically rooted in Tuareg culture, their uses of electric and acoustic guitars suggest an American blues influence, meanwhile being traditionally rooted by the African drum.

While sonically their comparisons appear to have roots in American culture, their lyrics tell a different story. Historically, the Tuaregs are an ancient Berber nomadic pastoral people that have fought other African groups, while also resisting French imperialism. Their lyrics are political stories of struggle and resistance. Singing in Berber, a cross between French and Arabic, the cross-culture influences yet again become apparent.

During their hour and half set, they played mostly from their new album Imidiwan, occasionally playing older songs like "Arawan" and "Cler Achel." Whether because of the reasons above or others, the first half of the set felt like an awkward greeting. The band played stiffly. Uncertain by the band's disposition the crowd seemed removed, clapping when appropriate, but otherwise remaining motionless. There was no American showmanship that one might expect from a Grammy performance. The band's inability to speak English only further widened this gap. Between songs the group responded briefly, but courteously to the applause with "Merci," or "Thank you."

As their set wore on the language of music overcame this barrier. The blues harmonies, the solemn and emotive vocals, reminded the audience of their original excitement as they began to dance. In turn, the band began to move. The bassist would hop skip while plucking his guitar. One of the vocalists moved away from microphone, dancing across the stage, encouraging the crowd to follow. It was as though the crowd realized they were familiar with the band. This was the same Tinariwen they listened to at home, the same Tinariwen they danced to before, and then now. Foreign or world music did not need to be understood its original context, just in the context of home.


Spoonful of Noise Pop 2010

The Noise Pop Festival begins TONIGHT, and while many will recognize names like Yoko Ono and Magnetic Fields, most of the bands remain relatively unknown. SFCritic decided it would be best to share a little who's who to help our fans prepare for the festival. This is a great opportunity to get out of your house, check-out quality music for bargain prices (most tickets are under $20). Here are a few picks:

Nico Vega (The Independent on February 27th)
Nico Vega's high energy shows get old and new fans into movin and groovin as the band puts their all into their sets. Even bands that tour with Nico Vega are turned into fans and followers. Seeming to channel Janis Joplin, Volkman thrashes and writhes around on stage, moving as if the music is directing her.

For fans of: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Mark Kozelek (The Great American Music Hall on February 27th)
Born and raised in Ohio, Mark Kozelek spent time in Atlanta before moving to San Francisco and forming the immaculately sorrowful Red House Painters in 1989. The group fused Kozelek's bittersweet baritone voice with deeply intimate compositions. n 2002, Kozelek again assembled a close knit group of musicians, including some Red House Painters alumni, to form the more accessible and straightforward Sun Kil Moon.

For fans of: merican Music Club, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake

We Were Promised Jetpacks (Slim's on February 27th)
The Scottish band have received high praise for their debut, These Four Walls. The album is the culmination of years of rock-and-toil (the band started up in earnest back in 2003), features driving rhythms, emotive guitars, and even a little glockenspiel, all anchored by rock-solid drums. The tunes vacillate between energetic rockers and dreary but not too dour downers, all filled with shimmering cymbals and insistent jangle. The album feels like a release for the band, and a catharsis for the listener.

For fans of: Oasis, Interpol, Teenage Fanclub, Kings of Leon

Scout Niblett (Cafe Du Nord on February 26th)
Her latest album, The Calcination of Scout Niblett (Drag City), is a work of refinement, though it still sports her single instrument approach and plenty of reverb. The tone of the album is as somber as ever, filled with mood, angst, and a journey that ultimately is about personal growth. When inspired to write, this songwriter composes some of the most pure, and emotive music out there.

For fans of:PJ Harvey, Nirvana, Cat Power


Tegan and Sara Interview: Sainthood

Love, heartache and obsession consume our thoughts on Valentine's Day, but are always a part of Tegan and Sara's music. The Canadian twin sister's new album Sainthood was inspired from Leonard Cohen's lyrics, "I practiced all my sainthood." So after Valentine's Day, before their March 5th performance at the Fox Theater, SFCritic spoke with Tegan about Sainthood, her sister, and growing up.

SFCritic (SFC): How was your Valentine's Day?

Tegan (T): I found that I got a lot of messages just saying hi, saying they love you, so if there is a day out there that reminds us to take in what we have then I can appreciate that. Also, a lot of kids come up and talk about when they came out, or when they told their parents they were gay. When they were dealing with a lot of those emotions before they actually did come out, knowing that we were gay, that we were writing love songs, that we were just like everyone else, that we were mainstream and we fit-in, somehow they can look up to us. We got a lot of fan mail, letters and tweets about that on Valentine's Day, which I felt really good about. So I'm glad we could be the soundtrack on Valentine's Day.

SFC: Were you and Sara in the same schools growing up?

T: We were, until we were in grade four. We moved to a new school and I think we were both in that pre-teenage and felt really weird about being split up, so for the next two or three years we were in the same class. My mom hated it. We would come home with the same stories, same experiences, and we would be competing with one another. I think having Sara there didn't allow me to forge for myself because she was really protective of me, until we were teenagers. They tried to split us up as much as they could.

SFC: Interesting. So, Sara was the protector because from the critics' standpoint a lot has been said about how you're more vocal and Sara is more quiet.

T: We definitely swapped at some point. It's hard to pinpoint when that was.

SFC: I grew up in grade school with a pair of identical twins, and I remember them pulling a prank on April Fools Day by switching classes. Did the two of you ever do that?

T: No. Neither of us felt like we were similar enough to pass off as one another, though I'm sure we could have. Especially, in high school all of our teachers were sitting up front passing out pamphlets waiting for retirement. The gag would have gone unnoticed.

SFC: You mean teachers in Canada are waiting for retirement as well? I thought that was only a California thing.

T: We went to an inner-city school, so there wasn't much inspiration there.

SFC: Yeah, the California public education system is really struggling.

T: My mother has a Masters in Social Work, and works in a private school system and is a therapist on-hand for private school kids. Kids who pay $25,000 a year to go to school that are fifteen-years-old. It just crazy, but as much as I think it's crazy the kids get so much attention, and 95% go on to secondary education.

My mom was talking about how if she had been at that place in her life when we were young, she would have definitely put us into private school. Most of our high school classes had between 25 and 40 students. It's hard to get one-on-one attention when there are that many people.

SFC: Definitely. I went through that with the Oakland public schools. Are you and Sara competitive with each other?

