Thursday, December 27, 2007

Here It Is: HAD's Top 10 Records of 2007

It's never easy picking favorites, but sometimes it's gotta be done. Here's what we at H.A.D. think were some of the finest musical gems of 2007. Enjoy.

#1 The Sea And Cake - Everybody
In some ways, we're probably as surprised as you are that this record is at number 1. A well established band that had always been off our radar, somehow the Sea and Cake rounded the corner and blew us out of the water with this pop masterpiece. It manages to toe the line between experimentation, pop accessibility, and technical skill in a way that we haven't heard in a long time. The album is a repeat-play winner, and even when it as been pretty worn thin, a few days off brings it right back to life. We're sorry to have missed The Sea and Cake's set in San Francisco earlier in the year, but we know that we'll be ready when they return, and when they deliver their next disc.

#2 Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Probably the only reason this record isn't at #1 is that we set the bar pretty high for Mr. Daniel. Okay, really high. Even at that, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is 36 minutes of sublime rock bliss. It takes Spoon back to some of the more seat-of-the-pants garage sound of A Series Of Sneaks, and is the first record to feature the current full band lineup. It's also the first Spoon record to go top 10. Let's just say these guys have been kicking ass for a number of years, and if this year's shows are any indicator, they don't show any sign of slowing down.

#3 Dirty Projectors - Rise Above
We hadn't really been aware of the Dirty Projectors until this record started getting hyped, but now we're glad we have. The band lays out a killer selection of layered melodies and guitar lines that, while at first inaccessible, become progressively more addictive. On top of that, the band is surprisingly adept at reproducing their intricate arrangements live. Forget that this is a reimagining of Black Flag - it's simply an awesome rock record.

#4 Babyshambles - Shotter's Nation
We're not sure if it's the fact that Pete got sober, ditched Kate Moss, or hired Steven Street to produce this record, but whatever it was, it worked. While Down In Albion was a bit of an underwhelming collection of demo-quality recordings, Shotter's Nation is anything but. The arrangements are tight, the songs are fantastic, and the performances are solid. We discovered the record just a few weeks ago, and we're sincerely hopin that the Babyshambles crew make it to the US for a tour this Spring.

#5 Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If...
It's well known that we heart all things BSS, so it's no surprise this little number made it on to the list. Still, Spirit If... holds something that transcends BSS: it appears to have a good bit more of Kevin Drew's soul. BSS' charismatic frontman was always kind of the ringleader of a band of dangerously talented musicians, but with this release he's so much more. He's got his heart on his sleeve (both on disc, and on stage), and it leads to a big payoff. If you took the more tender, honest moments of BSS and expounded upon them, well, you'd have this.

#6 The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters
We're kind of surprised how much we love this record. Something described as melancholy, anthemic, or involving childhood angst seldom holds appeal. And yet, The Twilight Sad's debut record has all those things, and still completely blew us out of the water. The melodies are addictive, and the guitar lines accent in a way that simultaneously fulfills the roll of rhythm and lead. We'd be lying if we didn't admit that it made us think of a certain Irish band on occasion. That being said, this band is firmly rooted in Scotland, and it their touring schedule doesn't confirm it, than the accent that pervades every song certainly does. We're just sorry they haven't made it to the states yet. 2008?

#7 Liars - Liars
While the last Liars album was an experimental masterpiece, this album does what seemed potentially impossible: it takes the fruits of that experiment, and rolls them back into accessible kick-ass rock songs. With their eponymous disc, the band managed to create a record that is all at once dark, fun, experimental and rocking. No easy feat. They're back in town in January, and we're psyched for the show.

#8 Kings Of Leon - Because Of the Times
The Kings' last two records were some of our favorites over the past few years, and so when this disc dropped we were eager with anticipation. At first the more "hard rock" vibe was a little off-putting: it initially had the feel of being based on the advice of a record company A&R man. However, after letting it sink in, it quickly became clear that the Kings we know and love are still in fine form - just rocking a bit harder. The Kings' fan base appears to be steadily growing, and we think it's well deserved. As their producer Ethan Johns said a while back: "They're the real thing."

#9 Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
When this disc dropped we weren't sure what to make of the mid-tempo seventies vibe and super-frank lyrics. Had Tweedy gone soft? Was the edge gone? Was it the dreaded "I've gone clean, and now I'm boring."? Well, the answer to all of those questions is "No.". We were first reassured by the bonus DVD that features live performances of many of the disc's songs. We were further enlightened by the band's show the Greek Theater this past summer. These songs are not soft, they're simply honest: when they go live, the Wilco rock machine is firmly in place. Now we're able to hear that every time we throw this disc on the stereo. Added bonus: to hear that show at the Greek Theater, put the CD in your computer: the show is part of the bonus materials. Apparently the band liked it as much as we did.

