When frustrated ex-folkie Justin Young met equally cynical guitarist Freddie Cowan, a brilliant little combo called The Vaccines was born, later releasing their fiery, punk-forged 2011 debut, “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?” After working with The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. Read More
Fans of Durham, N.C., family band Delta Rae — which plays The City on Thursday — are familiar with Brittany Hölljes’ smoky vocals from the band’s recent debut album, “Carry the Fire.”
They have heard her, and her co-vocalist and childhood friend, Liz Hopkins, on Peggy Lee’s “Bless You (For the Good That’s in You)” on the “Gangster Squad” soundtrack, and with brothers Eric (keyboards) and Ian (guitar) on a YouTube cover of “The Chain” by their stylistic forebears Fleetwood Mac.
The outfit is also featured in the upcoming animated film “Escape From Planet Earth.” Read More
Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. So fans of Seattle grunge-meisters Soundgarden rejoiced in 2010 when the quartet announced its comeback, began touring and released a greatest-hits collection (“Telephantasm: A Retrospective”) and a circa-1996 concert document (“Live on I-5”).
Then, in 2012, the band released a new album, “King Animal.” With sludgy anthems such as “Worse Dreams,” “By Crooked Steps” and the aptly titled “Been Away Too Long,” it seemed like the group hadn’t splintered at all.
But absence can also be perplexing. Read More
Techno-pop singer Ellie Goulding is familiar with the 19th-century fable of a depressed gentleman who is advised by his physician to see Grimaldi, Britain’s most famous clown of the era, and sighs, “But doctor, I am Grimaldi!” She can relate.
“That’s such a sad story, but it’s quite interesting, because it was like that for me for a bit,” says the English vocalist, who plays the Fox Theater in Oakland on Friday. Read More
English neo-folkie Ed Sheeran wishes he could pinpoint the moment in childhood when his songwriting talent kicked in. But there’s one problem. “I don’t really think it is a talent you’re born with,” says the 21-year-old, whose lilting hit “The A Team,” featured on his debut album, “+,” won Britain’s prestigious Ivor Novello Award and is nominated for a 2013 Song of the Year Grammy. “I was shit at writing and performing songs when I first started. But I played a lot of gigs, and I’ve written a lot of songs, and it’s like practice makes perfect. Read More
If singer-flutist Ashleigh Ball sounds unusually animated on “Is” — the frothy debut of her Canadian alterna-pop trio Hey Ocean! — don’t be too surprised.
The singer, who brings Hey Ocean! to The City this week, has been lending her elastic vocal talents to children’s cartoon TV programs for eight years, playing everything from the Care Bears’ Oopsy Bear to Black Widow in “Iron Man: Armored Adventures.” Read More
Keyboardist Ben Folds has worn many hats in his illustrious career. Read More
While getting her master’s degree in French literature at Stanford University four years ago, Nataly Dawn received an interesting piece of advice from a professor.
The charismatic Pomplamoose vocalist took the words to heart when conceiving her new solo album, “How I Knew Her.” Read More
Grammy-winning Muse — bringing its elaborate European stage production to Oracle Arena in Oakland on Monday — could be the brainiest outfit in rock.
Buoyed by frontman Matt Bellamy’s esoteric songwriting, the prog-leaning British power trio’s sixth CD, “The 2nd Law,” initially was inspired by the second law of thermodynamics.
Yet treatises such as “Madness,” “Supremacy” and “Survival” morph into a larger metaphor for the world’s current financial crisis.
Sometimes even bassist Chris Wolstenholme can’t fathom his bandmate’s unusually deep thoughts. Read More
Describing unexpected obstacles she dodged in recent years, surfer-singer Tristan Prettyman calls them “a series of diversions that happened out of thin air.” Between 2008’s album “Hello…x” and the new CD “Cedar + Gold” (with soulful singles “My Oh My” and “I Was Gonna Marry You”), the performer, who appears in The City next week, went through what seemed like a minefield. She got engaged to longtime beau Jason Mraz, traveled the world instead of penning a follow-up to “Hello...x,” then wrote the follow-up, but scrapped it after she and Mraz broke up. Read More
“Devotion” — the Mercury Prize-nominated debut CD by Sade-inspired, British pop-R&B diva Jessie Ware — drifts by lazily on spacious arrangements.
But within breezy autobiographical tracks such as “Running,” “Swan Song,” “Taking in Water” and “Night Light” (an ode to the singer’s boyfriend of more than a decade) lurks a sharp lyrical eye. Read More
After her debut “Holy Smoke” swept the New Zealand Music Awards in 2010, R&B-fueled Kiwi rocker Gin Wigmore was besieged by questions.
“Over and over, it was, ‘What are you going to do next? What kind of record will you make? It’s your second album — aren’t you freaking out?’” says the blond spitfire, who finally told everyone that she would track a blues album, even though she knew little about the genre.
She arrived at a perfect method of familiarizing herself with it, and her plan worked. Read More
Henry Ford once said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” It’s a credo taken to heart five albums ago by a little folk-bluegrass outfit from Duluth, Minn., called Trampled By Turtles.
The band, playing The City today, recently broke through with an acclaimed sixth effort, “Stars and Satellites,” and an animated video for the single “Walt Whitman” courtesy of the Adult Swim cartoon “Squidbillies.” Read More
Midge Ure clarifies that it wasn’t his idea to reconvene his long-dormant new-wave outfit Ultravox three years ago for an overseas tour and reunion album, “Brilliant.” But he says LiveNation, the promoter that seems to “own everything,” emailed saying, “If you’re ever thinking of doing anything, this is the year to do it — it’s the 30th anniversary of your album ‘Vienna,’” says the Scotsman (who lives in Bath, England), adding, “I honestly, hand on heart, had no idea that any of us would be interested.” But everyone said yes. Next week, he plays The City in a solo show. Read More
Jake Bugg is undoubtedly one of 2013’s most promising new artists. His self-titled overseas debut hit No. 1 in his native Britain upon its October release. In the past two years, he played a BBC-sponsored stage at Glastonbury, toured with Noel Gallagher, opened for a reunited Stone Roses and hung out with personal heroes like Jimmy Page. Believe it or not, he is just 18, which makes his anachronistic folk-punk approach even more inexplicable. Read More