Tag Archives: Music

A Yawn Worth Yelling make noise in local scene

Brayden Deskins (right) and Tyler Boyd (left), singers of the band A Yawn Worth Yelling, perform during their Play Pretend EP Party at Bottom of the Hill. Photos by Qing Huang

 

Story by Lupita Uribe

Infectious basslines thumped below warm vocal and guitar melodies, while drum beats begged for you to tap along to their off rhythms. The sound of Bay Area alternative rock band, A Yawn Worth Yelling, swiveled into the indie pop realm and brought a spot of sunshine into the oncoming winter with the release of their new EP, Play Pretend.

The four-piece group, sometimes six-piece when performing, features Brayden Deskins on guitar and backing vocals, Johanness Heine on bass, Tyler Boyd on lead vocals and guitar, and Taylor stover on drums in studio, but during live performances the band recruits Rober Tanali and Ryan Powell. Although the latter don’t take part in any of the writing or recording process, the band still considers them important components of A Yawn Worth Yelling. The core four have known each other since high school, having grown up in the San Jose area, and have released five records – two full lengths and three extended plays.

Their latest piece, Play Pretend, was a developmental process. A year in writing, and approximately 20 songs later, the band was able to produce a five-track record that contains what the band considers their best work yet.

“The era of the bad stuff was everything you’ve heard until now,” Boyd said half-jokingly as his band mates giggled in the background.

Boyd describes their first LP’s, Hieme Bellum, recording process as a phase where the band would write songs and record them as is. There was minimal refinement, according to Boyd.

“There were songs in there that I, as the drummer, had only practiced a couple of times, and we went into the studio,” Stover said. “There were songs I didn’t really remember my parts on, when I was in the studio. I sort of made the parts up.”

Brayden Deskins, singer of the band "A Yawn Worth Yelling," performs during "Play Pretend EP Party" at Bottom of the Hill, a club at 17th Street in San Francisco Sunday, Nov.15. (Qing Huang/Photo)
Brayden Deskins, singer of the band “A Yawn Worth Yelling,” performs during “Play Pretend EP Party” at Bottom of the Hill.

This process was hit or miss for the band. “Sometimes it turned out great,” Stover said, as he explained they’d done something similar on their first EP 1,000.  It turned out better than they expected, although he admits it wasn’t the best approach for their first LP.

“I would agree that was the ‘bad’ stage we needed to get out of our system, and thank god we did it early on,” Stover said.

Their previous work was all self-recorded, and not always planned, but Play Pretend was the result of a new approach. They had a set plan: to have five songs that worked well together, and bring in a producer to get an outsider perspective on their music.

The band had to ameliorate their sound a little more this time around. Since they were not self-recording, they no longer had the leisure of going through endless revisions and re-recording. Having a limited budget and only specific days allotted, four to be exact, in a studio demands a quicker process of polishing the sound, according to Stover.

“You have to refine quickly,” Stover said. “You have to be really smart about what you’re putting in the music and how much time you’re putting into everything.”

Having a producer this time around also made a difference in the creative process as well.

“You think you know what’s best, and you think you know what’s awesome just because you’re the one who did it, or you’re the one who came up with it, but then the producer will be the one to tell you, ‘no, that’s a shitty idea, don’t do that,’” Boyd said with a laugh.

Although there were times the producer blocked some ideas that the band was keen for, his expertise and instruments were overall beneficial and essential to the Play Pretend production process, according to the band.

“(His input) made a huge difference on the impact of the song,” Stover said. “Not to mention the gear, and his ability to record stuff really quick just saved us a lot of time and money, and made us sound better than we’ve been able to ever make ourselves sound.”

From left: Brayden Deskins, singer of the band " A Yawn Worth Yelling," Tyler Boyd, singer, and Taylor Stover, drummer, present their latest EP, "Play Pretend," at Bottom of the Hill, a club at 17th Street in San Francisco Sunday, Nov.15. (Qing Huang/Photo)
From left: Brayden Deskins, singer of the band A Yawn Worth Yelling, Tyler Boyd, singer, and Taylor Stover, drummer, present their latest EP, Play Pretend, at Bottom of the Hill.

Along with its release of Play Pretend, the band’s other big move this year was a literal one, to Los Angeles. They hope this move will help them break through in the industry a little more.

“We figure: it’s the jugular of the music industry, and we want to get our foot more in the door,” Deskins said.

Although they admit LA has a lot of opportunities, they don’t think the Bay Area is a bad scene to be in, just different. They also like the appeal that a lot of their favorite bands have broken through from LA.

“We figured if we got involved in the scene there, then we’ve got a good start, and we can probably forge a name for ourselves,” Deskins said. “If we can make a name for ourselves in LA, we can make a name for ourselves anywhere.”

Stover adds that the band was part of a publishing company that had all of their bands, including A Yawn Worth Yelling, play in LA for executives this past summer. Since then, the band has had many opportunities pop up, such as acquiring a manager with MIH Entertainment who is based out of LA.

After signing to MIH, they began to receive more opportunities, according to Deskins. Trips to Los Angeles became routine, and to avoid the constant commute, the band decided to give the city a chance.

“(There is) nothing wrong with the Bay Area at all,” Stover said. “We want that to still be our hometown, and we want to still have kick ass shows and all that.”

As for their plans for the future: schmoozing with the Kardashians. The band lives 5.4 miles away from the famous tv-family. “We can see it from where we live, and we are hoping to get an in with Kanye,” they said jokingly.

But in reality, they are set to play a few shows in the Bay Area and Southern California, as well as plans for videos and other social media content. They also hope to continue “campaigning” their latest release and becoming more established in music scene — in both Northern and Southern California.

“But mostly the Kanye thing,” Deskins said.

