Half Japanese’s legacy as detuned-guitar weirdos that inspired legions of other important bands is more than solidified at this point. But thankfully, the band has decided to record a new album, their first in 13 years, to go along with their recently announced Neutral Milk Hotel tour. And let’s just say it’s far from a fiasco. Overjoyed is brilliant, teaming with the energy of a band half the age of the Fair brothers. “In its Pull” establishes the band’s core appeal of sing-spoken vocals over a straight-ahead rock beat and guitars that vacillate between Stones riffs and atonal fuckall chords. “Meant to Be That Way” sees the band engaging in squealing, No Wave-style guitar sounds, but they’re pretty reined in, used in the service of creating a potent post-punk groove. “Brave Enough” might be the band’s best pop song yet, full of jangling island guitars, bongo drums and lyrics like “Come on! Let’s do it!” Yet the whole thing is lovably strange, too, a special freak-pop gem that only Half Japanese could produce. That moment of accessibility speaks to how listenable Overjoyed is throughout, even while the band is spitting distorted vitriol into their mics (“Do It Nation”) or singing with only the faintest hint of a melody (“Shining Star”)—these songs are still hooky at their core and a lot of fun to listen to. There’s also a wonderful positive energy to the album that doesn’t feel forced. A song like “Overjoyed and Thankful” might be ironic, but it doesn’t really matter, as its torn-apart rock ‘n’ roll still brings a smile to your face. And “The Time Is Now” is irrepressibly life affirming and musically quite pretty, with shimmering, jazzy guitar lines. “Don’t ever get stuck with that stupid word ‘why’; I never have liked that word,” they sing nakedly on “The Time Is Now.” To borrow a line from the song, the long-awaited Overjoyed puts a few more rainbows in our blue sky.
I am a photographer, but these aren't necessarily my best photos ever. They are, however, photos from most of my favorite shows of 2010, in chronological order:
1/2/10 An Evening with the Melvins at the Great American Music Hall
I don't like to be late to shows, but I think I had to work this night, so I walked into the Great American Music Hall during the second song of the set. The show began with just Buzzo and Dale on stage. I brought my one of my brothers to the show, and it was his first time seeing the Melvins. We grew up listening to a lot of Beatles and both LOVE them, so when the band played "Let Me Roll It" by Paul McCartney, I kinda lost my shit. It was an amazing beginning to a rad show. Love those Melvins!
2/11/10 Brendan Benson supported by Frank Fairfield at the Independent
I love Brendan Benson and saw him twice this year but this show was extra awesome because I got to see Frank Fairfield. He plays old timey country/bluegrass music and he blew me away. I also grew up listening to Bob Wills, the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, among others. I was pleased when Frank played at Amoeba Music later this year to support Terry Zwigoff's DVD signing.
2010 will mark 10 years since I first moved to San Francisco. One of my favorite pastimes has been going to live shows. I’ve see big shows, small shows, quiet shows, loud shows, good, bad, memorable, forgettable and life changing shows. I’ve enjoyed rock in many forms: metal, acoustic, electric, world, performed by musicians ranging from close friends to the world famous…Here is a list of some of my favorite things about seeing shows in SF and some of my favorite shows in and around SF this decade:
There are so many amazing venues here to see just about any type of music you might be seeking. The Fillmore and The Warfield are classic venues that can pack in a lot of people to check out some big names, like The White Stripes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Willie Nelson, Patti Smith and many, many more. Bottom of the Hill, the Independent, and Café du Nord are smaller and more intimate, and offer a wide variety of local and traveling bands the chance to be seen.
The Great American Music Hall is my favorite venue in the city. It was designed and built after the 1906 earthquake, was called Blanco’s back then and served as a bordello up until prohibition. After that, it was a dance hall called the Music Box, and then a jazz club, until it was re-opened in 1972 as The Great American Music Hall. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there, including Ben Kweller, The Mars Volta, Earth, Boris, Neurosis, The Dirtbombs, Grinderman, Shellac, Melvins, and High on Fire, oh, but to name a few…If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out a show there!
But through all the venues and all the shows, here I have listed some of the most memorable ones I’ve seen during the 2000s, mostly rock and metal…I’ve tried to find a video to accompany these shows, although some videos aren’t from the show or even tour where I saw these bands.
So, today fucking sucks! (I warned you.) Like, seriously! I hate being cold and clammy and not able to dry my clothes. I'd rather have cramps or a sunburn on my ass ... But anyway, how are you? Do you have your tea? Do you have a warm blanket to curl up under? If you do, it sounds like you're ready to watch some TV. I know hunkering down in my living room and watching stuff makes me feel better, so here is a list of some of my favorite, rainy day comfort DVDs:
I have a huge soft spot in my heart for some of the classic Disney movies. 101 Dalmatians was always one of my favorites. How cute is Roly asking for more food?
"I'm hungry, mother. I really am."
My brothers and I used to wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch this movie. (Keep in mind we couldn't get up and make it to school on time to save our lives, but you bet yer ass we were up on Saturdays to watch cartoons!)
I also love Peter Pan. I always wanted to be a lost boy (or at least Wendy) and fly away. "Second star to the right and straight on til morning." Pirates, fairies and a crocodile with a clock in his tail... hell yeah!
5 Disc Player (fancy!):
1. Lena Willemark and Ale Moller - Nordan
3. Mastodon - LEVIATHAN
4. earth - hibernaculum
5. cocteau twins - blue bell knoll