T: I don't think so, at least not musically. I was just thinking when you were talking about all the private school stuff, the things that Sara and I excelled at were stuff where we did have one-on-one attention or smaller groups. We were in piano lessons. We trained classically since the time we were eight until we were sixteen. We did really well when we were given more attention. When we stopped playing piano, and started playing guitar we both immediately excelled at it because we were encouraging one another, teaching one another.

You know on a personal side of things, we are. Sara hates how much I talk over her, but I hate I can't just tell the story I want to tell. Why do I have to have Sara tell it, it's my story! Pretty normal family stuff.

SFC: Is this the reason why before this album you wrote separately?

T: We always wrote alone since the beginning. It just me writing these private thoughts, these really intense emotions and feelings, and until you get it figured out, or fixed in place, it feels like sharing something that is not yet complete.

We always wrote parts for each of our songs, vocals, and helped producer and engineer one another; but, we never sat physically in the same room and wrote together. We experimented a lot with that on this record. We sent music back and forth, and ended up writing ten songs together. They truly are the first ever Tegan and Sara songs. Everything else was written separate, so they feel like Tegan songs or Sara songs.

The songs really are different. Listen to Sainthood now, seven, eight months after it's been finished, I hear a song like "Paperback Head," and it doesn't sound like a traditional Tegan and Sara to me.

SFC: What feels different to you?

T: A song like "Paperback Head" specifically started out more like a dance song. There were six of seven sequencers running all at the same time. Then I sent it to Sara, and she cut it a part and turned it into more of a pop song.

I think for me that process is so different than a normal song. A song like "Northshore," write it, record it, play it, and then we're done.

SFC: Given the dynamics of you being in a relationship, and Sara being recently single during the creation of Sainthood, how did that affect your songwriting in comparison to The Con?

T: Sara was in a relationship while we were writing The Con, writing about a coming breakup and I was writing about a breakup that had just happened. Both of us had been in five year relationships. It was a really dark record for both of us.

Sainthood was definitely written with a very different state-of-mind. I was dating, sort of falling in love, hopeful, and really wanted to shake-off the darkness, demons of The Con, so I was writing much more high energy songs. Sara was also in this exploratory phase of dating, but writing about those anxieties and emotions of the pursuit of someone and being perfect to win them over.

SFC: What would be Tegan and Sara's motto?

T: Keep calm, carry on.

Tegan and Sara play at the Fox Theater on March 5th. Tickets are $35. Doors open at 8pm.

This article is reprinted from SF Station.


Kidz In The Hall "Jukebox" (Official Video)

Kidz In The Hall just released this video for "Jukebox." Check it out. SFCritic will be checking them out at SXSW, so look back for an interview soon! Until then, get amp for their sophomore LP Land of Make Believe set to be released soon.

Friday Free Mp3s: Wu-Tang Clan, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Game, and More

Who doesn't want to hear ODB scream "Fuck you!" With ill production arranged entirely by Mathematics, this joint jumps like kangaroos. Grab this track if only as memorial to the late great ODB, because really, how often do you get to say "I got that new shit from the Ol' Dirty Bastard," and it's not referencing your dad's toiletries.
Wu-Tang Clan ft. ODB and Bad Luck: "Early Grace"

"Something told me inside that your love was untrue," sings Sharon Jones in the opening verse of "I Learned The Hard Way." Baby, baby--you may be too old for the SFCritic, but our love for you is SO true. The soul singer sounds as cool as ever. Think if she and Raphael Saadiq had a baby--now that would be COOL.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: "I Learned The Hard Way"

I heard this Game track and I had to "shake." Carmelo beat Lebron last night with a "shake." I finished my business, jiggled twice, and then let the last drip "shake." How many ways can you use shake? I can dig this Game, like I can dig this track. (Shake words, shake verbs, shake what you heard, Neapolitan).
Game: "Shake"

Gui Boratto, whose aptitude for emotive, hyper-precise rhythms makes him a perfect foil to the traditionally melancholic Bristol legends, Massive Attack. So, how’s it sound? Like slack-jawed Spaghetti Western techno.
Massive Attack (Remix by Gui Boratto): "Paradise Circus"

"Giving Up The Gun" Video by Vampire Weekend Ft. RZA, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon & Joe Jonas

The list of celebrities might confuse you, but this is the official video for Vampire Weekend's "Giving Up The Gun," from their new album, Contra. The album has received high praise across the boards, elevating Vampire Weekend into another indie band, no longer really--indie? At SFCritic we've passed on discussing the album because well, everyone else is talking about it. At Spinner Ezra Koenig explained how all the celebrities became involved:

We always thought RZA would be perfect. We'd been in touch with Lil Jon since the first album. He heard the reference on 'Oxford Comma' and sent us some cases of Crunk Juice. Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal were both excellent -- lot of improvisation and some surprisingly powerful serves.

Is Vampire Weekend still indie in your mind?


A&R: The Music Submissions

Conil - Strange Part of the Country

In the 1990s, there was grunge. Seattle bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden dominated the music (and fashion, but that's for a different blog) of decade. They emerged as soulful, grating, and immediately identifiable "voices of a generation". This year the nostalgia for grunge is rapidly taking over pop culture. After a listen to the debut album from London-based singer/songwriter Conil, one can't help but recall the music styling of twenty years-ago Seattle. Called the "anti-James Blunt", it is clear that Conil is establishing himself as a gritty and emotional artist. He has a great voice, at times clear and exhibiting impressive range, still with plenty of cigarettes and coffee gruffness. The single "Stoned" has a harder, mainstream rock sound than some of his others, and also feels a little more flat all around. "Years Between" is the most melancholy of the bunch, but better exhibits the vocal skill that is really the best part of the album.

Sounds Like: The Verve Pipe
Listen To: "Years Between", "Grapevine"

Clare and The Reasons - Arrow

It is rare that something as cute as Clare and The Reasons contains as much depth and appeal. Brooklyn-based collaborators Clare and Olivier Manchon released their sophomore album, Arrow, in October. It is full of unapologetic-ally pretty songs that sound like the soundtrack to the movie of a downtown New York romance. With a sound that specifically executed it would be easy to write Arrow off as a bit of a gimmick, but that is just the very basis of its appeal. "You've Got Time" is a bit spare on the surface, a combination of Clare's hypnotic vocals, few lyrics, and an undulating synth line, but gradually opens into a deep arrangement of strings and backing vocals. "Alphabet City" is a slow reminiscence with smart lyrics and an infectious chorus. There is a cleanness to the music, a deliberateness to its execution, that makes this album feel at once personal and appealingly commercial. There is also enough interest added throughout, from surprisingly powerful bass lines to actual whistling (!) to bear repeat listens.