Loud and Clear with Oscar: They’re From the Future, Not From the Past

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

[dropcap size=”50px”]O[/dropcap]ne of the most important pieces of advice my mother ever gave me was “It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” I never understood how my mother would benefit from this considering I could have easily ruined her life, but luckily, I turned out pretty okay. As the years went by I started making more sense of the world around me as well as the person I was becoming.

At the beginning of the year I got my hands on a demo from a band that called themselves Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit, or G.L.O.S.S. for short. I found out about the band through Maximum Rocknroll’s New Blood section where they introduced themselves as “queers, trans women, women of color, gender queer femmes, feminists,” who “love hardcore and are sick of being sidelined and misrepresented.” Of course, I made it a point to listen to the demo the very next day.

The first track blasted through my speakers as vocalist Sadie Switchblade yelled the words:

“They told us we were girls, how we talk, dress, look and cry, they told us we were girls, so we claimed our female lives, now they tell us we aren’t girls, our femininity doesn’t fit, we’re fucking future girls living outside society’s shit!”

I remember the powerful music that accompanied these words and how I had never heard anything like it. It was fast, aggressive and pushed me out of my element. There was something significant about me starting my year with this demo. American author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston would describe it best by saying “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Previously I had been home for the winter break and had attempted to come out to my mother after multiple sessions of crying and explaining the difficulty of being in such a position to my sister who I told sometime in the Fall.

G.L.O.S.S. gave me a year that answered many questions about my identity. I always made sure to apply my mothers advice about never asking for permission and allowing myself to ask for forgiveness, but within the context of my identity, I did not see such opportunity. G.L.O.S.S. was redefining the words of my mother and allowed me to realize that in addition to not asking for permission, I also wasn’t obligated to ask for forgiveness, ever. This band was unapologetically performing hardcore punk music, most popularized by cisgender, heterosexual and white men.

Let’s be clear with this though, G.L.O.S.S. is doing this for the “outcasts,” and no, it does not simply mean anyone “feeling” left out, because let’s be real, even the most privileged feel this at times. They make it clear that they’re talking about the rejects, girls, queers, downtrodden women who have shed their last tears, fighters, psychos, freaks, femmes and all the transgender ladies in constant transition as listed in their song “Outcasts Stomp.”

“Like, it’s such a rare thing it’s like finding a fucking unicorn in the woods and once you find it some Cis Het White dude jumps on the unicorn’s back and rides that thing all over the woods screaming about how awesome unicorns are,” wrote Imogen Greer Reid, in an article titled Dear Cis People: Can we Talk About G.L.O.S.S for a Minute?

Additionally, in the process of completely appropriating a movement that doesn’t belong to cisgendered, 0heterosexual white men, they have been more explicit with their attacks against G.L.O.S.S. Just last week the band Whirr, posted some transphobic tweets claiming that G.L.O.S.S. was “just a bunch of boys running around in panties and making shitty music.” The tweets gained wide attention from those in and out of the punk community. Whirr’s future wasn’t guaranteed and moments later, their label, Run for Cover Records, dropped them. The next day Whirr seemed to regret their comments and posted a statement saying a friend got a hold of their Twitter and tweeted those statements. Not only was this met with a multitude of photos of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” singles and screenshots of the infamous “Why The Fuck You Lyin?” video, but also a very surprise visit from Sadie Switchblade, vocalist of G.L.O.S.S. who made a Twitter specifically for the situation.

It’s responses like the ones stated above that make me confident about the future of punk in terms of queer and trans people of color. However, the statements made by Whirr also show how far behind we are, not only on educating people about transphobia, but also calling out those who don’t feel as though they should listen. To me, G.L.O.S.S. is a representation of understanding that I don’t need to ask for forgiveness if I didn’t ask for permission.

To live unapologetically, but also at the frontlines of what may threaten me the most, is an important revolutionary act. We need more of these acts that bring queer and trans people to the frontlines of punk and recognize them as key individuals in the construction of this subculture. It takes work, listening, and understanding, but most importantly from the people G.L.O.S.S. does not represent, it mainly means, taking a step back and letting girls be girls.

*Note: This column is solely my experiences with identifying with G.L.O.S.S. and is not intended to speak for anyone, but myself. I write this column as a cisgendered queer man of color and recognize that my experience is solely mine.

Through the Cracks in the Groove

Photo by James Chan

By Lupita Uribe

[dropcap size=”50px”]W[/dropcap]hen you hear the words “record label,” San Francisco is not the first city that comes to mind –possibly because the commercial record labels are located in the southern region of our golden state. Though San Francisco has never been a mecca for the commercial music industry, according to Jon Bendich a former touring musician, commercial songwriter and current assistant professor at SF State’s Music and Recording Industry program, in the early 2000s the Bay Area was the highest producing region of independent labels.

The Bay Area has inspired and played an important role in past music movements; from its renowned jazz scene in the Fillmore District, to the 924 Gilman punk scene, to being the home of prominent psychedelic rock musicians such as The Grateful Dead. Unlike Los Angeles, the scene is stripped of bright lights, fake tans and auto-tuned musicians, which, while appealing to some, doesn’t exactly scream “showbiz.” Regardless of that, nestled in overpriced rented spaces or functioning straight out of homes, there are independent Bay Area record labels establishing themselves and maintaining business.

San Francisco has historically seen labels come and go with some more short lived than others. One notorious Bay Area record label, 415 Records, was a short-lived independent label that released fundamental records in the genres of new wave and post-punk. Record labels such as Prank Records, 1-2-3-4 GO! Records and Fat Wreck Records found themselves in staff changes and eventually, direction changes where some steered toward more digital music and focusing primarily on distribution. Similarly the evolution of 415 Records was guaranteed to happen; it was just a matter of what form the label would take. In this case, the label was sold in 1989 after an 11-year run, and founding members of 415 Records went on to other independent and mainstream levels of the industry.

