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Best Bay Area Songs 2016

Written by Guest Editor: Stefan Aronsen of SF Intercom and Balanced Breakfast Industry Meetup

As an avid concert-goer and music promoter, I listen to a lot of music from Bay Area bands. However, I don't find myself listening to very many albums! I realize my being a music enthusiast that doesn't listen to albums might be considered a contradiction. Shouldn't a promoter of bands also promote full albums? The problem is, most fans don't listen to full albums, why should I be any different? Thus, instead of promoting people to listen to music in a way that they are uncomfortable with, I am choosing to promote a system that works.

Full albums can be intimidating for bands to produce. I regularly advocate that bands release singles instead of waiting to release music until they have enough songs to fill an album. The following is a playlist from 10 bands that released awesome music in 2016.

Fantastic Negrito - In The Pines
Many people discovered Xavier Dphrepaulezz and his band Fantastic Negrito when he submitted his song Lost in A Crowd to NPR’s Tiny Desk Competition in 2015 and won. However, my first introduction to him was as a guest speaker at Creative Mornings. The way he talked about his life, his songs and his goals made me want to listen to his music. While Xavier has had his roadblocks in the past, it seems there is no stopping him now.

CON BRIO - Paradise
I hadn’t heard Ziek McCarter’s band Con Brio before I saw them live at the North Beach Festival in 2014. I was blocks away when I first heard the exciting sounds of his band. As I got closer I was drawn in by his energetic performance. Did you know he does flips on stage? I didn’t until I heard him speak at SF Music Expo about how he originally joined Con Brio. With this new found knowledge I can’t wait to see them live again.

HEARTWATCH - Never Let You Go
How long have you been listening to Claire George’s band HEARTWATCH? Perhaps you were a fan when they were called The Tropics? Either way … you know them now … so you must be aware of their exciting sound. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform live at BottleRock, The Independent and Claire solo at OB Music & Art Festival. Never heard of HEARTWATCH? Listen now and find their next show near you.

The Y Axes - Umbra
Do you love science, video games and nerdiness all wrapped up and delivered in an indie space rock style? Hopefully the answer is yes. If so, check out the high energy vocals of Alexi Belchere and her band The Y Axes. Since they formed in 2011, the band has come a long way in finding their sound and look. I was first introduced to the band in 2013 at a Balanced Breakfast meetup. The band’s guitarist Devin Nelson showed me a picture of his band, since then half of the faces in that picture have changed. With Devin and Alexi changing their bandmates they also created a more mature sound.

Kendra McKinley - Fine As A Vine
When Kendra arrived in San Francisco, a friend suggested she check out Balanced Breakfast. She quickly made many friends, played shows and recruited band mates. She managed to take her solo looped sound and progressed it to a full sound. She sounds amazing on the stage at The FIllmore or in the woods at DIO Fest.

Down and Outlaws - Lay Me Down
I’ve seen Peter Danzig and his band Down and Outlaws at a lot of theirs shows in San Francisco. I got their band patch at their show at Noise Pop 2016. I wear it proudly on my every day sweater. Though I’ve seen them plenty of times in San Francisco, my favorite experience is still spending time with them at SxSW 2016.

Panic is Perfect - Turn Back Into Stars
Managed by Guerilla Management, the same company that works with Con Brio, Mike Hoffman and his band have finally made it to the festival circuit. For many bands being selected to play major festivals like SxSW, Live 105 BFD Festival, and BottleRock is a major goal and a sign of success. Get ready for some more exciting shows from Panic is Perfect in 2017.

Dangermaker - I Won't Let You Down
I love spending time with the members of SF band Dangermaker. It doesn’t matter if it’s an intimate conversation at Mutiny Radio with lead singer Adam Brookes or being at a live show watching bass player Neko Fuzzmonk’s hair blow in the wind like a supermodel.

Battlehooch - EVERYDAY
If you haven’t met a member of Battlehooch, you must not like local music. With 6+ members in the band, they are larger than most Bay Area bands. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the members of a band, thus my friends would often joke that they were in Battlehooch. Would you be able to know if they were telling the truth?

Abbot Kinney - It's the Middle of the Night
If you’ve been to LA you might know the landmark in Venice, California called Abbot Kinney Blvd. Hailing from Los Angeles, lead singer Jared Swanson has brought more than just a landmark name, he has also shared a lot of his industry knowledge with our San Francisco friends. Over the years a lot of bands have relocated from SF to LA. Abbot Kinney is a reminder to local bands that we have a scene and you can be discovered and experience a lot of success here in the Bay Area.





