Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

galore

The bay area has a bit of history of generating groups inspired by Flying Nun Records. “Galore”, like Brilliant Colours before them make jangly pops songs in the vein of Look Blue Go Purple. It’s a low key, sort of ramshackle brilliance that Galore excel at. If you didn’t know better–and if the camera didn’t occasionally glimpse a new model of car–you might think that Galore’s music video for new single “Deja Vu” was released in the 90’s. Beyond the DIY camcorder shots, the music itself feels like a revival of a bygone era. Jangly guitars and detached vocals evoke The Aislers Set and many other Slumberland Records bands. Galore has absolutely done their sonic predecessors justice with their debut self-titled record.

This release marks the third single and music video from Galore’s self-titled debut album, and features the band (who are clearly all thrift shop aficionados) wandering through some of the familiar industrial landscape of San Francisco, in glorious 4:3 aspect ratio. They film San Francisco the way we want it to look— the rusted industry starts to feel like a playground, and the failing barriers start to feel penetrable. The video captures a very specific type of freedom that really only exists in the pages of a coming-of-age teen novel or a skate video.

The album’s opener and the first single “Lydia” was another standout track. The frantic, jumpy guitars continuously build tension with discordant riffs, until the song can take it no more and bursts with a frantic shout in the vocals and a punctuating smack of the drums. The line “I try so hard to keep it alive” feels self-referential, a statement on keeping the music the band loves alive and kicking.

The Band :

Griffin Jones, – Guitar
Britta Leijonflycht, – Guitar
Ava Rosen, – Bass
Hannah Smith, – Drums

Galore will be released June 1st via Rocks In Your Head Records.

“I was guzzling wine at my favorite bar in San Francisco, the Rite Spot, and the entertainment that night was some local opera singers singing along with a big video screen showing a collage of various operatic moments with subtitles. One particular subtitle, ‘Ah! (etc)’ made me laugh, I thought it was a perfect description of life – the joy of existence against the etcetera of it all, the struggle. With a heavy head of rose’ it seemed like ecstatic poetry! I scribbled it on a napkin and thought it might make a good title for something” And so the mystery behind the title of Kelley Stoltz new record is solved. Less of a mystery is the quality contained therein… after 12 self-titled releases and a several more under pseudonyms, Stoltz is the word for “one-man-band-home-recording-pop-songs of idiosyncratic character.” A quick follow up to his more power pop and pub rock LP only “Hard Feelings” offering in the summer, “Ah!(etc)” finds Stoltz returning to his sweet spot, writing songs that never were, but should have been in the 60’s and 80’s.

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As with other LPs Stoltz makes virtually every noise on the album which was written and recorded in 2019 at his Electric Duck Studio in San Francisco. A few friends popped in to play along… Stoltz former bandmate, Echo & the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant adds electric guitar to “The Quiet Ones” a sort of Scott Walker lyrical take on strangers and neighbours. Karina Denike formerly of Dance Hall Crashers adds gorgeous vocals on the bossanova groover “Moon Shy”, where Sergeant pops up again in a spoken word role on the outro. Allyson Baker of SF’s Dirty Ghosts sings on “She Likes Noise”, a song Stoltz wrote for her in celebration of her love of seeing live bands.

Released November 20th, 2020

Buy Online Deafheaven - 10 Years Gone Coloured

For the past ten years, San Francisco rock / post-metal luminaries Deafheaven have built one of the most compelling discographies in metal, one that has challenged both the modus operandi and perceptions of the genre. Each critically acclaimed release widened the scope of their particular views of what rock and metal can be, capped by their most innovative album to date in 2018’s “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”. It all began though, with the 2010, four-song Demo released to Bandcamp by the bands founding members George Clarke and Kerry McCoy. Set to embark on a world tour earlier this year to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band and the five albums released in that span, Deafheaven had to switch gears when COVID canceled all gatherings across the world, instead teaming with long time producer Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden studios to bring the show they planned to perform in a studio sessions format.