The amount of record stores that were open throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s catering to music that ranged from punk to traditional Latin music, were clear indicators of the emergence of labels and the need to distribute. Although mail order was one of the bigger points of access for people to listen to their favorite artists from specific labels like 1-2-3-4 GO! Records opened stores to distribute titles within their label, such as Shannon and the Clams and Nobunny. However, other storefronts, such as the very popular and unique Discolandia, were central hubs for everything Latin, and connected the Mission District community to a variety of artists on local and international labels up until its closing in 2011.

Although San Francisco hasn’t always had a strong label structure for licensing – compared to other major label markets such as New York or LA – it has always had a strong core foundation in creation, production, distribution and performance of music, according to SF State’s Music and Recording Industry Program Director Robert Collins.

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Robert W. Collins shows a sound board used to teach classes in SF State’s College of Extended Learning Tuesday Oct 27. Photo by James Chan

Collins, who spent many years working in the music industry, started off as a music fan simply looking over friends’ contracts with labels. He began working at record labels in his early ‘20s and later went on to be the general manager of underground hip-hop label Ground Control Records. He also managed legendary local rap group Zion I, who have toured the world.

While touring, Collins also noted how San Francisco differed from other markets with its plethora of niche markets like Latin jazz, punk and underground hip-hop. He credits the Bay Area for instilling an “independent hustle” characteristic in local music moguls that carried into other aspects of the industry.

“As you started to move around, and you started to tour, that’s where you would move that independent hustle,” Collins said in reference to how the independent labels and artists had a stronger sense of urgency to make their money without the backing of a major label.

There has also been a shift in the way record labels are established and functioning now, which affects the San Francisco Bay Area. Bendich notes that it is much easier to be a label now. Digitizing music distribution has cut the costs of what is necessary to be a label, making it much more accessible, according to Bendich. He believes modern day record labels cut down on their costs and overhead fees.

[pullquote align=”right”]“You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.” – Jon Bendich[/pullquote]

“You don’t have to have office space because you don’t have to have a staff to do everything, you can do it all on your computer,” Bendich said. “You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.”

The absence of physical records also cuts down costs with regards to having a distributor. There is no longer a middle man to get your records sold, therefore you make a more direct profit. In the absence, the record label still acts as the bridge between artists and platforms of digital distribution such as iTunes and Spotify, as well as tying other loose ends and doubling up as an overarching artist manager.

The industry’s new accessibility allows a variety of people to establish their own record label, and not all labels are aiming to hit fame.

Cubby Control Records is based out of San Francisco and was established not for glory, but for hobby. Owner Brian Weaver works as a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, and established the label as a medium to bring together his previous works and continue having a creative outlet.

“When I was younger I had ideas, or ambitions, that I (was) going to make it big at some point,” Weaver said. “At a certain point I came to realize ‘I’m not making money with this, I probably won’t make any money with this’ so I had to think about a career and stability.”

Weaver has performed in several bands and had a key role in Cubby, a collective of artists and musicians based out of San Francisco, but he does not question his decision to pursue a career as a librarian. He credits his job at the library for allowing his pursuit of his hobby.

“Having a full time job inhibits my ability to work on the label and to make music as much as I would like to,” Weaver said.

With independent labels being at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, whether it is as a medium of self expression, desire to create, or desire to make profits, it is expected that niche markets will continue to influence those labels and keep them surviving.

Loud and Clear With Oscar: ‘Can I Get In?’ Youth and Accessibility in SF Punk

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

I walked into a daytime punk show at a bar in San Francisco where the person at the door took a thick Sharpie marker and drew two huge X’s on my hands. I gave them a $10 bill and was let into the gig. I remember two bands, Dropdead and Permanent Ruin were playing and I really only went to see Mariam Bastani of Permanent Ruin scream in the face of a bunch of drunk old dudes that attended the gig. This was my first time attending a punk gig in San Francisco and I waited about four months to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to be at all the shows, but I was not 21, and if you know San Francisco punk well enough, you will know that punk shows are commonly hosted at bars.

I remember sitting on a bench and observing people while I ate tater tots and drank a tall glass of Pepsi. I was looking for more people with X’s on their hands because I was eager to make new friends that were into punk upon my arrival to the Bay Area. I found this harder than expected. I was the youngest in a sea of older punks, but it just did not make sense to me. I understood a couple of things that I was warned about when moving to the Bay. One of which was that if I wanted to go to gigs that were all-ages, then I would have to go to Oakland. The other was that if I found a show in San Francisco, the $5 ticket average that I got in Los Angeles would probably not be the case.

I did not expect this absence of young people in the punk scene to affect me as much as it did. It was months before I went to another punk show I could get into, but within that time I was so depressed that getting out of bed was a huge task. I wrote a column that gained some popularity in issue #368, also known as the queer issue, of “Maximum Rocknroll” where I talked about the defining moments of coming to terms with queerness as a punk in San Francisco. However, I never had the opportunity to talk about the moment in which I was so utterly depressed from the lack of access to gigs in San Francisco because of my age.

I knew about San Francisco punk long before I actually moved here and I was ecstatic at the thought of being part of a scene with a legacy so important to punk. However, I did not consider who was given access to the scene. I argue that the scene did not only give access to people over 21, but also to white older men that frequented the scene and never left. The truth is that I never want to leave punk either, but if you checked out my column last week, you would know how definitive it is to have someone, in this case my sister, pull you into a scene that comes to define your identity.

I often think of the reasons I got into punk, but also those of friends I frequently hung out with. Not to generalize or clump punks into a single narrative, but the majority of my friends used punk as ways to address issues in their lives, while simultaneously addressing some of the bigger systemic problems like racism, patriarchy and homophobia. I remember that my thoughts on that bench as I ate tater tots was not so much based on the fact I would not have friends in the Bay Area, but more so on the fact that youth in San Francisco were being cheated out of a subculture that was primarily based on their histories and lives. How could youth be left out of a scene that they are so fundamentally a part of?