Sounds Like: The Cardigans in France.
Listen To: Skip nothing. Devour it all.

Tegan and Sara "Hell" (Official Video)

SFCritic spoke with Tegan, from Tegan and Sara, earlier this morning. Tegan is sweet, and humorous. There was plenty of juicy material from the interview, particularly, talking about "coming out," the worst Valentines Day, and backstage hot tubs. Sound interesting, well it was. Check back next week for the interview. Meanwhile, enjoy "Hell" the first single from their new album Sainthood. Tegan and Sara will be playing at the Fox Theater on March 5th.


News in Music Blogs

"News in Music Blogs," a weekly update of interesting blog posts, discussion topics, and event listings in the music blogging community. Think Largehearted Boy with a focus on San Francisco events, and only music topics. The catch, we want your voice. Read a post you want to share, have an event you think is appropriate for SFCritic, interested in continuing a larger online discussion, email us links, or comment below!

Bay Area

Evie Ladin plays old-time banjo. Listen and you can hear the whomp and jive of her clawhammer style, honest to the genre’s Appalachian heritage. She will be playing at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Feb. 25th, see more details here.

The SFCritic is rapped up in SXSW as are most music industry folks this time of year, and The Deli SF is no exception. The music magazine has reserved space for Bay Area talents to entertain. Those interested in taking part, check it out here.

Noise Pop kicks off with Live 105 with a party at Benders on February 23rd, showcasing Har Mar Superstar. The show is free to everyone, but you have to :1) PICK UP - Go to the Diesel store (800 Market Street) between Friday, Feb 19th - Tuesday, Feb 23rd. and pick up the FREE BE STUPID t-shirt. 2) SIGN UP - When in the Diesel Store, also sign the RSVP guest list for the show (list is first come first serve) 3) SHOW UP - Arrive at Benders, wearing your BE STUPID t-shirt, check in and have fun! You MUST wear the BE STUPID t-shirt and be on the guest list for entry. Kind of a big deal, right?

Berkeley Place has a "fascinating" article about why superheroes aren't dating hot women in recent films. I don't agree with him, but kudos to an interestingly irrelevant subject.

SF Weekly put together a list of what to do for Noise Pop. So for those confused, unsure, or just plain indecisive, take a look. BTW, did you know Yoko Ono is 77-years old? Wow.

Bay Area rapper and Zion I prodigy, K-Flay, will be performing at The Bottom of The Hill on February 21st.


Last week I discussed Blogger shutting down music blogs, Wired Magazine ran a story about it further.

The Pope, yes, the Holy One, has made a list of his favorite tunes, which you can find here. Thanks to Gawker for the story.

Just when you thought anyone could do whatever they want (mainly George W. Bush), Peaches' hope to perform Jesus Christ Superstar was shut down by the German rights-holder licensing the song. More about this at The Guardian.

GAYNGS, a suggestive combination of gay and gangs, is the mega group you've yet to hear about, but will soon (their debut release is May 10th). Comprised of a huge lineup of artists including: Bon Iver, Megafaun, P.O.S., Dessa, and the list goes on. See here for more.


Sade's "Soldier of Love" Album Review

Label: Epic
Release Date: February 8th, 2010
Rating: 4/5

Though it's been ten years since Sade's last release, their new album Soldier of Love preserves the sound that makes them one of the UK's most successful soul and R&B groups ever.

Since their 1984 classic Diamond Life, Sade Adu's uniquely impassioned voice, the softly chilling instrumentals, and emotive harmonies separated them from contemporaries with a style known as "Quiet Storm era," named after her ubiquitous hit. Only the second album from the group in almost twenty years, the contemporary sound has shifted tremendously suggesting an issue of relevancy. The issue presents two options, adhere to their classic success or reinvent themselves in the contemporary context. Soldier of Love chooses the former, adding a reggae-flare on "Babyfather," and grittier, more intrusive drum patterns (than their usual "soft rock") on "Soldier of Love" and "Skin," but continuing their sensual smoothness on tracks like “The Safest Place,” and “Morning Bird.”

Excluding the noted changes, the album could have been released at any point during the group's career. This is undeniably favorable for existing fans, but in this vain critiques are often had for bands seeming stagnant, suggesting the question, "Is it wrong to continue something that's proven successful and remains entirely unique, or does it become gimmicky?" There is no right answer, but while Solider of Love will warm and sooth the hearts of existing fans, it might feel dusty to followers of contemporary queens like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyonce.

Listen to her album here. This article is reproduced from SF Station.


"I Don't Care About You" by Get Busy Committee

"Happy Valentines Day you psycho-$%#%%." If that's how Valentines was for you, or you got drunk waiting for the day to pass, or maybe you just want to shake your rump--well, then Get Busy Committee has an anthem for you. The LA based hip hop crew, are bubbling with potential and tracks like "I Don't Care About You" is evidence. The crew is humorous (check out the Raiders joke in the video), poppy (love anthem from former coke rappers?), and catchy ("Razorblades" listen here).Check, check it, check it out.

Fanfarlo Interview with Simon Balthazar

A stamp of approval from David Bowie is great publicity for UK’s premiering band Fanfarlo It’s also a redundant interview topic and an easy hook for journalists. The DIY indie-folk band’s debut LP, Reservoir, has garnered them comparisons to Arcade Fire and Talking Heads. Not bad company, but there is still a long road ahead as the group’s buzz spreads through the US. Before their performance at The Great American Music Hall on February 22nd, while on tour in Europe, SF Station email corresponded with lead singer Simon Balthazar.

SF Station (SFC): I imagine you put your album out for a dollar initially to encourage sales, but why not fifty-cents?

Simon Balthazar (SB): It was just an experiment really. Anyway, a dollar has a better ring to it than fifty-cents.

(SFC): What books have you enjoyed reading recently? What is something in particular that interested you with one of the books?

(SB): At the moment I'm reading a Swedish writer named, Sture Dahlström. I felt a real need to read stuff in Swedish so I ordered a bunch of books which I'm going through now on tour. Sadly, he doesn't seem to be translated in English.