The only live albums I’ve ever really connected with have been documentations of tours I’d seen in person. Deafheaven touring their 2018 LP Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, illustrating their sun-peaking-out-from-behind-a-cloud black metal with sunflowers strewn about the stage, which contrasted with the feral growls and extreme-black-metal getup of vocalist George Clarke. While their forthcoming live record 10 Years Gone serves as a stand in for the anniversary tour they’d planned for 2020, most of the track list is familiar to anyone who caught their OCHL tour a few years back. “Daedelus,” though, is a new addition to their live show, both recalling their early years (being the first song they ever wrote) while relaunching expectations for what future Deafheaven sets will look like. 

10 Years Gone includes the first song they ever wrote in “Daedalus” from the first album Demo, which also serves as the first single released from this album, along with fan favourites like “Dream House” and “Vertigo” that have an added power in this setting. Deafheaven named ‘Artist of the Decade’ by Vice, along with albums featured in ‘Best of 2010s’ lists on Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Metacritic, AV Club and many more.

Three previous albums Sunbather, New Bermuda and Ordinary Corrupt Human Love have received incredible praise from press and named ‘Best New Music’ by Pitchfork.

Agitated is more than pleased to announce the long over-due return to wax (and CD) by Carlton Melton, the new album from San Franciscan / Northern Californian space-trippers is here, and its ready to tune you out and turn you on.

Nestled deep in the forests of Mendocino County in Northern California, huddled under the protective shade of towering redwoods and within earshot of frothy waves crashing against the Pacific coastline, squats a geodesic dome that has served as crucible for the experimental genius of Carlton Melton. Nature and Man operate under different logics. But here, Carlton Melton wholly entrusts this idyllic environment with the task of inspiring and guiding their musical improvisations.

The Dome has been the ideal setting to facilitate their creativity. Without forcing a specific dynamic or theme, the band inhabits its womb-like confines to improvise, explore, dream. Their music draws on psychedelia, stoner metal, krautrock, and ambient atmospherics to convey, above all else, a mood.

A prickly guitar melody will float lazily, a wall of dissonant feedback will resolve into a hypnotic drone, or a colossal riff will exhume the soul of Jimi Hendrix. One hears Hawkwind or Spacemen 3 jamming with Pink Floyd at Pompeii.

Indeed, Carlton Melton have one foot in the ancient world and one tentacle in deep space. They are both the pack of proto-humans drumming with femurs in Kubrick’s 2001 and the film’s inscrutable monolith hinting at the universe’s mysteries. The “Stoned Ape” theory holds that early hominids ingested psychedelic mushrooms that provided an evolutionary boost to their brains, helping them blossom into Homo Sapiens. Imagine such cavemen trippin’ balls, their nightmarish visions sending them into feverish bouts of rage and then gentle moments of introspection. They very well could have heard the music of Carlton Melton rattling inside their skulls, first driving our ancestors mad then upward into a higher realm.

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Andy Duvall (drums, guitar), Clint Golden (bass), and Rich Millman (guitar, synths) have yet to play Pompeii, but they have already wowed crowds at European festivals such as the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, Roadburn, and Desertfest Antwerp. Live, they are jaw-dropping. On record, mind-altering.

In fact, with each album, Carlton Melton adds a subtle new element, synapses firing new neural connections. In 2020, they release new full-length “Where This Leads”, marking ten years of the band’s working relationship with their UK label Agitated Records and five years of recording with Phil Manley in his El Studio in San Francisco. With “Where This Leads”, the band rewires the listener’s mind. “Smoke Drip Revisited” is a ticklish acid flashback, “Porch Dreams” a dabbling in country psych, and “Closer” a driving, freak-out of guitar heroics.

One senses that the group is conveying a message that cannot be expressed verbally but only suggested through synth sighs, walloping rhythms, and soaring solos.

Releases October 30, 2020

Blue Hearts

Aggressive, loud and unrelenting – Bob Mould takes aim at the malaise of 2020 in the way only he can, showing the many Husker Du and Sugar aping bands just how it’s done.

