Monday, April 30, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
3. The Inq. Recent winners of GenSF’s Battle of the Bands thanks to their danceable garage jams, which narrowly beat the omnipresent St. Valentinez’ impeccable arrangements. Without a doubt the most promising young band in San Francisco.
4. Carletta Sue Kay. Randy Walker and his lovably goofy yet heart-breakingly sincere songs have been around for a while, but his profile is increasing steadily--and will likely skyrocket with the release of Incongruent, his upcoming album as/with his persona/band Carletta Sue Kay.
5. Comodo Complex. The Inq’s weirder, druggier, George Rosenthal-produced buddies released a promising debut EP last year and have debuted even better, stranger new material live.
8. Reid Saw A Ghost. Though relatively unknown west of the Bay Bridge, this wacky Fremont band’s ridiculously fun Mad Scary EP may bring their kitchen-sink punk rock to the fore of the Bay Area teen music consciousness.
9. Eager Eyes. Formerly In The Attic, these Alameda dance-rockers and Finish Ticket allies are the only band on this list who might not be around in a few months, as its members are drifting increasingly close to college age. Catch ‘em while you still can, but if not, they have a great self-titled EP on BandCamp.
10. Tumbleweed Wanderers. The Tumbleweed Wanderers project is now a year old, so we can officially stop mentioning the Audiophiles in discussions of their music. (...Oops.) Their first year on earth has seen them make more quality, distinctly Bay Area rock n’ roll than many bands have in a lifetime.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
EYES LIKE OCEANS
“From Russia With Love”
Seriously, what? “From Russia With Love” begins not unlike many other Eyes Like Oceans songs, with basic acoustic guitar, Miles Atkins’ overpronounced vocals, and a Garage Band drum loop, before the MIDI strings kick in and bring the song to what seems like its musical and emotional climax. Then, all of a sudden, the guitars shift from acoustic to electric, and there’s a fucking metalcore breakdown--and like a ray of sunlight, that surprisingly beautiful MIDI string section kicks in again. Metalcore/deathcore is one of those genres I’m not too familiar with, but it’s safe to say this isn’t a particularly well-executed breakdown--and it comes right after one of the most beautiful moments in any Eyes Like Oceans songs. So why does it work? Am I just used to Atkins’ idiosyncrasies? Is that cheesy grin on my face because I like it or because it’s so laughably bad? And would the song work as well without it or does it somehow, inexplicably, against all odds, make the tune? Or maybe it works after all and I’m just not expecting it?
The one thing I can infallibly give Atkins credit for on this song is having the balls to not only do this (this could have gone bad soooo easily) but sound earnest while not sounding as if he’s trying too hard. It doesn’t come across as tongue-in-cheek, but it’s too sincere to be nothing more than parody. I am reminded of “Beth/Rest,” Bon Iver’s experiment in unabashed ‘80s cheese-pop which actually ended up being one of the most beautiful songs ever written, but at least it didn’t have the WTF element present here. And at the same time, the placement of the breakdown right after the most emotional and powerful part of the song seems to inexplicably work.
In summation, I like this song. You won’t.
Note: the - rating can be interpreted as either a zero or as a testament to how some music just can't be evaluated with a few stupid stars.
Monday, April 9, 2012
TY SEGALL & WHITE FENCE
“I Am Not A Game”
* * * *
BEST IN THE WEST
The first single from Hair, Ty Segall’s upcoming collaboration with Tim Presley’s White Fence, is the sort of almost novelty-like tribute to ‘60s garage-psych that every Bay Area band seems to be doing and that I have quite honestly become sick of. But don’t let that tacky little organ fool you: “I Am Not A Game” is a reminder of just why the world became so interested in San Francisco garage-rock in the first place. The duo uses lo-fi production squarely to their advantage, shrink-wrapping the vocals in piercing distortion to emphasize the eerie beauty of the background vocals, and their nostalgic touches (save the organ) are hardly tacky--just check out that epic, Woodstock-worthy guitar solo at the end. It also has that certain drive that was lacking on Segall’s most recent album, 2011’s Goodbye Bread. The chorus first comes in before you expect it to, then long after, and both times it is unbelievably satisfying when it hits. And then that guitar solo unwinds for miles and miles.
