Over the weekend, Popdose’s Jeff Johnson and I were able to get together for a bit of a visit. Alas, the circumstance behind this get together was rather somber, but we were able to have a couple of hours at a bar chatting about film, writing, life and other things large and small. At one point we touched on writing for Popdose and he asked if I had anything for this week’s Mix Six set. “Jesus H. Christ! Are you kidding? I’ve got nothing.” Now, clearly that’s not the case since you’re reading this, but if it wasn’t for the Winter Music Fest in San Francisco that starts this week, and the fact that the San Francisco Chronicle spotlighted the event in Sunday’s Datebook section, you probably would have been S.O.L. if you were looking for a new Mix Six.
It was a bit of luck that I was able to get a list of bands playing at the Winter Music Fest because, quite frankly, I’ve been in a bit of a musical rut as of late. However, having the chance to check out many of the artists who are playing at the festival, I think whatever musical rut I’ve been in has been, um, unrutted for now. And if you’re a regular reader of this feature, you know that my taste in music is pretty much rooted in pop. Put it another way, I love hooks, and the bands/artist I’ve featured this week have hooks galore! So before I get mired in jibba jabba, let’s get this mix started, shall we?
“Candy Gold,” Rykarda Parasol (Download)
If you’re a fan of Nico and Nick Cave, you’re going to love, love, love Rykarda Parasol. She’s a San Francisco native, and her atmospheric and moody songs are very dark, and at times, atonal. However, when she wants to bust out the melodic pop, she does so in a way that weaves in her unique musical style. “Candy Gold” is a tune that came out a few years ago, but it’s a great gateway song into her already three-deep album catalogue.
“Put It Down,” Eric McFadden Trio (Download)
Eric McFadden has been bouncing around the San Francisco music scene for years, and has become known for his melodic, but eclectic style of guitar work. Some of his songs hearken back to a kind of ’60s sound, but it’s never a direct copy of any one guitar god. Rather, he plays with taste, sophistication, and is clearly such an accomplished musician that he has no need to impress newbies by overplaying.
“Out of the Abyss,” Judgement Day (Download)
Just when you thought there couldn’t be anymore variations to metal music, along comes Judgement Day who take metal in a direction that few would have thought possible — namely , the use of stringed instruments. If you thought that a jingoist, pot-belly, redneck (Charlie Daniels) was the only guy who could rock the fiddle, you’d be wrong. One listen to Judgement Day, and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” will sounds like chopsticks.
“Up Up Up,” Please Do Not Fight (Download)
Please Do Not Fight has a lot of great things going on in this song, but the one thing that stands out is a kind of Styx/Dennis DeYoung synth thing. “Up Up Up” is a wonderful pop song, and I think given time (and the all-important exposure) they’ll make some serious headway in the larger music scene.
“Everyone’s Got To Go,” The Soft White Sixties (Download)
Now here’s a band who is not shy about wearing their music influences on their sleeve. Hell, just looking at the title of the band should be a gimme, right? Right. The Soft White Sixties is R&B to the core, and out of the songs I previewed on their My Space page, “Everyone’s Go To Go” had me circling back for repeated plays.
“Where Did You Go?” Bird By Bird (Download)
When you think of bands from Berkeley, I would imagine that a power pop group would not be first on your list. But Bird By Bird simply has some of the most radio-friendly songs in the grouping featured here. Fronted by Jonathan Devoto (formerly of The Matches), “Where Did You Go” has an instant likability, and very soon you’ll be singing the chorus in your head (or blurting it out in the shower) after a couple of listens.