Through some of the most direct, confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career, Mould makes his POV clear: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again / To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough / We were marginalized and demonized / I watched a lot of my generation die / Welcome back to American crisis.”

Why “welcome back”? Because Mould experienced deja vu writing Blue Hearts in the fall of 2019. “Where it started to go in my head is back to a spot that I’ve been in before,” he says. “And that was the fall of 1983.” “where it started to go in my head is back to a spot that i’ve been in before,” he says. “and that was the fall of 1983.” back then, Mould was a self-described “22-year-old closeted gay man” touring with the legendary Hüsker Dü and seeing an epidemic consume his community. leaders, including the one in the white house, were content to let aids kill a generation. it’s been a long time since a power pop album has felt this present and pertinent, and who else but mould could bring that sound back to the forefront? “this is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting,” he says.

In the winter of 2019, Bob Mould bucked the era’s despair with his most melodic, upbeat album in ages, “Sunshine Rock”.

Cut to spring of 2020, and he has this to say: “We’re really in deep shit now.”

That sentiment informs the new full-length album, Blue Hearts (Merge Records, September 25th), the raging-but-catchy yin to Sunshine Rock’s yang.

To be sure, we were in some shit back in 2018, when Mould recorded Sunshine Rock with longtime colleagues Jon Wurster (drums), Jason Narducy (bass), and Beau Sorenson (engineer). Back then, he had a song called “American Crisis” that didn’t fit the album.

“That song is the seed for what we’re talking about now,” Mould says from his home in San Francisco during the COVID-19 lockdown. “At the time, it just seemed too heavy. Today it seems fucking quaint.”

“American Crisis” is the third song in a walloping first half of an album that spits plainspoken fire at the people who fomented this crisis. “This is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting,” he says.

Through some of the most direct, confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career, Mould makes his POV clear: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again / To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough / We were marginalized and demonized / I watched a lot of my generation die / Welcome back to American crisis.”

“We have a charismatic, telegenic, say-anything leader being propped up by evangelicals,” he says. “These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.”

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Recorded at the famed Electrical Audio in Chicago with Sorenson engineering and Mould producing, Blue Hearts nods to Mould’s past while remaining firmly planted in the issues of the day. Acoustic opener “Heart on My Sleeve” catalogues the ravages of climate change. “Next Generation” worries for who comes next. “American Crisis” references “Evangelical ISIS” and features this dagger of a line: “Pro-life, pro-life until you make it in someone else’s wife.”

“There are songs that have no room,” Mould says, laughing. “The other songs, there’s room. There is room for imagination on the second half of the record.”

That’s where the songs turn personal in a different way. Tracks like “When You Left,” “Siberian Butterfly,” and “Everyth!ng to You” are grounded in personal relationships. “Racing to the End” captures the economic disparity of Mould’s neighborhood, and “Leather Dreams”… well, maybe Jon Wurster put it best.

“Jon turns to Jason and asks, ‘Is this the dirtiest song you’ve ever played on?’” Mould recalls with a chuckle. “I clearly did not put the edit tool to that one. Those are all pretty true bits. What kind of person could possibly have a life like that?” He laughs again. “Says the author.”

“Leather Dreams,” “Password to My Soul,” and “The Ocean” were composed during a writing binge before a January 2020 Solo Electric tour, when Mould stayed up for three straight days. “Songs just kept coming out,” he says. “‘Leather Dreams’ and ‘The Ocean’ both appeared within hours. I barely remember writing them.”

That feels right for an explosive, hook-laden album like Blue Hearts. Only there’s nothing forgettable about it.