* * *
Last week, SF Rebirth reviewed EELED, Inq frontman Dillon Lee’s solo debut as Tailed Ghost, which Lee has since expanded and combined with material for a planned second EP titled Dream Gurls to form a full album. The Dream Gurls material is significantly more sophisticated and developed than that which was previously featured on EELED, especially “Suzi,” which mixes electronics with Lee’s vocals and guitarwork as effectively as EELED standout “Pairadox.” However, both EPs come across as series of electronic sketches Lee made more for himself rather than the music-listening universe. But let us not write off Tailed Ghost; the project seems to be developing rapidly, and my eye is trained on it as well as on Lee’s even more promising main project.
Our Love Is Hurting Us EP
San Francisco’s Christopher Dexter Greenspan was one of the original proponents of the much-maligned “witch house” genre when it surfaced about two years ago. It’s safe to say the genre’s staying power has been nonexistent, and the genre’s more open-minded adherents have moved on to better things (Balam Acab and... um... well, I guess just Balam Acab), but Greenspan, a.k.a. oOoOO, still stubbornly clings to the mutant goth-R&B formula he patented on earlier EPs (oOoOO has no full-length albums). Even despite help from Berlin producer Butterclock, the songs on oOoOO’s Our Love Is Hurting Us EP are unremarkable at best, sounding like tired reiterations of his earlier work that go nowhere both on a small and a large scale. Though sticking to what one does best isn’t always a bad thing, one must also remind their listeners it is what they do best, and I think Greenspan could certainly do better, even in such an anachronistic context.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Eager Eyes EP
* * * 1/2
Ladies and gentlemen: the other teen rock n’ roll band from Alameda! While their inevitably arena-bound buddies Finish Ticket like their music as big as their ambitions, Eager Eyes (formerly In The Attic) play lean, modest pop rock with a post-punk bent. Tasteful is the word to describe Eager Eyes; their arrangements are neither dense nor sparse, filled with subtle textural touches (the electric piano on “First Impressions,” the ballpark organ that closes standout “Alarms”), and these songs are brief and unpretentious. Their pop appeal is cemented by Chris Maier’s warm, instantly likeable voice, which finds a nice middle ground between ennui-laced indie drawl and sexy teen-pop croon. However, every three-minute pop single needs a memorable hook, and earworms are not Eager Eyes’ strength--these tunes flow into your ears very pleasantly but never quite stick.
* * *
Dillon Lee of teen garage-and-ganja-rock outfit The Inq has stepped out on his own with a mini-album of eclectic avant-electro experiments. His most effective tracks are the ones that combine his vocals and guitar with electronics, particularly the opener “Pairadox” and the Deerhunter-ish closing ballad “Slow Tides.” The rest are mostly simple electronic tracks that sound like rudimentary hip-hop beats or, at best, something Xiu Xiu might construct (I would love to hear “Eye Mist” with a Jamie Stewart vocal). “Pairadox” is by far the best moment here, a warped electro-pop jam that recalls chillwave pioneer Neon Indian’s recent experiments with video-game bleeps.
* * 1/2
The songs on Oakland post-rockers Broken Cities’ second release, the three-song, twenty-minute mini-album Parable, are the definition of slow-burners. Each song begins with an ominous, moody dirge and, over five to eleven minutes, builds up to a massive, crashing climax worthy of the giant, building-consuming flames on the album’s sleeve. Pulling off this sort of large-scale drama is difficult, and while Broken Cities have the potential to do so quite effectively, the album’s production often counteracts the intended effect. While the instruments blended together quite effectively on the band’s more lo-fi debut, 2010‘s Flux, Parable’s production brings out the loud, dramatic climaxes while simultaneously muting them, making what could have been fantastic post-rock bombast seem like little more than disjunct dynamic switches.