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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.

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The Spiral Electric Releases New Album + Plays Elbo Room - 1/19

The San Francisco based neo psych band, The Spiral Electric has released their new album entitled, Ask the Sky this month. Make sure you take a listen and find yourself taking a trip down Ask the Sky's psychedelic sonic rabbit hole.

You can catch The Spiral Electric live at The Elbo Room on January 19th with Hollow Sidewalks and New SUN Company!

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Check Best Behavior's real behavior at Brooklyn Bazaar on 01.11

Notwithstanding their name, the guys in Best Behavior don't come across as exemplar human beings - not at all for that matter! First of all, they are said to partake in rambunctious parties during which they play electrical musical instrument, dance incontrollably, and sweat while wearing leather cloths - disgraceful behavior! Some decadent New Yorkers seem to enjoy that, may they find the Lord's true path. Secondly, they use sexually disturbing images on the cover of their records... we are speechless!! As if that wasn't enough, take their song 'Bad Habits' for instance (streaming below); it's a track inspired to sinful music of the '50s that discusses how bad habits are impossible to destroy... how self indulgent!!! Their 2015 album “Good Luck Bad Karma” includes other hummable songs such as “Magic” and “Buried on the Mountain,” which would be our favorite if we weren't so turned off by the band's moral terribleness!

(We are flirting with the idea of catching them live on January, 11th at Brooklyn Bazaar.)

We added this song to The Deli's playlist of Best punk/garage songs by emerging NYC artists - check it out! (if you hear nothing, turn the widget's volume up!)

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New Horsecops LP Available for Streaming & Download

Philly four-piece Horsecops grabbed our attention with its heady four-song debut Dog, and before 2016 gets tossed in the can, the band has dropped its first full-length album, Annie, via Bald Spot Records. With most of the LP being recorded at Big Mama's Warehouse by Evan Bernard (of The Superweaks, ex-Dangerous Ponies) and at the group's home, Horsecops traverses between crunchy fuzz rock and lo-fi synth-noise on its latest offering, creating an oddly balanced, enjoyable collection of recordings. Take Annie for a spin below.

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VBA and the sound of the upcoming (political) apocalypse

If the election of Trump put you in an apocalyptic mood (anybody?), you owe it to yourself to check out NYC's drone rock trio VBA and their debut EP 'Will It Still Be There.' Brooding tracks like Aisles (hear it below) are inspired by the early post-punk days, and provide the perfect amount of gloom and unresolved tension to inspire your next political (Facebook) fight - or maybe be its live soundtrack! The band toured with Kurt Vile & The Violators in 2013 and hasn't been very active since the release of the EP in August 2016.

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