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Gabe’s Top 25 Albums of 2013
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Gabe’s Top 25 Albums of 2013

Dec 31, 2013 | No Comments

1. Kanye West – Yeezus (Def Jam)
2. Beyoncé – Beyoncé (Columbia)
3. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap (No Label)
4. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety (Software)
5. Drake – Nothing Was the Same (Young Money)
6. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator (Matador)
7. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon (True Panther)
8. Iceage – You’re Nothing (Matador)
9. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual (Rabid)
10. Haxan Cloak – Excavation (Tri Angle)
11. Sky Ferriera – Night Time, My Time (Capitol)
12. The New Trust – Keep Dreaming (Discos Huelga)
13. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (RCA)
14. Merchandise – Totale Night (Night People)
15. Haim – Days Are Gone (Polydor)
16. Ka – The Night’s Gambit (Iron Works)
17. Charli XCX – True Romance (Atlantic)
18. Grouper – The Man Who Died in His Boat (Kranky)
19. The Crux – The Ratcatcher (Self-Released)
20. Helm – Silencer (PAN)
21. The-Dream – IV Play (Def Jam)
22. Julia Holter – Loud City Song (Domino)
23. Jose James – No Beginning and No End (Blue Note)
24. K. Michelle – Rebellious Soul (Atlantic)
25. Ariana Grande – Yours Truly (Republic)

Previous years here, here, here, and here.

Gabe’s Top 30 Shows of 2013
Live Review: Courtney Love at the Phoenix Theater

Live Review: Courtney Love at the Phoenix Theater

Aug 25, 2013 | One Comment

Here was the moment at the Courtney Love show last night, and it was brief: right after “Violet,” there’s the usual applause and all, but then it comes back, and surges into a roar, like the crowd all agrees to just cheer the shit out of Courtney Love for, I don’t know, being through hell, most of it self-inflicted, and being murdered by the media, and having her daughter taken away once or twice, and the Kurt thing, but living through it against the odds, and now, playing a sparsely-populated show in some fuckin’ chicken town, and showing up in a silver cutaway jumpsuit and bare feet and way-fake boobs and ratty blonde hair, and actually smiling while singing lines like “I always wanted to die”—and then, during this spontaneous burst of love from the crowd, Courtney Love, 49 years old, looks out into the Phoenix Theater, coyly grins, then visibly swells with gratitude, cocks her head and blows a kiss, serious as a heart attack.

You know how you see a band that’s famous for being sloppy, or mad at each other, or too drunk, but then there’s the one night they’re super tight, or just happy, or sober, and it’s like “THIS is what this band always could be but now finally, gloriously is“? That was Courtney Love last night at the Phoenix, accepting three bouquets of roses when she hit the stage, opening the set with “Plump,” screaming the lines “IT MAKES ME SICK” like the screech of a malfunctioning tractor and, at the end of the song, looking down at the monitor and telling the soundman: “I just blew a speaker.”

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Brian Griffith Let Go From KRSH-FM; Bill Bowker to Take Over Morning Show

Aug 15, 2013 | 41 Comments

When listeners tune in to 95.9-FM tomorrow morning, they won’t hear Brian Griffith’s voice over the airwaves.

That’s because Griffith, who for six years has served as the morning host of the KRSH, was let go from the station today by general manager Debbie Morton in an early afternoon phone call.

“She said, ‘We’re making changes, and they don’t include you, and good luck, and we have a check for you, and we need your keys,’” Griffith said when I called him this afternoon.

This came as a surprise to the listeners who called me today, but did Griffith see it coming? “Sort of,” he told me. “The guy who owns the station, he doesn’t even live in the area. And the first time I met him, the first thing he said to me was, ‘I don’t get the KRSH.’”

According to Griffith, program changes were imposed that he didn’t agree with. “Over the last three months, they’ve just been yanking all my personality out of the show,” says Griffith, adding that he had “no input at all” in the music played on the show. He also lamented that the station playlist was recently cut down to just 800 songs by program director Andre DeChannes.

“The way that the playlist has been these last couple weeks,” he said, “I mean, I love Eric Clapton, but do we really need to hear ‘Lay Down Sally’ again? Do we really need to hear the Wallflowers again? Or the Counting Crows?”

Live segments and local bands were cut from mornings, too, he said. “And I complained,” the 20-year radio veteran told me. “I’ve been at it a long time, and I was vocal with my opinion.”

I sent Morton an email asking for an explanation about Griffith’s dismissal. She replied simply: “Management at Wine Country Radio felt that changes to The Krush morning show were long overdue.”

Morton also added that Bill Bowker would start as the host of the morning show early next week.

I called Bowker, who confirmed the upcoming move. “I haven’t done mornings for years,” he said. “Maybe it’s time for a little change here.”

Bowker will drop his afternoon time slot, which he’s held for as long as anyone can remember. As for morning show concepts, Bowker says he has some ideas percolating, “but this all just happened today,” he said, “so it’s too soon to say.”

No word on an afternoon replacement yet.

