Sonoma County songwriter Neem Wood mixes together shimmering electronics, soulful guitars and heartfelt lyrics for a compelling, emotional blend of indie rock and pop under the name Become the Villain.
Wood has a new album due to be released this weekend with a show at HopMonk in Sebastopol, and he has a preview of his latest work in the form a new single, “Slip Away,” that’s available to listen to right now.
Stylistically and sonically sophisticated, “Slip Away” features Wood’s soaring vocals and dark percussions with strong pop hooks and a cathartic chorus. Click on the track below; and catch Become the Villain tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23 at HopMonk, with other local luminaries Lungs and Limbs, Horses Heaven and Charley Peach. Details are here.
San Francisco soul swingers Royal Jelly Jive just crossed the finishing line in their ongoing fundraiser for their upcoming sophomore album, “Dear Mr. Waits,” which means not only will we get a new collection of the group’s groovy gypsy rock soon, but the band will be able to take the show on the road for a 2016 tour.
That’s great news, obviously. Today, the jiving jellies share a sneak peek at the upcoming album with a live studio recording of their first single, “Story,” featuring special guest Marty O’Reilly, of Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra.
Recorded at the always excellent Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, the single, “Story,” is a slow burning and sultry dirge, featuring harmonizing vocals from Royal Jelly singer Lauren Bjelde and O’Reilly set against dusty vintage guitars and jazz rhythms. Click on the link below to watch the studio recording. Royal Jelly Jive perform on New Year’s Eve at the Big Easy in Petaluma. Details for that show are here.
Psychedelic North Bay post-rock trio the Vibrating Antennas has a new head trip of a music video for their single “The Tourist,” off their upcoming sophomore LP, State of the Art, due to be released on Jan 8 from Melotov Records.
This darkly stoner rock dirge is a swirling shock of soaring grunge guitars, strained screaming vocals and a killer thumping bassline; and it’s been on repeat in my browser since the video’s release last week. Lyrically following a medicated loner adrift in Sonoma, “The Tourist” sees the Vibrating Antennas maturing into a spellbinding band unafraid to go into the darkness and bring it back with them.
This month, the band embarks on a West Coast tour and plays in Santa Rosa on Jan 9 with other local rockers the Down House and Red Wood, who are releasing their split 7″ and JRR Tallcan, whose new EP, “Smile,” is also fresh off the presses. Check out the video and get over to the show, details are here.
Folk and Americana duo Eight Belles is made up of Michigan-born and longtime Bay Area-based singer Jessi Phillips and Sonoma County native songwriter and guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle. The pair met in 2010 and first made noise in 2012 with their debut album, “Girls Underground,” hailed as a vividly beautiful country rock record.
Now, Eight Belles is back in the spotlight with a new self-titled album on Saint Rose Records, a recently premiered music video and an upcoming record-release show at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Dec 12, at 2pm.
Even with their impressive debut, the new self-titled record proves to be an even stronger effort, with Phillip’s lovely voice sounding like a mixture of Patsy Cline and Carol King, and evolved melodic arrangements performed with a full band of popular Bay Area musicians.
To get a taste of the new album, Eight Belles offer up a music video for their single, “The Old Life,” that matches their timeless country folk with enchanting black-and-white visuals, click on the video below to watch.
This weekend’s release show at the Last Record Store will feature the pair playing in an intimate setting, with Sonoma County songstress Ashley Allred opening. Vinyl and CD copies of the self-titled album will be available. The show starts at 2pm and is free.
Award-winning Asheville, NC, bluegrass ensemble Steep Canyon Rangers is having another busy summer, touring the country with Steve Martin and finishing up touches on a new LP, Radio, due to be released in early September.
And for your listening pleasure, the band has released the music video for the album’s title track and first single. The nostalgic lyrics and melodic fiddles of “Radio” are presented in a video collage made up from intimate, on-the-road footage gathered from the band’s relentless touring life.
Earlier this year, I caught up with Steep Canyon Rangers banjo player Graham Sharp. You can read that interview here. And click below to hear “Radio.”
Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers perform on Thursday, Aug 20, at the Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 866.955.6040.
New Jersey punk rock band Titus Andronicus have always been as ambitious as they were aggressive in their fiery punk revelries. Fronted by songwriter Patrick Stickles, the band is no stranger to concept albums, producing a Civil War themed record in 2010. This month, though, the band is taking things to a whole new level with the forthcoming release of The Most Lamentable Tragedy.
