Music Features

MCMAF: This magic moment

YACHT's Jona Bechtolt believes in you, dancing
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YACHT has cancelled his May 11 appearance with Kid606, Trackademicks, Lazer Sword and Luke's Anger.

Enthusiastic and optimistic - Jona Bechtolt would have to be both to schedule back-to-back shows in Bloomington, Ind., and Big Sur, as he did on his most recent tour.

"I'm pretty much into playing wherever there is a desire for me to do so," Bechtolt e-mails en route to Seattle. "Once I played in a bathroom in the basement/rec-room of some kid's grandparents' house in St. Read more »

MCMAF: Runoff to run after

Our selected picks at the Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival
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MAY 10

SO SO MANY WHITE WHITE TIGERS

Guitarist Ned flies back from New York City for the return of the art-punk trio that roared. (Kimberly Chun)

With Triangle, Bookworms, and the Tufffetttes. 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF. Call for time and price. Read more »

MCMAF: Collective hip noises

With Buy Hidden Persuaders, I Am Spoonbender continue to remove our veils
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Should you take this life seriously enough to listen to it, I would suggest you head to local electro-organic thinkers I Am Spoonbender's Web site right now, before you read this story, and download the trailer for their latest self-released album, Buy Hidden Persuaders (IAS, 2006), another three-sided disc (their gorgeous Teletwin 12-inch had concurrent grooves on one side, allowing for a randomly asserted listening experience) from the wizards of esoteric musical realism. Read more »

MCMAF: Gary Higgins

Redheaded stranger
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A couple years after Drag City reissued Gary Higgins's 1973 album Red Hash, the recording stands tall as one of the prime excavations of the ongoing psych-folk gold rush. As with Vashti Bunyan, Higgins's resurgence comes with a mythic narrative: where Bunyan left behind Just Another Diamond Day for a bucolic family life in England's north country, Higgins floated upriver in a different way after Red Hash, serving time for a marijuana bust in rural Connecticut. The disc was recorded while he was out on bail, in the few days between his arrest and sentencing. Read more »

MCMAF: Ich bin Kevin Blechdom

"Very basic symbolism mixed with a salute to female performance art"
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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
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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
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"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
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"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
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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
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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 »