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Stories by William Crain

Soft Moon rising

The video for “Into the Depths” by the Soft Moon is filmed in grainy black-and-white, with claustrophobia-inducing camera work. It shows a woman who keeps looking over her shoulder in fear as she runs through ...

The atomic weight of the Mountain Goats

My phone conversation with Mountain Goats mastermind John Darnielle gets off to a bad start when I ask him about his love of black metal. He corrects me: he is a fan of death metal, ...

The Kopecky Family Band has not one Kopecky!

If you had heard nothing about the Kopecky Family Band except their name, you would be forgiven for not having high hopes about this Nashville six-piece. It doesn’t help much to learn that none of ...

The oddball aesthetic of Delicate Steve

Delicate Steve’s song “Redeemer,” from the new Positive Force, is an original, but it sounds like an oddball cover version of the instrumental theme song from some forgotten 1980s TV drama (I’m thinking Hill Street ...

Future of the Left plots against common sense

A couple of weeks before the election, I looked up a Future of the Left video online, but before I could see it I had to sit through a campaign ad for Rep. Michele Bachmann. ...

Titus Andronicus rethinks punk

Punk is getting interesting again. This year, the Russian provocateurs in Pussy Riot proved that punk is still a polarizing political and cultural force. But, musically, punk is thrilling in a way it hasn’t been ...

Octopus Project

The octopus is an intelligent creature with some amazing abilities. It can squeeze its boneless body through tight spaces. It can crawl along the bottom of the ocean floor or suddenly switch on its built-in ...

Do not spit on Public Image Ltd.

It has to be weird to be John Lydon. I once saw Public Image Ltd. play in San Francisco and after a few songs, Lydon stormed offstage because people in the front row were spitting ...

Dan Deacon — DJ Rock Star

This is the age of the rock-star DJ. Where once anonymous technicians lurked behind turntables and electronics, now there are household names (more or less) with trademarked haircuts and masks. These guys (and they are ...

The XX

I stood in the balcony to watch the XX play a show in 2010. The British band’s debut record had come out the previous year, and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic were falling ...

Dr. Dog: Bad Band Name with Good Things Going for Them

The guys in Dr. Dog aren’t going to set any fashion trends. They aren’t particularly charismatic. They don’t have a sound that fits into a trendy cubbyhole. They don’t have a terribly interesting backstory. They ...

Communist Daughter

Communist Daughter’s “Not the Kid” rumbles along on a rolling rhythm. There is a part of the song in which singer-songwriter Johnny Solomon breathes loudly, like he’s running to get away from the rest of ...

Amanda Palmer — queen of Kickstarter

Like a lot of musicians these days, former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer decided recently to skip the whole record-company rigmarole and fund her next record through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. She started out with a ...

Moonface Beams Heartbreaking Bravery

Moonface started out as a lo-fi solo project by Spencer Krug in what little time off he had from his other bands, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Swan Lake (among others). To show how seriously ...

Terry Malts' Retro Shake

A friend of mine says Terry Malts sound like the perfect combination of the Ramones and Jesus and Mary Chain: simple, irresistibly catchy rock ’n’ roll songs full of guitar feedback. Most of the bands ...

Not Those United States, These United States

In an election year, each candidate argues that his or her vision of America is the real one and that the other candidate’s is not. But there are 300 million of us, and there are ...

Three Mile Pilot

I often hear Three Mile Pilot described as influential, but it’s hard to say what that means. Since their ’90s heyday as a pillar of San Diego’s indie-rock reputation, nothing has sounded quite like the ...

Tartufi's Future Is Going to Blow Our Minds

“You won’t believe all that sound is coming from two people!” People always say that about rock duos — and there are a lot of rock duos these days. But the truth is, you usually ...

Jessica Lea Mayfield

If you hadn’t heard her music, you would be forgiven for thinking that Jessica Lea Mayfield makes traditional singer-songwriter music, but you would be wrong. Mayfield began her music career at age 8, playing in ...

The Evolution of Avi Buffalo

“What’s in it for someone with nothing to do? What’s in it for me?” asks Avigdnor Zahner-Isenberg in the debut single of his band Avi Buffalo. Indeed, Avi Buffalo was apparently born out of times ...

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles started out their career playing for spare change on the University of Minnesota campus, and — in a move that is exceedingly rare among college-campus buskers — they soon ...

The Intelligence

The Intelligence’s new Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me begins with “I Like L.A.” and, in a way, the song tells the story of the band. Lars Finberg’s sardonic lyrics and nicotine-stained voice seem to ...

Bart Davenport is retro-active

In Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, music critic Simon Reynolds writes, “When I look back at the development of pop and rock during my lifetime...what perplexes me is the slow but steady ...

Caught up in the Happiness of Mates of State

Sometime in 2001, I was at a party in San Francisco when someone introduced me to Jason Hammel, one-half of the keyboards-drums duo Mates of State, which had recently moved to the Bay Area and ...

Wax Idols

Maybe you liked the lo-fi early singles by female-fronted acts such as the Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast, and Frankie Rose. But after all three cleaned up their acts for their debut long-players — and ...

2:54: Former Vulgarians

London sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow used to play together in a punk band called the Vulgarians, but when they decided they wanted to pursue a more restrained sound, they thought of the Melvins — ...