Pavo Pavo unveils video for 'Ruby (Let's Buy The Bike!), talks about gear and inspiration on Delicious Audio

With psychedelic leanings and spacey synths that could believably been beamed down from Pluto, Brooklyn-based Pavo Pavo has a sound that's both warm and familiar, and yet hard to place. In their stunning debut album 'Young Narrator in the Breakers' the band seems to comfortably straddle between the deeper trenches of Brian Wilson's brain and the new face of NYC indie rock--whatever that may be. The quintet's tunes may be hazy and wistful, but there's a quirky liveliness embedded at the heart of their tracks that invites the listener back for more and warrants repeat plays. The band's founder Oliver Hill was kind enough to spend some time with Delicious Audio to shed some light on their creative process, and the gear that helps color their distinctive feel - see link below. Check out their recent video for 'Ruby (Let's Buy The Bike!),' streaming below.

Pavo Pavo discusses gear and creative process on Delicious Audio.

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Emanuel and the Fear play Knitting Factory on January 10th

Ring in the new year with eclectic orchestral six-piece Emanuel and the Fear at Knitting Factory on January 10th. The band had quite a productive 2016, between releasing their latest EP Primitive Smile and going on a trailblazing tour through Europe last November. They posted an Instagram in early December stating that they were "Back in the office. Lots of exciting things to come. Stay tuned." This can only mean more music and electric live performances from the group. If you're a fan of orchestral pop drawing from the styles of Arcade Fire, ELO, or Sufjan Stevens, jump on the bandwagon and treat yourself to Emanuel and the Fear's body of work.

The opener for this show is indie pop artist Frances Cone, who released her single "Arizona" last January and set off from there on a whirlwind year of playing around NYC and the Northeast. Head to Knitting Factory on January 10th to hear both her and Emanuel and the Fear perform. - Will Sisskind





Tender Loving Winter Times

Comparatively speaking in regards to the rest of the west coast, it's cold as shit outside. Since most of us have been schlepping around our respective abodes in snow day sweatpants attire, it's time to put on our finest doodads for a night that's sure to be less dramatic than the ones back in grade school. Say hello to yet another year of Tender Loving Empire's Winter Formal.

TLE doesn't disappoint, and this year's lineup continues in their good holiday faith. Rap Class will be up first, setting a lasting ambiance with his moody yet movement-inducing electronic sounds. With the voice of a soulful angel and enough rhythm to make anyone scream "okurrr!," Maarquii will be giving everyone some much needed life before that cumbia kicks in and gets everyone all sweaty, thanks to Orquestra Pacifico Tropical.

We're all in need of dancing away this shitty year and TLE's Winter Formal allows us to do so while still spreading some Christmas spirit. The dance is a toy drive for the Portland Fire & Rescue Toy & Joy Makers, so come out this Saturday with $10 and a toy (or $20 and no toy, as half of that will serve as donation). Come dressed at least mildly to impress, hit up the onsite photobooth and turn up for the season!





TONIGHT: Benefit for Oakland Fire Relief Feat Primus Dan Deacon and More - Fox Theater

Tonight, we hope you'll make your way to the Fox Theater in Oakland to support Oakland United: A Benefit for Oakland Fire Relief.

Oakland United is a A Night of Music and Stories featuring Christopher Willits, Dan Deacon, Gabe Meline (KQED), Fantastic Negrito, Geographer, Hieroglyphics, Jay Som, Josette Melchor (Gray Area), Kennedy Ashlyn and Anya Taylor (Them Are Us Too), Primus, Rogue Wave, Sam Lefebvre (East Bay Express), Sidecar Tommy (Beats Antique), The Coup, Thao Nguyen, tUnE-yArDs, Tycho and many more!

Hosted by Josette Melchor of the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts, which started a fund shortly after the tragedy and has collected over $500,000 to date. The fund is collaborating closely with the Oakland Mayor’s Office and the Red Cross as well as getting guidance from local arts institutions. The immediate needs of fire victims will be the fund’s priority with the Red Cross as the first point of contact for allocation of the funds received from the Oakland Sports Teams funds. 

Fox Theater 
Oakland, CA 
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 
Show: 7:00pm

Buy tickets here.

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