Pink live at the HP Pavilion, San Jose, on September 17, 2009. Photos by Hali McGrath.
Sonya Cotton's Red River will soothe a roiled sea. Although what she sings about (treachery, sickness, death) is hardly calming, and the record was fueled by carnage in her personal life - there is, in fact, a photo of Cotton kneeling astride a dead deer on the cover - something about the soft vocals and reverent instrumentation clears the mind like a childhood lullaby.
High school bands are a rich resource in the East Bay; there's a lot more talent than we have any right to expect. Here, Walnut Creek's youth-oriented Red House Studios shares twelve of its favorites; highlights come from Dublin dance-rock group Dance My Heart, Walnut Creek pop-punk group the Story So Far, and San Ramon Christian metal group the Ninth Hour.
They may be wrong about everybody wanting a Midwestern girl, as the opening track attests, but Yard Sale's take on low-key Bay Area folk, country, and string-band fare is just right. The Oakland group features three female musicians who also sing and write their own songs, and the resultant diversity of vision and voice makes God Bless a success.
At Hotel Utah (500 4th St., San Francisco) on September 19. 9 p.m., $7
For some, this is the sound of sunshine: gleeful synths, featherlight melodies, no-fuss rhythms, and laidback tempos for dancing when it's too hot to dance. More specifically, it's all about the attitude of those ubiquitous electronics - smooth, smiling, just happy to be there. In five songs and 22 minutes, Bay Area newcomers Butterfly Bones drop the soundtrack to your Indian summer.
At Kimo's (1351 Polk St., San Francisco) on October 3. 9 p.m., $5
Frank and Murry must be working through some heartache, or at least drawing from a lifetime of it. With a line like Nothing you could say, nothing you could do/Could bring me back baby, could make me love you, "Hey, Elly" must be one of those "assorted" love songs. The record draws selectively from rock, country, R&B, and soul, but excels in the one thing you can't quite label: feeling.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs live at the Fox Theater, Oakland, on September 9, 2009.
Shades of Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, albeit less showy, surface in this instrumental new-age jazz album. Solos also go to sax and bass, but the real star is Walnut Creek resident D. Lucca's guitar. His tone is clear and bright, though not devoid of bottom end, and his playing confident and workmanlike. Unlike many skilled guitarists, he serves the song before his vanity.
At the Guitar Player Live! Festival (Flagpole Stage, 1st St. and S. Livermore Ave., Livermore) on Sep. 13. Noon, free
Coming on the heels of a series of label changes (from Interscope to Fuzz to none) and a mid-career identity crisis (epic rocker "Save Me" was good, but a bit too much for some fans), sophomore full-length Let's Be Friends finds the Oakland outfit perfecting and building on its sexy, electro-fied, eminently hummable pop anthems.
At the Independent (628 Divisadero St., San Francisco) on Sep. 11. 9 p.m., $17
This San Francisco quintet formed ten years ago as an all-acoustic string band and recorded its first album live at the Freight & Salvage. A lot has changed since then, but not enough to alienate old fans: Limbs Akimbo, produced by the Mother Hips' Tim Bluhm, introduces the band's first drummer and a more rock-based sound that'll fit better than ever on the festival circuit.
At the Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell St., San Francisco) on Sep. 11 and 12. 9 p.m., $20