2011 Sounded Good: The Best San Francisco Bands Of The Past Year

Brimming with talent as diverse as its neighborhoods, San Francisco has become a musical playground where venues host everything from shoegaze, hip-hop, indie folk, and jazz, to surf, psychedelia, funk and garage pop. Here are the best San Francisco local bands of 2011.

Thee Oh Sees

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Photo Credit: Cory Schwartz/Getty Images

What’s in a name? That which we call Thee Oh Sees, by any other name would sound as sweet. And Thee Oh Sees have tried many names on for size including: The Ohsees, OCS, Orange County Sound and Orinoka Crash Suite, to name a few. Musician and front man John Dwyer has been a staple of the underground music scene since relocating from Providence, Rhode Island and making the Bay Area his home. The low-fi rockers released not one, but two full length albums in 2011– the psycho-assault of Castlemania followed by the bottomless pit of energy on Carrion Crawler/The Dream. Their riot-sparking performance with stage antics involving seizure-like thrashings was considered a high point at this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival.

Ty Segall

Ty Segall’s prolific recording schedule has garnered him a growing and dedicated fan base. Carving out his own brand of psychedelic, electro-acoustic sounds backwashed in reverb made an impression that went beyond the boundaries of the Bay Area. On the heels of several critically acclaimed solo albums, Segall continues his musical onslaught with Goodbye Bread, his sixth album dominated by fuzz and hypnotic sounds.

Hunx and His Punx

The retro-fueled, humor-laced, bubblegum pop of Hunx and His Punx that founder hunky Seth Bogart likes to refer to as “young oldies” has everyone—gay, straight to undecided—taking notice. The band’s first proper album, 2011’s Too Young To Be In Love, was produced by punk legend Ivan Julian, founding member of The Voidoids.

The Limousines

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

An unconventional start led the electronica duo of The Limousine down the path of international stardom. Formed in 2007, songwriter Eric Victorino and beatmaker Gio Giusti initially exchanged lyrics, music and recorded vocals online. Their first face-to-face encounter took place at The Panda Studios in Oakland, where they recorded the songs “Scrapbook 1998 and “New Year’s Resolution found on the 2009 EP Scrapbook. When Live 105 music director Aaron Axelsen featured one of the demos on his Sunday evening radio show, “Soundcheck,” things began to happen. The band would go on to write their first full-length album Get Sharp, released in 2010, which drew critical acclaim with the hit dance track “Internet Killed the Video Star.” The pair has gone on to perform at the Live 105’s BFD concert, Treasure Island Music Festival and were Duran Duran’s special guests at the Mountain Winery show.


Selected as one of SPIN Magazine’s “Undiscovered Bands You Need To Hear Now, Geographer consists of musical trio Mike Deni (vocalist/synth), Nathan Blaz (electric cello) and Brian Ostreicher (drums). Winning over crowds with their energetic live shows and hauntingly beautiful melodies which make up their debut record Innocent Ghosts, the band was selected to headline this year’s Zazzle Footstock—the Bay to Breakers annual post-race festival. Voted “Best Local Version of Radiohead in the SF Weekly Awards, Geographer signed to SF label Tricycle Records, and released the single for the song “Kites” in October 2009 taken from the EP, Animal Shapes.

Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Check out her articles on Examiner.com here.

  • Mike

    Hey I understand the need for good music in SF but check out Lonesome Locomotive. The drummer is hot and the whole show in his self. I am sure you will like them. I always am on the hunt for good local sound and this band is one of the best.

  • Robyn Chelsea-Seifert

    good call Mike.. Lonesome Locomotive will be playing Friday, Dec 30 at the Makeout Room and a fistful of dates in 2012 including free shows at Giordano Brothers and 50 Mason Social House for those who would like to check them out. Show your love locally!
    Happy New Year!!
    ~ Robyn

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