All songs written by Bob Mould

Bob Mould: Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion
Jason Narducy: Bass, Backing Vocals
Jon Wurster: Drums, Percussion

Prague TV Orchestra: Strings on “American Crisis”

Released September 25th, 2020

Produced by Bob Mould
Engineered by Beau Sorenson

The band was based in San Francisco throughout their history from 1980-1993. They were comprised of two outstanding songwriters – Kevin Hunter and Kurt Herr (the later quitting the band after 1985’s Between Two Words to be replace by Jeffery Trott for all subsequent albums), the native Swede Anders Rundblad on bass, and Argentinean Federico Gil-Sola on drums (left after their first album to be replaced by Brian McLeod for all subsequent albums). BGO is a three-for-one release on 2 CDs from this Bay Area alt-rock band originally released on Columbia between 1983 and 1985 including In a Chamber, recently reissued in an expanded edition by Supermegabot.

The sound of the band on “…In a Chamber” is chorus-guitar driven new wave/post-punk Bono has said that “…In a Chamber” was his favourite album of 1984.  The guitars are bright and blend together beautifully, and there is a lot of nice interplay between the two guitarists. In the album’s opening track “I’ll Do You,” Kurt Herr’s chordal riffs in the middle of the song are colourful and dreamlike, and really just sound amazing. Other songs like “Never”, “Chamber of Hellos”, and “Slow Down” are also very strong in this area. When it comes to the rhythm section, all I can say is very, very tight. Federico Gil-Sola but his tight, fast beats (which were even faster live) serve well the band’s dance inducing songs, and give them a lot of their energy. Anders Rundblad’s bass playing is very tight as well and serves as a rock solid guide for the rest of the band. His tone is very round and warm, which blends into the sound nicely. The bass lines, like the drums, are more simple, but nonetheless good. What is most striking about Wire Train though, is how excellent their song-writing is.

1985’s “Between Two Words” is a slightly more produced record, having a more mainstream power-pop sound, and less post-punk. However, the transition isn’t a huge one and the band still retain their tight rhythms and bright guitar driven sound. The song-writing has not lessened in excellence either, with several stand out tracks like “Last Perfect Thing” “Skills of Summer” “Love, Love” and “I Will.” Lyrically, both albums shine, but this one in particular is filled with thought provoking poetic lines from Kevin Hunter.

Not many pop bands in ’84 ’85 had a sound as raw and guitar driven as Wire Train

Mention the San Francisco rock scene of the 1960s and most people think of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin’s Big Brother & the Holding Company. But, for anyone who either took part in that scene or paid it any heed, a fourth name holds equal sway: Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Quicksilver Messenger Service never achieved the same level of fame as the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane, the definitive San Francisco bands, but their late-decade run is equally distinctive. The most lauded of the band’s three ’60s LPs is 1968’s ‘Happy Trails,’ which draws from heavy guitar jamming (25-minute opener “Who Do You Love Suite”), symphonic-scale psychedelia (“Calvary”) and atmospheric blues (“Mona”).

Like the Dead and the Airplane—and nearly a year before Janis joined her band Quicksilver devised a sound in late 1965 that established the new San Francisco esthetic. Anchored on guitar-driven jams, the San Francisco sound refracted blues, folk, and jazz through the trippy lens of psychedelia.

The abstraction, duration, and explorative nature of the music offered a kaleidoscopic soundtrack to a new culture—one which Quicksilver represented more purely than any band on the scene save The Dead. Quicksilver made instrumental work their raison d’etre. For them, playing was the thing, making them more a live band than a studio-driven one. If that focus gave them spontaneity and rarity, it also helps explain why they ended up the least commercially successful of the top San Francisco bands. They sold far fewer records, and had a much lower media profile than their peers, let alone that of the biggest Bay Area bands. Quicksilver never had a great singer, though they did manage to hire a divisive one, Dino Valenti. To make matters more challenging, they changed their line-up with the speed of their name-sake, losing key members, while gaining new ones who strongly affected their direction.

While all the band members boasted admirable chops, the most prized player had to be guitarist John Cipollina. He got a shivering, quavering sound out of his instrument that was wholly his own. To achieve it, he employed an eccentric arrangement of amplifiers and equipped his Gibson SG with special effects, allowing him to achieve a tremolo as singular as a human timbre. On the low end, he hammered his strings hard while, on the high, he could make them shudder or sting. Better, Cipollina found a powerful foil in Quicksilver’s other axe man, Gary Duncan. Their one-two punch paved the way for all the double lead guitar acts that came in their wake.

