The 10 Best San Francisco Indie Rock Records of 2012

Grass Widow
Internal Logic

There's not another band like Grass Widow, an minimalist San Francisco post-punk trio that sounds like three women moving uncannily as one. Internal Logic, the group's third and finest album so far, finds Grass Widow as knotty, stripped-down, and tonally untethered as ever. (There are song-length interludes of classical guitar and piano, even.) The main constant running through all these songs is the lovely music that the voices of Hannah Lew, Raven Mahon, and Lillian Maring make together. Over racing basslines and meandering, glistening guitar leads, this album answers the darkness of the band's last effort, Past Time, with an unyielding sense of hopefulness. Grass Widow is a group, after all, that releases its own music, prefers playing all-ages shows, and insists on paying all bands on a bill fairly. So enjoy a little idealism with your harmonies. -- Ian S. Port

See also: Grass Widow: Post-Punk Innovation in Three Voices

Dirty Ghosts
Metal Moon
[Last Gang]

Veterans of the S.F. rock scene will know Allyson Baker from her time in Parchman Farm, an early-2000s group that specialized in funky fuzz-rock. Dirty Ghosts is her new project, and with drum-loop programming help from Baker's ex-husband, S.F. rapper Aesop Rock, this group again melds the assault of rock guitar with the head-nodding funk of a good beat. That might sound like a risky combination, but Metal Moon pulls it off, from the tip-toeing bass funk of "Shout It In" to the almost trip-hop of "No Video." But rock figures in at least as much as hip-hop on this record, giving Baker plenty of time to show off her skills with a face-melting six-string. Given this strong debut, we can't wait to see where Dirty Ghosts go next. -- Ian S. Port

See also: Dirty Ghosts Explore Drum Loop Rock

Ty Segall Band
[Drag City]

S.F. garage-rocker Ty Segall put out three albums this year, and any of them could've claimed a spot on this list. But our favorite of the trio was this summer's Slaughterhouse. While Hair found the Laguna Beach native exploring meandering psych pathways with White Fence's Tim Presley, and Twins had Segall back recording alone in songwriter mode, Slaughterhouse is a full-on assault from the first song to the last. Most of his records so far have had Segall playing all the instruments himself, but he recorded this album with his longtime live band -- which is probably why these recordings of "I Bought My Eyes," "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart," and the screeching, 10-plus-minute noise fest of "Fuzz War" fully capture the frenzied energy of Segall's famous live show. This is loud, howling, loosely recorded rock 'n' roll -- a San Francisco specialty. -- Ian S. Port

See also: S.F. Rocker Ty Segall Makes TV Debut With Conan O'Brien


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