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.
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.
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.
I just couldn’t get going this morning. Between the cloudy skies and my comfy bed it took all my might to move. So, before I even ground up the coffee, I put on Bucc Nyfe.
The Santa Rosa punk rock trio gets my blood pumping and head rocking with their high energy rock and roll. Tight beats and heavy distortion shake the sleep from my eyes, while the emotionally-driven lyrics and nostalgic themes take me back to the days before I needed coffee to get going in the morning.
If you’re still sleepy, hit the track below and thank me later.
Tonight, Bucc Nyfe headlines an electrified show at 775 After Dark in Sebastopol with the help of rockers Bang! Bang! and Bumblin’ Bones. 7pm. $4.
Santa Rosa guitarist and songwriter Francesco Catania is a bit of a musical chameleon, able to rock a melodic soul jam as easily as a post punk anthem. He’s been seen playing alongside local favorites like John Courage, and recently went on the road with Arizona garage rock duo Burning Palms.
This weekend, Catania dusts off his gold cape and shiny shoes to show a different side of his musical personality when he performs under his solo electronic outfit Frances Wolfe. An ongoing project since 2013, Frances Wolfe allows Catania to go deep into his inner cosmos, producing synth and reverb-soaked atmospheres that blissfully explore ambient sounds and abstract melodies for a down-tempo chill wave head trip.
In anticipation of a new EP this fall, Frances Wolfe has released his latest single, “Portrait.” The tune wanders in and out of a trippy guitar riff as building feedback menacingly encroaches and Catania’s voice floats like an out-of-body experience. Listen to “Portrait” below:
On Sunday, Aug 2, Frances Wolfe performs at the Arlene Francis Center as part of an eclectic showthat also includes face-melting jazz from InOverOut, rock and roll from Sleepwalk Sunday, dreamy punk from Plastic Ghost, groovy pianos from Saffell and more. 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 7pm. $5-$10. For more details, click here.
Last Saturday, the idyllic Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood got a little jolt of of rock and roll with the 6th annual Lion Awake Productions Backyard concert. Taking place at a private residence on Slater St, the concert featured four local favorites performing on the deck and crowds of up to 150 people hanging out on the large lawn.
Kicking off at 4pm, the show opened with young Sonoma County band Parcivillian mixing a fresh blend of rock and blues with a dash of folk thrown in via their fiddle player. Next up was popular local rockers Kingsborough, who impressed with their tight rhythms and free-wheeling attitudes. Powering through their own high-energy original tunes and dedicated covers of classic party songs alike, Kingsborough really got the party going.
Along with the music, the house show featured a delicious taco truck parked on the curb offering up spicy carnitas tacos and sumptuous chicken burritos. After scarfing down on some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, it was time to enjoy the perfectly-pitched sounds of the T Sisters and the grooving beats of Lazyman.
Hailing from Oakland, the three harmonizing T Sisters, Erika and twins Rachel and Chloe, were joined by mandolin master Andrew Allen Fahlander and standup bassist Steve Height and crowded on to the deck for a sonorous mix of traditional gospel folk tunes. Honestly, they didn’t even need the microphones, their vocal power is so great they could have sung to the whole block without any electronic amplification.
By the time the sun set, headlining act Lazyman was ready to rock. Fronted by Sonoma County songwriter Steve Pile, the band capped off the concert with their eclectic rock that’s singularly dedicated to having a good time. With cooling temperatures and gusty winds, Lazyman kept the crowd lively and laid-back all at the same time.
John Legend is a hard working performer. His two-hour concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa last night showed off not only his work ethic, but showcased his velvety voice and storytelling prowess in an intimate setting that was designed to feel like his living room. The only difference being, as the exquisitely dressed singer said during the show, “I don’t normally wear a suit in my living room.”
He really hammed it up at times for the crowd, who ate up his every word—except the gaff toward the end, when he said, “I mean, this is the Napa Valley, right?” This led to applause, briefly (because he was so charming, everything he said resulted in applause), but soon turned to boos. That’s right, Sonomans are so passionate about terrior they booed John Legend for making a minor geographical error. When he corrected his error with an embarrassed smile, “Oh, Sonoma Valley, right?” the applause resumed.
He mostly sat at the Yamaha grand piano, tickling the ivories with a young string quartet on the right of the stage and a guitarist to the left. When he brought the mic downstage and perched on a stool to serenade the crowd, women—and men—started squirming in their seats. Every John Legend song is a recipe for “making little tax breaks,” as he says, and though he doesn’t guarantee anything at the end of the night, “ya know…” he trails off before a knowing shrug, “you know.”
The intimate evening was staged with five loveseats occupied by couples who won tickets through radio promotions, with huge Hollywood movie lights towering above, lighting Legend from the back. Lighting against the back wall changed colors, and was especially useful during “Green Light,” one of his best songs of the night. The sound in the newly renovated space was crisp and loud. It felt like a larger space, but we were so close we could see the lack of sweat on Legend’s face. (Prince also lacks sweat glands, maybe they went to the same voodoo doctor for their musical talent.)
Women did a lot of the hooting and hollering through the night, but the fellas were cheering especially boisterously after a powerful solo piano cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” He told a aw-shucks story about performing it on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at the behest of that show’s musical director, the drummer ?uestlove, but never hearing if the Boss liked it or not. Months later, he says, he received a hand-signed letter asking him to play it at an awards gala. “I guess he liked it,” Legend said with a smile.
He paced the show perfectly, with some segments featuring three or four songs back to back, and some getting breaks between while he told stories. My favorite was when he met President Obama last year. After getting married to supermodel Christine Teigen earlier in the year, he asked Obama for marriage advice. Michelle chimed in, “How long had you been together before you got married?” He said about five years. “What took you so long?” the President asked, which earned Legend a glare from his new wife. Legend turned to the chuckling crowd, deadpan, and said, “Thanks, President Obama.”