Mia Sullivan

The pedestrian pop of Sylvan Esso

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Upon first listen, Sylvan Esso kind of takes hold of you. Nick Sanborn’s melodic, layered, driving electronic beats pair perfectly with Amelia Meath’s blissful voice and artful lyrics. The way Sylvan Esso — the band’s self-titled debut album, which dropped May 13 — is wrapped together feels so intuitive, so ethereal, that it will likely bring you to your feet for an impromptu dance session.Read more »

Live Shots: Street Joy, the She's, the Tambo Rays at Milk Bar

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Wednesday night, three young, up-and-coming bands gathered at the Milk Bar, an intimate venue on the western edge of Haight Street, to lay down fun, unseasonably warm beats – a welcome contrast to the decidedly autumnal weather. Read more »

Jamaican Queens on major influences, ‘Wormfood,’ and Detroit

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The Detroit-based trio, Jamaican Queens, makes instantly catchy, hip-hop-influenced, electronic-soaked pop gems and performs them in a dance-inducing glam pop fashion. Although Ryan Spencer, Adam Pressley, and Ryan Clancy have been laying down beats together for less than a year, they have already released a full-length album – Wormfood – hit their hundredth show, and written album number two (which they’ll record once they’ve concluded their lengthy West Coast and summer tours). Read more »

The hawk and the rat: Hugh Leeman's artistic 'social experiments'

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The artist talks about his upcoming exhibit, depictions of the homeless, and art-related capitalism
 
If you’ve walked through the Tenderloin, along Market Street, or around SoMa, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Hugh Leeman’s art. (He'll be showing new work Thu/4 at SOMArts Gallery as part of the "Dial Collect" show.) Leeman is best known for his drawings of the distinct and arresting faces of Sixth and Market’s homeless, which he used to wheatpaste onto billboards and buildings. His iconic work has been characterized as “street art,” but Leeman views his homeless art project through a more enterprising lens.

The power latent in billboards and marketing campaigns – both to make a statement and to expose vulnerabilities held by the viewer – inspired Leeman to plaster his friends’ faces around town. (Leeman met most of the homeless men he's depicted by engaging in street-side conversation, usually with the help of a trusty pack of Camel cigarettes.) He aimed to get as many eyes on his work as possible by giving away free posters of his drawings and by allowing people to download posters off his website for free. He also screen printed his drawings onto t-shirts and gave them away to men and women on the street to sell for a 100% profit.

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Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom on breaking writer's block with travel

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It seems like the Austin-based Heartless Bastards have made some drastic changes since the release of their debut album, Stairs and Elevators, shedding their punkish irreverence in favor of more candid Americana as illustrated in Arrow, their 2012 Jim Eno-produced release.

I caught up with frontperson Erika Wennerstrom before the band’s Great American Music Hall show this weekend, amid a van ride from Tucson to California to chat about her quartet’s ever-changing sound, her favorite SF food, Neil Young, and Arrow’s traveling backstory: Read more »

The Spring Standards on genre jumping, Fleetwood Mac, and SF pizza

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The Spring Standards kids grew up together on the Delaware/Pennsylvania border and got their start playing small folk festivals and around the campfire back in high school. After a break from their collaboration, Heather Robb, James Cleare, and James Smith found themselves in Brooklyn, inspired to pick up where they left off. They’ve been playing together as the Spring Standards for four years and released double EP yellow//gold last spring. Read more »

Six Organs of Admittance march into battle at Bottom of the Hill

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On Saturday night, a small cadre of dedicated fans waited patiently for Ben Chasny’s psychedelic folk project, Six Organs of Admittance, to take the stage at Bottom of the Hill just before midnight. Six Organs is currently touring the West Coast in support of their LP Ascent, which was released last month on Drag City. Members of his other project, the noise rock group Comets on Fire, accompanied Chasny on the album and onstage at BOH.

Lead guitarist Chasny and supporting guitarist Noel Harmonson, bassist Ben Flashman, and drummer Utrillo Kushner effectively drenched the punkish, gently swaying crowd in raw, unplugged, cacophonic tribal noise as they orchestrated spooky guitar symphonies, hard rock riffs, and fuzzed-out surf numbers. About half of Six Organs’ jams possessed an epic “I’m marching into battle with a large horned animal” vibe, and Chasny’s intermittent vocals felt dark, scratchy, wispy, and perhaps slightly demonic. Read more »

Trans-formation

Mark Matos crawls back from the brink with a cosmic new alter-ego
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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC After touring on 2009's Words of the Knife with his band Os Beaches, Mark Matos' world fell crashing from the cosmos. Internal struggles compelled him to fire his producer and his guitarist; Os Beaches' practice space that doubled as a crash pad burned down (relegating the fresh-off-the-road group back to van sleeping); and Matos began to develop a destructive relationship with drugs.Read more »

Sketching Sixth Street: In new show, Joel Phillips renders the unseen

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“I’m really interested in the idea of anonymity within a dense urban environment and how the denser an urban population is, the easier it is to be overlooked,” Joel Phillips says over a glass of red wine on a far too windy night in the Mission. His show, “No Regrets in Life,” opens tonight at Satellite66 and will feature seven charcoal and graphite drawings of men and women he’s met on the corner of Sixth St. and Mission.
 
Phillips, a few months shy of 23, has spent significant chunks of time in Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and New York. While he was living in New York, he started thinking more about the social dynamics of cities and how some people tend to get lost in the mix. “In New York no one really looks you in the eye, everyone brushes past you and moves past you,” Phillips says.

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Green shopping guide: 6 earth-conscious fashion outposts

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We've been shopping green for a week now -- check out our previous guides to housewares, kid's stuff, gardening resources, and local beauty

Let’s face it. Finding an oversized sweater in your mom’s closet that looks good on you tends to make you feel better than purchasing one at a corporate retail store because (a) you hate homogeneity, (b) you like saving money, (c) you’re rocking something straight out of the 80s, and (d) you’re relieved of the guilt associated with buying an item produced overseas. Here are a few suggestions on where to shop locally for you tree-hugging, fashion-conscious souls. Read more »