If you were (or are) a fan of noise rock, you were (or are or should be) a huge fan of Hammerhead. The Minneapolis-based trio formed back in the not-so-halcyon days of 1991 and unleashed a flurry of pummeling rock and post-punk heaviness upon the country for six years before disbanding. Though, like a bad penny, the band turned up once again, regrouping in 2010. Since then, they’ve been expanding and compounding on their throttling experimental sound, and last month Hammerhead released, New Directionz, their first full-length album in almost 20 years.
New Directionz is one of those rare gems of a return album for a reunited band. It both revels in the same rumbling, punishing bass lines and searing, dissonant guitars of the group’s early days, and progresses the sound in new and interesting ways. There’s definitely more nuanced post-punk atmospheres throughout, a darker edge to the fuzzed-out noise, yet there’s still that old familiar thundering rhythm to bang your head along to.
Hammerhead continue to be unapologetic and awesome, and with the new record they are taking the show on the road for a massive tour with another immense figure in noise rock, Qui. The Los Angeles duo of Matt Cronk and Paul Christensen have themselves had a bit of an on-again-off-again tenure, though it looks like their as strong as ever these days. Much more angular, vocally-melodic and playful, Qui nonetheless possess a raw and exciting sound and provide a perfect alternative pairing to Hammerhead.
Next Saturday, Oct 10, Hammerhead and Qui both invade Railroad Square in Santa Rosa to play the Arlene Francis Center. Also joining them on the bill is Hot Victory, an experimental drum duo out of Portland that put on amazing, space-oddity shows and features former Santa Rosa rock star Caitlin Love (Desert City Soundtrack / the Lead Veins). Kicking off the night is Eat My Shit, the electronic solo project from PRIZEHOG’s Vern Acular.
You can get more details of the show here and preview Hammerhead’s new album below.
The largest organic, outdoor, medicinal cannabis competition in the world, the Emerald Cup, is coming back to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa this December 12-13, and, as always, it is bringing an enormous array of vendors, guest speakers and live music with it.
Today, the Cup announced the full band lineup for this year’s edition, and it’s packed with reggae, world, fusion, rock and soul acts from around the country.
Headlining the Emerald Cup is Rebelution, the Santa Barbara outfit who specialize in the “California Reggae” sound that grinds together roots and dance hall melodies alike. Oakland’s Beats Antique are also scheduled, bringing their experimental electro-dance music. If you want a taste of Beats Antique check out their brand new live album, Creature Carnivale.
Vying for farthest-traveled is Bermuda MC Collie Buddz, who’s often booked across the globe at festivals like Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. He’s also one of the biggest proponents of the cannabis movement, unless that moniker is a total coincidence (it’s not).
Next on the bill is North Bay favorite Nahko and Medicine for the People, recent headliners at this year’s Petaluma Music Festival. Also slated to appear is Papadosio, Protoje, Fortunate Youth, John Brown’s Body, The Expanders and Marv Ellis & We Tribe.
The devastating Valley Fire that swept through Lake County last weekend, and continues to burn, has leveled entire neighborhoods and left tens of thousands of people homeless, displaced and in need of basic supplies like clothing, food and shelter. It’s a heartbreaking story, but the community in the North Bay has been quick to act with relief drives and fundraising efforts and that include a number of concert events. Here’s a few coming up this week and next:
September 17: Coffee and beer cafe Brew welcomes local musicians Cory Oleson, Charlie Davenport, Andrew Maurer and Francesco Catania with local artists auctioning off their work and proceeds from sales and beer going to relief efforts in Lake County. 555 Healdsburg Ave, Santa Rosa. 7pm.
September 20: HopMonk Tavern is hosting a collective of Sonoma County artists, promoters, and event producers in presenting an all-day benefit concert and silent auction. The lineup is still TBA, though it’s sure to be a killer bill, with all proceeds benefitting Valley Fire relief. If you can’t attend but still want to donate, you can do so here. 230 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol. Noon. $20.
September 26: The Phoenix Theater is putting together a rocking night of local acts including Bad Boy Eddy, State Line Empire, LuvPlanet and Faith & Bullets. A raffle and silent auction come with this show as well, and again all proceeds are going straight to those in need. 201 Washington St, Petaluma. 7pm. $10.
These are just a few of surely dozens of such shows happening for this cause. If you know of one, throw it into the comments, and if you can, please help our neighbors in need. Don’t know where to start? Go here.
Recorded last Valentine’s Day and released last month, the five-song “Killer” EP from Santa Rosa singer-songwriter Katie Phillips is strong. From the easy, muted strumming to Phillips’ fearless voice, this largely acoustic Americana rock offering is potent with stirring melodies and memorable hooks.
One third of local band the Bootleg Honeys (who perform this weekend at the American Roots Music Festival), Phillips says she takes influence from Karen Carpenter and Led Zeppelin, though on this new collection there’s plenty of other artists that come to mind, like John Mellencamp and Fiona Apple. Joining Phillips on the record is drummer and producer Mark Tarlton, who also provided the studio space in his Sonoma location.
For me, the best track is “Baby Blue,” which builds with a driving rhythm and features a powerful conclusion. “Hobo” is also an interesting turn, finding Phillips singing nearly a capella while Tarlton’s drums underscore her vocals like a roots rock chant, or a chain gang hymn. In fact, each track on the EP is a solid, confident outing that encourages repeat listens. Sample the EP below and see Phillips and Tarlton play as the Katie Phillips Duo on Friday, Sept 18, at Pub Republic, 3120 Lakeville Hwy, Petaluma.
