Thursday, August 31, 2006

Persephone's Bees...

I've really unfairly ignored this record. San Francisco's Persephone's Bees major label debut Notes From The Underground is a bit hit or miss for me to endorse it with my usual exuberant verbiage. But it does have a couple of songs (notable "Nice Day", "Paper Plane") that are so full of summer yee-haw and breast baring seductiveness that I've gotta give it some props before the summer breast baring season is over.

Like most I'm a bit wary when a beloved local band makes the big jump to the majors. Such moves are almost always accompanied by cries of "sell out" which are, frequently, justified. Fortunately, San Francisco's Persephone's Bees has hardly changed their quirky musical stance for their Columbia Records debut. Still in place is the band's excellent way with a hook and, of course, the silky voice of lead singer Angelina Moysov. Notes From The Underground, while decidedly more polished and produced than other efforts by the band, is still musically schizophrenic in the best way. The band runs from power pop ("Paper Plane") to uber-catchy sugar pop ("Nice Day") to surf guitar tempered by psychedelic keyboards on a song sung in Russian ("Muzika Dyla Fil'ma"). Wherever the band goes there's little doubt that the star of the show is Moysov's beautiful and, well, sexy voice. She's the element that often turns average songs into special ones. When she really pushes her voice on songs like "Queen's Night Out" she sounds a bit like vintage Grace Slick. Perhaps the ultimate disappointment with Notes From The Underground is its lack of adventure. Moysov's voice can't raise all the songs here beyond their simple pop rock structure, that's surely part of the bargain that comes with moving to a major. Still you can't deny the simple sugar coated pleasure of a song like "Nice Day".

1 song from Notes From The Underground:

Nice Day. I think this has been getting some MTV play. Just saying.

In a rare political moment here at Bars And Guitars I'd like to point you to Keith Olberman's (a talking head yes, but one that's screwed on with a bit more lock-tite than most) response to Donald Rumsfeld's recent sniveling rat faced attempt at rewriting history while essentially calling the sensible open minded and necessary debate about the direction our country is heading unpatriotic.

If I don't see ya, have a killer Labor Day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Pernice Brothers streaming...

Still on cloud 9 with the Warriors hire of Don Nelson but I still have time for you, dear reader. The Pernice Brothers are streaming 3 songs from the forthcoming album Live A Little. All three are, predictably, excellent. The songs sound bigger, more expansive, less introverted (excuse me personification of recorded music). If nothing else Joe has expanded the band's sound with strings and horns in addition to his consistently excellent lyrical acumen. I recommend pre ordering the album because, just like Discover A Lovelier You, they kick you a sweet bonus CD of early mixes and demos. Check it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Continuous Peasant + Basketball...

First and most importantly is today's annoucement that my beleagured and downtrodden Golden State Warriors have fired Mike Montgomery and seem poised to bring back Don Nelson to coach the W's. This is news being greeted with elation in Warrior Land and indeed it should be. While Montgomery was a good X's and O's type coach he lacked the respect of his players that's crucial to success in the NBA. It's widely believed that Baron Davis walked all over Montgomery much to the detriment of both individuals and the team. In Nelson we'll get a true motivator but also, more importantly, one with a clear vision of what the team can accomplish. You can count on the fact that this vision will jibe with the talents of the players as opposed to trying the old square peg round hole philosophy that everyone from Montgomery to Musselman tried to impose. It's a good day in Warrior Land my friends.

On the musical end of life I give you Continuous Peasant, a Bay Area band treading in the waters of a raw Americana. They'll be opening up for The Silver Jews in a couple of weeks, and if that isn't a high profile indie rock gig I don't know what is.

Here's one song to check out:

Less Mysognist

Friday, August 25, 2006

Citizens Here And Abroad...

You've gotta keep an eye on the Turn Records site if for no other reason than the consistent quality of their releases. But also because the good folks there regularly add downloadable content to their site which is always of excellent quality. The newest addition to the Turn roster is Citizens Here And Abroad of which this is written because I'm a lazy tosser:

When SF band Secardora called it quits Adrienne and Dan decided it was time for a break from the music scene. But they had just moved across the street from Chris W., drummer for one of SF's most popular indie bands, Dealership [pre- Action/Adventure]. W welcomed them to the neighborhood by suggesting that he drum to a few songs they'd written. Soon after Chris G., also of Dealership, joined in the experiment to see what mixing the sweet pop of Dealership with the dark rock of Secadora might create.

