While many rock bands attempted to fill the grunge-void Nirvana left behind, Toad the Wet Sprocket was on the other end of the alt-rock spectrum, producing a string of delicately crafted melodic-folk albums that would come to define an era that continues to inspire other artists today. The band formed more than 30 years ago when four high school friends in Santa Barbara came together, including vocalist and guitarist Glen Phillips (only 15 at the time). After becoming a mainstay in their local music scene and self-releasing their debut album Bread & Circus in 1989, the quartet broke through to the mainstream with their platinum third studio album Fear, which included hit singles like “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean,” both of which are still in frequent rotation on alt-rock radio. The group went on to release two more albums during the decade, Dulcinea and Coil, and while each had its share of hits and acclaim, neither matched the heights of Fear, and the four musicians called it quits in 1998. After brief reunions and flirting with the idea of recording together, Toad the Wet Sprocket officially reformed in 2006, re-recording their older songs due to licensing issues with their discography. Through an enthusiastic crowdfunding campaign, the group released New Constellation in 2013, their first album in 16 years, to critical acclaim, and displayed a wiser, more optimistic version of the group. - SF Weekly
Performing a sold-out show at Slim’s this past Wednesday, July 18th, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks celebrated the release of their latest album, ‘Sparkle Hard,’ performing a set that was heavy on new material, but still featured a handful of older classics such as ‘It Kills,’ and ‘Jenny and the Ess-Dog’. The band also treated Pavement fans to retooled versions of “No Tan Lines” and “In the Mouth a Desert.” Nashville indie rock quartet Soccer Mommy opened the night.
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At 47, Glen Phillips is both startled by and pleased with his career longevity. When the Santa Barbara native formed alt-rock outfit Toad the Wet Sprocket in 1986, he was 15, and was 17 when the group signed to major imprint Columbia. He had no idea it would last. But Toad is as vital as ever. The band is on a sprawling tour even as its leader pursues a parallel solo career (he released “Swallowed By the Now” in 2016) that includes musical collaborations and film and TV soundtrack assignments. “Plus, I’ve been living through a pretty wild couple of years, too,” he says.
Click HERE for the SF Examiner's interview!
The Changing Face of Drag, a KQED Arts story series running June 18–22, spotlights five Bay Area drag artists at the vanguard of their genre, pioneering new styles and evolving the idea of what drag can be. This part of the series shines the spotlight on GAMH's very own Jader!
Jader is a drag performer, but he's not a drag queen per se; his style is typically more phantasmagorical and gender-neutral than the high-femme looks most people associate with the medium. And it's certainly much weirder than anything seen on RuPaul's Drag Race, the reality show that's become drag's most mainstream platform since moving to VH1 last year.
"I'm appreciative that queer art is so international now, but because of it, there are certain people who believe drag has to be done a certain way," says Jader. "But it's really awesome, because with all this interest in this art form, there are so many people who are really challenging the structures of drag, and challenging that narrative and pushing it further—especially in the Bay Area."
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Jello Biafra, founder of seminal punk band Dead Kennedys and one of the most influential figures in the Bay Area music scene, burst into the spotlight in 1978 when he unleashed his quivering voice and biting social commentary on the masses with the release of “California Uber Alles,” followed by “Holiday in Cambodia,” on the band’s own label, Alternative Tentacles. His frantically dramatic and maniacal stage presence, coupled with the sardonic humor he used to convey the sheer truth of his words, solidified him as an instant punk rock legend. After four albums with Dead Kennedys, and subsequent collaborations on over a dozen more with bands like The Melvins and D.O.A., he is now three albums deep with his current band, Guantanamo School of Medicine. Known as much for his political perspectives as his outrageous stage antics, Jello is a sought-after speaker well-known for his spoken word art and revered for his notoriously tongue-in-cheek – but legitimate –1979 campaign for San Francisco mayor at age 21.
Just days away from his 60th birthday, Jello spoke with SF Sonic about the importance of voting in local elections, just how the 2016 presidential election was rigged, how the right could be on the verge of legally rewriting the Constitution, and how “staying mad” is the key to lasting idealism.
For his birthday, Jello put on a terrific show at the Great American Music Hall. The photos here are from that show. (Photos by Raymond Ahner)
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The instrumental counterpart of celebrated Grammy Award winning Latin groove ensemble Grupo Fantasma, Austin, TX-based band Brownout has been cultivating a reputation for both fiery live performances and the gritty funk sounds heard on such releases as Homenaje and Aguilas and Cobras that mix heavily fuzzed-out guitars with percolating percussion and intricate horn work reminiscent of ’70s heroes like Mandrill and War.
During a residency at an Austin club, Brownout decided to dedicate certain nights to covering the material of specific artists including a rendition of James Brown’s classic blaxploitation soundtrack “Black Caesar” and an evening dedicated to the music of heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath.