(SFC): You guys have been touring a lot, what is one unusual or exciting moment from your tours?

(SB): Personally, I just enjoy the frame of mind you get into when you're on tour, living very much in the moment and just embracing whatever comes your way. Even when things get really difficult it just washes over you. If we break down on the side of the road for hours, then we'll just have a snowball fight.

(SFC): There are many sections (layers) on the album which must be difficult to recreate live. Is your live performance different?

(SB): Many of our songs are different live for sure. Playing live is an entirely different beast than recording in a studio, and in many ways just a different aspect of music. We try to embrace that, but we do try to pull off some pretty complicated arrangements that involve some instrument swapping.

(SFC): Have you come across any other interesting characters like Harold T. Wilkins (the title of a song on Reservoir) that have influenced your music, which might be the start of a new song?

(SB): I was reading about Lake Vostok, which lies underneath the surface of Antarctica and is believed to be a million years old. The idea of a lake hidden beneath four kilometers of ice is just mind blowing. That's not a character - but I would love to write a song about that.

(SFC): I know in the past you’ve done covers of Neutral Milk Hotel, Smashing Pumpkins, and others, can listeners expect any new covers at your shows these days?

(SB): We've been playing this cover of Fleetwood Mac's “What Makes You Think You're The One” sometimes at shows lately. In fact, we also recorded it for the B-side of this Record Store Day seven inch we recorded when we had a day off in Berlin, so you'll be able to get your hands on it at some point.

(SFC): What has been your experience with building an audience in the US? Are you satisfied with your coverage in the US thus far? Do you have a goal you’re striving for (VMA, Grammy, Rolling Stone, etc.)?

(SB): We don't really set our goals in terms of commercial success, but in terms of what we can do creatively. Being played on the radio a lot sure feels good though, and we're pretty excited that we're playing on Letterman soon.

(SFC): Is there anything you’ve learned from your last US tour not to do, or are better prepared this time?

(SB): Lessons? Bring the snow chains this time, even if you're in Arizona or California.

(SFC): You’re one of the few bands I’ve interviewed without going through a publicist directly. Why do you or Amos choose to be directly involved in the publicity?

(SB): We also have a publicist, but we're always happy to talk with people. Loads of people email us directly and we try to reply to everything. People are just so loving and enthusiastic - all that heartwarming correspondence keeps us going.

(SFC): Can you remember one letter that stuck out to you?

(SB): The funniest story is probably about the colorful letter we got from a ten-year-old, saying "Dear Fanfarlo, you are my first favourite band. Lost of love." It was possibly the most adorable spelling mistake I’ve ever seen.

(SFC): A lot of press was given to Fanfarlo for your DIY distribution and production. Was signing a distribution deal with Canvasback (Atlantic Records) an issue in consideration with your image?

(SB): We're pretty pragmatic about the whole matter of how a record comes out. At the end of the day it's about the music and not compromising with that. Being DIY or not isn't really a matter of principals for us, and in any case there is a very blurred line between indie and major labels these days.

(SFC): Since most of the band members are multi-instrumentalists, you’ve completed your first LP, and with such a large group—will you continue to be the creative leader or will the process change?

(SB): I'll still be the songwriter and I guess like you say, creative leader of some sort. We have continually moved in a more collaborative direction since the start though it started as just my recording project.

(SFC): Have you been able to put together any new material since Reservoir? Is there any date or goal for a follow up?

(SB): We have been writing new material sporadically, but there really hasn't been much time when we haven't been touring. We play new songs on tour already though, but a new record is still quite a way off. Especially, considering our album isn't even out in most of Europe yet.

Fanfarlo performs at The Great American Music Hall on February 22nd. Tickets are $16. Doors open at 7pm. The show begins at 8pm.

This article is republished from SF Station.


"Bear" by The Antlers [Official Video]

The Antlers released their video for "Bear" this week. The Antlers have been a focus for SFCritic in recent weeks, check out an interview here and show review here. Forgive the video's load time, just click and come back. Many bloggers have described the video as "how to save a woman," now isn't that just a little hetero-normative. Deep, profound, and "beautiful" videos such as this make me think that this indie-folk movement is a combo of the grunge and emo music phase of long ago. Thanks to IndieSecret for making the video available.


A&R: The Music Submissions

Here at SFCritic we have been unusually fortunate to receive some truly excellent music submissions. For most people it is not everyday that your inbox fills up with not one, but dozens of moving/fun/jaw-dropping/truly confusing albums, singles, and videos, but for us it is. And it's awesome. We know that for any musician it is both necessary and difficult to put yourself out there, to be critiqued, and it is not a job we take lightly. We would like to give as many artists the opportunity to have their work reviewed as possible, but since this is basically a one-person job, we've decided to set a few ground rules to make it easy for you to get heard, and for us to keep our limited sanity.

So it is with great excitement that we present the SFCritic Music Submission Guidelines:
  • Please submit only full albums or EPs. We prefer zip files or streaming links. The better to hear you with, my dear.
  • Include a large, high-quality image of your album art. At least 500 x 500 pixels please.
  • Make sure to include a short biography of yourself/your band. Things to include: 1) Members' names and instruments, 2) geographical location, and 3) any description you can provide about your "sound."
  • If you would like us to include download links in the article please say so and make sure to include them in your message.
  • Just because we WANT to post about everything we receive does not mean that we WILL. Please don't cry if we skip yours.

News in Music Blogs

In an effort to define SFCritic into a streamlined, user-friendly content, we will be running the "News in Music Blogs," a weekly update of interesting blog posts, discussion topics, and event listings in the music blogging community. Think Largehearted Boy with a focus on San Francisco events, and only music topics. The catch, we want your voice. Read a post you want to share, have an event you think is appropriate for SFCritic, interested in continuing a larger online discussion, email us links, or comment below!

Bay Area

Yourstru.ly posted a great video of The Morning Benders recording their song "Excuses" at Different Fur Studio. Recently, SFCritic discussed Phil Spector's "wall of sound" notion, which is referenced in this video (read that here).

Noise Pop Festival 2010 is right around the corner. The film, music, and art festival highlights not only some of the premiering artists like The Dodos, Foreign Born, and We Were Promised Jetpacks, but also is housed at some of the coolest bars, venues, and shops throughout the Bay Area.

Judgement Day will be playing at Noise Pop at the Bottom of The Hill. Kata Rokkar explains more, including their Violin Hero!

