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New Release – Manic Street Preachers, “Resistance is Futile”

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Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers have just dropped their latest record, Resistance is Futile. Looking back at the twelve albums they’ve released since they burst onto the UK music scene with 1992’s Generation Terrorists — and especially over the unexpected late-period strut of their last few albums — it’s hard to escape the feeling that this is a place the Manics have been heading toward for their entire career. And it is a milestone, undoubtedly: you can love it or hate it, but you certainly can’t ignore it. Resistance is Futile is that kind of a record. Never huge in the US — with song titles like “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart” (really) they weren’t trying to be a commercial proposition, but somehow they sold out arenas around the world and sold millions. Resistance is Futile, then, is a good place to get on board.

In its first run, it can be a bit tricky to get into. But the hype is that this album could be their first number one record since 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. The band members themselves are more pumped about the new album than you might expect a group of middle-aged men with 12 albums and 3 decades of touring experience to be — but for the Manics, the message has always been the fuel for the spectacle, and they describe Resistance is Futile as being inspired by the frightening evolution of social media, which is a target ripe for their practiced ire and sharpened irony. They’ve always been a band with something interesting (and often oblique) to say about their times, and RiF lives up to that promise.

The numbers are lyrically sound, and if anything, a little too precise. Those who remember the more impressionist yearning of the Generation Terrorists era (if anyone can explain the meaning of the phrase ‘motorcycle emptiness’ whilst stone-cold sober, we will be impressed) may be surprised — but while other lyricists would have held back from the kind of clear, concise lyrics we have here, Nicky Wire has been at this for so long, he knows how to make it work. The songs reflect the band’s influences, which have always been erudite, varied and punk as hell, and Resistance is Futile continues the trend, with frequent references to the things the band loves, not for swagger or hip but for sheer joy, from Dylan Thomas’s poetry to Yves Klein’s paintings and Vivian Maier’s photography.

Resistance is Futile feels, from the sheer weight of practice and craft behind it, weirdly like a vintage album. It takes you back to a simpler time. “Liverpool Revisited,” sees Wire reminiscing about wandering around Liverpool with a Polaroid, and “International Blue” is pulled along by an undertone of beautifully captured melancholy, while “Broken Algorithms” brims with good intent and momentum and even (whisper it) uplift. But the best parts of the album come at the end. The last two numbers, “Song for the Sadness” and “The Left Behind,” are where the album truly tugs at the heart.

If you listen to the tracks all in one go, the album may come across as a bit unfocused; but this one is a grower. When you settle in for a rerun and listen to each song as a separate number, there’s a haunting quality to the punch and precision of this record that rewards repeat listens. Resistance is Futile has the potential to grow into a soundtrack for our weird, alienated, ever-more-connected times; consider it.

Hayley Kiyoko Set to Play the Fillmore with Jess Kent

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Hayley Kiyoko is making her way to San Francisco next week, set to play at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. Hailed by Rolling Stone as one of “10 Artists You Need To Know,” her self-directed videos for “Curious” and “Feelings” are in heavy rotation on VH1 and MTV and have generated over 144 million views in under two years. Don’t miss this talented LGBT crusader as she plays the legendary Fillmore next week with Jess Kent.

Hayley Kiyoko plays the Fillmore with Jess Kent Tuesday, April 24, 2018 // Doors 7:00 p.m. // Show 8:00 p.m. // Tickets are $25.00 plus applicable charges.

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

Q&A: Yvette Nacer

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Nickelodeon’s Yvette Nacer just released her newest single and music video for “Who We Were Before.” Best known for her role as Kiki in The Emmy-Winning Series The Fresh Beat Band and for her role as Cha Cha in FOX’s Grease: Live, Nacer actually started out in the music industry. In fact, throughout her career she’s performed alongside some of the biggest names in music, including Jason Mraz, Wyclef Jean, All-4-One, Ne-Yo, Gloria Estefan, Engelbert Humperdink, Justin Bieber, among others.

We wanted to learn more about this multi-talented artist to we reached out to her to talk about what inspires her to sing and perform, what her experience on Grease: Live was like, and what she prefers more between singing or acting.

What is your first musical memory?

My earliest memory was when I was really little, my mom made me a cardboard violin and showed me and my sisters how to hold it. At three, that’s when I started taking violin lessons and officially fell in love with music.

What does music mean to you?