‘Quicksilver’

Despite Quicksilver’s instrumental concentration, they also crafted some important studio recordings, including FM staples like their bold cover of Hamilton Camp’s “Pride of Man,” Nicky Hopkins’ piano masterpiece “Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder” and Dino Valenti’s political anthem, “What About Me” later covered, to perfection, by Richie Havens. To boot, they scored a pop hit with their stoner-anthem “Fresh Air” and finessed four of their albums into The American Billboard’s Top 30. Though Quicksilver hasn’t had the staying power in the public consciousness that they deserved, they had a strong impact on more progressive rock listeners of the day. And they were hugely respected within the San Francisco underground they helped found.
The group’s genesis began towards the end of 1965 with a casual conversation between Cipollina and Valenti (ne Chet Powers). The latter already had a career as a singer/songwriter on the Greenwich Village folk scene. An early song he wrote, “Get Together” was later recorded by everyone from The Kingston Trio and the Dave Clark Five to San Francisco acts like the Airplane and The Youngbloods, whose 1967 version became a classic.
Unfortunately, one day after Valenti and Cipollina talked about playing together, the singer was busted for marijuana possession, resulting in a two-year jail term. In the meantime, Cipollina started a band with bassist/singer David Freiberg (who previously played in a group with David Crosby and Paul Kantner), and guitarist Skip Spence (who would soon switch to drums and ditch the proto-Quicksilver configuration to join Kantner in the just forming Airplane). As a result, Cipollina and Freiberg hooked up with drummer Greg Elmore and guitarist Gary Duncan, who’d played together in a local group named The Brogues. Rounding out the first incarnation of Quicksilver was Jim Murray as third guitarist and singer.In their five-man incarnation Quicksilver became a regular draw at San Francisco’s hippest new venue, the Avalon Ballroom during 1966. Yet, by the next June, Murray quit, an unfortunate move considering the band had just played the history-making Monterey Pop Festival. (Luckily, Murray’s fleeting time with the group is captured for posterity in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary about the storied festival). Monterey energized the major labels to sign nearly anyone in the Bay Area with a guitar, but RCA beat everyone to the punch by inking the Airplane in the year before. By ’67, Warner Brothers signed The Dead and Big Brother made a rotten, though brief, pact with Mainstream Records. Inspired by the excitement at Monterey, Columbia Records swept in to give Janis’ band a far better deal, resulting in her stardom.

That left Quicksilver as the last major SF band to sign a contract, theirs with Capitol Records in 1968. That May, their self-titled debut appeared, by which time the Airplane had already released three albums, including their Top Five smash, ‘Surrealistic Pillow’. Quicksilver’s debut turned out to be a less commercial affair, though they did make some musical concessions. Taking their cue from main vocalist, Freiberg, they leaned towards folk-rock, most effectively in “Pride of Man,” an apocalyptic warning that culminated in an apt shiver on Cipollina’s guitar. Cipollina put his vibrato to even more poignant use in “Light Your Windows,” stitching fine pings around its graceful melody. Though Valenti was incarcerated at the time, he appeared by proxy in a cover of his sashaying piece “Dino’s Song.”

Another notable track, “Gold and Silver” borrowed its composition from Dave Brubeck, without credit. The song’s main riff translated Brubeck’s piano part in “Take 5” to electric guitars. Still, the purest representation of Quicksilver’s axe work came in “The Fool,” a twelve-minute instrumental epic. The guitars at the start imitated the quaver of a sitar, leading to a melody that showed-off Freiberg’s classical background via his august viola work. As the song progressed, the guitarists supported each other and sparred, culminating in a Cipollina solo so pure.