Céu Can Make Starbucks Interesting

My friend Dan recommended that I check out the Brazilian singer Céu, but he was a little embarrassed about it. “She’s kind of a Starbucks artist,” he said. I knew what he meant: to call ...

How Do You Do? Mayer Hawthorne

If you’re going to do ’60s- and ’70s-style soul in 2012, you’d better be good. More than that, you need to sing soul like you mean it. For that reason, I was not won over ...

Mogwai Is Too Good for Background Music

Grad school meant hours and hours of reading by myself. Music kept me company, but it had to be a certain kind of music. Lyrics would distract me from my studies, so almost anything with ...

Yacht: A Band, a Business, a Belief System

Yacht is sometimes spelled like the boat, sometimes all in capital letters, sometimes as Y.A.C.H.T., and sometimes with a triangle in place of the “A.” And Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans invariably describe their venture ...

Spiritualized: Best When It Breaks Down

When the Spiritualized song “Hey Jane” began streaming online a few months ago, a friend of mine said it was really good...and then it went off the rails. I told him I thought it didn’t ...

Circa-1981 Hardcore with OFF!

When a band of SoCal punk veterans calls itself OFF! you know what you’re going to get, but that doesn’t mean you will be prepared for it. OFF! takes its name from a brand of ...

Allo Darlin' Brings Twee Indie Pop to the Casbah

“Forget hipsters, let’s all hate on twee for a while,” read a recent headline on the website Brokelyn. The accompanying article was about Brooklyn’s “artisanal” food makers and the complicated emotions they evoke. (Sure, they ...

Little Hurricane Brings Roadwork to the Casbah

When talking about San Diego’s Little Hurricane, it’s best to get the White Stripes comparison out of the way first. Little Hurricane is a duo with a guy singing and playing guitar and a woman ...

The Horrors of Skying

In the glory days of rock ’n’ roll, artists changed all the time: Dylan went electric, became a Christian, and went back to his irascible, inscrutable self; Bowie became a different character every couple of ...

Peter Wolf Crier, Garden of Arms

Peter Wolf Crier is a duo consisting of singer-guitarist Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen, and you might guess they sound like the Black Keys, the White Stripes, or other retro-minded guitar-drums duos. But Peter ...

Bowerbirds Sing at the Casbah

Today’s folk-rock is typically made to sound like a product of the predigital age, but the success of bands such as Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, and the Avett Brothers proves that the early 21st ...

Wennerstrom & the Heartless Bastards

The Heartless Bastards started out as a power trio from Ohio, playing a very Midwestern kind of rock ’n’ roll. They weren’t groundbreaking, but neither were they overly reverent about their influences. They sometimes got ...

Radiation City's Slow Burn

The website intothewoods.tv has a remarkable video of the band Radiation City performing their song “Babies” in someone’s living room. They’re packed in so tightly that one guy who wants to listen is standing outside, ...

Go Outside with the Cults

I’ve watched the music video for the Cults’ “Go Outside” at least a half-dozen times now, and I still don’t know what to make of it. Directed by Isaiah Seret, the video is assembled largely ...

Peter Case and Paul Collins, Power-Poppers for Life

In the mid-’70s, Peter Case and Paul Collins played together in a San Francisco band called the Nerves. Appropriately enough, they played melodic, guitar-based rock ’n’ roll with a nervous intensity. Before long, the style ...

Ty Segall Says Goodbye Bread

The exhaustingly prolific Ty Segall has been earning a name for himself in San Francisco’s crowded lo-fi/psych/punk scene over the past few years with a string of noisy, mostly scattershot releases with an occasional glimpse ...

Veronica Falls: Indie Pop Has Life

Veronica Falls is a London band whose debut single is a ghost story called “Found Love in a Graveyard.” On their first full-length release, they also feature songs titled “Misery,” “Bad Feeling,” and “Beachy Head,” ...

Buck 65: Centaur?

Richard Terfry is a Canadian hip-hop artist who has performed under half a dozen names over the past 20 years, but he’s best known as Buck 65. His earlier work was the kind of thing ...

You! Me! Dancing! Los Campesinos

The first time I heard the Los Campesinos song “By Your Hand,” I was shocked. I mean, this is a band with a reputation for being twee (all the members go by first names only, ...

Eleanor Friedberger, Out of the Fiery Furnaces

Brother-sister act Fiery Furnaces has spent the past ten years earning a reputation as one of the most prolific and confounding acts in indie rock. Their songs, written mostly by Matthew Friedberger, pair classic-rock instrumentation ...

Fujiya & Miyagi: Krautrock and Aphex Twin

Fujiya & Miyagi’s David Best doesn’t really sing, he hisses in rhythm. In LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy would alternate talking with singing. Even talk-singers such as the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Art Brut’s Eddie ...

Dashboard Confessional Unplugged: Chris Carrabba

The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica recently wrote that mainstream rock has become zombified, that even country music has shown more experimentation than rock in recent years. He raises some interesting points, but his article ...

The Bloody Hollies, Yours Until the Bitter End

The garage rock bands of the ’60s weren’t meant to last. Typically, they played a bunch of shows, cut a single or two, and then the members went off to college, marriage, or Vietnam. Modern ...

The Young, A Mysterious Young Band

The internet makes it easy to find new bands...maybe too easy. It’s hard to feel the thrill of discovery and connection with a new band when you can come across 50 new bands a day ...

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