Music is everything. It has been my best friend for as long as I can remember.

Yvette Nacer

What inspires you to sing and perform?

Music, singing, and performing makes me feel alive. I want to live to the fullness of my potential and if I can do what inspires me, it might inspire others to do what makes them feel alive too.

As an actress, you are Yvette, but as a singer, you are Ava Gold. How are the two different?

You could say I had a little Ava Gold moment, but decided this year to release music under my name again and just be myself, Yvette Nacer.

You played the role of “Cha Cha” in Grease: Live. What did you learn most from this experience?

Getting to work with such an incredible cast. Everyone from Carly Rae Jepsen and Keke Palmer to Vanessa Hudgens and Julianne Hough was inspiring to me. And I was honored to be a part of such good company. I honestly learned so much from everyone.

Since the film was such a huge undertaking — production-wise — I think the biggest lesson for me was that all you can do is prepare as much as possible, but then you have to let go, and just have fun!

Do you find it challenging to be taken seriously in the industry as a singer when you come from an acting background?

Music has always been my first love and was my background before acting. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to work as an actress on projects where I’ve been able to incorporate some of my musical skills. For example, shows like Grease: Live on FOX, the animated show Goldie & Bear on Disney and The Fresh Beat Band on Nickelodeon, where I had the opportunity to sing, dance, act and play the guitar and violin!

You have experience with acting, singing, and performing instruments. Is there one that you enjoy more than the others?

I think I go through phases where I do enjoy one more than the other. But I’m quite lucky that I have them all in my life.

What do you enjoy most: acting in a live setting or singing and why?

I love singing. There’s something about being vulnerable in front of an audience and letting the music sweep me off my feet.

What big projects do you have lined up this year?

I’m releasing another music video next month for my single “Santería.” I’m finishing up an EP, as well as an album slated for release later this year called Better Human.

I have some shows coming up in Los Angeles and wrote some music that is going to be featured in Don Fogelman’s upcoming film Life, Itself (out in theaters this June). I’m also currently producing my first feature film and developing several other shows.

What’s one thing that many people would be surprised to find out about you?

I’m a learn-aholic!

Photos courtesy of Pendulum PR

Bonnaroo Announces Full Lineup for 2018

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The 2018 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival lineup has just been announced. This year’s edition will showcase over 150 artists.

Bonnaroo will take place June 7 – 10 on “The Farm” at Great Stage Park, the 700-acre event space located 60 miles southeast of Nashville in Manchester, TN.

All ticket types and accommodations are still available including single-day VIP tickets as well as a limited number of single (i.e., one person) VIP tickets.

CHECK OUT THE FULL SCHEDULE HERE

How to Start Building a Vinyl Collection

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The growth of music streaming has changed the world for music-lovers. Google Music and Spotify and iTunes are indispensable and fantastic tools for discovering new music, stretching your horizons, and getting access to the world of recorded music at low cost. But for a few reasons — including the difference between digital sound and sound that’s made literally by carefully-marked vibrations, the differences in the experience of the music, and the ability to focus on an album as a single piece of work — vinyl is a whole different way of enjoying your music.

Building up a vinyl collection can be incredibly rewarding, a great way of experiencing and enjoying the music you love, and moving from casual consumption to really letting specific works become part of your life. If you’re considering adding a vinyl collection to the way you enjoy music, here are a few things to think about.

  1. Start with the hunt
    If you’re wondering about what kinds of records to start buying, the rule of thumb is to trust the classics. Some of the most ground-breaking records in the history of music can be found in record stores and online, and prices can be amazing, with some classics available for as little as $1. Look up the lists online, and start checking off one record after another. If you have any particular favorites, that would be a great place to get going, but consider thinking about the classics of other eras — Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Dark Side of the Moon, Black Moses — and discovering why they made such an impact when they came out, because the vinyl sound was a big part of that.
  2. Invest in hardware
    This is easily one the most basic question any vinyl newbie faces. The answer depends on what you’re looking to get out of your vinyl collection. If you’re just starting out, and if it’s the whole look and feel of vinyl that fascinates you, you’re better off getting a turntable that’s inexpensive, just to try it out. If you’re an audiophile, then a ‘professional’ turntable is the way to go. And the sound you get from a good turntable depends on the amplifier you buy; digital amps are great but there are some vintage valve-based amps which can really add to the organic richness of the sound.
  3. Store Vinyl Carefully!
    Storing your vinyl records in a cool, dry place is ideally the best way to go about it; and always, always store your records vertically, one beside the other. Placing them one above the other may seem to be space-saving, but this poses the very real risk of warping your vinyl. Vinyl that is substantially warped is practically impossible to play – and stacking the record one above the other isn’t the only way they get warped. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can also have a similar effect.

