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Best of 2016: Kelly's Personal Picks (now with more cat)!

Posted by Kells, December 31, 2016 02:18pm | Post a Comment
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Looking back at 2016, it was a good year for music, if for nothing else. If you're reading this—hey!—you survived the ride. How did you do it? Was it the music? Without a doubt, music has saved my life, or at least my mood, as often as once a day (very probably) over this past year and for that I am thankful (most definitely). Here follows a little list of personal favorites that really came through for me in 2016. My cat may be in some of these pictures...

tony molina confront the truth 45 slumberland
Tony Molina
- Confront the Truth
(Slumberland)

I never know what to expect from Tony Molina, aside from hella Bay Area bombast and great short songs, and Confront the Truth further confused matters for me (save for the short songs tip) in the best way possible. This lovely 45 is brimming with just the sort of comfortably spun, little-bit-country/little bit folk 'n roll melodies I like. It can also be said that it's brimming with conspicuous influences, namely bits n' bobs reminiscent of The Beatles, Elliott Smith, and perhaps even a little early Skynyrd (think "The Seasons"). Nevertheless, it's easy to appreciate the truth of Molina's heartfelt songwriting and superb ability to navigate a softer power as he coaxes and bends his strums and twangs 'til the bitter end on this ten-ish minutes long, eight song confrontation. Or 'til the bittersweet end, as the cherry on top is a loving cover of Thin Lizzy's wistful instrumental "Banshee" rounding out the record like a would-be bonus track. Altogether a perfect example of how beautifully moving even the most fleeting music can be.

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Back to School with Agent Ribbons' new "Family Haircut" video & Let Them Talk EP

Posted by Kells, September 4, 2012 10:30am | Post a Comment
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It's been a minute since we've heard from Agent Ribbons and I am pleased as planter's punch to begin this back-to-school Tuesday with a repeat viewing of their genial music video for "Family Haircut"!

Directed by Melissa Cha and shot in the kind of creepy abandoned schoolhouse that keeps local ghost hunters over-employed, the video meanders in tandem with Natalie and Lauren depicting the duo in variety of dressy attitudes as they camp and vamp casually through broken classrooms ---  like ya do. Accompanied by lushly layered girl-group harmonies sewn over their patent rough-hewn garage rock melodic base, the song's structure seems to hearken back to the band's raucous early days, much in the same way the dark allure of their lyrics always do. Add all that up, pair it with a definitive alabaster brow or two, and you've got a recipe for ardent heartache of the loveliest degree. But you don't need to take my word for it, see for yourself:



"Family Haircut" is the title track from Agent Ribbons' current limited run cassette-only release on the Portland-based Cassingle And Loving It label, not to mention the upcoming September 11th release of their seven-inch teaser Let Them Talk on Antenna Farm records, a harbinger for the Missus Ribbons' upcoming full length LP set to drop in 2013. Now, if you haven't already seen Amoeba Music's exclusive video interview with Agent Ribbons do yourself a pretty favor and check it out by clicking here, you'll also find videos comprising their excellent live show performed at Amoeba's Berkeley store. Can't get enough? Do, then, check out my interview with the Ribbons babes here and my review of their Chateau Crone LP here. Cheers!

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My Best of 2010: Music Picks by Kelly

Posted by Kells, January 13, 2011 08:45pm | Post a Comment
Howdy and Happy New Year, one and all. I've spent about a week and half, that is the first week and a half of 2011, listening only to the music I purchased last year and I've come up with a list of stuff that I am not only not sick of but ready to live happily ever after with. Here's what I love the most, my best picks for music released in 2010, and you know it's gotta be firm 'cause it's all I've been living on. Let's go:
sun city girls funeral mariachi album cover
Sun City Girls - Funeral Mariachi (Abduction)

This is the kind of record that you listen to repeatedly, one side at a time. I think I must have replayed side one at least five times before moving on to play side two again and again --- it's just a mesmerizing and solid piece of work, enchanting and haunted by an astounding breadth of world music influences (no doubt culled from field recordings, transmissions and the like Sun City Girls has gifted to the public via their Sublime Frequencies label, which pretty much makes them, alongside Mississippi Records, the Smithsonian Folkways of our generation). This release is held even more dear by the fact that it is the last Sun City Girls record due to the death of drummer and vocalist Charles Gocher Jr. in 2007. It's also a limited release, so get it while you can. In fact, it's the "get it while you can" of 2010.

Sun City Girls - "Blue West" from Funeral Mariachi


Chateau Notes: In Conversation with Agent Ribbons -- Their Shophomore Release, Chatueau Crone, Drops Today!

