First City, First Rate

In the hierarchy of California summer music festivals, Monterey’s First City Festival still isn’t getting any respect.

Best Coast loves the Central Coast
Best Coast loves the Central Coast

Maybe it’s still too young to be taken seriously. This is only the second annual FCF, but these County Fairgrounds are no stranger to music festivals. And just about every mainstage performer made reference to that fact. “First City” for a reason. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast was excited to tell her dad that she was playing on the same stage as Jimi Hendrix. She also said she was retiring to Monterey. Next week.

It was also widely suggested that much of the Bay Area was headed to the Nevada desert this past weekend for Burning Man. Or, at least, trying to get to Burning Man. Muddy flats and 100-degree sandstorms sound fun, but it was t-shirt & jeans weather all day long, all weekend, in Monterey.

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Deerhoof – Exit Only

This week Deerhoof announced their new album, La Isla Bonita, out November 4 on Polyvinyl. The first single, “Exit Only” is a raucous punk jam straight outta the Ashkenaz heyday, appropriately recorded in one take.

Link this to my love of a great cover song, but if a band I already like, in talking about their new record, cites influences that I also like a great deal, then it won’t even take a decent single to secure my pre-order. I don’t want a reviewer telling me so-and-so’s new LP sounds like post-Cars Ric Ocasek; I want the band itself to tell me it was inspired by the guy.

Sometimes I might wake up and make my bed, inspired by a Shins song echoing out of the other room. And it’s a pretty fun looking bed.

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Taking the Black: Three Crow-centric Tunes for a Wintery SF Summer

I’ve been re-watching all of HBO’s Game of Thrones episodes this summer with the advantage of two new perspectives. First, I’ve got a fresh set of eyes watching alongside, which is always fun. This time I get to be the pain-in-the-ass hitting pause repeatedly to clarify lineages and house politics. Second, I read all the books recently (prior to the start of season four), so I feel better equipped to make sense of the onscreen displays of those house politics. Nothing better than being a more well informed pain-in-the-ass. Plus, I can better appreciate the glee one feels when watching someone else’s first reaction to The Red Wedding.

So I assume that when scrolling through new tracks and reposted Soundcloud gems, certain song titles just stand out. I’d never have the fortitude to join The Night’s Watch myself, but I can certainly appreciate the honor of the Crows who take their vows seriously.

“I am the sword in the darkness.” Electronic duo 18+ feature a smooth xx vibe, with finger-snapping and crow horns that eat disco roosters for breakfast. Rangers returning. And they’re getting down on the edge of the world, “under night sky.”

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Hamilton Leithauser – I Need a Lover

A little more awesome to carry you into the end of the work week.

That’s Hamilton Leithauser covering John Cougar’s “I Need a Lover” for the AV Club’s Undercover series. Somewhere someone has already analyzed my brain (and, more significantly, the brains of like-minded individuals such as the geniuses who dreamed up this project and its predecessors) to figure out exactly what makes a good cover so appealing. And one day when I have a few more minutes of spare internet time, I’ll look into it. The science of karaoke bar success. Or something.

Meanwhile, I’ll also enjoy the fact that the intro to this video segment features Maritime’s “Someone Has To Die.” Happy Thursday.

Deers – Trippy Gum

I first heard the frantic garage rock of Madrid duo Deers back in June, and had both tracks from the debut EP* Demo bouncing in and out of various playlists for much of the summer.

The best thing that could have happened to my favorite of the two songs, “Trippy Gum,” is this video. It gives the aural energy a welcome visual mania and it edits the tune down by almost two minutes. Which, um… might have been a really good call. And it shows them eating and un-eating pizza. Which is fun.

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Woman’s Hour – Conversations

I have always been fascinated with the science behind communication, and the evolution of languages. This year, I have fallen in love with the art of conversation.

Conversations is the debut from the London pop four-piece Woman’s Hour. The dreamy, soulful pop is enjoyable enough on its own, but the full weight of the group’s artistry can only be felt with an appreciation of its entire aesthetic, including the album visuals and their first few videos.

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You and Me and Everybody Else

If I had a voice like Hamilton Leithauser…

I’d sing in the shower so that my neighbors could hear. I’d find a way to lead a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at AT&T. I’d stop arguments and mediate conflicts through focused crooning. I’d stop relegating my karaoke efforts to private underground closets in Japantown and start queuing up at The Mint.

"11 O'clock Friday Night" at 11 O'clock Saturday night
“11 O’clock Friday Night” at 11 O’clock Saturday night

And I’d be excused for boning San Francisco in favor of tour support for Ray LaMontagne.

That happened in April. Since then, the album came out, the gig at The Chapel was rescheduled, and all was forgiven.

Saturday’s show didn’t sell out until the early afternoon, apparently, which would seem to suggest that maybe some fans still held a grudge. And I had to persuade at least one of them, MH, that it’d be worth it. He got his ticket at 1:00 PM. But by the time the opener, LA’s Avid Dancer, finished their brief (five-song?) set, the dancefloor was packed. Continue reading You and Me and Everybody Else