If you’re still on the wall about getting into vinyl collection, you might be able to find a listening party near you, where groups get together to listen to a whole album, quietly, together; really focusing on the sound and the craft that has been put into the production of the music, and the relationship between the sound and the format. Give it a try, and if you like it, go ahead and enjoy building a vinyl collection!

Check out the list we’ve compiled of some of San Francisco’s best record stores and start building your vinyl collection today!

Q&A: Vance Joy

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Vance Joy

Multi-platinum Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy will bring his Nation of Two worldwide headline tour to the Greek Theatre tonight. Released earlier this year, his sophomore album Nation of Two debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts and was met with wide critical acclaim. The tour will hit most major U.S. cities and will see Joy play some top music festivals including Coachella, Shaky Knees, and Firefly.

In anticipation of the Greek Theater show here in San Francisco we wanted to connect with Vance to talk about his quick rise to fame, what he hopes people will take away from his music, and if he prefers the intimacy of smaller stages to the energy of larger festivals like Coachella.

You’ve had a sort of “rags to riches” career from playing open-mic nights in Melbourne to playing in front of tens of thousands of people in stadiums all over the world. Can you describe what that feels like?

When I started I had small expectations for my music. I had been writing songs, and I wanted people to hear them and to share them. Open mics were the perfect opportunity for that, but I think it was so scary. Open mic nights were scarier than playing Taylor Swift shows because I had no experience up to that point. Playing for five people and playing original songs felt like the scariest thing ever.

After that, it was a whirlwind. Once I put out “Riptide” and it was getting people’s attention online it’s all a bit of a blur but I was lucky to meet an amazing team and manager. He helped me navigate through the music industry. I’m lucky to have assembled a great team of people to work with me, bring me great opportunities, and protect me. So I feel I’ve had a charmed passage through the music industry. And the consistent thing has been enjoying songwriting and I feel like following my instincts with songwriting has done me well.

You recently released your sophomore album Nation of Two. Because Dream Your Life Away was so successful, were you nervous at all about how well it would do?

I was a bit nervous, but I look back now and I feel like I’m glad that I wasn’t too nervous or that the nerves for some reason didn’t overwhelm me. I’m glad that I wasn’t too distracted by a need to meet the same level as my first album. I don’t know why that didn’t take over but luckily it didn’t. My main focus was writing songs and hoping they’d meet my personal criteria — whatever that may be.

You’re slated to play Coachella in a few weeks. Do you tend to prefer the bigger festivals or smaller more intimate venues?

I love playing festivals because everyone is excited and enthusiastic — just as people are in small shows — but people really let their guard down at large festivals so it’s great to engage with that type of crowd.

In an intimate show, there’s nowhere to hide, which can be super raw. With the audience right in front of you, you can’t really ever be on autopilot because they’re so close by. I love both but I’m especially excited for Coachella.

Being from Australia, what are some differences between U.S. and Australian audiences?

There aren’t too many differences actually. It really goes city to city. For example, you can find similarities between Melbourne and New York; and Brisbane might be similar to a Boston crowd. It’s almost like you respond to the enthusiasm level and loudness of the crowd. I feel like for some reason some cities are more reserved yet they’re still engaged, which is fine, and some cities are way more boisterous. So there’s no real main difference between the countries but definitely in some of the cities.

Do you still get nervous before you hit the stage?

It depends on if there’s something different that’s happening during the set I’ve been thinking about. A new song, someone to impress in the crowd like a friend or family member. That can be a reason to get nervous. But I think it dissipates quite quickly once you get out there. I like that feeling of being fully awake before you walk on stage.

What do you want people to take away most from your songs?

The songs that I like, they all elicit some emotion or some feeling. They pump you up. Like you want to bang the steering wheel to the beat or you want to sing along because it penetrates your heart in some way. So I want to make songs that can do that … that affect people emotionally and make them bob their head. Like when I listen to Mumford & Sons, I think “This guy is ripping it and there’s a force to it.” So to have my music have that power in some way is something I aim for.