‘Happy Trails’

If “The Fool” captured Quicksilver instrumental focus, the band took that all the way on ‘Happy Trails’,” their second release. This time, jamming ruled, but with a purpose. Though the album cover promised a spontaneous document, “recorded live at the Fillmore East and West,” much of it was actually scripted and overhauled in the studio. That bait-and-switch approach mirrored a similar move by Big Brother on ‘Cheap Thrills’, which likewise claimed, erroneously, to be cut entirely in concert. Regardless, ‘Happy Trails’ nailed the verve of a live Quicksilver show, especially in the 25-minute take on Bo Diddley’s’ “Who Do You Love.” Divided into six parts, this side-long track featured showcases for each guitarist in separate sections, providing the ultimate game of compare and contrast. Duncan demonstrated his approach in a section titled “When You Love,” with a long, jazz-influenced lead as methodical as it was melodic.

For over five minutes, he wove a series of blues licks, jazz lilts, psychedelic filigrees and hard rocking riffs into a fluid story. Meanwhile, the “How You Love” section demonstrated the wilder style of Cipollina. Drawing on the highest end of his tremolo, his guitar sounded like a flock of mad birds cackling in air. Bassist Freiberg’s got his own, jaunty solo stint in “Which Do You Love,” while the “Where You Love” section operated as an abstract center piece, suggesting Quicksilver’s answer to Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” Together, “Love” represented as potent an acid-rock document as The Dead’s “Dark Star,” though it never received parallel awe.

For another run at Bo Diddley, the band opened side two with a spacey cover of “Mona,” before moving into two instrumentals blended into a fifteen-minute suite. The first, “Maiden of the Cancer Moon” bounced Duncan’s trenchant fingerings off Cipollina’s cackling cries, while “Calvary” drew on everything from classical music to proto-metal to boleros, cementing a psychedelic classic. While ‘Happy Trails’ sold well, going gold.

‘Shady Grove’

Exhausted by the pressures of impending success, Duncan abruptly quit and, instead of hiring another guitarist to replace him, Quicksilver brought in celebrated piano wiz Nicky Hopkins, fresh from a stint in the Jeff Beck Group. The result radically altered the band’s direction, evidenced by their highly uneven third album, ‘Shady Grove’, which came out in 1969. It drew on more country music and psychedelic-pop, often unconvincingly. Freiberg struggled to sing the oddly conceived songs, leaving the album’s highlights in Cipollina’s all-too-brief guitar parts and Hopkins’ commanding piano. In places, it seemed like Quicksilver had become Hopkins‘ backing band, especially the title track, which was driven by his rippling keyboard, or the nine-minute showcase, “Edward.” A mix of classical, boogie-woogie, and psychedelia, “Edward” stands as one of most exciting, piano-led instrumentals in rock history.

‘Just For Love’

If the jarring shift in style threw some fans, they had to endure another big one in 1970. A newly sprung Valenti was finally free to join the band as frontman, changing their essential dynamic. The wayward Duncan also returned to the fold. Together, the moves definitely had some positive results. They restored the band’s double guitar draw and added a strong songwriter in Valenti, who wrote under the pseudonym Jessie Oris Farrow. At the same time, Valenti proved an eccentric, sometimes irritating, front-man, over-singing in many sections, an effect worsened by the heavy echo they threw around his voice. By all accounts, the sessions for the band’s next two albums, ‘Just for Love’ and ‘What About Me’, couldn’t have been less disciplined, with no firm producer in sight. The albums, both drawn from the same sessions, were released within six months of each other during the latter half of 1970.

But, despite their flaws, they make one very good album together. Stand outs from ‘Just for Love’ included the instrumentals, “Wolf Run,” which featured Valenti’s haunting flute, and “Cobra,” which boasted a fiery run from Cipollina. The album also featured “Fresh Air,” known for its invitation to “take another hit,” a druggy encouragement Quicksilver fans hardly needed.