I found that a lot of these issues of access were not always the case in San Francisco. When friends of mine and I got together earlier this year to organize an all-ages punk festival for the Latino, Chicano and Indigenous punk community in the Bay Area, space was one of the most difficult things to find. At the time I was heavily starting to organize with a youth organization in the Mission District called People Organizing to Demand Economic and Environmental Rights. PODER has been working in the Mission for years with youth in the community. Teresa Almaguer, the youth program coordinator, remembers the amount of space available for punk gigs, primarily in the Mission.

“Punk music was everywhere and you used to see them all over the Mission in San Francisco and it happened in multiple places,” said Almaguer. “PODER even hosted a couple of gigs for the youth, but now all I can think of is SUB-Mission, but to my knowledge everyone is moving everything to Oakland.”

To think that late last year I was stage-diving into a crowd of young queer punks at a Limp Wrist gig at SUB-Mission shortly before its closure this year is a scary thought. Gentrification has been fundamental to the displacement of punk spaces for young people and I believe it’s time we explicitly talked about it in that context. It’s the reason that spaces like bars charge anywhere from $8 to $10 for a punk show, sometimes with no touring bands on the bill. So, if there is no space for youth that are into punk, then where exactly are they going? The truth is that with some of the youth I engage with, punk does not leave their room.

“I went to couple of shows, but mostly in Oakland,” Michael Lee, 17, of South San Francisco said. “There’s that house World Rage Center in Oakland and they host a couple of shows, but it’s kind of far so I stay home a lot and listen to stuff on Bandcamp.”

I went to punk gig last week at Thrillhouse Records, which is the only punk record store in San Francisco currently hosting shows for all ages. While at the show I understood the importance of going deeper than beginning to host gigs for all ages. When young people have been turned away from the scene for so long, the chances that they are coming out to any show, all-ages or not, is unlikely. Places like Thrillhouse and other San Francisco venues that host these shows continually have the same old white dude demographic.

I talked to Arturo Trejo, the lead singer of Colonia, a punk band from San Antonio about the issue before he prepared for a panel on marginalized identities at Think and Die Thinking, an all-ages do-it-yourself punk festival for the LGBTQ community, women and punks of color in San Jose. I was defeated by the idea that there were no young people represented in the panel as a major reflection of the scene itself. Frankly, not being able to find young voices to speak at a festival meant for youth sounded a bit contradictory to me. Regardless, the panel did include some voices that I strongly admire and hold high to my knowledge of punk. But even then, the people at the table had difficulty advocating for the access of spaces to young people. The panel was a clear reminder of how little opportunity young people have to speak, not only in punk, but in general. I am 21 now, but I was still holding on to the experience that made me so passionate about creating space for young people to listen and engage with punk music.

Contrary to popular thought, I do not think San Francisco is doomed. I came with the intention of creating community with other punks in San Francisco that were young and of color, and although that was not the case, I honestly believe in the possibilities of creating more space for youth to engage with punk music in San Francisco. Do I go to 21 and over punk shows now that I am 21? Yeah, totally. Truth is, I do not blame you or myself for doing this. I have some friends that are in some amazing bands and will do all-ages punk shows when given the opportunity. However, if we are not actively working to give the tools to young people, then punk as we know it has absolutely no future. This is dangerous to a generation that is facing one of the most intense social climates in history, specifically pertaining to people of color, queer and trans people.

How you generate access is up to you, but it looks as simple as making mixtapes, fanzines and shows that are available to people of all ages. Former coordinator of “Maximum Rocknroll” and volunteer at Thrillhouse records, Ari Perezdiez has been heavily expressive on issues of access to young people.

“If we do not share the tools that make our punk scenes accessible to everyone, then we have the next generation of punks recreating a wheel that is not necessary,” Perezdiez said. “Meaning that if we do not share our resources, we are going to have a generation of punks making the same mistakes.”

Although I do believe in the power of learning from mistakes, I also believe in not setting up people for disaster. I often think of the punk generation that is older now and still actively participating in the punk scene and I wonder if they ever held gentrification accountable for not giving access to a new generation. For now, I want to sit with the idea of the possibility that youth will find another way to release their anger and frustrations in San Francisco. No doubt this will take patience, but I hope that I can see the bit of progress during my time in this city.

Loud and Clear with Oscar Gutierrez: An Introduction

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Oscar Gutierrez

“Un, dos, tres, cuatro!”

I was shoved into a wall as a sea of punk rockers in leather jackets and colored hair slammed into each other and jumped in complete mayhem. The band played an out of tune musical medley in a backyard that stretched about 20 feet wide. The PA system laid on top of trash cans allowed the projection of the screams onto speakers that pierced my ears while 40 ounce bottles of beer splashed through the crowd. The stench of marijuana, beer and sweat covered my clothes at the end of the night. This was a punk gig, I was 12-years-old and I was terrified.

I became obsessed with this feeling and it became a ritual. I had an entry point when it came to punk, and that was my family. My sister was a freak and left the house in some questionable hairstyles. However, I will never forget her impeccable taste in punk music. In many ways, my sister allowed the expression of the anger I did not know I had. Everyone has the entry point into punk, and for you, this may be it.

When I was 10-years-old and listening to a record by a band called Life’s Halt, I realized that I liked it so much because I could see my anger in it. Life’s Halt was not white, and although the majority of the band was heterosexual men, the color of their skin was very reflective of mine. There was a lot happening in the ‘90s when bands such as Life’s Halt, Los Crudos, Spitboy and Iconoclast were playing gigs and releasing records. In a lot of ways, they allowed me to understand the fabric of my community and family.

