Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SF Rebirth/20,000 Leagues presents Rock N' Roll Calendar

The Rock N' Roll Calendar is a new, Facebook-based feature presented by SF Rebirth/20,000 Leagues. A rotating staff of seven musicians, journalists, and people from the Bay Area music scene pick songs for each day of the year and post them on this page.

Our current staff is as follows:

SUNDAYS: Evan Greenwald (journalist, Handshake member)
MONDAYS: Rena Simon-Igra (visual artist, guitarist)
TUESDAYS: Sam Crocker (Madders vocalist/guitarist, journalist)
WEDNESDAYS: Daniel Bromfield (yours truly)
THURSDAYS: Angel DeSousa (journalist, insider)
FRIDAYS: Nick Perloff (musician, solo and with Adolescent Friction)
SATURDAYS: Mitchell Mankin (composer, saxophonist)

5 Random Things: October 27, 2010 (50th post!)

1. In non-musical news, the Giants are going to the World Series.

2. Lou Lou & the Guitarfish have lost charismatic drummer Nathan "Master" Pastor to college. Guitarist George Rosenthal has switched to drums, and Jimmy Niven has stepped up to take the lead.

3. Young The Giant's self-titled debut is #51 on iTunes. While this band is actually from Orange County, their ties to the Bay Area Rebirth scene (the South Bay contingent in particular) are so strong they are part of our regular coverage.

4. Speaking of lineup changes and the South Bay contingent, Please Do Not Fight have suffered the losses of two longtime members--multi-instrumentalist Erin Keely and drummer Kubes. They recently played their final show with both members at the Rickshaw Stop.

5. Unbelievably fantastic garage-rock band Adolescent Friction are changing their name and drummer (new name and replacement unknown as of yet).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SoCal gulf n' rollers evoke Nico, clear waters

Young the Giant
* * *

Young the Giant (formerly the Jakes) is a SoCal band that writes reverb-drenched songs with a beachy, distinctly Californian vibe. I know what you’re probably thinking--yet another lo-fi, surf-influenced hipster group, along the lines of Beach Fossils or Best Coast. Actually, Young the Giant represent quite a different side of the beach-pop spectrum--they’re light on Ventures guitars and bored-teen lyrics, choosing instead to evoke the more relaxed and carefree side of the coast.

Maybe when they were young, they were the beach kids who played in the water with inflatable balls while Sublime smoked by the outhouses and Nathan Williams tossed his twentieth joint into the bonfire, sick of everyone else. While their streetwise buddies used what they heard blasting from clubs and low riders on the street as the points of reference for their music, the YTG guys likely studied the annals of rock history, listening to Chelsea Girls and Here’s Little Richard between their studies and their hours of carefree fun. Sameer Gadhia, the group’s lead singer, was probably a Velvet Underground fan, and his speech-app vocal delivery bears more than a passing similarity to that of Nico.

This doesn’t mean the group is not in tune with their native land. The polyrhythms suggest Latin music at times, and flashes of L.A. rave and San Diego noise pop up in their songs sometimes. But we must remember that this band is not from Los Angeles--they’re from Newport Beach, an Orange County town that stands as one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Young the Giant is primarily interested in evoking images of margaritas and clear waters rather than blunts and libertines. This actually serves the group well, as there is no sense of whiny pretention in their music. And they have the intelligence and chops to sufficiently steer clear of Jimmy Buffett territory.

And while this is all good and fine, Young the Giant’s self-titled is certainly not a remarkable album. There are, in fact, a number of great songs (“My Body" and "Cough Syrup" are the best), but for the most part, the tunes here are rather forgettable and melt into each other to create what is not cohesion but rather a drab blur. These boys, it seems, need to have a good night on the town once in a while--go to a party, have some drinks, get some pizza at 1 AM, and maybe even scream vengeance on humanity once in a great while.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The SHE's, Holy Shit, Girls @ The Fillmore

The SHE's capped off a week most teenage bands could only dream of (release of a new EP, shout outs from Best Coast and the Morning Benders) by opening for Girls at the Fillmore. The power-pop quartet brought the house down with songs from their new
Surfer Boys EP, as well as some old favorites and new, as-of-yet unrecorded tunes. Although the youngest band there by at least ten years, the group proved themselves more than a match for the twenty-thirty-something big boys.

Holy Shit, one of the few well-known non-Canadian indie rock bands with an expletive in their name, came next with a set filled with extended, slightly chillwaved jams with long solos and instrumental sections. Flamboyant singer Matt Fishbeck's high, echo-affected voice bounced off the walls of the Fillmore like tennis balls over howling guitars and loungey synths. Girls frontman Chris Owens and unbelievably amazing DIY-popper Ariel Pink--both original Holy Shit members--were sadly nowhere to be found.

San Francisco's favorite indie-roots-rock crew Girls (named one of the best bands of 2009 by Rolling Stone, SPIN, and Pitchfork) came out with bouquets on their microphones and on their minds as they played through a set heavy on slow, organ-heavy ballads, augmented by a horn section and more rhythm guitarists than you could shake a lily at. The light show was particularly dramatic during their set, switching between roving spotlights and deep colors. The set's finale found Owens bellowing over a wall of smoke and vividly flashing strobe lights--a veritable thunderstorm.

5 Random SHE's-Related Things

1. The SHE's played their biggest show yet on October 15, 2010, opening for Girls at the Fillmore along with Holy Shit.

2. The SHE's' live cover of "When I'm With You," by SoCal alt-surf-girl group-rockers Best Coast, has appeared on the latter band's official Facebook page, which is nearing 10,000 members as of the time of this writing. Alas, the cover was not well-received by Best Coast fans.

3. The SHE's were featured on Bay Bridged October 12, with Girls frontman Chris Owens adding his opinion on the group.

4. The SHE's have finally beaten the Psychotherapists in terms of FB fan count. The SHE's have 487 fans as of now; the Psychos, 455.

5. The SHE's have had a fucking amazing week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

5 Random Things: October 12, 2010

1. South Bay coffee-rockers Please Do Not Fight recently saw the departure of longtime keyboardist/vocalist Erin Keely. After an October 24 show at the Rickshaw Stop with Bird By Bird, the Girlfriend Season, and Happy Body Slow Brain, drummer Kubes will also be departing. In a blog entry on the Please Do Not Fight website, bandleader Zen Zenith assures the band will continue, although they may take a hiatus for a while.

2. The SHE's have released their second EP, Surfer Boys, consisting of the three singles they released earlier in the year.

3. Foolish Ways will no longer be playing with BrokeNCYDE/Millionaires, but the band was recently on MTV.

4. Young the Giant's first post-Jakes album will drop October 25, 2010.

5. I know it's old but...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This October's Top Breakthroughs

1. Screamo-disco duo Foolish Ways will be playing with BrokeNCYDE and Millionaires at the Modesto Virtual next month. More details later.

2. While the members of Alameda alt-pop ensemble Finish Ticket are off at college, Live 105 has been playing their single "We'll Be Okay" in regular circulation (including on a SoundCheck with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig as a guest), and their album is now sitting happily in the station's archives.

3. As you all know by now, The SHE's will be opening for Girls at the Fillmore.

4. Handshake's Evan Greenwald boldly decided to toss a demo onstage during Arcade Fire's recent stop in San Francisco. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne looked more than happy to see it, and chances are the band will give it a good listen.

5. Local freakscene favorites Maus Haus and the Mumlers will be playing Treasure Island Music Festival.