#10 Travis Morrison Hellfighters - All Y'All
Seriously, this record is fantastic. If you're into Travis Morrison's crazy-honest lyrics, and songs that jump from style to style, and really just music that makes you feel happy that someone is out there making great music, then this is for you. Sure, there are hit or miss moments, but the reality is that there are far more hits than misses. The self deprecating humor, great melodies, and amazing instrumentation all combine to make a record that gets better with every listen. Sure, it's not as emo as Dismemberment Plan, but in fact it's something altogether better: it's the portrait of a young man trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Honorable Mentions:

Scissors For Lefty - Underhanded Romance
Okay, this record officially came out in 2006 (in the UK), so we didn't really feel that great including it in the top 10 for '07. That being said, SFL are our fave local band, and their performances always leave us wanting more. If you don't already have this disc, get it.

Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis
Another '06 UK release that wound up stateside in '07, Jarvis' solo debut is simply amazing. It moved up a few more notches after his show at The Fillmore this spring, and we're hoping there's a sequel is in the works. Too poppy and accessible for some Pulp fans, it suited us just right.

Vampire Weekend
There's not officially a record yet (at least beyond the self released stuff), but we still love this band to death. Their show at the Independent was amazing, and their self released material is to die for. We're eagerly anticipating the full-length that's on its way.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ryan Adams Returning To Catalyst

As we predicted, in addition to his two Bay Area theater dates, Ryan Adams will also be doing some club dates! Specifically, he'll be returning to the Catalyst in Santa Cruz on January 29th. Tickets go on sale for $32 this Saturday at 10 AM right here. See you there!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Creeper Lagoon: Probably Best $1.64 You'll Spend All Year

We here at H.A.D. first discovered SF band Creeper Lagoon way back in 1998 when they were opening for the Archers Of Loaf on their final tour. We enjoyed the show a lot, bought the record, and generally had a passing interest in the band. They gradually got bigger, and by 2000 they were on a major label with a single ("Wrecking Ball") on MTV. Unfortunately, quality had declined and the interest (at least for us) sorta faded a bit.

Fast forward 5 more years, and it's 2004. On some sort of whim we go to the band's website and discover that the singer has left and bassist/songwriter Sharky Laguna had taken over singing duties. Moreover he had recorded a stellar EP entitled "Remember The Future". The disc (which was available at the time for free download) became one of those listen-to-it-again-and-again-until-you-go-crazy things. And then listen to it again. So, at that point the band was "in the studio" and we regret to say we lost track...again.

Well, today we decided to catch up and head to Creeper's site, and we discovered that they have released a kick ass album that picks up right where "Remember The Future" left off. "Long Dry Cold" was released last year on Sharky's own Neglectra Records, and we've been listening to it all day. The songs are swirling texture-y type affairs, with many layered vocals, bits of acoustic guitar, some sampling, and some general chaos. On top of that, he's added a killer female vocalist to the mix. To our ears, almost a "Pet Sounds" for the 2000's. Some might argue, but we heart it. It's really quite a treat.

Now the kicker: You can get this album, and the "Remember The Future" EP for a grand total of $1.64!!!!!!!!!! Apparently Sharky (along with all of us) has a bit of a problem with the RIAA, and so he decided to downprice his own label's songs accordingly. So here's what you should do: CLICK RIGHT HERE, spend $1.64, and let us know what you think. Even if it ends up not being your cup of tea: the dude's a local songwriter with a fair bit of inspiration and talent - a worthy cause, no? Enjoy.

Okay, fine, the dude's against the RIAA. We'll give you a frikkin mp3. But go buy the album, okay? (These are yousendit links - click through to get the mp3.)

mp3: Creeper Lagoon - There's A New Girl (Remember The Future EP)
mp3: Creeper Lagoon - Gigantor (Long Cold Dry)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We've gone legit!

Well, things being what they are, and the internet being the new hip thing for the kids, we figured it was time to go legit and shed a bit of our blogspot youthfulness. Now you can go directly to for all your San Francisco music needs. Not to worry, the old address still works too....onward and upward!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vampire Weekend @ Popscene 1/31

Well, those venerable hosts of hype over at Popscene have apparently caught wind of Vampire Weekend. The band is playing at 330 Ritch for the weekly dance party on Thursday January 31st.

Depending how you look at this, it's a blessing or a curse: On the one hand, it's a tiny venue, and it'll be cheaper than your average gig. On the other hand, there are no advance ticket sales and the sets are usually short and mobbed with high school kids.

Either way, we'll be there - best.