Let’s rewind for a bit, because I really want you all to understand what punk is not. Punk is not simply a genre and it’s definitely not a style of clothing. I’m really sorry that Hot Topic lied to you, but someone really had to tell you at some point. Most importantly, two things I will be talking about repeatedly are that punk is not and will never simply be something that came from Europe and it’s definitely not music made solely by men.

I write this for those particular reasons. The common narrative of punk is this weird fantasy of the Sex Pistols giving us Anarchy in the U.K. I refuse to believe that, and you should too. Punk has been fundamental to people’s anger and survival beyond the limits of what this narrative has taught us. Instead I offer the narrative that talks about the marginalized identities in punk music. I seek to offer a critique and challenge current popularized notions of punk, specifically in the Bay Area.

I ask that you all consider punk more of a reaction as opposed to a music genre. Although there is a distinct sound when it comes to this music, I want your focus to be established on the who? what? where? and most importantly, why? of punk.

You may know little to nothing about punk, and although there is really no such thing as “experts” in punk, I do plan on giving you the knowledge necessary to show up to a gig and know the basics. You must really know that San Francisco is one of those prime places for punk.

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel the U.S. for two months with a queer punk band from San Francisco–Sissyfit. I learned two major things on this tour. One is that I do not like humidity and the other is that punk in San Francisco is beyond amazing. San Francisco is one of those punk utopias where you can find a gig every weekend and a punk rocker to hang out with every other day. We have Thrillhouse, one of the only cooperatively run punk stores left in the nation. We also have “Maximum Rocknroll“, the longest running punk publication in the world. Yeah, the world.

It’s no surprise that legendary punks like Alice Bag, writer of “Violence Girl: East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, A Chicana Punk Story” and vocalist of the legendary punk band, The Bags, added two chapters in her book simply about San Francisco. While many give Los Angeles the praise (that it really does deserve), San Francisco can equally stand up face-to-face against Los Angeles with punk histories equally as deserving of said praise.

Think of this simply as a preface of what is to come. I have been digesting punk, the people, bands and scenes for way too long, and I think it is time I share it with you. You’re going to need some patience, and maybe some medical insurance (broken noses happen) and the flexibility to buy new earphones as they continually break from the screeching noises. Expect a topic of conversation, my current favorite bands, upcoming gigs, and my general thoughts on the current state of punk in San Francisco. I’m going to be as visual as possible, but this is really going to take your participation. My intention is not to force you into punk, but to really capture the importance of it.

As the great San Francisco queer punk band Limp Wrist would say, “thank you.”

Beats n’ Stuff #13: The semester’s almost over, stop stressin’

I’m the worst at not being stressed out. At this point in my college career, I think being stressed out is ingrained in my every day life, coupled with sleep depravity and a worrisome caffeine addiction that would make a doctor’s head spin. The one thing that keeps me from not going insane is music and a nightly episode of Friends on Netflix.

Right now, it’s nearing the end of the semester. Everyone’s stressed out. Instead of tearing your eyes out about the three five-page papers you have due on the same day, sit back, grab a soda and snack, and listen to these lovely, positive tunes.

You’ll get through this tough time, just as you did last semester. Stay strong. I believe in you.

 

5.) “trUe thang” by I LOVE MAKONNEN

The “Tuesday” warbler is one of the most weirdest success stories in recent hip-hop. Drake found his track, rapped on it, and then signed I LOVE MAKONNEN to his own label October’s Very Own, or so the story goes. Makonnen’s newest mixtape Have Some Water 5 further demonstrates his bizarre sensibilities in r&b. The track “trUe thang” has a serene-area-in-a-JRPG-vibe that baffles and delights. Perhaps Makonnen will become the first purveyor of hybrid genre dream-pop-r&b.

4.) “くるかな” by Especia

Especia has been dubbed as the first “vapor wave idol group,” but their idol pop melodies translate far beyond the oversaturated and yawn-inducing genre of vapor wave. Especia’s music is reminiscent of Western 80s pop, and you’ll be humming along whether you like it or not. In addition to a far different aesthetic to other J-Pop idol groups, the girls of Especia are easily one of the most stylish idol groups around.

3.) “LIFE IS GOOD (feat. Jay Park)” by Epik High

Korean hip-hop group Epik High’s been around since 2001, and their most recent album SHOEBOX was their best record yet. Epik High’s going to be playing at the Warfield in May, but unfortunately it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg. Instead of shelling out nearly $100 to see them, one’s probably better suited to watching their amazingly colorful vertical video for track “Born Hater.” Note: watch it on an iPad or iPhone for the best effect.

2.) “SO WHAT! (feat. Seira Kariya)” by tofubeats

I’m surprised that I haven’t thrown this song on a playlist before, but tofubeats’ positive, enjoyable forays into pop and hip-hop are among my favorite tunes of the past couple years. “SO WHAT!” features 21-year-old singer Seira Kariya and evokes a throwback-pop sound, much like the afore-featured Especia. Tofubeats’ genre of choice sways, but his sense of structure and melody is unmatched in the electronic scene in Japan.

1.) “Wishes (feat. Tkay Maidza)” by Swick & Lewis Cancut

Swick & Lewis Cancut was featured on Ryan Hemsworth’s first Shhh Secret Songs compilation, themed after the color pink (which also features my favorite Kero Kero Bonito song, “Flamingo”). Singer Tkay Maidza’s a cross between Charli XCX and Santigold, bubblegum pop vocals with attitude. “Wishes” is a track to play at a party to get pumped up, or just to dance around your room while doing your very, very late spring cleaning.

Beats n’ Stuff #11: I Know What You Scrobbled Last Summer

I’ve had a Last.fm account for eight years. Eight. Years.