What emerged were the pensive indie rock stylings of Citizens Here And Abroad. Sweeping soundscapes and brooding harmonies that are impossible to get out of your head. The band quickly recorded the critically acclaimed record, 'Ghosts Of Tables and Chairs' (Omnibus) and toured the US and Europe. During that time they played shows with a host of indie who's who including The Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, British Sea Power, Film School, and Rogue Wave, while their outstanding music videos played on MTV2, FuseTV, and MTV Europe and 'Appearances' was featured on the TV show The OC.

Citizens' new album, 'Waving, Not Drowning,' is about decisions, deliberations, and taking chances. The dramatic peaks and valleys of each song build into a frenzy and then peel away like onion skin, revealing things that are ususally whispered, if they are spoken at all.

Waving, Not Drowning is Citizens Here And Abroad's sophomore album, their first for Turn Records.


What struck me initially about CHAA were the Boy/Girl harmonies: really tight and expressive. The band's sound has a certain menace to it, a dark guitar sound that broods and haunts the songs. The band also works a nice sonic dynamic in that the songs have an aural ebb and flow, soft loud, up and down palette that I like. Another good signing for Turn.

from Waving, Not Drowning:



A cool video for their song You Drive And We'll Listen To Music should be viewed with something like relish. Caution with the semantics there. I'm using the word relish as in: to enjoy thoroughly and completely. Please don't think I'm implying this video must be watched while you're eating relish of any kind (pickle based or the more adventurous mango varieties) or, for that matter, wearing it in some odd but perhaps interesting way.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Varied And Various...

Some bits and bobs, a meat and kidney pie and bob's your uncle. It's like the British speak a different language, in'nt? I will most likely spare you my blinding wit and instead point you to some cool as shit:

A very cool video of South San Gabriel playing in an elevator. Be patient the download is a bit slow but it's coming from like Bangladesh or at least New Zealand and that's so very far away. They play 2 songs in an elevator while confused folk come and go. It's neat.

Mark Eitzel will be making an appearance at SF's Noise Pop Festival with a new band in tow, or at least a new name:


MARK EITZEL and All the Lost Anchors of the Pacific

August 26 - San Francisco, CA
Swedish American Hall

with very special guest: JESSE DENATALE

This message was posted on the Undertow Records site:

MARK EITZEL and All the Lost Anchors of the Pacific
August 26 - San Francisco, CA
Swedish American Hall

I am doing a show at the Swedish American Hall and as it is my first
solo show in San Francisco in 2 years I wanted to to do something
special. The newer songs I am writing all require backround harmonies
so I hired Dan Carr (from Court and Spark) and his wife Jen (celebrity
hairdresser and trained singer) to make spooky haunting vocal
harmonies. I am trying to play all the new songs I can - just to get
them done! I hate to promote myself so this is kind of hard - but I am
genuinely excited to be playing the Swedish American - and to do these
new songs with these people. The band might be expanded a little more
but I don't know yet who will be in it. Also on the Bill is the GREAT
songwriter Jesse DeNatale. So it is going to be a beautiful Saturday night, I think...

I believe that's this weekend. So you're on notice, eh?

The new album from Michael Zapruder's Rain of Frogs entitled New Ways of Letting Go is quite good in that Beatlesesque way that Zapruder has of spinning out a song:

3 from Zapruder's new album:

The Alchemist

Haymaker Market

Sheperds Purse

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Super XX Man...

Super XX Man is Scott Garred. It's as simple as that. Hailing from Oregon with a keyboard, ukele, guitar, and wife (at least I think she's his wife) in tow Super XX Man will roll into San Francisco's Rock-It Room on August. 27th. Unfortunately he probably won't be greeted by a screaming throng of music loving fans who obsess over his clever word play and gentle way with melody. Garred was a founding member and principle songwriter in the late great Silver Scooter, a band that produced consistently excellent guitar pop.

In the guise of Super XX Man Garred, a music therapist by vocation, creates gentle acoustic compositions that have an underlying tinge of emotional subversion. What else do you make of a lyrical statement like "and I don't want to be married" sung over a gentle acoustic guitar and a keyboard played by his wife? While Silver Scooter was a more rocking rollicking affair, Garred approach with Super XX Man is decidedly more low key. Don't be fooled into thinking that by turning the volume down Garred has lost a lick of his talent with a melody or lyric, he's simply asking the listener to pay a little more attention. Super XX Man is currently pushing X (that's like 10 not, you know, the letter, duh). Check out Garred and company in San Francisco at The Rock It Room on the 27th if you're local. Otherwise check out the tunes. Very good.

from Super XX Man's X:

Garage Apartment

from Silver Scooter's The Blue Law:

Black Stars

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Random...