See What Britt Daniel Likes

Myspace music has roped in Spoon frontman Britt Daniel to sum up his year-end music picks. Singles, albums, performances, the real deal. So, head and check out the vids here.

Yes, our year-end picks are coming as well. Be patient young padawan.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Vampire Weekend Is Like Drugs

Okay, so you all know that we loved VW's show at The Independent last week. What you (and we!) didn't know was that we liked it so much that we are now on some completely unreasonable Vampire Weekend addiction trip, where we listen to songs constantly on repeat. Before you download thes mp3's, be forewarned that the addition just gets worse and worse as the music gets better and better!

These particular mp3's are from a Daytrotter Session. So good!

mp3: Vampire Weekend - Daytrotter Sessions - Bryn
mp3: Vampire Weekend - Daytrotter Sessions - I Stand Corrected
mp3: Vampire Weekend - Daytrotter Sessions - M79
mp3: Vampire Weekend - Daytrotter Sessions - Oxford Comma

Also, for good measure, from the band's site:

mp3: Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

Malkmus Madness

We've already mentioned quite a few times that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks will be at GAMH next Wednesday for one of two dates on the West coast. (Yes, we can't go. Rub it in, it's fine. Jerks.) However, in the meantime it now appears that some amount of media hype has begun to build for the spring release of Malkmus' new album Real Emotional Trash.

Pitchfork has posted an awesome interview with SM himself, and Matador has put up the first mp3 from the new record. We were actually a bit surprised by the mp3: the mix is surprisingly similar to the soundboard recordings from last winter. It looks like Malkmus' claims that this is a very "live" record are true. So, get ready for that show next Wednesday, and in the meantime....enjoy!

Pitchfork Interview: Stephen Malkmus

mp3: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks - Baltimore

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Gift From Okkervil River

The nice guys in Okkervil River have decided to bestow a gift upon their fans: They've posted a Christmas Mixtape EP on their website, complete with cover art. The EP consists of 8 covers and a live original, so check it out. Who doesn't love free music?

Liar's At Slim's In January, On-Sale This Sunday

Much as we had hoped back when they played Bill Graham with Interpol, Liars are returning to San Francisco for a headlining gig. On Friday, January 25th the band will be playing Slim's to an all-ages crowd. The show goes on-sale this Sunday, December 16th, so get 'em while they're hot!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Not So Silent Last Night: Spoon @ NSSN 2007

Some would say that it is silly to go to a radio holiday gig where you only have interest in two bands, and really are only going for one of those two. Those who say such things would not be us. We here at H.A.D. heard Spoon was playing NSSN 2007, and were determined to check it out. Modest Moust being on the bill didn't hurt either - they've got there fair share of respectable tunage. We managed to score a last minute ticket for $20, so you can't really argue with that. Plus, Spoon delivered, so we're happy campers.

The band was definitely in "rock" mode, and hammered through a set that consisted almost entirely of aggressive, rocking renditions of some of the band's better known songs. It was refreshing to hear some of the band's more "pop" material take on a more rock vibe. The opener "Fitted Shirt" (an H.A.D. favorite) was edgy and aggressive, and great for the big arena vibe.

Halfway through the set the band busted out "My Mathematical Mind", and let the guitars wail. The song is known for being Spoon's go-to "rock out" song, and this case was no exception. The band delivered a feedback drenched barage of noise that got the crowd rolling straight into the shaker-driven grooves of "Don't You Evah".

When the band finally busted into "The Underdog", it was clear that all the radio play has been paying off: the crowd was immediately on board for the latest hit. The rendition of the tune was fabulous, save for the synthesized horns: it seems like they should either drop them, or get a real trumpet. The crowd love of the "hit" was all that much more notable as the band closed the set with a killer version of "Quincy Punk Episode". At the close of the tune, Britt Daniel tossed his mic to the ground, and the band left the stage amidst a wall of sound.

The setlist was as follows:
Fitted Shirt
You Got Yr Cherry Bomb
The Way We Get By
My Mathematical Mind
Don't You Evah
I Summon You
The Underdog
Quincy Punk Episode

More photos at the H.A.D. flickr feed.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dance-o-matic: Vampire Weekend @ The Independent

Okay, so we lied. Or maybe misspoke. We genuinely thought we wouldn't be able to make it to the Vampire Weekend show at The Independent on Wednesday night. Turns out we were wrong. We were there, and loving it.

The band played a little over an hour, and turned in an awesome set of highly danceable ass-kicking tunes. The set was highlighted by the band's unbridled enthusiasm: while lead vocalist Ezra Koenig clearly was in the driver's seat, the rest of the band was most definitely on-board. Smiles and backing vocals abounded, and everyone was psyched and sweaty.