Berkeley Place wrote a really great, and critical review of Vampire Weekend's Contra album.

SF's IndieFest is coming to an end. The music and film festival had a disco rollerskating party last weekend at Cell Space. This Friday they're putting on a Big Lebowski party at Cell Space.


Vampire Weekend did a cover of Rancid.

For those interested in SXSW, the many different outlets are announcing their personal parties including: Village Voice, Weekly Tape Deck, Terror Bird, The Bay Bridged and more to come.

Erykah Badu fans can download a taste of her new album at Sound Verite.

As I reported yesterday, the heated battle of music blogs and property rights has been rekindled. Song, by Toad put together a great article discussing the issues.


Blogger Removes Music Blogs

Pop Tart Sucks Toast and BillRocksCleveland, former music blogs hosted on Blogger, (like this blog), were both removed by Blogger. Poof! Gone! Years of posts instantly removed and deleted. The fight begins. Play your part, support the blogger.

The controversy stems from "violations of Blogger's DMCA agreement." A simple synopsis: posting copyright material for illegal consumption. The procedure: Blogger "notifies" (BillRocksCleveland claims he was never notified) the user, and registers the violation with the ChillingEffect.org. The accused has an opportunity to file a counter plea, submitting data that suggests his actions were legal. In this case, BillRocksClevand states that he was given approval by a music publicist.

In reaction to said events, the blogging community is taking action. At Elbo.ws, bloggers have been sympathizing with Bill, as well as offering their services. You can read this forum here. Bill has posted his claims denying the allegations on Blogger's Help Forum, which you can find here. Whether this will make much change, please support Bill and click "approve" his answer. Meanwhile, Matt at Earfarm set up a hashtag on Twitter to compile the relevant topics and articles concerning the issue, which you can follow here.

This is scary folks. If SFCritic is down in the next few weeks, know this, we're moving to WordPress. Any readers who have Web 2.0 knowledge and would be willing/able to share advice/help would be greatly appreciated.


Bonnaroo (not Bonnarroo) 2010 Lineup Announced

Tis the season for music festivals, and Tennessee's Bonnaroo is no exception. The three day festival takes place in Manchester from June 10-13th, and features an eclectic list of bands: Jay Z, The Flaming Lips (Performing Dark Side of The Moon), Tokyo Police Club, Jay Electronica, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Regina Spektor, Mayer Hawthorne & the Country, and the list goes on. The festival's broad range of group will surely satisfy an equally broad spectrum, but will also discourage some who might find themselves more inclined to a "niche" festival like Noise Pop or Coachella. General tickets started at $210 (already sold out)and go upwards of $250. For the full list of announced bands, see below:

Band List
The Avett Brothers
The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs perform “Dark Side of the Moon”
Medeski Martin and Wood
John Fogerty
Cross Canadian Ragweed
Ingrid Michaelson
The xx
Regina Spektor
Mayer Hawthorne & the County
Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers
Norah Jones
Monte Montgomery
Punch Brothers
Thievery Corporation
She & Him
Jimmy Cliff
Tokyo Police Club
Kid Cudi
Dr. Dog
Baaba Maal
Neon Indian
Zac Brown Band
The National
John Prine
Dave Matthews Band
Dave Rawlings Machine
Local Natives
Dropkick Murphys
Manchester Orchestra
Jeff Beck
Jay Electronica
The Postelles
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Damian Marley & Nas
Tenacious D
The Black Keys
Jamey Johnson
They Might Be Giants
The Entrance Band

A Night w/ The Antlers & St. Vincent

Dear reader,

I am a champ. Last night I managed to see both The Antlers at The Warfield and St. Vincent at The Great American Music Hall (GAMH). Timing was everything. Leaving during The Antler's last song, I made it within a minute of St. Vincent's performance. My legs are now sore from the seven blocks that I "power walked," though most likely people thought I was a scared white kid running through the Tenderloin. My diet of music blogs, PBRs, and attending shows does not prepare well for huffin' and puffin' down O'Farrel street.

The Antlers (interview found here) were opening for The Editors at the Warfield, one of the larger venues in San Francisco. The venue was empty, which meant the balcony, usually reserved for VIP, was open to the public. Sweet. The Antler's album, Hospice is heavily textured, layered with ambient noises that would be difficult to reproduce. Since the album's release, the band's arrangement has also shrunk. Tonight wasn't just about seeing one of 2009's biggest surprises, it was witnessing the not-so-straight-forward recreation live.

Maybe it was the pressure of a thirty minute set, the length of each track on Hospice (five minutes or more), the anxiety of lulling the audience to sleep, whatever the reason truly was, the tempo of every song was hastened. This was bad. On the album, Silberman's voice is subdued under a sea of noise yet his lyrics are clear to the focused listener. Live, his voice was drowned beneath the banging bass kicks and ambient noises. It was not his range, because as he reached the hooks or the "crescendos" in verses his voice was completely audible.

On "Bear" as Siblerman sung "We're too old, were not old at all," the drum strong armed the vocals. The song was lopsided until the end as Silberman hit high falsetto notes regaining center ground. The dynamics weren't always bad, helping songs like "Kettering." The contrasts of minimalist verses were emphasized as Silberman raised his guitar high, slashing it down as the crashing cymbal punctuated the hammering. It should be noted, the audio difficulties might be the fault of the sound guy or due this being the group's first performance with The Editors.

While I wasn't disappointed by The Antler's set, I was ready and eager to see St. Vincent (interview found here). The GAMH was sold-out. The lively crowd could not get enough of Annie Clark, hooting, hollering, and stomping on the ground in applause between tracks. Playing mostly from Actor, the group also played "Jesus Saves, I Spend," and a thrillingly dark encore of "My Lips Are Red." Reaffirming what I already knew, St. Vincent is one of the best live shows. While The Antlers struggled to reproduced their album, St. Vincent improved upon their recordings inserting alternate chord progressions, and different instrumental arrangements.

Midway through their set, Annie Clark stood alone on the stage solely illuminated. She had a tradition she had to uphold since the last time she performed at the GAMH. She wanted to say what she had seen earlier that day. The last time she performed, she told of a "gentlemen" who picked his scabs before eating them. This time she spotted a man urinating on a tree in broad day light. Clark smiled, and remarked something like "Oh San Francisco." "In response a member of the audience replied "I went to the bathroom this time!" Whether this was uniquely San Francisco, a description of any major city or simply a facet of the Tenderloin, who knows. One thing I do know, see St. Vincent if you ever get the chance.