Clocking in at over 90 minutes and packed with 29 sprawling tracks, the group’s latest self-described “rock opera” is poised to become one of the most challenging and talked-about records of the year. Thematically the band says the new record plays out like a piece of long-form fiction. From a press release they describe the plot:
TMLT concerns an unnamed protagonist whom we meet in deep despair. Following an encounter with his own doppelgänger (an enigmatic stranger, identical in appearance though opposite in disposition), long held secrets are revealed, sending our protagonist on a transformative odyssey, through past lives and new loves, to the shocking revelation that the very thing that sustains him may be the thing to destroy him.
That’s some heavy stuff right there. The Most Lamentable Tragedy comes out on July 28. Below you can stream the new album via NPR, and in September you can see the band when they perform at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma.
Yo La Tengo, the Cure, and total world destruction; these are a few of my favorite things. Which is why this new video from prolific New Jersey rock band Yo La Tengo seems almost too good to be true. The long-time trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew are known for their unbelievable ability to play ANY song by request, and their upcoming covers album, Stuff Like That There, tackles classic songs by everyone from Hank Williams to the Lovin’ Spoonful and re-works their own tunes, culled from a 30-year career in music.
Set for release at the end of August, the album also features a demure cover of popular ’80s hit “Friday I’m in Love” by British new wave icons the Cure. And now, Yo La Tengo present that song’s bizarrely hilarious official video. It’s a tale of woe, as singer Georgia Hubley wanders the streets collecting nicknacks while an invading force of extra-terrestrial hearts pummel mankind into the stone age. I love it!
Los Angeles singer/songwriter Jake Smith has spent the last decade roaming the wilds of America’s clubs and venues under the moniker the White Buffalo. Through his wanderings, Smith is more like a lone wolf, stalking up and down the highways of America and slinging his hearty acoustic roots rock. Tonight, he returns to City Winery in Napa for a solo performance that will feature a slew of new songs from his forthcoming album, Love and the Death of Damnation.
Recently, the White Buffalo announced that pre-orders of the new record are available with plenty of bonus goodies thrown in to sweeten the deal, like behind-the-scenes looks of Smith making the record, alternate versions of his songs and more. Smith’s new music has also been the subject of an ongoing online documentary series from Ernie Ball capturing his songwriting and recording in an intimate studio space. Check out one of webisodes below and head to Napa tonight to catch a glimpse of the White Buffalo for yourself.
City Winery Napa, 1030 Main St, Napa. 8pm. $18-$22. 707.260.1600.
Noah Benjamin Lennox is best known as a member of experimental indie rock group Animal Collective, and under the pseudonym Panda Bear, Lennox has evolved considerably as an electronic artist with a pitch perfect penchant for expansive melodies in his sampled beats. This week, Panda Bear released his fifth solo album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, to universal acclaim; and today at noon tickets go on sale for Panda Bear’s upcoming concert at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma on April 16. This is a great chance to see the indie star in the intimate setting of Gun Bun’s newly restored Old Redwood Barn. Click here to grab tickets to the show, and watch the official video for “Mr Noah,” the first single off the new album.
“Weird” Al Yankovic is turning into a fantastic insult comic.
He has released two videos so far from his latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” and aside from being spot-on parodies of two of the most popular songs of the year, they are beautifully dickish in an inarguable way.
“Tacky,” a riff on Pharrell’s “Happy,” highlights the terrible fashion trends of Crocs, stripes and plaid, and the idea of taking selfies with the deceased at a funeral. The video features several comedians, mostly notably Jack Black, who is tacky defined with his high-waisted pants, rhinestoned fanny pack and obsessive twerking. It does such a good job of pointing out the stupidity of all these actions and looks, that anyone finding themselves associated with anything mentioned in the song should feel immediate and extreme shame. Then never do that thing again.
“Word Crimes,” a take on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” is basically Yankovic being a grammar Nazi. Dangling participles and contractions aside, he belittles those who use numbers for letters and single letters for full words (unless you’re Prince). It’s sweet release for that inner word cop that wants to spring out and beat the mob of uneducated slobs senseless with their own words. Yankovic has saved us much embarrassment and heartache.
The videos are part of his 8 videos in 8 days project, which in itself is a riff on Beyoncé’s latest release. Bey put out an album of 15 songs and 17 music videos available only on iTunes in December, with complete secrecy before its release. It sold a million copies in less than a week. Yankovic will release a full album in physical form, but has hinted that this album, the last under his current record contract, might signal a change. He says on his blog that he’s “weighing his options.”
Here’s hoping those options include a deeper delve into insult comedy.we