What’s one thing that most people would be surprised to find out about you?

I know the entire Buffy Season 6 musical … the whole thing. And I can sing along to it.

Vance Joy plays the Greek Theater in Berkeley with Lovelytheband tonight Friday, April 13 // Show: 7:30 P.M.

Photos courtesy of Atlantic Records

Q&A: Gene Evaro Jr.

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Groove Soul artist Gene Evaro Jr.’s signature brand of folk electro-funk is making its way to Slim’s in a few days. The show is just days after the release of his third LP Like it’s 1965, which sees him blending Paul Simon folk songs with some deep funk from bands like Sly & The Family Stone. We wanted to learn more about this hot artist, so we reached out to him to talk about how he describes his music, what his main influences are and whether living in the desert has an impact on his music.

For readers that aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe your sound and what you do musically?

It’s a mixture of soul, folk, electronic, and funk.

Who are your main influences?

Too many to name! But off the top, I’d say, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Paul Simon, D’Angelo.

What projects are you most excited about this year?

We are releasing a new album! It’s called “Like It’s 1965” and it will be available everywhere April 6th. Check us out on youtube as well for the new music video!

You call Joshua Tree home. What’s it like living in the desert and does it influence your music at all?

I love it out here in the dusty desert! It’s serene, peaceful and hot! It’s a great balance from coming off the road and touring the country for weeks on end. It’s always what I need after a few weeks of going from city to city.

I think it does affect the music; it has to right? Not sure how just yet.

You’re playing Slims in San Francisco next week. What can we expect at your show?

A live band that brings it! Not just riffs or fluff, but music that can heal you from a distance (if you’re into that sort of thing).

What do you think of our city?

We love it! SF always gives us mad love. The food, that’s my jam.

What do you think of the current state of the music industry?

No time to think about that one. Music is the soul of life. “Industry” is the soul of…. (a necessary evil perhaps?)

What’s your take on the pro-tools debate? Are you a proponent of heavy production or do you like a more stripped down raw sound?

I love it all. I gravitate towards raw talent/music. Productions should compliment genius, not distract from it. And if genius doesn’t exist in the first place, then production helps the pill go down a little smoother (not always though).

What’s one thing that most people would be surprised to find out about you?

I play upside down right handed guitar with my left hand (no not like Hendrix!) More like Albert King. (low e on the bottom baby)

What advice would you give a young musician that’s just starting out and has aspirations of turning pro someday?

Be prepared to spend long hours (even years) of being alone with your instrument. (Period.)

Gene Evaro Jr. plays Slim’s on April 13 with support from Handmade Moments // $12 advance / $15 door / $36.95 dinner

Q&A: Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle

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A Perfect Circle,  the rock supergroup formed in 1999 by guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, is set to play the Event Center in San Jose next week. The band will be promoting their first new album in 14 years entitled, Eat The Elephant, which is set to drop on April 20. We wanted to check in Billy to ask him about why it took so long to come out with a new release, what the writing process was like between him and Maynard, and what fans can expect from the tour this time around.

Being that it’s been 14 years since your last release, how, why did you decide to release a new album now? How do you explain the gap between albums?

This is something both Maynard and I had been wanting to do for a while but we’ve both been working on other projects and life has intervened. With Maynard, it’s always a matter of timing, he’s often scheduled more than a year out. There was a window we both had open and we were able to get working.

What was the writing process between you and Maynard James Keenan this time around?

We traded ideas while I was in Los Angeles and he was in Arizona. Maynard made visits out to LA where we’d work in tandem on the songs.

The sound seems to be a little different on this one, especially with the vocals. Was that a conscious effort or did it just happen organically?

That’s really more of a question for Maynard but obviously, he’s a tremendous singer and his vocal range has continued to evolve. He’s commented on how many people think some of the vocals on Puscifer’s recent releases are Carina Round’s but they are actually him.

What were some inspirations for this album?

The world around us, the times we’re living in right now, how volatile it is. The need for accountability. I go into my studio and write, it’s influenced by what’s happening in my life and what I see around me.

You’re coming back to the Bay Area in April but performed in San Francisco at around this time last year. What do you think of the city?

I love it, I’ve always loved the Bay Area, it’s a very special place.

What can fans expect from the tour this time around?