Official Video St. Vincent' "Laughing With A Mouthful of Blood"

"Laughing With A Mouth of Blood" is my favorite single from St. Vincent's new album, Actor. The official video was released at the end of last week. The video is another addition to thun­der­Ant's Fem­i­nist Book­store se­ries, An­nie does an in­store per­for­mance at Wom­en and Wom­en First, the most fem­i­nist of all fem­i­nist book­stores.

St Vincent Interview with SFCritic

Reality as we know it never exactly is as it appears. For St. Vincent’s Annie Clark these opposing forces have a balance that can be created. No, the Manhattan based singer and guitarist is not also a physicists, but rather is captivated to say the least, with duality of contrasts both sonically and lyrically. With Actor, Clark’s imagination ties dreams with realities, as she began creating the album while watching her favorite movies like Badlands, Pierrot le Fou, The Wizard of Oz, Stardust Memories and Sleeping Beauty. From her apartment in Manhattan, SFCritic interviewed Annie Clark by phone before her show at The Great American Music Hall on February 8th.

SFCritic (SFC): Now don’t get me wrong you have a beautiful face, but what is the idea behind having a close up portrait for both album covers?

Annie Clark (AC): Well thank you. The idea was not to present it as a glamor shot or sexy. The idea was to be a kind of bizarre portrait where you don’t know what expression is being communicated. I was following the lead of album covers in the 70s, where people like Todd Rundgren and Bob Dylan, throw your face on it and put your name on it.

SFC: I remembered you joking about being the only girl on the bus while touring when you played at Bimbo’s last time you were in San Francisco. Do you feel like one of the boys on the road? What kind of shenanigans do you get into?

AC: I think I am more pragmatic, not that pragmatic is a male or female trait. I like touring. Honestly, all the guys who I play with are really sweet, and nobody is smelly or gross. Nobody takes their socks off in the van. It’s like boy scouts, and I’m the only girl scout on a camp out.

SFC: Do you find that in a male dominated rock industry that men remain surprised when you slash and rock out on the guitar?

AC: I try not to really focus on that. I don’t often think of my gender, so it surprises me when other people think about it.

SFC: That question arises from a past interview with you that I read where you were discussing being constantly compared to other females, though your inspirations might lie elsewhere and were not strictly limited to female musicians.

AC: Often if I’m I thinking “oh, I want to go after this sound” or I’m drawing inspirations from places it’s all over the map. It is true that often time people will just make that singular comparison. “Oh, she’s a female so she must sound like this whole host of contemporary females” when in fact you might have something more artistically inline with a male fronted band. I think that’s the simplistic, reductive comparison, but it doesn’t keep me up at night.
SFC: What intrigues you about contrasts? Whether sonic or physical?

AC: I think that’s how life is. The opposing forces are not fighting each other, but fighting to keep the equilibrium. We all are kind of involved in this thing playing out our roles in order to keep the equilibrium.

SFC: I’ve read that your music serves to create a world you wished existed. What are some things you wish could come to fruition in reality but only exist in your music?

AC: Oh. Oh dear. There is nothing that exists that couldn’t be found in my music, or throughout any other cases of music.

SFC: It’s not about the history of music it’s about your own personal score.

AC: I like the windy aspect. I like the sort of chasing the fairy tale. I was rereading some of the fairy tales I read as a kid, and when you’re a kid you’re like “oh they got eaten by the witch, ok,” but as an adult you’re like “whoa, this is a really creepy story, what’s going on?” That’s horrifying. Why do we send our children to sleep with images of witches boiling alive that’s bonkers. I also like that dichotomy, the magic, the mystery.

SFC: How did movies like Woody Allen and Snow White translate into music for you on Actor?

AC: Woody Allen is such a music fan there is music all over his films a lot of Genjo Rinehart, Charlie Parker, and American music from that era. Snow White, obviously that’s a musical, and with films like Disney Films there was something not only with the imagery, but with the literally the sound of your childhood or your first ideas of what magic is that’s kind of encapsulated in those scores. The sweeping orchestral thing, and the mellifluous melismatic melodies, I really love that kind of thing—it gets to my heart.

SFC: As you were saying in the case of Woody Allen is it the soundtrack or a scene that you grasp upon first that helped you create Actor?

AC: With each movie it was sort of different. Sometimes I would take a cue from the emotional resonance of a movie, and I would say “Ok, this is a complicated story about complicated people, how can I write my own story about complicated people or simple story about complicated people.” Some of it was, for example with the Wizard of Oz, I guess I won’t say which song, well no, I’ll just say it’s the intro of “Marrow,” was kind of like how could I rescore the scene where everything was texicolor. What is that like?

SFC: For the next album on that note is there any other mediums you are using for inspiration?

AC: Currently, I’m interested in music that isn’t so imposing that sort of invites you to have an imagination along with it, but as far as the next record will be I have no idea.

SFC: I know you’ve said you’d love to be in a Woody Allen film.

AC: I would but I think I would be a little too old to be a love interest.

SFC: Well that was my question, would you be the objection of affection, the crazed ex-wife, or whomever else you’d want to play?

AC: I would want to play Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories or Diane Keaton in
Annie Hall. Like I said, I’m twenty-seven he likes them a little bit younger.

SFC: I don’t think that’s too old.

AC: He’s probably seventy or so by now.

SFC: So, you’ve stated that the narratives of your songs are like film scores. Is there one that particularly resonates to a personal experience of yours?

AC: I think really all of them. I connect with the “Marrow” idea which is really inspired by the Wizard of Oz “if I only had a heart.” I wish I could build myself to be this impenetrable strong thing at all times. Really, I would say all of them. I’m sorry that’s not a good answer.

SFC: I saw that you performed with Andrew Bird while in France, and toured with Grizzly Bear, is there any chance of future collaborations with these groups?

AC: Nothing in stone. I don’t think I can say, but potentially yes! How’s that for an answer?

SFC: What is your greatest hope for your music?

AC: I just want to keep making music for my life, and never have to do a day job.

SFC: I heard about your past experience as a flower delivery woman. That didn’t go over so well.

AC: Yeah, I am woefully inept.
St. Vincent will perform at The Great American Music Hall on February 8th. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7pm, and the show begins at 8pm. This article is republished from SF Station.


