Music Features

Hanging on the 'Phone

Bay Area band Elephone evade the expected
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It's hard to take Elephone seriously — not just because of their whimsical name, but because with this San Francisco quintet, what you see definitely isn't what you get.

Witness vocalist Ryan Lambert and guitarist Terry Ashkinos out of what you might assume was their natural habitat. The duo looked strangely at home in the lobby bar at the Fairmont Hotel, where the soft tinkle of piano keys polluted the air and floor-length fur coats were as ubiquitous as they are politically incorrect. Read more »

I heart your dark side

Don't mix up the singer with her song, but do fall for Rykarda Parasol
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duncan@sfbg.com

I've got to admit — I was intimidated. I've done enough interviews that I don't usually get the jitters beforehand, but San Francisco songwriter Rykarda Parasol's sheer self-possession on last year's full-length Our Hearts First Meet (Three Ring) had me a little spooked. Yeah, I've sat through enough interminable creative-writing workshops to know not to confuse the author with the story, the narrator with the narrative, the singer with the song. Read more »

Making their lists

Bay artists and contributors toast 2006's best
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PAUL COSTUROS
Total Shutdown, Death Sentence: Panda!, Murder Murder
(10) Bay Area representing and dominating at the End Times Fest in St. Paul, Minn., June 22–<\d>24.
(9) T.I.T.S., Throughout the Ages split double 12-inch with Leopard Leg (Upset the Rhythm) and live. Forest-witch psych never sounded so good.
(8) Fuckwolf CD on Kimosciotic and live. Dub done via destruction by way of swallowing glass and delay ...
(7) Burmese, White (Planaria) and live. Read more »

Hallelujah, more lists!

Online exclusive: more local players and playas' top 10s
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MATTHEW EDWARDS
MUSIC LOVERS
(1) <\i>The Fall live at the Independent, May. Mark E. Smith, wife, and a band he put together the day before — classic Fall. Peerless.
(2) <\i>John Legend, Get Lifted (Sony). More ideas per song than most indie bands have in a lifetime. Stellar soul.
(3) <\i>Margaret Cho singing "Old Man's Cock and Balls" to the tune of "Old Time Rock and Roll," Provincetown, July
(4) <\i>D'autres nouvelles des etoiles — Serge Gainsbourg DVD. Read more »

Unholy spirit

Oakland's Saviours prove they're metal
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cheryl@sfbg.com
It was dark and stormy the night I journeyed to Oakland to meet the Saviours — a perfect weather match for their music, which I've had on constant ear blast since picking up their Tim Green–<\d>produced debut, Crucifire (Level Plane, 2006). These guys are fucking serious. Read more »

Dreamboys

Cruising for new life on the pop charts
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Never mind whether or not this is the year of Dreamgirls. I mean, forget the musical if you can — it's not possible here in Los Angeles, where it's taken over the town — although dreams never go out of style. What I want to know is what category does it fit in? New music? Reissued with a twist? Covers? And, for old folks who remember 1982, was the original sort of a reissue? (It is the story of Motown, after all.) Or just a memory — fond or otherwise? Read more »

Rock in a hard place

Music falls by the wayside when you're out of cigarettes
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Who cares what I have to say? I just review video games and write lies about music for pay. You don't want to read about what kind of "meaning" I gleaned from my experience with music that "really mattered" in 2006, do you?
It's 4 a.m. I ran out of money one week ago. I ran out of cigarettes at exactly 2:10 this morning, and until I get paid again — in approximately eight days if I'm lucky — I will be eating only things you can prepare by adding hot water. I don't care about music. I hate music. Read more »

The best show I never saw

Even nap time can't keep the will to rock alive — when you're five
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duncan@sfbg.com
My daughter, Dolores — otherwise known as Dolly, though only to family, as she's getting a little too sophisticated for nicknames — is a born rocker. The first music she heard, pipin' hot out of the womb, was London Calling by the Clash. Now that she's five, she wants more of the same when her father, mellowing in his old age, tries to catch the news on NPR on the way to kindergarten: "Dad, what is this? I don't want talk.... Read more »

Sing out

From where we're sitting, anti-Bush jabs were de rigueur in 2006
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The stage floods red, and the guitars churn. This rock is southern grit — a real heartland affair. Onstage, a man with straggly black hair steadies his guitar and returns to the microphone stand: "They've never known want, they'll never know need/ Their shit don't stink, and their kids won't bleed/ Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war/ And we can't make it here anymore." The crowd goes off, the band keeps up, and then James McMurtry puts down his guitar.
This is pretty much what preaching to the converted looks like. Read more »

A sound proposition

Why don't we do it in public?
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There are huge, expensive, city-sponsored monuments to the arts lined up on Van Ness Avenue, opposite City Hall, and I've seen some of the best music in the world performed there.
The formidable San Francisco Symphony took a run at Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at Davies Symphony Hall years back — a feat not dissimilar to juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle along a plank over a pit of alligators — and pulled it off with both precision and gusto. And more recently, the San Francisco Opera made me, a lifelong doubter of wobbly-voiced wailing, an instant convert. Read more »