On Baghdad by the Bay, Jan 26th, 8pm. Interview with The Moonlight Orchestra, Birdmonster and Kids on a Crime Spree

26 01 2012

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The Moonlight Orchestra
The Moonlight Orchestra orbits around a multifaceted array of musical influences that spring from a blues inferno within a psychedelic cascade and on to the chaotic senses of experimentalism and a bit of frenzy. Their music doesn’t fit a mold or heed itself to any convention but of their own that reflects a homage to their colorful musical backgrounds.

It is a pop explosion reminiscent in “Beatle-esque” lyrical sentimentality and a musical sensibility of the 90’s recessing in dreamlike sultriness that is laced in bluesy and psychedelic guitars, climactic and loud romping rhythms, paired with rich melodic piano and a folky feelin’ violin.

The band members are brothers Mehdi and Hadi on guitars and vocals, Roman on the bass and keyboards, Suchi on violin, Shana on Cello, and their newest addition TG on drums.

San Francisco quartet Birdmonster are kind of like a Bay Area version of Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, except that where Leo and his group have an undying devotion to first-wave new wave and ska groups like the Jam and the Specials, Birdmonster spike their Fugazi-like indie rock tunes with nods to American Beauty-era Grateful Dead and early Bruce Springsteen. Revved-up and punky rockers share space with country-inflected tunes, with singer/songwriter and guitarist Peter Arcuni’s lived-in vocals the primary point of connection. Arcuni, a native of Connecticut, formed Birdmonster in 2004 with three fellow musicians who lived in his San Francisco neighborhood: bassist Justin Tenuto, guitarist David Klein, and drummer Zach Winter. Determined to maintain complete D.I.Y. control over their band, Birdmonster released their self-titled debut EP on their own and used the proceeds both to tour the nation and to fund sessions for their full-length debut with the well-known producer Bradley Cook, who had previously worked with Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age. Although the band originally self-released 2006’s No Midnight as well, the increasingly positive buzz around Birdmonster led them to sign a distribution deal with noted indie SpinArt Records, which re-released the album in August 2006. For 2008’s Americana-tinged From the Mountain to the Sea, the band switched to the Fader label this time with Tom Schick, known for his work with Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright, at the producing helm. The band supported the album on the road and released Blood Memory, also produced by Schick, the following year. The band is currently working on new material and will be dropping a single they self produced and recorded on a reel-to-reel 8-track machine this month. The song, Living, will premiere at their upcoming hometown show at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco.

Kids on a Crime Spree
About a decade ago, Californian Mario Hernandez (of Ciao Bella and From Bubblegum to Sky) was sitting on a Stockholm couch, casually drinking a really good cup of coffee when a friend put on the Back to Mono box set and Hernandez’s life was forever changed. He was instantly drawn in by the excellent songwriting and lush instrumental arrangements; and what started out as an innocent side trip into the Phil Spector back catalog soon became a longtime fascination with the Brill Building and Spector’s fabled wall of sound. As time passed, he kept coming back to the idea of a simple pop song that wasn’t really that simple—a happy melody with a dark underpinning in the lyrics—and he knew that it wasn’t enough to just listen. He had to make his own version of this great stuff. Kids on a Crime Spree is the result of this obsession.

On Baghdad by the Bay, Jan 19th at 8pm: Interview with Suggies, Terry Malts, Kill Moi

19 01 2012

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The Suggies are a two piece indie rock project from SF. They pack a lot of high energy songs into a short, sweet set. They like to play music. They like to party. They like to play music and party.

Terry Malts
After careful, weeklong consideration, San Francisco trio Terry Malts went forth to record a debut LP as per the request of Slumberland Records. Displaying a slick, intelligent take on modern chainsaw pop, Killing Time certainly lives up to its name! Who are Terry Malts? A Yellow Pages private dick has gleaned the following: Corey Cunningham (guitar, backing vox), of Dickson, Tennessee-by-way-of-a-cardboard-box-in-Toronto, was asked to housesit in Fresno, CA. Duties fulfilled, he shot north on a graffiti trip to 924 Gilman Street and immediately bonded with fellow men’s room “artists” Phil Benson (bass guitar, lead vox) and the unfortunately named Nathan Sweatt (drums, backing vox). Hands shook, vibes exchanged; the trio felt compelled to distill their energy into a unified voice. The Terrys’ gospel is succinct, direct, sincere and timed expertly with next year’s looming apocalypse: life is hopeless, enjoy!  With a live reputation that bleeds funky “punk” attitude, the trio crammed this urgency into the Terry Malts studio edition. Recorded by a machine, then expertly mixed by human being Monte Vallier (Swell, Half Church), Killing Time may compel you to type the following buzzwords into your blog (which, I love, by the way!): catchy, husky, hunky, sharp, blue-collar, rocking, hockey-rock, working-class, perfect, near-perfect, not-half-bad, and / or not-bad. It’s an album, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a 34-minute hour of pure, unadulterated Malts… all right?

