Though they hit the peak of their fame in the mid-'90s post-grunge era with hits like "Peaches" and "Kitty," the Presidents of the United States of America have enjoyed a more fruitful and fascinating career than many of their ilk.
From collaborating with Shonen Knife and Sir Mix-A-Lot to starting an indie label to performing a Pokemon tribute song at the Pokemon Black/White American launch party, their career is shaping up to be as long, delightful, and brilliant as their name.
The Coup's new multimedia project Shadowbox was at least partially inspired by bandleader/MC Boots Riley's experience walking into a Theater Artaud performance as a child. The performance was a treatise on AIDS, but Riley was more frightened than enlightened by the giant sets and writhing actors around him.
While still a child in early-'80s San Francisco, Boots Riley witnessed something he didn't quite understand but that would stick with him for the rest of his life. Walking into a theater performance at the venerable Mission District art space Project Artaud, Riley saw actors in body paint writhing around him in apparent agony on all sides. It was meant as a simulation of the AIDS epidemic, with the actors portraying the afflicted. But it didn't enlighten him much as a kid.
As a member of 2AM Club and a songwriter for artists like Chris Brown and Sean Kingston, San Francisco-raised Marc Griffin is an experienced pop music craftsman. But as Marc E. Bassy, solo artist, he's a forward-thinking R&B auteur with more of an ear towards the genre's growing experimental fringe. Only The Poets, Vol.
Andrew Jackson Jihad may be the most important punk band in America, but they sure don't look like it. They're cheerful and (relatively) clean-cut. They don't want you to crowd-surf. They don't move around a lot, and when they do they're self-conscious about it. They don't use any distortion beyond a pretty, almost psychedelic phaser. They're technically proficient enough that they could probably back up Dolly Parton if they wanted to.
I Never Learn (LL/Atlantic)
The name "Beach Boys" can refer to either of two bands. The first is the happy-go-lucky surf rock band that does songs about cars and California, led by the conservative Mike Love; the second is one of the most audacious and avant-garde bands of the psychedelic era, led by the mad Zen master Brian Wilson. Though most of the music-listening world knows them primarily as the former, the latter has proven far more influential, pushing the Beatles' creativity to breaking point out of rivalry as well as serving as a major touchstone for the last decade or so of indie rock.
THE SOFT PINK TRUTH
Why Do The Heathen Rage? (Thrill Jockey)
More than any other Beatles album, A Hard Day's Night — which turned 50 last week — embodies the clichés surrounding the band's early period. The cheesy harmonies, the "whoa"s and "yeah"s, the sappy love songs: All are there in abundance. It's also the most obvious manifestation of the John/Paul dichotomy. Though the idea of John as the bad boy and Paul as the balladeer is largely accepted as a myth by Beatles fans, that dynamic is a lot closer to the truth than folks give it credit for, and on no album is it clearer than A Hard Day's Night.
More than any other Beatles album, A Hard Day's Night — which turns 50 this week — embodies the cliches surrounding the band. The cheesy harmonies, the "whoa"s and "yeah"s, the sappy love songs, the teen-idol cuteness: All are there in abundance. It's also the most obvious manifestation of the John/Paul dichotomy. Though the idea of John as the bad boy and Paul as the author of silly love songs is largely accepted as a myth by Beatles fans, it's a lot closer to the truth than folks give it credit for, and on no album is it more clear than A Hard Day's Night.
Mac DeMarco has one of the most charismatic, clearly defined personas of anyone in indie rock. He chain-smokes, cross-dresses, makes out with interviewers, and -- in what might be the key piece of apocryphal Mac mythology -- once stuck his thumb up his ass at a gig.
About 30 minutes into this year's Burger Boogaloo, I noticed a guy walking around in a Tool shirt. Ten minutes later, I saw another dude walking around in a Meshuggah shirt. This wouldn't be so remarkable at most concerts, but it's worth keeping in mind that this was ostensibly an indie rock concert. Most fans of progressive metal wouldn't dare enter that often rigid and snobbish universe, just as most indie fans would consider those heavy-but-impeccably-produced bands well outside the accepted parameters of "cool."
If you've ever walked out of a dance party wishing you could take the party home with you, Push The Feeling has a solution to your problem. For the last two years, Kevin Meenan and Drew Marcogliese have hosted dance parties at the Lower Haight's Underground SF nightclub under that name; they've hosted all manner of DJs, from local heroes like Giraffage to blogosphere faves like YACHT and Les Sins (aka Toro Y Moi).
"We are now at our best and so Death Grips is over," announced a napkin posted to Death Grips' Facebook page yesterday afternoon. The sudden dissolution of one of the most controversial, confrontational, and influential hip-hop groups of the 2010s so far spurred an outpour of dismay among music fans. But anyone who's been keeping a tab on Death Grips shouldn't have been too surprised.
Future, America's Auto-Tune rapper du jour, is in a cushy position. His recent album Honest is one of the year's most critically acclaimed rap albums so far, and it's moved enough units to establish him as a major presence on 2014's hip-hop scene. Hip-hop fans know who he is, as do a lot of indie kids who've stumbled across fawning reviews of his work online. But he's not yet a star.
Just over a year ago, Adam Tod Brown wrote a great article for Cracked called "4 Classic Albums That Get More Praise Than They Deserve." Though it contained as much Yoko Ono-bashing as you'd expect from a website as frequently fratty as Cracked, it made a great argument for Ringo's self-titled as the best solo '70s Beatles album and contributed substantially to the recent critical revival of Neil Young's On The Beach. The thing that interested me most, however, wa
Is San Francisco doomed? The legendary SF punk band Crime said so 35 years ago on their album San Francisco's Doomed. Yet with tech money flowing into San Francisco and musicians being priced out of the city, the phrase has taken on a new resonance among those musicians who have stayed in town.
Boris have been dabbling so much in pop lately it's tempting to look at the band's latest album, Noise, as a return to their sludge-metal glory days. There are only eight songs, its title is appropriately hostile, and the dark gray cover looks formidable compared to the white-hued, glamorous art on the last few Boris records. But remember: This album is called Noise. Not Metal, not Amps Up To 11. Not even Heavy Rocks, the name given to two of Boris's most metallic albums. Noise.
Matt "Lone" Cutler's heart belongs to hip hop. It's easy to forget this given how the British producer only started to attract critical notice after switching from the post-J Dilla instrumentals of his early albums to a style that had more in common with house and rave music. The transition wasn't terribly unnatural given that his sonic trademark was rich synth chords, a sound rare in hip hop but prevalent in dance. He kept those intact; he just switched up the rhythm and instantly went from generic beatmaker to underground dance hero, producing one of 2012's best electronic albums in Galaxy Garden.