Music Features

MCMAF: Ich bin Kevin Blechdom

"Very basic symbolism mixed with a salute to female performance art"
|
(0)

It's customary to crave road travel when your summer bummer declines into a case of cubicle claustrophobia at the ol' air-conditioned nightmare. Some of us just need to go on hiatus for a while. But take it from electronic-experimental musician Kevin Blechdom: her 2002 move from San Francisco to Berlin has been a fruitful experience.

"For the last four years, I was able to support myself through playing music," she writes via e-mail. "That's nearly impossible to do in America with the style of music I'm making, but totally possible in Europe. Read more »

MCMAF: Lost and Gowns

The Berkeley band connects this world and the next
|
(0)

> kimberly@sfbg.com

You can't put your arms around a memory, as one hopeless rock 'n' roll soul once sang, but you can ponder a memory's origins, observe its manifestations, and perhaps even embrace its spectral aftereffects. So it goes with Gowns' Ezra Buchla, who currently lives with bandmate Erika Anderson in the North Berkeley "towering, crumbling Grey Gardens-style Victorian manse" where he was born. "I've lived in this house my whole life," he says quietly. Read more »

MCMAF: Sweetness and light

All that glitters just may be Sugar and Gold
|
(0)

> a&eletters@sfbg.com

"The ghosts come quickly, and they leave quickly," remarks Philipp Minnig about his effective yet unorthodox approach to songwriting for San Francisco electro-disco group Sugar and Gold.

"I always call songwriting 'ghostbusting,' " he says over tapas at Picaro in the Mission District, in a German accent softened by years spent in Northern California. "There will be an idea floating around, and you zap it, throw out your trap, and there it goes. For us, our traps are chords, or a rhythm. Read more »

MCMAF: Finding refuge in the Harbours

The Harbours' Miguel Zelaya provides a pop haven with Second Story Maker
|
(0)

"Basically I'm just trying to get everything out so I can sleep at night," vocalist Miguel Zelaya said in explanation of the steady stream of bubbling and bursting indie pop springing forth from his rather busy cerebellum. As the songwriter and creative mastermind of local darlings the Harbours, Zelaya is diligence personified. Read more »

Another close one

To Live and Shave in L.A. carve a sonic palette void of any real structure but fraught with their influences
|
(0)

Noise luminary Tom Smith's nearly three-decade jaunt through the experimental rock abyss has been part of a sustained continuum of all his undertakings. Throughout the late '70s and much of the '80s, the main brain and entrepreneur of To Live and Shave in LA occupied his time in bands such as Of Boat, Pussy Galore, and Peach of Immortality, before TLASILA took its first few breaths in July 1990. After migrating to South Florida in 1991, the Georgia native quickly stumbled on bassist and engineer Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra and oscillator operator Ben Wolcott. Read more »

Soft machines

With amplified thumb piano and pots and pans in hand, Konono No. 1 prove that good things can happen in Kinshasa
|
(0)

> a&eletters@sfbg.com

Electrifying a thumb piano sounds about as unlikely as, say, strapping a jet engine onto a surfboard. That very action, however, explains the central mystery behind Congo's Konono No. 1. But don't expect an esoteric creation myth from founder and likembe virtuoso Mawangu Mingiedi, who explains that his feedback-rich music exists simply "because it's a very soft-sounding instrument and Kinshasa is a very noisy town."

The likembe has a gentle, waterlogged twang, like a mouth harp encased in Jell-O. Read more »

More fun?

What's so weird about the first Stooges album in three decades, The Weirdness?
|
(0)

duncan@sfbg.com

"Have you heard this yet?" I asked the cashier at Green Apple Books and Music's annex, laying The Weirdness (Virgin) on the counter. The black cover with the ominous Stooges logo in reflective silver seemed somehow dangerous in and of itself.

"Yeah. It's all right," he answered. "It could've been worse."

"So it's no Fun House?"

"Not even. But it's not bad. It could've been really embarrassing."

So, how is The Weirdness — aside from not too embarrassing? Read more »

Resurrection blues

Is it 1969, OK, as the Stooges gear up to play across the USA?
|
(0)

kimberly@sfbg.com

Sure it's all about puppy love, music-geek boners, and clean-cut strangers offering to be their dog now, but as Iggy Pop declared during a crowded onstage interview at this year's South by Southwest fest in Austin, Texas, back when the once-decried Stooges first burst blown-out, bratty, and oozing monosyllabic menace, bristly distortion, and snotty attitude from Ann Arbor, Mich., "the two things were, 'They can't play.' " He gestured toward the two other surviving original Stooges, guitarist Ron Asheton and his brother, drummer Scott, then nodded almo Read more »

Local Grooves

Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Xiu Xiu
|
(0)

ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND

Ekranoplan

(Tee Pee)

It only takes a quick look over the cover art (a gauche sci-fi trip) and song titles ("Summon the Vardig," "Message by Mistral and Thunderclap") to get the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound's vibe: paint-thinner psych, boys-club rawk. Read more »

Keys of life

Pianist George Michalski tickles SF's ivories
|
(0)

PIANO MAN On April 13, 1957, at an assembly room in the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, George Michalski gave his first piano recital. He played John W. Schaum's "Snake Dance" and "The Sphinx" and closed with "My First Waltz," by Bjarne Rolseth, from G. Schirmer's Piano Solo series for students. "My mom was so excited leaving the house that she tripped and sprained her ankle," Michalski remembers. Read more »