Friday Free Mp3s: Beach House, Crookers, Fresh Breath Committee, and Amp Live

(EXCLUSIVE) The duo of Fo Chief and Kontrast of the steadily rising Fresh Breath Committee have taken one big leap higher or as they would say, "So Fuckin' High. Blown out of mind." The entitled track, "Unwind" features fellow FBC mate, Catch Lungs. "Unwind" will be released sometime soon on a mixtape tentatively called, "Cannonball Soup" (A reference to Cannonball Adderly I wonder?). The track sees Kontrast take on a deeper, "sexier" style and features a dope beat reminiscent of Pete Rock's work with Ini. Holla!
Download Here: Kontrast & Fo Chief (Ft. Catch Lungs): "Unwind"

A while back Crookers did a remix of Kid Cudi's "Day N Nite," which put them on my radar. "We Love Animals" will not serve the palate of everyone. It might even frighten you. The pulsating rhythm builds to an unbearable almost irritating pace before breaking into a dance beat with kicks and drums. Think late night: club-drug-ass-grinding-sweat-dripping-holy-shit-WHOA! That's "We Love Animals."
Crookers: "We Love Animals"

Beach House has one of the biggest buzzes going in the MP3 world these days. The slow, somber-folky rock is what everyone is talking about. I'm not sure I completely understand--yet, but why should I deprive my loyal readers of "best thing of 2010."
Beach House: "Gila"

Amp Live, better known as the production half of Bay Area's Zion I, has put together another lively, drum-bass, hip hop, techno compilation entitled, Eskimo Snow. After receiving flack from Radiohead, but huge praise across the board for Rainydayz album, a remix of Radiohead's Kid A, the dude is steadily building the following he deserves. Check out the Rainydayz album here and stay tuned for the new EP.
Amp Live: "WHY?-Bezerkley?"

Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

Tickets for Pitchfork Music Festival go on sale today at 12PM CST! You can snag them here. Talk about a deal, tickets are only $40 per day and $90 for the three day passes. Seriously, SXSW in comparison is $700 for four days. Unfortunately, though the hipster music festival is reasonable it does not include a PBR with purchase--though rumor suggest that if you wear Ray Bans and low-rise jeans they might give you a discount, or you might just get laughed at in Hyde Park. At this point the full lineup has not been announced (likely the reason the tickets are so cheap), but Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Raekwon, Here We Go Magic, St. Vincent, Lightening Bolt, Cass McCombs and Sleigh Bells will all be in attendance. You will also receive obnoxious criticism that can be unwarranted, and is somewhat pretentious from Pitchfork staff if you look at them funny or say anything negative about their reviews (sorry had to make a little jab, just a little).


A&R: The Music Submissions

Man/Miracle - The Shape of Things

There is something terribly invigorating about finding out there is an awesome band in your backyard. Man/Miracle, based in Oakland, CA, will give any Bay Area resident (present company included) that lovin' feeling. Their debut album, The Shape of Things, is a high-energy romp through familiar sounds. Remember the irreverent lyrics and global influences that blew you away the first time you listened to The Talking Heads? How about the forceful guitar, high hats, and thick-as-pudding bass that made all the guys jump into one another at your first basement punk show? Ever listen to The Cure so much, you convinced yourself only their New Wave angst could express how you truly felt inside? Those elements are all present and accounted for on the album. It has its indie rock moments that recall Vampire Weekend, but with a heavy dose of punk noise and a harder edge. What it lacks in complexity in parts, it more than makes up for in fun and weird wonderfulness.

opens for Rogue Wave at Bottom of the Hill February 24, 2010 as part of the Noise Pop festival. (21+, 8pm.)

Sounds Like: The now tragically defunct Plastic Constellations out of MPLS, MN
Listen To: Hot Sprawl, Above the Salon

The Novel Ideas - The Sky is a Field!

The Novel Ideas are a band out of Newton, Mass. The Sky is a Field! is their first full-length, and is self-released (download or stream from their website). Its main focus is on vocals, a pleasant harmony of earnest, if slightly male crooning with delicate female support. They label themselves as a rock-folk outfit, which is, perhaps apt if not entirely helpful given the current slew of new releases claiming such a title. The horns, slide guitars, and violins are used sparingly, providing either drama or lightness at times which is lacking for most of the album. The lyrics clearly center around the feelings that only love (or lack thereof) can conjure, and often make the album feel more than a little emo. On "Julian Carax" the pleading vocals call to mind the misery of Dashboard Confessional. The following track "A Breath of Fresh Air," is a more energetic, hopeful track with a rhythm you might even want to dance to. The album is good enough, and certainly without a clear misstep, but for the most part the problem with The Novel Ideas is that they just aren't that novel.

Sounds Like: Dashboard meets Headlights
Listen To: Adrian Blues, A Breath of Fresh Air


Stream Gil Scott-Heron's New Album

Some call Gil Scott-Heron the godfather of hip hop, but no one will dispute the man is a legend of spoken word and a key figure in hip hop's development. Sixteen years have passed since his last album. The wait is over. The album, cleverly entitled, I'm New Here (because this man shouldn't be new to anyone, and if he is--well shame on you) is available for streaming at our buddy Nialler 9, which you can find here.

Check out below: "Me And The Devil" from I'm New Here

*Thanks to my girl Nati for suggesting this clip.*

For those unfamiliar, maybe you've heard of this:
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" from Now and Then

Featured Artist: The Cave Singers

The Cave Singers are a band I'm surprised more people aren't talking about. The trio from Seattle, lead by vocalist Peter Quirk have developed their sound into a folksy comparison of Fleet Foxes with undertones of Bob Dylan. Have I got your attention? Their sophomore album released at the end of 2009 (Aug 18th) Welcome Joy (Matador Records) sees the band developing a softer sound on tracks like "Beach House," venturing away from their more progressive, and bluesy tracks like "Dancing on Our Graves" from their debut album, Invitation Songs. Both tracks highlight that The Cave Singers are not just a band to watch, they're a band to listen to NOW. For those Bay Area folks, the group will be playing in San Francisco at The Independent on March 9th.

You can download some of The Cave Singer's songs at BetterPropaganda.

The Cave Singers: "Beach House"

The Cave Singers: "Dancing On Our Graves"


Mos Def and Jay Electronica at The Independent 2/3

Mos Def and Jay Electronica will be performing at The Indepedent tomorrow night (2.3) as a fundraiser in support of the victims in Haiti. The performance was announced earlier today, and I thought I'd share it with all my loyal readers. Tickets are $29.50, which is a far cry from the $40-60 the duo requested (though the bill then also included Badu) the last time they performed at the Davies Symphony Hall (a much less intimate environment, to say the least). Tickets will ultimately sell-out before most of you read this, but just in case, take a look here.