The set included a good deal of the band's current material, but also a number of songs off of a currently-in-recording second album. The new songs fit smoothly into the set, and while they aren't a huge departure, they will clearly entice the already-faithful.

Throughout the show, there were a number of cries of "San Diego's got nothing on us!". We here at H.A.D. aren't sure exactly what that means (I mean, duh, right?), but we do know that Wednesday's show was a solid block of tunes that we won't soon forget, and we'll certainly be coming back for more.

All Kinds Of Wilco

Some of you may have heard that Wilco has continued their free music tradition, and released a gratis EP to accompany Sky Blue Sky. The EP can be downloaded by inserting your SBS CD into your computer, and linking to Wilco's site.

We here at H.A.D. had a busy few weeks, and so we just got to give this a try last night. Boy are we glad we did! As reported all over the place, the CD gives you access to 3 unreleased studio tracks and two live tracks. However, perhaps even more exciting for readers of this blog, the CD also gives access to a streaming soundboard quality recording of last summer's show in Berkeley at the Greek! We couldn't be more excited about such a Bay-centric treat.

Bust out those Sky Blue Sky CD's, boot up the computer, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Saturday Night At Amnesia: The Lightning Bug Situation

Local songwriter and guitarist Brian Miller seems to have quite a bit going on: He plays guitar for Jolie Holland, is one half of The Speakers, and now is going solo with The Lightning Bug Situation. This Saturday at Amnesia will see the CD release party of the Situation's new disc "A Leaf, A Stream".

We here at H.A.D. received the disc quite a few weeks back, and at first listen didn't completely know what to make of it. The disc is aggressively intimate, with detailed liner notes, personal testimonials, and a feeling of closeness that is almost disconcerting. There is an absence of hooks that at first listen, to the pop-obsessed, seems perhaps like a weakness. However, the more one listens, the more it becomes apparent that the album is an atmospheric study: it is less a set of songs than it is a single song, or an environment of Miller's emotion.

While the compositions are inherently simple, the songs attempt to transcend their inherent simplicity through sonic experimentation. At many points they succeed, turning what could have been a typical platter of neu-folk into a far more interesting experiment. Lyrically the album is brutally forthright, and at many times the better for it. So many lyrics today are obscure or shallow that listening to A Leaf, A Stream really makes one patently aware of the personality that Miller has applied to his work. It stands to the album's credit that the listener is really challenged with a level of intimacy that is highly uncommon in today's music scene.

All of this makes it that much more interesting to see what will go on at Amnesia on Saturday night. We have no idea how Miller will take the album he's crafted and turn it into a live experience, but we have to admit we're damned curious.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Port O'Brien Thursday Night At The Rickshaw Stop

We're suckers for the Rickshaw Stop: it's a tiny room, it's close to home, and they were really nice when we spilled our beer once. So, combine that with a band that's getting props from one Matt Ward, and we're pretty sure we'll be in attendance.

To be frank, we know very little about Port O'Brien aside from what we've heard over the last day or two, but what we've heard sounds good. The band rocks a nice folk angle, but isn't afraid to rock out as well. Plus, they're local boys (okay, and a girl) from Oakland, so what is there to lose? See you there.

mp3: Port O'Brien - My Eyes Won't Shut

Tonight At The Independent: Vampire Weekend

While we here at H.A.D. will be otherwise occupied, we would be in serious hot water if we failed to mention that NYC natives Vampire Weekend will be playing at the Independent tonight. The band has been getting its fair share of hype lately, and by all reports rightfully so. Their sound seems to embody a lot of what was also happening in late-era Talking Heads: That is to say, "World Music" vibe with high danceability, and a nice dose of garage rock sensibility. Apparently the live show is killer. We'll make it over if we can, but if not, we'd love to hear how it went.

Tickets are still available.

mp3: Vampire Weekend - A-Punk

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pinback To Play Fillmore In February

While they're not necessarily a house favorite here at H.A.D. (Sacramento 2005, long story), we do know that there are a pretty large group of Pinback loyalists out there. We have to admit the band's a solid group of musicians, and we don't want to deny those in need of a bit of the Pinback love. That, and we're always one to talk up shows at The Fillmore - We just can't get enough of that place. Anyway, Saturday February 10, Pinback at the Fillmore. Tickets on sale now.

Not So Silent Night: It's Like The Treasure Island Festival, But Indoors!

Okay, okay, yes it's a snarky headline, but come on: the same two headliners as a local festival that occured less than 4 months ago? Someone needs to ramp up the creativity in the booking department over at Live 105. That being said, we here at H.A.D. love us some Spoonage to the max, and them Modest Mouse kids ain't half bad either. Despite feeling like corporate shills, we'll see you there.

Tickets still on sale over at ticketmaster...