Don't you just love the friday random? It's kinda like going through your halloween candy bag at the end of the night and not knowing if you've got a bunch of those killer single serving Twix bars or a soggy paper bag full of old Reach Around Amos' famous lettuce and butterscotch cookies.

I think I've got Twix for ya:

new Tim Easton track Jesus Protect Me From Your Followers

These folks have made a cool video for a song from Enablers fabulous Outlook Negative Space

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kinsella Brothers..

Here's a really great interview with the brothers Kinsella, Mike and Tim. If you're familiar with any of their myriad bands (Joan of Arc, Cap n' Jazz, Owen, etc.) you'll find this interview both enlightening and entertaining:

from Chicago Public Radio

The Magic Magicians...

Word on the street, or at least in my house, is that my wife either dated or had a crush on drummer Joe Plummer during high school. They both grew up, or at least spent some high school years, in Mariposa, Ca. Both have gone on to great things. My wife wisely married me and, wisely again, bore my wee daughter. Mr. Plummer, in a far less illustrious career move, went on to drum for Modest Mouse and, currently, The Black Heart Procession, both fine bands. But like all good indie rock players Joe has a side project. It's really quite good and rather distinct from his day job. The Magic Magicians is Joe's project with John Atkins of 764-HERO. The MM's are a ragged throwback to the kind of melodic hard rock (I hesitate to use the word punk) that recalls Husker Du, early 'Mats and the like but with more drama. The band's last release was in 2001 though I'm told they are still active.

2 songs from The Magic Magicians:

Cascade Express

I'm On Your Side

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sarah Cracknell...

Yes, I'm reaching back a few years here (I seem to be going through a kind of music of my bygone days phase, maybe it's the summer cold I have), but sometimes the lite house music sung by the pretty girl just as summer is winding down feels nice. So I've been working Sarah Cracknell's Kelly's Locker a good bit lately. That album is honey sweet and probably bad for you if you induldge too often but a lot of fun. If you're a fan of Saint Etienne then I'm sure you're already familiar with Sarah's work at her day job. I'm also intrigued by the obsessive fan like this guy over here. Well, I guess if you've gotta be obsessed over someone you could do worse.

1 song from the 2000 release Kelly's Locker:

How Far

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dreams So Real...

This is why I love love eBay. Some would say that what I'm about to describe is an extension of The Long Tail by virtue of the public marketplace of discarded goods. Whatever. I just love the fact that I can find music that I liked at one time, that is now hopelessly out of print, purchase it and once again enjoy it. Granted I'm not doing it stoned in my dorm room anymore, but I must say I'm just as pleased with what I've found on eBay as I was when I was an 18 year old new waver with ridiculously dyed hair. I'm relatively new to this whole eBay thing but in the last few months I've bought 2 bowling balls, The Connells One Simple Word (long out of print) and Dream So Real's Rough Night In Jericho. Dreams So Real dove tailed quite nicely with my REM obsession as they were also an Athens band and plyed that same jangly territory. But much more than REM Dreams So Real went for the big anthemic choruses, soaring, overwrought, a little cheesy, fun to sing along to choruses. That epic sweeping sound was definitely a weakness of mine, it's possible all the hair bleach was affecting my hearing. Unfortunately Dreams So Real never made the big time and faded into relative obscurity after a few records which received tepid critical praise and a smattering of a devoted following.

I was quite happy when I won Rough Night In Jericho on eBay for about $12 including shipping, which I'm sure was less then I paid for it at Kemp Mill Records at White Flint Plaza in 1988. I'd been obsessing on the song "California", humming the chorus over and over for some odd reason, but honestly I couldn't remember the name of the band. But it just goes to show you that the internet has made even the slightest of notions achievable as just googling the lyrics of the chorus eventually led me to Dreams So Real.

Evidently, lead singer Barry Marler now works in the biochemistry department at the University of Georgia, thus dispelling the notion that rock n' roll eats your brain. Told ya, Grandma.

