Will York

Firestarters

Mutant dance met no-wave noise in the hands of Toy Killers
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"I've always been a serious musician," says drummer and multi-instrumentalist M.E. Miller, "so I hate to be thought of as some fool who just created havoc."

Miller's old band the Toy Killers created plenty of havoc with their music, as showcased on the recent CD retrospective The Unlistenable Years (ugEXPLODE), which draws on live and studio recordings from their early 1980s peak.

Co-founded by Miller and fellow percussionist Charles K. Read more »

Hater aid

The Year in Music 2008: I Hate New Music, but does new music suck?
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When I saw the promo blurb for rock critic Dave Thompson's new book I Hate New Music (Backbeat) a couple of months ago, I figured I'd found a kindred spirit — someone who could explain once and for all why U2 and the Foo Fighters were evil, Radiohead was hopelessly overrated, and the Kings of Leon or whoever were irrelevant. Someone who could articulate why even a bad Humble Pie or Thin Lizzy album — you know, like Renegade (Warner Bros., 1981) — is likely to be more memorable and entertaining than this week's featured review on Pitchfork. Read more »

Industrial strength

Few bands inspire as many different reactions as Slovenian collective Laibach
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Filmed during their 2004 US tour, Laibach's Divided States of America DVD (Mute) gives a good idea of the freak show that comes out of the woodwork to see the group's rare performances.

The DVD focuses on the tense political climate and general ugliness of America during the weeks following George W. Bush's reelection, and there's enough sardonic anti-American sentiment in it to satisfy anyone who contemplated moving to Canada on Nov. 3, 2004. Read more »

At the Gates again

The Gothenburg band returns from the dead -- to rock
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There was a time, maybe two decades ago, when a subgenre called melodic death metal would have been considered a ridiculous oxymoron on par with something like smooth industrial or power–New Age. Read more »

Earth, here and now

The Seattle group grounds itself in twang and drone
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"I'm a big fan of Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton and Merle Haggard's guitarist, Roy Nichols. I also like a lot of western swing, like Hank Thompson and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Jerry Reed. Waylon Jennings is one of my favorite guitar players."

Listening to Dylan Carlson rattle off a list of his favorite country pickers might seem a little strange. After all, this is the guy who practically invented the drone-metal genre in the early 1990s as the leader of Sub Pop outcasts Earth. Read more »

Sun City Girls still shine

Alan and Richard Bishop present "The Brothers Unconnected"
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PREVIEW When Sun City Girls drummer Charles Gocher died of cancer last year, it was a shock to fans of the long-running band. The group hadn't publicized his illness, and they seemed to be as active as ever during the few years prior to this sad, surprising news. Following Gocher's death, the remaining members — brothers Alan and Rick Bishop — immediately disbanded the group, which had the same three-piece lineup since 1981. Read more »

Zen and the art of extreme-metal maintenance

Meditating on Meshuggah and music that transcends lousy cover art
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Meshuggah's obZen (Nuclear Blast) is not the first example of a quality album with dismal cover art. On the other hand, it's not that easy to think of really, er, great examples. Mott the Hoople's Brain Capers (Atlantic, 1971), Humble Pie's Smokin' (A&M, 1972), and the Rolling Stones' Black and Blue (Rolling Stones/Virgin, 1976) come to mind, but I'm not sure if these are actually good albums or just guilty pleasures. Read more »

Fresh flowers, warm waters

Charles Lloyd's journey within and without
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When you talk about performers with unusual career arcs, Charles Lloyd is up there with the Scott Walkers and Alex Chiltons of the world. Lloyd experienced almost unheard-of commercial success for a jazz saxophonist during the late '60s, only to practically disappear for the next two decades. Read more »

How you hate me now?

Pushing buttons with G.G. Allin and Negativland
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Hated (Special Edition)

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Our Favorite Things

(Other Cinema)

DVDS I must have passed the G.G. Allin documentary Hated (1994) a dozen times in the video store over the years without ever mustering the nerve to rent it. Read more »

Deep digs into rock's catalogue

The "Under Review" DVD series looks at the music behind rock's drama
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DVD Chrome Dreams' Under Review DVD series is one of the better things to happen for music geekdom since 180-gram vinyl or the twofer CD reissue. Where else are you going to find sober analysis of Captain Beefheart's mid-'70s tragic band period or an in-depth discussion of the four Mott the Hoople albums that came out before All the Young Dudes (Columbia, 1972)?

My first brush with the series came a couple of years ago, with one of the earliest installments, Queen under Review: 1973–1980. Read more »