Since moving to Oakland, songwriter Ezra Furman has become a popular, though often enigmatic figure, in the Bay Area. As the leader of Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, or any of the many other collaborations the artist engages in, Furman delights with great songs and heartfelt delivery.
With a new album, Perpetual Motion People, released two months back on Bella Union, Furman today unveils a cover of the song “Androgynous” by the Replacements, one of five cover songs recorded for a special edition of the album that’s due out later this year.
Since Furman personally identities as gender-fluid, this new take on the classic 80s song written by Paul Westerberg speaks volumes about finding happiness any way you can. Listen to the track below, a simple shot of guitars and vocals that absolutely nails the emotion of the original.
Santa Rosa surf punks the Illumnignarly take things to the next level with pummeling rhythms and lightning fast guitars. Though they’re an instrumental outfit, these guys know how to tell a story, as evidenced in their funny and fast music video for the song “Tall Can.”
Following a tale as old as time –waking up late for work– the video follows our intrepid hero as he attempts to deliver a pizza while hipsters and jerks try to keep him down. Directed, shot and edited by Timmy Lodhi with Khan Videos, this is a great way to get primed for the weekend.
The Illumnignarly play next Friday, Sep 18, as the house band for North Bay Cabaret’s True Fiction, the Quentin Tarantino-inspired variety show in Santa Rosa.
After a two-year hiatus, indie alternative rockers Fruit Bats are back together and back on the road. The band is fronted by Eric D Johnson, known best here in the North Bay as one of the founders and organizers of the Huichica Music Festival at Gun Bun Winery in Sonoma. Next month, Fruit Bats’ current tour will take them to Gun Bun’s historic Redwood Barn on Friday, Oct 9.
Supposedly, the band called it quits back in 2013, with Johnson continuing to play under his own name. Earlier this year, Johnson wrote that after years of having to write (Fruit Bats) in parenthesis after his own name, Johnson decided to start doing Fruit Bats again, “full steam ahead.”
Johnson also announced that Fruit Bats would be releasing a new album in 2016 and hitting the road this fall for a full US tour. That tour kicked off yesterday in Chapel Hill, NC. Fruit Bats will be making their way to the North Bay on Friday, Oct 9, at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St, Sonoma. 7pm. $28. fruitbatsmusic.com.
I’m a big fan of the podcast “Onstage with Jim & Tom,” hosted by Phoenix Theater music promoter Jim Agius and founder Tom Gaffey. Each week, the two sit down with a North Bay band or musician of note and chat about everything from tours and relationships to record collections and scary movies. It’s always a great conversation, especially when music veteran and wordsmith Gaffey heaps praise upon the guests in lovingly extended passages.
This time around, Jim and Tom welcome to the show Santa Rosa shoegaze outfit the Down House. The band talks about what it’s like having two couples in a band and the state of the North Bay hardcore scene before plugging in and performing a couple of tunes.
The Down House is made up of Casey Colby (Spirits of Leo), Cody Sullivan (Sabertooth Zombie), Sarah Sullivan, Sarah Davis and Chloe Connaughton. Gaffey calls them evocative right off the bat and the band proves why by the end, playing their dark and stylish Joy Division-inspired post-punk.
Listen to the episode below, and catch the Down House when they play the Phoenix Theater on Sunday, Sept 27, alongside State Faults, Lil Dowager and SPELLS.
If you’re a record collector, you’ve probably read that there are very few vinyl pressing plants left in the USA today, causing massive delays for popular releases on vinyl. But, if you’re a cassette tape collector, you may not know that there is only ONE factory still making analog, magnetized cassette tapes for music.
When all the other manufacturers moved to CD replication in the 1990s, the National Audio Company held on tight to their tapes, even buying out their former competitors’ equipment. With a major re-emergence in the last decade of cassette-only music labels and album releases from independent musicians everywhere, this Springfield, MO, plant is busier than ever.
Learn all about National Audio Company in this cool little video from Bloomburg Business and relive the salad days of the Walkman.
Arizona psychedelic rockers Destruction Unit are a no-holds-barred head trip through post-rock walls of sound. After two years of relative quiet, the pummeling five-piece outfit is back with the their most experimental brain melter of a record yet, Negative Feedback Resistor, due out Sept 18 on Sacred Bones.
In anticipation of the new album, Destruction Unit has released a few tracks via the world wide web, including this absolute scorcher of a song, “The Upper Hand.” In fact, this thing sound more like a punk rock cherry bomb, set off in the midst of a tornado, eclipsed by a tsunami swell of noise that washes over the whole thing by the end. It’s a monster, and it’s one of the band’s best ever. Listen here, if you dare.
The group is slated to hit European shores the same day the new record drops for a month-long tour, but before they embark, Destruction Unit is playing three dates in California, including a show hosted by the Pizza Punx on Thursday, Sept 3, at the Arlene Francis Center.
Also on the bill are Gag and White Wards, both Olympia, WA, bands that know how to thrash. Southern California weirdo punks the Coltranes and Seattle noisemakers Health Problems open the show.
Destruction Unit headline on Sept 3 at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10.