Yeasayer's "Ampling Alp" Video

Last Friday in our weekly "Free Friday Mp3s," I touted the Yeasayer's single "Ampling Alp" from their new album Odd Blood . My friends at betterPropaganda just published the video for the single, which I suggest you check out here.

Interview with The Antlers: Peter Silberman

The loss of a loved one to death, divorce, or breakup is traumatic. An experience singer Peter Silberman of The Antlers decided to share on the group’s new album, Hospice. After moving to Brooklyn, Silberman became lost in an unhealthy relationship. He found inspiration through Sylvia, the fictionalized story of the life and suicide of author Leonard Michael’s ex-wife. As one of 2009’s most personal and positively received albums, Hospice has deeply resonated with indie fans much in the same light as Bon Iver’s secluded winter debut. Before their February 8th performance at The Warfield, SFCritic spoke by phone with Peter Silberman.

SFCritic (SFC): What was it like when you first performed this album to a crowd? What were you feeling?

Peter Silberman (PS): Well, it was very different. We first started playing the songs from the record a while before it came out, but it was a very different point in our career. We didn’t really have very many people coming out to the shows, so it was kind of a strange feeling playing these songs, caring about them, having them be so fresh, and also, sort of fall on deaf ears for a while.

SFC: What portions of the songs were written by you individually?

PS: The story was written by me. As far as the recording, the framework, and the sort of ambiance were done by me. Michael and Darby they sort of gave it shape and structure.

SFC: Has the repetition lost some of the meaning of the words for you? Is it strange now that you’re more disconnected from the events as time has passed, but now the audiences are larger and more connected?

PS: I would have expected it to mean less to me. In a way I do, but it always feels like it’s a part of me. Because of the response we got from the record, the people coming out to the shows, and the sort of the connection we feel with the audience, it has taken on this new meaning because it’s become everyone else’s story. I didn’t want to hold on to this myself forever. It’s not about having some demons in your past it’s more about having a shared experience with people.

SFC: Has the narrative in the way that you see it changed in light of the public and private’s perception and interpretation?

PS: I think people have liberties to decide what the record is about, and I’m totally okay with that. Maybe I could to listen to someone’s interpretation of it and think, “well that’s not what happened or referring to,” but it doesn’t really matter.

SFC: I’m asking more if your own narrative has changed now that you’ve heard other people’s interpretations.

PS: Yeah I’d say, as far as the writing on that record or writing now?

SFC: Well you’re actually jumping ahead of me now. It was a two part question, so yeah, that was going to be the follow up.

PS: In the past, I sort of look at it as a younger version of myself. I’m not much older than I was, but it does feel like looking at a picture of yourself from a few years ago. It’s still recognizably you, but there are a lot of things about you that are different. I look at that record and I can’t imagine making another record like it, but I also don’t want to make another record like it.
SFC: In terms of the future where do you go next?

PS: We’re building our next record right now. Hospice was really an outpouring of pages, pages, pages of lyrics. In order to challenge myself, I’m trying to go very much in the opposite direction to see what can be said with the fewest words. We’ll see.

SFC: I read about how you created the cacophonous bell noise on “Atrophy,” by stringing several bells upon a standing lap and layering the sample. What is your creative musical process like? Can anything become a new instrument?

PS: I think anything can. The trick is to make sure it’s not gimmicky. You don’t want to have a song where it sounds like he’s playing a garbage can. He’s hitting his shoe on the floor. I think that can be the problem sometimes, it’s a little too cutesy when it is household objects like a tea kettle. For me it’s about the sound you’re trying to get from it, and the means doesn’t really matter.

SFC: Are there any other examples you might give? Like you were hitting the tea kettle and were like this will make a great sound.

PS: There’s actually, you can hear this creaking sound, it’s very faint. I think it’s at the end of “Wake,” and it sort of works with the mood of everything, but it was kind of an accident. It was the sound from the chair that I was sitting in that I’ve had for ten years. To me it always sounds like something hanging somewhere, swinging back and forth, for whatever reason that felt appropriate.

SFC: What part of Leonard Michael’s book Sylvia resonated with you?

PS: The weird thing about that book, I was given that book right when I was coming out of the relationship that Hospice is about. Just a lot of similarities to an experience I’d just been through, I’d say two weeks prior.

SFC: How so?

PS: It’s one of those situations that I don’t think is a rare thing necessarily, people often come across books and movies and feel like it’s speaking to them. The end of that book, that part hit really hard. The last page of it is what inspired “Epilogue,” very specifically, this sort of being haunted while trying to sleep by this thing from the past.

SFC: It seems to make sense that “Epilogue” was the first song written on the album. Life usually works out starting from the end and working backwards.

PS: Yeah, I remember writing it and knowing that it was going to be the last song on the album. It was sort of like I had to write the ending to work sort of backwards to get to that point.

SFC: Given that your goal was to create the songs on Hospice during a period of isolation, how did you find a balanced perspective between the protagonist and antagonist?

PS: Well the record wasn’t made during a period of isolation. That quote [about] isolation is referring to the events within Hospice. That’s really about a closed up relationship, a relationship when you cut out the people in your life because you don’t understand yourself anymore, and you don’t know you anymore. As far as finding the balance it was a lot of just digging up memories and having something be so fresh in my mind that could transform into a different story.

SFC: Did the project change after its initial independent release in March of 09 versus the remastered version on French Kiss?

PS: Well the remastering was the only way it was changed. It changed the sound. It opened it a lot. It was a bit muddier sounding before. It had a bit more air this way.

SFC: With all this unexpected success was it ever discomforting sharing these personal feelings on such a public scale, and now that are you are on French Kiss are things different?

PS: It was sort of a situation that I felt that when I was done with it, I could either throw it out or get it out to as many people as possible. The success of the record wasn’t going to be how many people bought it, but it was going to be how many people heard it and actually felt a connection with it. I think it ended up with the best possible outcome because it gave this record a strength that without it was just sort of narcissism.

The Antlers perform at The Warfield on February 8th. Tickets are $23-$25. Doors open at 7pm, and the show begins at 7:30pm.

This article is republished from SF Station.
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