Music Features

Dream girl

Decades after her demise, Judee Sill — whether thief, whore, or saint — still steals hearts
|
(0)

kimberly@sfbg.com

"I used to joke sometimes that I'm Judee's last boyfriend," concedes Patrick Roques, producer of Dreams Come True, Water's two-disc 2005 compendium of Judee Sill's unreleased 1974 third album and demos. "I don't mean to sound egotistic or anything, but I loved this woman like I'd love a girlfriend or wife."

Sill has that effect on listeners. Read more »

Something in the Water

Fab Italian prog on the Water label
|
(0)

Franco Battiato's 1972 album Fetus, reissued by Water, is the kind of recording that transcends a record-store genre category such as Italian prog rock. For starters, the keyboard freak-out at the close of the title number is something today's army of Kraftwerk drones should covet.

Beginning with the sound of a heartbeat and moving through transmissions from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin about purple rocks on the moon, Fetus repeatedly journeys from micro to macro and back again with ease. Read more »

The hot rock

Battles blast off with Mirrored
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

It's strange taking on a profile of a band so steeped in a musical language with which you were once not just fluent but even obsessed. I would have adored New York City rockers Battles when I was 19, their power-through-precision métier appealing to my penchant for all things prog and post, the words "ex-Helmet drummer" (that would be the band's John Stanier) acting as foolproof elixir. Read more »

The fundamentals of Fucked Up

This pseudonym-only hardcore band subverts punk conventions
|
(0)

You needn't be too wary of the dialogue surrounding Fucked Up, Toronto's jewel of esoteric hardcore punk. The members' beliefs and their names are hidden, but they're not out to brainwash anybody. And they're certainly not hiding anything in the songwriting department: the melodies are blistering and as uninhibited as the band, which has a knack for subverting punk conventions.

"For hardcore bands especially, politics are often made out to be black-and-white," rhythm guitarist 10,000 Marbles says on the phone from Toronto. Read more »

Wayfaring stranger

Finding Mariee Sioux
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"I never imagined doing this." It's a sentiment that Mariee Sioux, a singer-songwriter from Nevada City, returns to many times in our phone conversation: specifically, her genuine surprise that adapting her poetry to music has resulted in a life as a touring musician. "I was terrified playing at that show," she says mirthfully, describing her first big out-of-town gig at Brightblack Morning Light's Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell Festival in Big Sur. "The whole tour that followed helped me get used to performing.... Read more »

Revenge of the nerds

Replicator continue to rage against the machine
|
(0)

"Hey, everybody, we're all gonna get laid!" Rodney Dangerfield's character, Al Czervik, says in one of the classic lines from Caddyshack. Oakland's Replicator sample the line as the tag end of "Delicious Fornicake," the opening track of their new album, Machines Will Always Let You Down (Radio Is Down). The inclusion is telling: Caddyshack celebrates the redemption — nay, triumph — of the little guy, the lowly, the nobody, the nerd, the caddy, for chrissakes, despite the oppression of greedy, classist boors. Read more »

Smells like DIY spirit

Calvin Johnson preaches the gospel of ageless rock 'n' roll
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

K Records founder and ex–Beat Happener Calvin Johnson once wrote in New York Rocker, "Rock 'n' roll is a teenage sport, meant to be played by teenagers of all ages — they could be 15, 25, or 35. It all boils down to whether they've got the love in their hearts, that beautiful teenage spirit."

That sentiment still holds for the Olympia, Wash., native, who will turn 45 this November. The deep-drawling baritone is probably best known for spreading Beat Happening's jangle-pop gospel from the mid-'80s to the early '90s. Read more »

Moderne folk sans borders

The joys of Keren Ann
|
(0)

Some years after she took the City of Lights by storm, the great African American chanteuse Josephine Baker famously sang, "J'ai deux amours / Mon pays et Paris": "I have two loves / My country and Paris." For the neofolkish, introspective French singer-songwriter Keren Ann, the journey has been the opposite of Baker's.

After establishing herself with a pair of fine, well-received folk-pop albums in her native France, Keren Ann went bicontinental, establishing a base in New York City, and started recording songs in English. Read more »

Welcome to my pop nightmare

UK band the Horrors freshen up the Goth aesthetic
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Gazing disdainfully from the cover of their album Strange House (Loog), the Horrors greet listeners with the air of Edward Gorey characters on a smoke break. Together, they are a scarily beautiful organism: a slick plastic spider with 10 spindly legs and a penchant for manic, blood-soaked coffin rock. Their shows, in contrast, are short, riotous affairs that revolve around a schizoid brand of gothabilly and the shrieks and antics of lead vocalist Faris Badwan. Read more »

I just wanna testify

The Gomorran Social Aid and Pleasure Club preach the gospel
|
(0)

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

In high school I was a band geek. OK, not quite: I was never cool enough to make it into the inner circle of the Blackbirds Marching Band, and so — odd duck that I was — I'd be left flapping around on the outer margins of the football stadium bleachers while all the hilarity and revelry that a pack of gangly teenagers in polyester and feathery headgear can muster would carry on without notice of me and my forlorn little trumpet. Read more »