TOFU AND WHISKEY Vetiver and Howlin Rain have both been haunting around the Bay for the better part of a decade. Sonically split, playing tender Americana folk and 1970s-tinged psychedelic rock, respectively, the bands share a common thread of superior musicanship and drive — each releasing a landmark album in the past year or so (Howlin Rain's The Russian Wilds and Vetiver's The Errant Charm). The other link? Mutual admiration.Read more »
YEAR IN FILM Perhaps the backlash was inevitable. Any film that so flawlessly wows its initial audience in turn begins to receive a lot more scrutiny down the line, and there are definitely things about This Ain't California to scrutinize. Billed as a documentary, yet centered around a character who may not actually exist, This Ain't California details the unlikely rise of a rebellious East German skateboarding scene hidden from view behind the Iron Curtain.Read more »
YEAR IN MUSIC Are we being punked? Is this all some kind of stupid joke?
Upon first listen, the sound-world of Berlin-London duo Hype Williams (not the music-video director, mind you) is practically guaranteed to provoke a bewildered response. Incorporating half-baked hooks, brutishly cut-and-pasted samples, apathetic vocals, inept musicianship, crude effects, and grainy production into a gnarled, genreless mishmash, its approach gives off a superficial whiff of laziness and inconsequence.Read more »
YEAR IN MUSIC I'm at the Marina in Berkeley with J-Stalin around noon, waiting for producer-rapper Droop E to arrive so he and J can shoot a video for his upcoming EP, Hungry & Humble. I was invited, not by Droop but by his "Pops," Bay Area legend E-40, to do an interview for 40's epic, two-album collaboration with Too Short, History (HeavyOnTheGrind/EMI, 2012).Read more »
YEAR IN MUSIC Imagine a frustrated ghost floating above his own funeral. He might hear someone getting the eulogy wrong or even see an unwanted guest. One of the benefits of having your band come to an end rather than your own demise is living to react to retrospectives of your creative output and impact. But as I write this, Uzi Rash isn't quite dead yet. In fact, it has one last breath of doing what it does best — live performance.
YEAR IN MUSIC "We weren't supposed to be allowed to play live on the morning news," Ty Segall says just moments after finishing a meal at In-N-Out, on his way down the coast from San Francisco, the city he can no longer afford to live in, to pick up his 16-year-old sister from his hometown of Laguna Beach. "Giving a bunch of long-haired weirdos really loud amplifiers and free reign on the morning news is just stupid. So I thought that was a great opportunity to do whatever the hell we wanted."Read more »
Tofu and Whiskey Arbiter of good taste, Thrill Jockey Records is officially 20 years old. In another era, in another business, this would merely be a back-slapping milestone. In the present stuck-barreling-downwards roller coaster of the music industry, it's an anniversary worthy of widespread jubilation.
"It's a mind-boggling number of years," label founder Bettina Richards says during a phone call from the main office in Chicago, where the label's been based since 1995.Read more »
Tofu and Whiskey The phrase "'woman' is not a genre" has been popping up again. It's been in articles, board threads, and subsequently, conversations I've been a part of. It's a good one. Kind of an earworm of a saying, because on its face, it's implicit, simplistic, obvious, even. But it's a good mantra, for music writers. "Woman" is not a genre.Read more »