If you've made it this far you will be rewarded with songs. Please enjoy the final result of my brief obsession:

from Dream So Real's 1988 album Rough Night In Jericho:


Rough Night In Jericho

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tommy Keene...

I grew up with Tommy Keene. He's a native of DC as I am and I used to see him at all the "cool" shows at the 9:30 club. Fairly early in his carer Tommy set the bar high for himself with Songs from the Film and the EP Run Now. He struggled to reach those heights throughout the rest of his career as he seemed to put more work into his gigs as a guitarist for Paul Westerberg, Velvet Crush and more recently Robert Pollard. The last few of Tommy's records left me feeling a bit let down. After picking up his newest Crashing The Ether I must say that he's back and better than ever. Crashing The Ether is full of the guitar pop anthems that one time were Keene's stock in trade. Each song jangles and rocks in equal parts bringing back memories of everything from The Replacements to Grant Lee Buffalo to The Connells. This is a record with the bar for songwriting set pretty frickin' high.

1 song from Crashing The Ether:


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Golden Smog...

Before I discuss the virtues of the new Golden Smog record let me freely comment on an event I went to this past weekend. It was an art exhibit in SF at a performance space called Mighty that I believe I've been to before but was probably all crazy on pills or something at the time so I'm not completely sure. Anyway, Mighty hosted an art/music show called Sneaker Pimp. The art part of the show comprised various artists (mostly graf but some traditional) taking a sneaker and making it their own. There were a lot of sneakers there that artists had gone at with various levels of abandon. Some of the artists treated the shoe like the ceiling of Sistine Chapel while others more like the cover of their 5th grade Trapper Keeper. Generally cool. On the music side there were two main DJs: Kid Koala and Dan The Automator. Kid Koala was, straight up, a bad ass. Just excellent hip hop DJ with a flair and style all his own who clearly enjoyed getting feedback from the crowd. Now, as near as I can tell, Dan The Automator is now like the Target of DJs. He's a brand and not a DJ. He spun for about 10 minutes then seceded the decks to an underling who played for the next hour while Danny Boy walked around on the stage saying stupid shit into his microphone. He can obviously spin and produce but, my man, you are no MC. It kinda sucked. Maybe there was a good reason for it, maybe his crossfader finger was hurt or something. Anyway, if you're in SF and the Sneaker Pimp show is still up at Mighty check it out, the art is a first class reflection of the hip hop style.

Golden Smog's Another Fine Day is another fine album by the semi-super group. As you might expect there's a bit less Tweedy this go around, though his contributions are excellent. The record is dominated by the voice of Gary Louris, and that's okay. The record is more classic rock than country rock and is, I'd say, a couple songs too long at 15. But it's a good listen and will carry you through these last dog days of summer.

1 song from Another Fine Day:

I Can

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Random...

Ahoy, mateys. Made it to the end of another week and that's good enough for a couple of giggles. If you haven't seen this it's certainly worth a watch. The is Ok Go and the song is "Here It Goes Again". The song is a pretty great dose of of uptempo power pop that recalls equals Fountains of Wayne and The Cars. But what makes this song extra special is the video. A feat of choreography not seen since the hey day of Paula Abdul. The video alone should make you want to buy the album.

Please enjoy:

Ok Go's Here It Goes Again

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Meadows...

Sorry for the delay, I've been away. But it's not like I'm getting paid to do this or anything. Sometimes you gotta do what needs to be done. Not that I haven't been thinking of you, I have. It's a little known fact that I get dizzy at the beginning of a new month and have to lie down for a few days. Couple that with being so close to sea level and it's a wonder I haven't simply sat down on the couch to watch reruns of What's Happening (love the crazy dance that Rerun does) and not gotten up. Then I spend a bunch of unproductive time wondering how people end up trying to sell stuffed mooses (meese?) on Craiglist for $300. Who's out there browsing for used taxidermy? I mean if you need to have a stuffed moose head in your house at least have the fucking good sense to go shoot it yourself.

So obviously you can understand my lack of posts.

But I'm here today with some excellent power pop from The Meadows. I used to work with one of these guys when he lived in SF. He's long gone to LaLa land but he and his partner in songwriting are still cranking out seriously infectious songs. This is just fun to listen to, great soaring choruses, powerful melodies. They're like a less dour, less British, more guitar version of Coldplay. I've really been enjoying the record.

1 song from The Meadows:

Younger Yesterday