CBS SF recently spoke to guitarist Beto Martinez about making Fear of a Brown Planet (their recently released tribute to Public Enemy), Brownout’s plans to retire its popular Brown Sabbath guise and plans for new original material. The talk happened just ahead of a string of Bay Area concerts by the band that will showcase both the Public Enemy covers (in Santa Cruz and San Jose) and their funky, horn-powered versions of Black Sabbath’s bruising catalog (in San Francisco and Sacramento). - KPIX CBS San Francisco Bay Area
Although Hot Chip’s precision beats sound rather different from Fleetwood Mac’s brand of dad-rock, the acts share one trait in common. They’re multipolar projects whose respective members have embarked on solo careers only to return to the mothership, and for Hot Chip co-frontman Alexis Taylor, a piano-centric independent career is now four albums strong. While Beautiful Thing, released in April, is certainly not a Hot Chip record — based on its dramatis personae alone — it bends back toward the source. Taylor’s unmistakable, affect-less voice can give listeners the false impression that he’s an art-school scenester having a laugh, but Beautiful Thing is set up as a vehicle for his unabashed love of pop schmaltz. It’s very circa-1980 Paul McCartney, with the synths that open “Oh Baby” sounding like the ex-Beatle’s “Temporary Secretary” before diving right into Wings territory.
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Once referred to by Iggy Pop as “the only current punk band I can think of that sounds really dangerous,” Iceage has proven in their decade of existence that there is more substance to their brooding post-punk than their rough and detached exterior would lead one to assume. The Copenhagen quartet formed in 2008 when all four members were frustrated teenagers who found inspiration in New York no-wave groups like Mars and avant-punk bands like Crass. Iceage’s 2011 debut album New Brigade introduced listeners to the blistering exuberance this young band could provoke, mixed with moody goth undertones. The group soon gained a reputation for their proudly chaotic and occasionally violent live shows, along with infamously awkward interviews, all of which earned frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt the title of “Rock’s Most Difficult Frontman” by The Fader. Iceage’s newly released fourth album Beyondless hears the band expanding into new sonic territory that incorporates elements of jazz and pop, but not at the expense of their now trademark ferocity. The band’s eagerness to develop their sound shows how Iggy Pop’s proclamation of Iceage being the only “dangerous” punk band is true, but perhaps in a different manner than he originally intended. - SF Weekly
One of the leading players in the Bay Area’s revival of psychedelic sounds that emerged in the wake of Comets on Fire and Six Organs of Admittance in the late ’90s, Wooden Shjips play their first San Francisco show in several years at Slim’s Friday. - KPIX / CBS Bay Area
California surf-noir combo The Buttertones just released Midnight in a Moonless Dream on Innovative Leisure, featuring more sonic vignettes inspired by film and early rock n’ roll. One of the standout cuts on the album is “You And Your Knife,” which is thick with moody atmosphere like a night drive down a lost highway. We’ve got the premiere of its music video, directed by Zack Bernstein, that makes good use of funhouse mirrors and a rooftop set. Watch that, and listen to the whole album, HERE. - Brooklyn Vegan
The Philadelphia band Sheer Mag channel the classic rock of the ’70s with the mustaches to prove it—and their live shows are out of this world. When I saw them a few years ago in the lobby of a tattoo shop, both guys and girls danced topless in the front row.
One thing about Sheer Mag is that despite sounding like 1976 Cleveland arena rock, they’re staunchly punk in spirit; they refuse to sign a record deal, they book their own tours, they put out their own records—and I like to think it’s paid off by preserving a lot of the fun that makes them special. - KQED Arts
Few death metal bands have had as much history under the belts as Morbid Angel do. Although they have had endless line-up changes over the years, they are now in their thirty-fifth year as a band and not only continue to churn out records but tour the world in support of them, all while remaining one of the most influential bands in death metal history. They recently released their ninth studio album Kingdoms Disdained, and are currently touring behind it, stopping off at Slim’s in San Francisco recently to deliver the metal to their longtime Bay Area fans. - SF Sonic
While still a relatively fresh name in hip-hop, elusive Brooklyn rapper SAINt JHN is no stranger to the music industry. Since 2010, he has lingered in the shadows, writing lyrics for the likes of Usher, Jidenna, and Hoodie Allen before taking the stage himself in 2016 with his debut single “1999.” Born in Brooklyn, JHN spent much of his formative years in Guyana, which influenced his artistry and flow, claiming in an interview with Billboard, “To have the background of being in Guyana gave me a really specific type of influence. Because dancehall music is really melodically driven. Sometimes, the subject matter is a bit harsh, so I can borrow from both of those things.” Collection One, JHN’s debut studio album released in March, is just as much of a reflection of JHN’s upbringing as it is of his career in the music industry. Stylistically, JHN’s flow balances rapping and singing, with standout track “Reflex” exemplifying the strength of his voice. Lyrically, JHN bounces between braggadocio and confessional thoughts, never giving the false pretense he is rapping as a character. - SF Weekly