Besides the killer melody, ”Air” introduced roiling Latin music to the band. Better, it featured stoked solos from both guitarists—a stuttering one from Duncan, and a high-flying one from Cipollina—with an extended piano break from Hopkins as a bridge between. The ‘What About Me’ album boasted its own striking instrumentals—Cipollina’s “Local Color,” which showcased his slide-guitar work for the first time, and Hopkins’ “Spindrifter,” as lovely a piano instrumental as rock has produced. Despite such draws, the band was already in the process of falling apart again. Hopkins left during the sessions, replaced by Marc Naftalin of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on half the cuts, and Cipollina split soon after recording was completed to form his own group, Copperhead.

‘Quicksilver’

Given so much tumult, it’s remarkable how well the band rebounded for their next album, simply titled ‘Quicksilver’, in 1971. Their hardest rocking record to date, it boasted consistently catchy songs, mostly penned by Valenti. The frontman even managed to keep his undisciplined singing in check. Better, Duncan proved capable of handling all the guitar parts himself, offering sterling double leads on the folk-rock marvel “Hope,” and the country-blues-rocker “I Found Love.” Despite its many strengths, ‘Quicksilver’ was the band’s first release to miss the Top 30. The disappointment helped inspire another change for their follow-up album, ‘Comin’ Thru’, in ’72. It introduced a charging horn section, a la Blood, Sweat and Tears or the Electric Flag. An under-rated, and highly energetic, effort, ‘Comin’ Thru’ still failed to click with critics or fans, leading to an extended hiatus for the band.

‘Solid Silver’

It took a full three years for Quicksilver to return, but this time with an added draw. ‘Solid Silver’, released in 1975, reunited every one of the core members, including Cipollina, Duncan, Elmore, Freiberg, and Valenti. It even featured guest work from Hopkins. Ten years into their career, the reconstituted band sounded more in synch than they had since the start. Nearly all the members contributed to the singing and the writing. More, they added a soul element, amplified by the backup vocals of Kathi McDonald. Nearly all the songs were upbeat, from the R&B rocker “Gypsy Lights,” penned by Duncan, to Valenti’s county-tinged “Cowboy on The Run,” which sounded like a lost Gram Parsons song. A blues-rock barn-burner, “Worryin’ Shoes,” found both guitarists playing so swiftly, it suggested the Allman Brothers on speed. Sadly, the neo-psych-rock sound wasn’t a big commercial draw amid the soft-rock world of 1975, so the album tanked, taking the reunion with it.

‘Not Quite The End Live at the Winterland Ballroom – December 1, 1973’

If that failure brought the active era of Quicksilver to an end, Duncan took it upon himself to keep the name alive for decades after. He issued many albums under their banner, though they were, essentially, solo works. More encouragingly, he oversaw the release of scores of great live recordings from the vintage period. No fewer than twenty-two are currently available on streaming. Of those, three stand out most. The first, ‘Live at the Fillmore June 7th, 1968′ (cut one year after Monterey) captured the band in their ‘Happy Trails’ prime. It’s a pure live document of what ‘Happy Trails’ had earlier simulated. Cut two years later, the ‘Live at Winterland Ballroom 1970’ album captured the band’s rapport with Hopkins. It’s amazing how well his piano integrated with the two guitars. More, the set boasted a nearly half hour version of “Who Do You Love” that features guitar pyrotechnics from Cipollina right before he left the band for the first time. Even more exciting is “Live at Winterland December 1, 1973,” cut on a special night. Though Cipollina had left the group three years earlier, his band, Copperhead, were the opening act for that show, so he agreed to play with the mother act as well. Freiberg, who had left in ’71, came back for the ride too. By adding a Latin percussionist and a surging organ, Quicksilver ended up sounding a bit like their fellow SF band Santana. The feverish new arrangements put a fire behind the two guitarists, who avoided their most trippy forays to center on hardcore blues-rock. It’s an air-guitar player’s dream come true.

Over the years, documents like these have gained greater meaning for a sad reason: Most of the band’s key members have died. The losses began with Cipollina, in 1989 at just 45, followed by Hopkins and Valenti, both felled in 1994, and Duncan, just this past June. With their passing went a sound as fast, and uncontainable, as Quicksilver itself, leaving a legacy that richly deserves a fresh hit of attention.