-

UPDATE — It’s 9:23 the next morning, and here’s what the KRSH is playing:

Courtney Love to Play the Phoenix Theater Aug. 24
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Courtney Love to Play the Phoenix Theater Aug. 24

Aug 6, 2013 | No Comments


Fresh off a totally sold-out show at the Independent in July, ’90s icon and walking sociological experiment Courtney Love returns to the Bay Area for a show at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma on Saturday, Aug. 24.

Those hoping to catch a trainwreck in action may want to consider that the widow of Kurt Cobain and public streaker has been getting pretty good live reviews lately, touring with a solid backing band. (Still, Phoenix booker Jim Agius says: “I understand and accept the risks completely.”)

It will be Courtney Love’s first time performing in Sonoma County since 1991, when Hole played a show at the SSU Duck Pond with Nuisance and the Fluid. (Yes, I still have the flyer.)

Tickets will be $35, and they go on sale tomorrow, Aug. 7, at the Phoenix Theater’s site.

Live Review: Macklemore at BottleRock, Napa

Live Review: Macklemore at BottleRock, Napa

May 9, 2013 | One Comment

“There’s nothing wrong with PlayStation and jacking off. . . . but it was really messing with my creativity.”

See that dude in the photo up there? Yeah, that’s not Macklemore. Sorry. You’re cruising BottleRock, you see a guy in a fur vest and waxed-down blonde hair, and chances are that with the amount of Macklemore impersonators out there, it’s not really gonna be Ben Haggerty, b. 1983, hit song, “Thrift Shop.”

And what do you care? You’ve come in hopes that your gut feeling on Macklemore is off-base. You want Macklemore, live and on stage, to somehow take those eyes you so irritatedly rolled at first hearing (or, realistically: seeing) “Thrift Shop” and knock them right out of your head, and say: “Hey man, don’t be so fuckin’ jaded, I grew up on Paid in Full too. Just have fun, okay?”

On this night here in Napa, kicking off BottleRock, Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” has just hit Billboard’s #1 spot, and while you’re watching his dutiful set you realize why he enjoys such wide mainstream appeal: there is simply no reason to really hate the guy. He bounces and traipses around the stage as if following an exercise regimen, he delivers his repeated patter as if it were fresh every night, and he shows up on time (big points in the rap world for that last one).

Live Review: Jason Moran and Live Skateboarding at SFJAZZ Center

Live Review: Jason Moran and Live Skateboarding at SFJAZZ Center

May 5, 2013 | No Comments

At first, the only sensible reaction was giddy laughter that it was even happening at all. At the SFJAZZ Center last night, Jason Moran’s jazz quartet led a jam session on stage—while in the audience, with the first five rows of seats removed, eight skateboarders held a different kind of jam session on a specially built miniramp. Pretty funny, right?

But a few songs into this amusing pairing, conceived by Moran himself, the serious corollaries between the two art forms of jazz and skateboarding began to make perfect sense. As the band onstage improvised in real time, so did the skateboarders, trying trick after trick. As the band was beholden to rhythm and tempo, so were the skateboarders, slaves to that next transition in the ramp, always approaching. As the musicians played off each other’s ideas, so did the skaters, by positioning their boards on the platform for the more daring of the bunch to use as extensions of the ramp.

The results were nothing short of thrilling.

Moran, wearing a T-shirt from the East Bay hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, compared modern-day skateboarding to the early days of modern jazz at Minton’s Playhouse, “when Diz and Bird and all them were trading ideas and the language was changing so quick.”

BottleRock Countdown: Sharon Van Etten

May 3, 2013 | No Comments

If you need a reason to show up early to BottleRock on Saturday, Best Coast should help. If you’re still sleeping off a hangover or whatever, though, at least get there to see Sharon Van Etten. Her great 2012 album Tramp keeps blowing new listeners away,and she’s tremendous live.

Music is a funny thing, and you never know when it’s going to fuck you up. I wandered over to a side stage at Outside Lands last year and ran into Van Etten singing “I’m Wrong,” and just started crying, and I don’t know why.

Here’s footage of the same song, from New York City. Hang with it. It’s a slow build.

BottleRock Countdown: Kings of Leon

May 3, 2013 | No Comments

Once, I watched Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices go off on every “it” band of the moment in a typically drunk onstage rant. He lambasted the Strokes, Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (this was 2003) and, finally, Kings of Leon, whose name he spat out with disgust.

Then, good ol’ Pollard: he reconsidered. “Actually I kind of like Kings of Leon. Sorry.”

This had once held title as the greatest thing to happen in the band’s career, until 2010, when a flock of pigeons decided to shit all over the band in St. Louis, abruptly ending the show.

No, really, it’s true. Below is footage, and though you can’t make out actual aviary feces, you can check the drummer’s reaction at 1:12. After “Taper Jean Girl,” only the third song in the set, the band stormed off the stage and cut the show short.

BottleRock Countdown: X

May 3, 2013 | No Comments

I have a tattoo of this band, so that settles the personal affirmation of their greatness, right?

But, if you care, you can read my story of listening to and loving X that appeared in the Bohemian in 2005. Heavily influencing that love of X is the documentary ‘The Unheard Music,’ which is more than a band documentary—it’s just as much a perfect snapshot of Los Angeles history as those great “Driving Down Whittier Boulevard” videos.

And behold, someone’s posted the whole thing on YouTube. It’s great. Crack open a six-pack and watch: