By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley's growing body of work stands as an ideal rebuttal to the assertion that contemporary jazz is devoid of ingenuity, but this is not to suggest that the man ignores his roots. Whether reinventing standards (see "Amazing Grace," from this year's The Angola Project) or composing original work, Wiley displays both the bold experimentation and careful temperance of a conscious, innovative master, one who's bound to be studied by subsequent jazz innovators for years to come.
Zeph & Azeem
J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Alex 'Zanders' Andreas — Boom Boom Room
Kevin Arnold — Noise Pop
Monika Bernstein, William Linn — Blasthaus
Will Bronson — SMC Recordings
Christian Cunningham, Ben Van Houten — The Bay Bridged
Marshall Lamm — Marshall Lamm Promotions & Public Relations
Jennifer Maerz — Music Editor, SF Weekly
Audra Morse — Incredibly Strange Wrestling, Thee Parkside
Ryan Romana — Six Degrees Records
Katy St. Clair — Bouncer columnist, SF Weekly
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SF Weekly 2007 Music Awards Staff
Executive Producer: Josh Fromson
Producer: Sunset Promotions
and Tania Celante
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A mere 28 years old, Wil Blades is already a legend on the Hammond B-3 organ. The Chicago native, who came to San Francisco to study under bassist Herbie Lewis at the New College of California, quickly went from playing weekly gigs at the Boom Boom Room to performing with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Stanton Moore. On his debut album, Sketchy, released in August on Doodlin' Records, Blades showcases a smooth, funky sound that recalls heroes like Jimmy Smith without being slavishly derivative. Apparently, Blades' time spent in combos with Scott Amendola, Wil Bernard, and Idris Muhammad has taught him well.
Sponsored by Glass Dildo Me (GDM)
Lemonade, whose music is so far only accessible on MySpace or from the stage, has been making waves over the past year with eclectic, engrossing experimental music. Drawing on a kaleidoscopic range of international sounds, the trio has managed to snatch the attention of dance music fans, international rhythm lovers, and psychedelic beat loyalists alike. Its performances boast a sound that's diverse enough to move among venues of all stripes, treating audiences to a transcendent live experience and turning them on to one of the most exciting and eccentric emerging acts in the Bay Area.
In Clipd Beaks' world, distorted, echo-soaked vocals fly off the melody lines and transmute into psychedelic flesh-smears. Drums gallop in half-circles, stop and kick sideways, then lurch forward again. Analogue synthesizers vibrate like insurrectionist 'droids playing drainpipe kazoos and cracked iron saxophones. And a heavy bass guitar — perhaps the only sane instrument left standing — lassos it all together with looping riffs. Suffice it to say that Clipd Beaks' planet isn't an easy one to inhabit. It's drenched by inky black downpours, and chaos is ever-threatening. That order is maintained and entropy averted is either a testament to Clipd Beaks' willpower or a sign that the forces of gravity are simply too strong to overcome. For now.
Clad head to toe in a white spandex unitard, Borts Minorts performs spastic interpretive dance moves to mutant technodisco backing tracks. So as to not impede his manic onstage contortions, he wears a wireless mike through which he sings insanely processed vocals. Meanwhile, two foxy backup dancers provide synchronized dance moves. Elsewhere onstage, you might find a flute player, a Theremin manipulator, or a full-time bubble-blower. The Minorts experience has been compared to everything from Devo to exercise guru Richard Simmons, which gives some idea of the absurdity of it all. Check out Minorts' "Dance Contestant" video on YouTube sometime. It's a jaw-dropper.
16 Bitch Pile-Up
16 Bitch Pile-Up has been the Bay Area's premier all-lady noise terrorist cell for five years. The recent relocation of member Shannon Walker to Los Angeles might have crippled a less hardy trio; the band instead responded by releasing its first factory-pressed album to date, a split LP with the winsome title Make Like a Fetus and Abort on Ecstatic Peace (the band has oozed an ephemeral trail of CD-Rs, 7-inches, and cassette tapes across the noise landscape). In its infrequent but celebrated live performances, the Pile-Up is violently unpredictable; ear-scalding harsh electronic noise can melt into quiet experiments with voices and traditional instruments.
Sponsored by Wunder Beer
In recent years Emily Jane White has lived in Santa Cruz, Bordeaux, France, and on an organic apple farm in Philo, California; she also worked for a year on a domestic-violence crisis hotline. She has culled her experiences into personal explorations and tales of tragedy on her debut album, Dark Undercoat, which will be released in early November on Double Negative Records. (A West Coast tour will follow.) Exploring "darkness, hope, and melancholy," in her words, White's songs are sometimes compared to Cat Power's. While this pairing certainly fits, her stark guitar-and-piano-anchored tunes have a vitality all their own.
The genesis of East Bay combo Willow Willow seems like a classic silver-screen chronicle. Two Albany lasses born four months apart, Miranda Zieger and Jessica Vohs became friends in kindergarten and their voices have intertwined in song ever since. Forging their approach from the exquisite, tart harmonies of the Silly Sisters — the traditional Brit folk duo of Maddy Prior and June Tabor — and the Everly Brothers–meet–Big Star pop elegance of locals the Moore Brothers, Willow Willow has one of the most distinctive styles around. After years of performing, Willow Willow released its eponymous debut this year on Mod Lang.
Texas transplant Greg Ashley made a name for himself locally as the frontman for Oakland's the Gris Gris, and as a soloist he treads similar dark psych-folk territory, albeit on a somewhat quieter level. His solo debut, 2003's Medicine Fuck Dream, was a ten-track ode to the women in his life and sounded, well, about how you might expect an album called Medicine Fuck Dream to sound. He followed that with this year's critically acclaimed Painted Garden, which, like its predecessor, featured Ashley writing and playing nearly everything on the record, giving it an even more intimate feel.