The main thing is we’re playing a lot of new material. We’ll also have Greg Andrews from Failure/Autolux joining us as James Iha is touring with the Smashing Pumpkins. The line-up is Maynard, myself, Jeff Friedl (drums), Matt McJunkins (bass) and Greg (guitar).

You’ve come out with a couple of videos for “Eat the Elephant” that has a strong political message. What do you think of the current political climate in the United States?

It’s a volatile, sad state of affairs but I’m hoping this is the precursor to change. As we’ve seen in the past, like the ’60s with the civil rights movement, there are often challenging periods ahead of true change.

A Perfect Circle plays the Event Center at San Jose State University on Wed 4/18 @ 8 pm

Photo by Tim Cadiente

SF Music Scene Roundup: Best of March

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March has gone by in a blur of unforgettable performances that happened in just about every music venue in the city; the month saw shows from Michigan’s guitar virtuoso Harvey Mandel, math-rock mind-blowers Architects, and Kiwi pop-art queen Lorde, and special events including a festival for both Bacon AND Beer, at Jack London Square, and signings from Stone Temple Pilots and a somehow-still-partying Andrew W.K. Elsewhere, the Regency Ballroom saw a mesmerizing performance from ZZ Ward that left audience smitten and spellbound. Ward has always been one of the city’s favorite artists, and she recreated the magic of some of the best tracks from her last three albums, reminding the world why the blues sits at the foundation of so much of the world’s great music.

Following close on the heels of ZZ Ward came Billie Eilish’s show at the Great American Music hall, which managed a feat not often seen; a venue full of tweens and their mothers roaring in joy and dancing to electropop. Tickets sold out in minutes, and the sixteen-year-old Eilish is on her way to becoming the next big thing. Watch this space, and track down her show next month at the Alt 105.3 Concord Pavilion, on May 13th. Flint Eastwood – who are still way, way better than their stage name allows – gave a roaring 45-minute musical tour de force, bringing out soul-nourishing, brown-overall-wearing (really) spaghetti western-inspired (still not kidding) pop for the crowd at the Fillmore. For sheer livewire originality, Eastwood can’t be beat.

For nostalgists, and everyone who ever picked up a poorly-tuned acoustic guitar to sing indistinct but keenly-felt lyrics, Noel Gallagher’s show at the Fox Theater in Oakland deserves a special mention; the show bore the kind of shine you can only get from 25 years of playing, while still showcasing the swagger that’s been there from day one, and (as every fan really knows) the tenderness that’s given Gallagher more staying power than a thousand sibling arguments with erstwhile Oasis frontman Liam could ever derail.

In other news, the epic Kaaboo Del Mar announced the lineup for the San Diego Festival, and the festival, all set to happen from September 14-16, includes legendary performers like Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, Robert Plant, the Sensational Space Shifters, Halsey, Post Malone, Wiz Khalifa, N.E.R.D, Incubus, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gucci Mane, Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators, Alice in Chains, and Billy Idol, among others. Any festival show that can throw in Billy Idol as an end-of-list bonus is worth the money and the time, and the range of performers there is enough to guarantee a classic weekend.

Closer to home, we had a great time checking out Bimbo’s 365; it’s an impressive space that’s been putting together a great lineup of shows, with the ambiance you can only get when you’ve been running since 1931. If you’re in the city, drop by for some great music this month: the Rebirth Brass Band is scheduled to perform on April 13th and April 14th – Friday and Saturday nights – and Foreverland is dropping by on the 20th for a music tribute to the King of Pop.

March was amazing; April is going to be sweet. San Francisco has a great springtime coming up!

All the Cool Kids Came out for Echosmith at the Social Hall

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Echosmith took over the Social Hall in San Francisco last night for a set comprised of catchy melodies, bouncing beats, and cool neon lights. The American indie pop band from Chino was promoting their latest release “Inside a Dream,” that came out earlier this year.

Originally formed by four siblings, the band currently consists of Sydney, Noah and Graham Sierota, following the departure of eldest sibling Jamie in late 2016. They are best known for their hit song “Cool Kids,” which reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified double platinum by the RIAA with over 1,200,000 sales in the US. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the song was Warner Bros. Records’ fifth-biggest-selling-digital song of 2014, with 1.3 million downloads sold.

Check out some of our best selections from the evening below.

Photos by Louis Raphael 

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