Kill Moi
Kill Moi is an indie-rock band based in San Francisco that was described by one local reviewer as “The Strokes meet Neil Diamond at a New Orleans funeral while reading a Murakami novel and drinking too much bourbon”. Their first full length album, “Hold Me, Motherfucker” was released on August 6th, 2011 to rave reviews. Their songs weave tales of world-weary wit mixed with infectious pop
melodies, rolling vintage rhythms, Graham Coxon via Wilco guitars, and a beautiful cushion of horns. Members are Ryan Lambert (vox, guitar), Andrew Burmester (lead guitar), Daniel Settle (bass), Aaron Hazen (drums), Laura Carpenter (trumpet), and Oz Beckers (trombone), whose collective other endeavors have included such acts as Elephone, Madelia, The Paradise Boys, Extra Action Marching Band and the Audrye Sessions. Their public performances over the last year have included appearances at Bottom of the Hill, the Red Devil Lounge, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Milk Bar with such acts as Geographer, Sioux City Kid, the Soft White Sixties, the Heavenly States, and the Silent Comedy.

On Baghdad by the Bay, January 12 at 8pm: Interview with Marginal Prophets, Prize, Hot Fog and Party Owl

11 01 2012

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Marginal Prophets
The Marginal Prophets are a 5-piece Hip-Hop/Garage band from San Francisco that cleverly combine odd samples, funk/rock riffs, and decidedly non-traditional b-boy lyrics into a smart-alecky punk/rap mix that appeals to anyone who came of age back in the day when college radio actually mattered.

The group, comprised of vocalists Keith Knight (the Black one) and the Noble Def G (the Jewish one), bass player Adam Lodge, drummer Adam Lipsky, and guitarist Jeff Ranney, has taken their show up and down the West Coast, garnering opening slots for Spearhead, Black Eyed Peas, Fishbone, G Love & Special Sauce, Insolence, and De La Soul.

Sophia Santulli is electro-rock frontwoman and composer Prize. Shortly after earning her Master of Music at San Francisco Conservatory, she released The Split EP under this simple, irreverent moniker. Prize composes lush electro and string arrangements and in the next breath evokes the mosh pits of her youth with raucous guitars and drums. Whether traversing ethereal heights or unleashing an earthly growl, her raw, operatic voice is technically sparkling and her “emotional urgency makes for a thrilling live show” (Jon Bennett, MVRemix). Prize arranges her brand of electro-orchestral folkpunk for violin, cello, synth, drums, and guitar, and her live shows are theatrical and moody, replete with custom made black-and-white costumes and special effects.

Hot Fog
Hot Fog is a San Francisco Hard Rock and Heavy Metal band born from the ashes of a slew of SF bands spanning the 90’s through the 00’s including Oranger, Film School, Hammerdown Turpentine, Pinq, Carlos!, and Preston School of Industry. This rag-tag group band of SF-rock veterans decided to get back to their roots — all they way back to their days of prepubescent bedroom rocking. They bring forth a thundering sound akin to a convergence of the “NWoBHM” sound of Iron Maiden and Priest with the speed and attitude of proto-thrash of the early 80’s a la early Metallica. Nodding to the past while rocking into the future, they deliver monster riffs, ripping leads, soaring vocals, and utterly ridiculous song titles. They bring it un-ironically and with a focus on quality song-writing and metal-rific lyrics that would make any 13 year old D&D dork beam with delight. Their live shows are sweat-soaked full-on, frontal assaults, complete with fog machines, lasers, back to back harmony guitar solos, and fans thrusting devil horns in the air as participants. They eschew the current trend of beards, tattoos, and Kyuss-tinged sludge-metal, and instead, they walk that razors edge of sincerity and fun like not many bands can.

Party Owl
Party Owl likes to party. The San Francisco band’s live shows make drunk old ladies and hip kids alike loose their minds with their short compact songs of fuzzed out poppiness. You can hear the influence of early 90’s indie rock and 50’s rock-n-roll here imediately. Bassist Alexi Belchere holds down the minimalist rhythm, only two notes sometimes, while drummer Melissa Funk creates a Cramps-like backbeat that is infectiously danceable and surprisingly heavy. Singer/guitarist Kris Zouzoulas uses the space between these two to craft lyrics and melody lines that are at the same time sarcastic and genuine. Party Owl are currently recording new tracks for their debut L.P. which will be out in early 2012.

On Baghdad by the Bay, January 5th at 8pm: Interview with Naked Fiction

5 01 2012

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Naked Fiction
Naked Fiction is a 7 piece San Francisco based chamber-rock band.   The group makes music that is sassy and sophisticated without preciousness or pretense; organic and natural yet polished and urbane. Think clever, artfully-arranged, hook-driven pop tunes, shaped and driven by a power trio of drums (Derrik Sakima), bass (Bob Todd), and guitar (Thomas Kenny); colored with a broad palette of violin (Yuri Kye), viola (Ivy Zenobi), and piano (Daniel Highman); and breathed into life through the seductive voice of a fetching femme-fatale (Carmen King).  The separate parts combine to paint vivid pictures.  The music is unequivocally sexy, dangerously so.  Think Portishead, but less depressing, Andrew Bird, but with more estrogen,  or Mad Men, but with less nicotine.