Glancing at that join date is pretty daunting. In those eight years that I’ve had a Last.fm account I’ve gone through puberty, had a Myspace, deleted a Myspace, created a plethora of other social media accounts, graduated high school and moved out of my rinky-dink small town to go to college, and most importantly: drastically changed my music taste. Last.fm has been there with me through all of that, whether I knew it or not.

Last.fm, for the uneducated, is a music social media site that “scrobbles,” or tracks what you listen to, and caters lists according to it. For example, my top played ‘overall’ artist is Kanye West. However, at the turn of my music taste as a budding indie aficionado, I deleted a lot of the artists I listened to in the past. In truth, my top played would probably be rock group Say Anything, but that fact is now lost in the realm of 17-year-old “pop-punk is dumb” era-Caty.

In 2007 I was 15, young, angsty, and really into pop-punk, as any young girl would be. My first concert was My Chemical Romance (of course), and I loved Fall Out Boy (and anything signed to pop-punk staple Fueled by Ramen), Say Anything, and Brand New more than I loved myself. Music was a ride or die type of hobby, and I wish I was as passionate about music today as I was as a 15-year-old teen (…says the girl writing a bi-weekly music column).

The most insane thing about my long, presumably lost last.fm account is that it’s still active, scrobbling my music unbeknownst to me. Every now and then I’ll get a notification from the app on my computer, but other than that, I rarely check it anymore. I hope that Last.fm keeps scrobbling my music for all eternity, and exists as a relic for teenage-me’s sake.

This playlist, “I Know What You Scrobbled Last Summer” is dedicated to the forgotten pop-punk tunes everyone seems to pretend they didn’t listen to. This column will be more of a walk down memory lane, so you can skip down and listen to the playlist if you don’t really care to read sentimental garbage from yours truly. Proceed at your own risk.

 

1.) “Colorblind” by Say Anything

When I first saw Say Anything, I was chaperoned by my mom to the Warfield. I was up in the balcony, but I remember seeing Say Anything, my favorite band at the time, and how passionate their performance was. Hellogoodbye closed the night, and I left with my mom to catch Bart home, only to run into frontman Max Bemis in the lobby. I was 15 and star-struck: here is this dude whose lyrics meant everything to me. When he autographed a goofy belt I had bought from the merch booth, I damn near wept. I saw Say Anything a total of three times in my youth, and they never let me down.

2.) “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” by Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends is a pop-punk classic, and a record that I listen to far more than I care to admit (but here I am, admitting it). “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” catalogs the scandalous feud between other pop-punkers Brand New (specifically frontman Jesse Lacey, who was formerly a bassist for Taking Back Sunday). As a teen on the Internet, reading about their vehement band drama on Livejournal was the equivalent to skimming through celebrity tabloids in line at Safeway.

3.) “Honey This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” by My Chemical Romance

Ah, My Chemical Romance. MCR. The pop-goth princes of rock. My Chemical Romance had less of a pop start, and more of a hardcore one. As they grew as a band, their sound grew much more accessible, and soon were dominating the airwaves with records like The Black Parade. My first concert ever, and no I do not count seeing Smash Mouth at the Alameda County Fair as my first concert, was My Chemical Romance on the Black Parade tour, and it was great. I wore way too much makeup and looked like a raccoon, and I sang my heart out (with my dear mom by my side, bless her heart).

4.) “The Future Freaks Me Out” by Motion City Soundtrack

A Facebook friend recently posted a status about an alleged Commit This to Memory, their most notable album, tour Motion City Soundtrack embarked on, much to my dismay. I didn’t go, but I wish I had. Motion City Soundtrack encompasses the nerdy-side of the pop-punk scene, with their highly danceable tunes and earnest lyrics, and even features production by Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus.

5.) “My Heart is the Worst Kind of Weapon” by Fall Out Boy

Back in the day, Fall Out Boy and their signed record label Fueled by Ramen were everything to me. FBR was how I found new music and kept up with the music I already loved. When I went to Warped Tour years and years ago, my heart was broken when Cobra Starship and The Academy Is… held their meet and greets simultaneously, I chose to meet the latter, which I don’t think I regret. Regardless, Fall Out Boy was opened a massive door to a lot of music for me, and even if their music past their album From Under the Cork Tree isn’t really my taste, I appreciate them nonetheless.

Beats n’ Stuff #10: A Girl’s Guide to J-Rock

During this ongoing column, I’ve covered the grounds of both K-Pop, J-Pop, and even C-Pop, as well as electronic artists in those respective countries, to seemingly no end. Unfortunately, I haven’t really featured any foreign rock bands, a problem that I’m going to remedy this week.

And thus, “A Girl’s Guide to J-Rock” has been born. This week’s column will feature the likes of Tricot and Passepied, and will feature all lady-fronted bands (because girls are superior, duh). While I do love me some Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Number Girl, and KANA-BOON, I’ll save them for another day (maybe).

So here we go. Girl’s Guide to J-Rock. Grab some Pocky and strawberry-flavored Calpico, because let’s face it, that’s the best flavor. And let’s do this.

 

5.) “ここだけの話 (Just Between Us)” by chatmonchy

Chatmonchy is an all-girl indie rock band hailing from Tokushima, Japan. Despite only having two current members, chatmonchy’s remained active for the past 15 years, even doing a brief US tour in 2010. The duo-former-trio has even had their tracks featured in anime such as the progressive Princess Jellyfish in the past. Chatmonchy’s all girl power, all of the time. The last album released by chatmonchy came out in 2009, and while lead singer Eriko Hashimoto recently had a child, the state of the band has yet to be determined en masse. Here’s to hoping Eriko and bassist Akiko Fukuoka don’t call it quits yet!