John Cippolina was a founding member and the lead guitarist of this prominent San Francisco band Quicksilver Messenger Service. After leaving Quicksilver he formed the band Copperhead and then later played with numerous other bands, and is considered one of the fathers of the San Francisco psychedelic rock sound. He had a unique guitar sound all his own, mixing solid state and valve amplifiers as early as 1965. His one of a kind massive amplifier stack was loaned, along with one of his customized Gibson SG guitars, and effects pedals, for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995.

John Cippolina passed away on 29th of May 1989 the age of 45 after a career in music that spanned twenty five years. Quicksilver Messenger Service fans and countless friends paid tribute to him the following month in San Francisco at an all-star concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which featured Nicky Hopkins, David Freiberg, John’s brother Mario, and a host of others.

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In the winter of 2019, Bob Mould bucked the era’s despair with his most melodic, upbeat album in ages, Sunshine Rock. Cut to spring of 2020, and he has this to say: “We’re really in deep shit now.”

That sentiment informs the new full-length album, Blue Hearts, the raging-but-catchy yin to Sunshine Rock’s yang. Recorded at the famed Electrical Audio in Chicago with Sorenson engineering and Mould producing, Blue Hearts nods to Mould’s past while remaining firmly planted in the issues of the day. Acoustic opener Heart on My Sleeve catalogues the ravages of climate change. Next Generation worries for who comes next. American Crisis references “Evangelical ISIS” and features this dagger of a line: “Pro-life, pro-life until you make it in someone else’s wife.”

Leather Dreams, Password to My Soul, and The Ocean were composed during a writing binge before a January 2020 Solo Electric tour, when Mould stayed up for three straight days. That feels right for an explosive, hook-laden album like Blue Hearts. Only there’s nothing forgettable about it.

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Releases September 25th, 2020

Produced by Bob Mould
Recorded at Electrical Audio, Chicago IL
Additional Recording at Granary Music, San Francisco CA
The Band:
Bob Mould: Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion
Jason Narducy: Bass, Backing Vocals
Jon Wurster: Drums, Percussion

 

I’ve been giving my keyboard an extra thoughtful beating, now over 400 pages of and double spaced plus 8 hours ++ of audio versions posted up and available now. Master of maraca science. Writer at The New Cool School. Absurdist. Intoxicationist. Beatnik. Last of the bit time jingle janglers.

As the long term percussionist of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Joel Gion has helped pioneer the current Psychedelic Rock movement. Now as a songwriter, he steps up to the mic to deliver his own tunes

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Based in San Francisco, and active in the mid-to-late 1960s. The band gained interest after one of the Nuggets Vol 12, compilations in the 1980s, Their music was strongly influenced by Yardbirds and Rolling Stones. The Other Half were at their peak when the music scene was at its height in San Francisco and the Flower Power movement in full swing in Haight Ashbury. Their style changed from an earlier vocal based garage band, to the loudest big stage band sound of the time, taken in that direction by former Sons of Adam guitarist Randy Holden. Their sound has been compared to The Yardbirds, and contained elements of blues, hard rock, and Eastern melodic influences

‘Famous’ for their now legendary garage punk killer 45 ‘Mr. Pharmacist’,  later covered by The Fall, this album came a couple of years later in ’68 and shows the move towards psychedelia. Recorded ‘live’ in the studio to sound like a gig, the album showcases some tasty guitarwork from Randy Holden, soon to join heavy duty rockers Blue Cheer.
Also interesting on this mainly self-written album is their lone cover, namely ‘Feathered Fish’, written by Love kingpin Arthur Lee but rather bizarrely credited to Country Joe McDonald!

A collection of their recordings, titled Mr. Pharmacist was issued in 1982. This included their entire 1968 album and several tracks from singles.Two songs, “Bad Day” and “Oz Lee Eaves Drops” appear in the 1968 pilot episode of The Mod Squad.

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