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
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’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.
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.