From the latest SF Weekly:
Devo: It's easy to forget how many different sounds a musical act can move through. Often bands become associated with a style that's drastically different from the music they made when starting out -- see, for a particularly potent example, Devo. Most people remember Devo (if they remember Devo at all) for "Whip It," a goofy 1980 MTV hit with a video in which various pieces of clothing get whipped off their wearers. The band members wore "energy domes" -- basically ziggurat-shaped red pots -- on their heads, and their black shirts and shorts contrasted sharply with the chipper cowboys and Western setting of the video. The song itself sounds mechanical, alien, silly. One can easily miss that it's a biting satire of git-'er-done machismo, because it's such an iconic, now quaint-seeming artifact of 1980s New Wave. But "Whip It" came out of Devo's third album for Warner Bros., 1980's Freedom of Choice. By that point, the band had evolved significantly from its original sound -- and not necessarily for the better.... [continue reading]
Sharon Van Etten: Two years (and one terminated relationship) later, Van Etten sounds decidedly in control. Her anxieties, distracting at Avatar (and, at times, on Tramp), now feel like they've been whittled to knife points. Her self-produced fourth album of folky rock, Are We There, is spare and masterful -- a collection of near-fatal emotional wounds, chronicled with stark simplicity and deployed for maximum impact. The skills Van Etten brought with her to Tramp -- a knack for ruminating on her doubts about love; the occasional flicker of tongue-in-cheek wit ("I washed your dishes / But I shit in your bathroom," she groans on "Every Time the Sun Comes Up") -- are still intact. But Are We There feels even more naked. When she plays two nights at the Independent this week, audiences should prepare to be rearranged by the shards of heartbreak Van Etten throws out. They should, in her words, brace for a knee-buckling of their own.... [continue reading]
Sizzle and Fizzle: Highs and lows from the week in S.F. music.
Hidden Agenda: Small shows and offbeat events worth your attention in the upcoming week.