Recommended if you like: Cutesy indie rock duos and anime theme songs

 

4.) “僕に彼女ができたんだ” by SHISHAMO

Contrary to the prolific chatmonchy, SHISHAMO’s only been around for a couple of years. SHISHAMO’s a trio, consisting of two gals and one dude, not quite a 100% girls’ group, girl-power charm still radiates from its female lead singer and bassist. Plus, lead singer-guitarist-lyricist Asako Miyazaki has really cool hair. (Her bangs are cut in a slant for crying out loud!)

Recommended if you like: Girls with cool haircuts

 

3.) “E” by Tricot

I’m not really that well-versed in math rock. I guess Number Girl qualifies under this genre, as well as the American band Slint. Other than that though, I can’t tell you off the top of my head what math rock is (a Google search tells me that the genre is guitar-heavy and “rhythmically complex,” whatever the hell that means). However! Tricot is a great band. Currently a trio of awesome ladies, the band emanates exactly what a girl-rock band should be: cool. Switching from melodic to angst driven at the drop of a hat (or key), Tricot’s a band to watch. Plus, their newest album just dropped, and has the cutest streaming site I’ve ever seen.

Recommended if you like: Math rock???

 

2.) “スマトラ警備隊” by Sōtaisei Riron

Etsuko Yakushimaru, a.k.a. one-of-my-favorite-vocalists-as-I’ve-probably-mentioned-before, fronts this post-rock band. Sōtaisei Riron hardly plays any live shows, doesn’t really talk to press, and doesn’t allow photos taken during performances; however, they’ve regularly produced albums since their start in 2006. While each of the members does seem to have their own projects apart from Sōtaisei Riron, the group as a whole create beautiful, collaborative music together that goes unmatched in the J-Rock realm, or at least so in my opinion.

Recommended if you like: Mysterious, elusive rock groups

 

1.) “MATATABISTEP” by Passepied

Passepied is once-more a lady-fronted pop rock band from Tokyo. Formed in 2009 by keyboardist Narita Haneda at the Tokyo University of Art, the band comes from a unique background of classical music and deep music theory. Their pop sensibilities ranging from various eras, as evidenced by their dense catalog of singles and mini albums, give Passepied a unique outlook among other J-Rock and even J-Pop acts in the scene. With a girl at its helm, PASSEPIED’s strong pop vocals add another layer to their overall strength.

Recommended if you like: Bands that aren’t quite pop and aren’t quite rock

Beats n’ Stuff #9: Noise Poppin’

It’s Noise Pop Festival week, so for this edition of the Beats n’ Stuff playlist I’ll be spotlighting the best artists playing around the Bay Area for the festival, and why they’re worth your due attention.

For those not in the know, San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival is an annual celebration of independent music, art, and film, and it’s now in its 23rd year (wow, that’s a long-ass time). Venues all around San Francisco and Oakland host shows under the Noise Pop moniker from February 20 to March 1, so right now it’s in full swing.

Have fun Noise Poppin’! I’ll see y’all at the Giraffage/Spazzkid show on Thursday.

 

1.) “Bother” – Les Sins

Les Sins is the slightly-experimental, electronic dance side project of Toro Y Moi’s Chazwick Bradley Bundick, created in an effort to give him more freedom in putting out all sorts of music. Les Sins is great: a lot more dance-y, a little less accessible and chillwave-friendly. If Les Sins’ Boiler Room set or FYF set (that I personally witnessed) is anything to judge by, then Bundick’s show at Oakland’s The New Parish is not to be missed.

Where & when to see Les Sins: The New Parish, with DJ Cali, DJ Dials; $20; Thurs. Feb. 26

2.) “Bloom feat. Manics” – NITEPPL

Local in both name and vibe, Gage Seber and Alton San Giovanni’s NITEPPL is a modern disco-pop project. Being a San Francisco local, it’s not hard to picture NITEPPL’s music soundtracking your house parties or even post-night-shift muni rides home. NITEPPL is an outfit for fans of Ed Banger-esque electronic music, for those wanting some funk in their electronic music.

Where & when to see NITEPPL: Rickshaw Stop, with Natural Curves, Tenderlion, Lemaitre; $15; Sat. Feb. 28

3.) “Daytime Disco (feat. Neon Bunny)” – Spazzkid

I’ve fallen into this bad habit of accidentally featuring musicians on these playlists twice, so I apologize for that, but it’s only because I really really want you to listen to them. Spazzkid is one of those “I’m sorry but you have to listen” artists. From earnest chill-electronic to the more pop-enthused singles he’s released of the past year, Spazzkid is one of the most well-rounded electronic musicians of today. I had the pleasure of seeing him open for Daedelus a few months ago, and it was absolutely splendid, so much so that I’ll be seeing him open for yet another great act, Giraffage, this Thursday. While the show is sold out, if you have a Noise Pop badge you can get in no problem.

Where & when to see Spazzkid: The Independent, with Avidd, Glenn Jackson, Giraffage; $18 (SOLD OUT); Thurs. Feb. 26 

4.) “The Lovers’ Suicide” – The Bilinda Butchers

San Francisco-based dream pop band The Bilinda Butchers have been active in the music scene for years, releasing an album on Los Angeles-based netlabel Zoom Lens in the past, and most recently releasing Heaven, their newest full-length, a concept album about a young woman living in 19th century Japan. In releasing a chillwave-y record in 2014, a genre that is pretty tired at this point, I was caught completely by surprise by TBB’s Heaven. It’s not only dreamy, but it’s unique and remember-able, and that’s reason enough to keep paying attention.