Posted by Kells, October 12, 2010 01:33pm | Post a Comment
agent ribbons

Agent Ribbons
is, plainly put, one of the most bewitching band of ladies I've ever encountered in a live setting. Their raw feminine energy and rosy demeanor create an infectious dynamic tension when they perform their songs, almost as if they dare the shadowy figures sulking (most likely) at the bar to rise on invisible strings and sway like moths enchanted by the shine of the widow's web. Yes, lawd, these salty sirens have the ability to spellbind when their signature sibylline sound mingles with such fetching aesthetic fury --- it's a lusty mix heady enough to have you hooked in an instant. agent ribbons chateau crone album cover interview girl band

A little while back I had a chance to chat with the missus Ribbons after they played a brief but burning hot set at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Here guitarist/vocalist Natalie Gordon, drums/accordion/vocalist Lauren Hess and violinist/cellist/vocalist Naomi Cherie dish about their newest release, Chateau Crone, on Antenna Farm records, which hits the shelves at Amoeba today, their move from California to Texas, upcoming projects and other sundry subjects!

First of all, fabulous show! I think I can speak for everyone when I say I only wished it had been longer (it was a short set, but people were fist-pumping!). Are there plans in place for a proper Chateau Crone tour?

A Grey Garden for All Seasons: Agent Ribbons Tour Their Chateau Crone

Posted by Kells, August 23, 2010 01:47pm | Post a Comment
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There may be many preshy "dream-girl" bands performing nightly under the radar out there, but perhaps none of them so bewitchingly swoon-worthy yet so storybook-ready to bear both fang and claw as Agent Ribbons. Tonight the trio, who have rightly been equated to sounding like Girls in the Garage doing the Three Penny Opera, will be appearing at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco (along with Girl In A Coma and Gringo Star) as they tour in support of their sophomore effort entitled Chateau Crone, slated for release on Antenna Farm Records this October 12th.

Since starting out as a duo in 2007, singer and guitarist Natalie Ribbons and drummer Lauren Hess have toured the U.S. tirelessly, playing with such noteworthy acts as Camera Obscura at the Fillmore Auditorium last year as well as sharing stages with bands like Cake and the Detroit Cobras. Their debut full-length release On Time Travel and Romance first hit the shelves at Amoeba Music in the form of custom-crafted CDs housed in handmade sleeves that showcased a tangible penchant for bygone aesthetics held together by found feathers, bells, lace, ribbons, glitter, glue and more than a little bit of stitch-witchery. Said debut has since been re-released on Broken Carousel and the ladies have collaborated with visual artist Dame Darcy on their limited edition candy-apple green vinyl release for Seven Inch Project as well as delivering a second 7", Your Love Is the Smallest Doll, released on Acuarela Discos in Europe and Japan, which marked the first appearance of Naomi Cherie on violin and cello. Originally from Sacramento, Agent Ribbons uprooted to Austin, Texas, which may or may not have something to do with their being banned in the U.K. in 2008.
agent ribbons chateau crone album cover antenna farm records girl band pop baroque natalie lauren hess naomi cherie
At first listen Chateau Crone comes across as an album spurred by a strange arrangement of influences and genres, both musical and visual, yet every minute of it sounds threaded like baroque pop gems beaded concertedly in a triumph of heirloom costume jewelry. From the opening track "I'm Alright," which plays like a sunny Breeders/Elastica-esque summer beach jam complete with three-part harmonies and hazy, post-feminist allure; to songs like "Dada Girlfriend," what conjures up heady visions of languid, balletic graces akin to women as "green fairies" in Art Nouveau absinthe advertisements; to the plaster-cracking rocker-track "Wood, Lead, Rubber," that comes very close to capturing the shock of the missus Ribbons' live performance sound, the record seems to suggest gypsies canvasing the limitless expanse of a tannin-stained teapot (see track four, "I'll Let You Be My Baby"), or getting down in the Winchester mansion via a rabbit hole guest starring the Shaggs (see track seven, "Your Hands, My Hands"), or a possibility-ridden attic of functionally aged wardrobes (see track six, "Wallpaper of Skin"), or a displaced estate where one might escape to meet the Beales of Grey Gardens (see "Grey Gardens," track twagent ribbons live perofmance legs natalie lauren hess girl band cute red hair gabriel wheeler photography o) for sweet tea with Golden Girls on their banana-leaf steeped lanai (see track eight, "Oh, La La!"). It is, frankly, all that and then some, yet, nothing quite beats seeing these girls pound out their otherworldly girl-next-door compositions in the bare-footed flesh, as they truly give 200% of themselves on stage, balancing honest minimalism with theatrical rawness given what they have previously referred to as their "limited means" of musical outfitting (of course, that was said before Miss Naomi joined the band). I would say that with the kind of gumption these girls pack into a stage show, instruments other than their very presence are almost unnecessary!

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