Where & when to see The Bilinda Butchers: Great American Music Hall, with Balms, Cotillon, Craft Spells; $16; Wed. Feb. 25

5.) “Pantyhose” by TV Girl

TV Girl is a lo-fi indie rock band hailing from Los Angeles. They sing a lot about love, lust, and basically just that. TV Girl are easily the most un-electronic group on this playlist, making them an anomaly compared to my other Noise Pop picks for this year. If you wanna stand in a stuffy room and nod your head and shuffle your feet, I recommend catching TV Girl’s Noise Pop set, and if you dare: dance a little. Show that crowd how it’s done.

Where & when to see TV Girl: Brick & Mortar Music Hall, with RZN8R, Yalls, Monster Rally; $10; Wed. Feb. 25

Beats n’ Stuff #8: ♡ heart-shaped box ♡

Hey everybody!

I’m back, with another ‘round of Beats n’ Stuff playlists for you all to enjoy and uncover your as-of-yet undiscovered new favorite artists. For those unfamiliar, Beats n’ Stuff is a bi-weekly playlist and blog around a central theme, with a typically-five-song-long SoundCloud playlist residing by its side. I switched up the logo for the new semester, opting for a Vib-Ribbon-inspired getup. Anyways, this week’s theme is pretty obvious: Valentine’s Day.

For my Valentine’s playlist ♡ heart-shaped box ♡, I’ve curated a six-track playlist with songs about being in love. Be it frolicking through Golden Gate Park with your significant other, or curling up with a sitcom that’s been with you during the toughest of times. Being in love isn’t strictly romantic, in my opinion, so I hope this playlist isn’t a downer for those without partners to call their own.

My plans for Valentine’s Day involve hanging out with my boyfriend, ordering pizza, and probably playing a bunch of Towerfall Ascension. For everyone else’s plans, good luck braving restaurants, couple-y activities, or avoiding such things.

Alas, Happy Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or Me-entine’s everybody! Enjoy the playlist~

1.) “Give Love” by Akdong Musician (AKMU)

I’ve featured YG Entertainment’s Akdong Musician in the past, but their music is impossible to ignore whenever a theme calls to it. Arguably the cutest K-Pop duo in the world, AKMU’s sunny springtime sound is perfect for the sunniness that is Valentine’s Day.

Recommended if you like: Insanely talented 15-year-olds

2.) “Prom Night feat. Bianca Raquel” by Anamanaguchi

Anamanaguchi were once-upon-a-time a chiptune band, but have since evolved into so much more. Now more of an electro-pop outfit, Anamanaguchi’s updated remix of their own track “Prom Night,” from 2013’s successfully Kickstarted full-length Endless Fantasy. “Prom Night” is a love letter to teenage love for 20-somethings, and is damn fun to sing along to. The remix is just as delightful as the original track.

Recommended if you like: Chiptune-esque pop

3.) “First Love” by Uffie

Uffie is probably the coolest girl in electronic music, even four years past her only album, an indefinite hiatus, and two kids later. The Ed Banger records’ muse has collaborated with virtually every artist on the French label, before culminating her own record, Sex Dreams and Denim Dreams. Cheeky references to Myspace (yes, it was that long ago) and playing saxophone plague her debut album, but one of my personal favorite tracks is “First Love,” a momentarily quiet track on the record produced by Mr. Oizo.

Recommended if you like: Myspace profile songs

4.) “Under Your Spell” by Desire

Did you watch Drive? Yeah? That soundtrack sure was somethin’, huh?

Recommended if you like: Drive

5.) “Something About Us” by Daft Punk

“Something About Us” and “Digital Love” are two of the greatest love songs ever made, and they both exist thanks to legendary French electronic music duo Daft Punk. Okay, maybe “the greatest” is too high of a compliment, but at the very least, Daft Punk’s Discovery is in all actuality the greatest electronic album of all-time, which counts for something. “Something About Us” is sweet and mellow, contrasting some of the heavy dance-y House tracks on the album, but somehow not messing up the flow of Discovery whatsoever.

Recommended if you like: Songs that you could probably dance to at your wedding

6.) “Bound 2” by Kanye West

Kanye’s ode to Kim Kardashian is a shockingly sweet and genuine one, given the anger that resonates through the rest of Yeezus, and the media’s perception of the two celebrities. “Bound 2” is a middle finger to everyone that’s accused Kanye of only superficially loving Kim, and vice versa, and I think as an end to an album filled with anger and grievance, it shows that through love, Kanye sees a light at the end of the tunnel. If that’s not good tracklist construction, then I don’t know what is.

Recommended if you like: Kanye, Kim, and their adorable child

The Sound of Odd Numbers: Yvette Young

The final installment of a larger project
by Lorisa Salvatin

After being inspired by math rock bands like Tera Melos and American Football, San Jose-based singer songwriter Yvette Young has been using rhythmic tapping to create a melodic flow in her own music. The Bay Area has been a haven for developing her music, Young says, allowing her to grow among a diverse community of musicians and find her own unique sound in writing music.

Sounds like: This Town Needs Guns, American Football, Toe

Some bands/artists she likes: Terra Melos, The Mercury Program, Colour

Fun Facts:

  • Yvette plays guitar for the math rock band Covet.
  • She is a UCLA graduate with a B.F.A. in Art.
  • Yvette got the chance to play her original songs in Japan this past summer.

The Sound of Odd Numbers: Bobey

The second installment of a larger project
by Lorisa Salvatin

Layers of strange time signatures and bouncy melodies color the music of Brendan Page, known also as Bobey. Page said his move to San Francisco has allowed him to experience a multitude of different genres, with indie being the most influential in his music.

Label: None

Sounds like: Battles, Bernhard Wagner, The Mercury Program

Random Facts:

  • Bobey attends SF State and has played a number of shows at The Depot.
  • Like Tera Melos, Bobey also hails from Sacramento.
  • Page came up with the name Bobey, by combining David Bowie and Toby Froud’s name while watching Labyrinth with his friend.

Some bands/artists they like: Foals, Don Caballero, This Town Needs Guns