Listen: Bart Davenport's Smooth, Wistful Pop Tune "Wearing the Changes"

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Mareesa Stertz
Bart Davenport and his new band.
Longtime Bay Area musical presence Bart Davenport is known for his tunefulness and his crooning, among other things, and both are on display in "Wearing the Changes," a new wistful, bittersweet pop single about aging gracefully and staying cool. The whole thing has a vaguely Anglophone tint to it, from Davenport's almost-accent and image-rich lyrics to the Belle & Sebastian/Orange Juice glint to the clean electric guitars. It's an encouraging introduction to the new work on Davenport's upcoming album Physical World, out on the esteemed Burger Records March 4 -- encouraging enough that we might just forgive him for having recently moved to L.A. Check out "Wearing the Changes" here:


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Listen: Happy Diving's "Never Been" Is Delightfully Sludgy Fuzz-Pop

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Excessive fuzz pedals and poppy melodies make lovely bedfellows. We've seen this now in, among other places, Dinosaur Jr., Guided By Voices, early Weezer, and more locally/recently in Tony Molina. The combination works again to lovely result in "Never Been," newly released from East Bay rockers Happy Diving on the local Father/Daughter label. Barely two-and-a-half minutes long, "Never Been" is a poetic flash of buzzing contrition -- droll vocal delivery, distorted bass, requisite oooh-ooohing, and feedback. Lots of feedback -- just dive in, it feels wonderful. And do jump on the bandwagon quick, 'cause Pitchfork already cornered the band's last (also excellent) single release, "Sincere," late last year. Happy Diving's self-titled debut EP (which features "Never Been") is due out digitally this Tuesday, Jan. 14 (with a cassette on Feb. 18), and, well, this is probably a band you'll wanna keep tabs on.


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Listen: S.F. Rapper Richie Cunning Rips Through a Classic Beat on "Salute"

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"About a month ago, I was shooting pool in my neighborhood dive and [Eric B. and Rakim's] "Juice (Know The Ledge)" came on the jukebox," says hardworking S.F. rapper Richie Cunning. "I hadn't heard it in a while, and the fact that it was sandwiched into a playlist of current popular rap songs made it hit me like a sucker-punch to the gut. Rakim's flow is simply undeniable."

So Cunning took his own shot at rhyming over the beat, and the outcome is "Salute," a blazing new track from Cunning's forthcoming 1906 EP. There can be only one Rakim, but this is impressive: Cunning excels at searing wordplay over old-school tracks, and that's exactly what we get here -- along with some killer lines and lots of local flavor. Give it a listen and grab a download here:


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The Blank Tapes Celebrate the Holiday Blues in "No Gifts This Xmas"

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The Blank Tapes are here to celebrate your bummer.
The Holiday Blues. We all know that feeling, right? And here, on new song "No Gifts This Xmas," the Blank Tapes deliver a rather perfect ode to gloomy cheer, ugly-sweater bummers, and festive malaise -- with just the right amount of implied winking. The acoustic opening, lazy tempo, and drawling vocals of Matt Adams all make for an easy good time.

The Blank Tapes recently moved back to L.A. from their longtime home up here, but we still count 'em as local, because we want to, and because this year's full-length, Vacation, came out on Oakland's Antenna Farm records. Also, the band is playing the Chapel next Wednesday, Dec. 18 -- when "No Gifts This Xmas" should damn good. Listen and download here:


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Listen: S.F.'s Painted Palms Return With the Pulsing, Psychedelic "Spinning Signs"

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We've been fans of Painted Palms since the group first appeared on the local scene a few years ago. Its swirling, vaguely tropical electronica has been steadily evolving since the band's first EP, and today's "Spinning Signs," the first single off upcoming debut album Forever, shows even more development. The song has a decidedly psychedelic feel, with pulsing synths and an almost rock-like beat. It feels kinda like a Beatles song, but more ominous and disjointed and impulsive. In any case, it's good. Take a listen:


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Listen To Tycho's New Single "Awake": Ambient Resplendence in a Non-Drowsy Formula

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Dive was great first-record-of-the-day-while-you-drink-your-coffee music, and last-thing-before-bed music, plus of course its well-documented utility as do-your-thing-in-bed music. Onstage, the S.F. group led by Scott Hansen comes across a little less sleepy and a little more forceful, and so it does on the aptly named "Awake," the first new Tycho single since this project broke through into national consciousness. The glassy atmospherics at the start put one in the mind of the xx -- not bad territory by any means -- and there's a strong melodic statement at the beginning, and a gradual building-up atop drums and bass that ride pleasingly high in the mix. (That's what you get with a live band!) Having loved much but not all of Dive, we'd say this new track picks up where the very best of that album left off. And as you'd expect with a musician who's also a professional graphic designer, the art is gorgeous, too. Listen up:


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Scott H, Tycho

Jel's "Late Pass" Is a Rumbling, Stumbling Dub-Hop Riddle

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Jel
These are exciting times for the Anticon crew, that loose clique of hip-hop/bass music misfits based around the East Bay label celebrating its 15th Anniversary at 1015 Folsom on Sept. 5. Exciting because, well, the label's roster is stacked with talent -- Baths, Daedelus, Odd Nosdam, Low Limit, anyone? -- and because co-founder and label boss Jel just dropped his first solo album in nearly seven years. It's called Late Pass, and today, the title track is available for the glorious assault of your ears. "Late Pass" builds slowly, with rumbling, dubby bass hits coalescing into a static-y sketch of a groove. Above that, haunting, whispered vocals urge, "don't get too comfortable." The track makes a little more sense with each listen, but always remains something of a sonic riddle -- and that, in our view, is a good thing. Check it out:


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Anticon, Jel

Hear Mikal Cronin's "Shout It Out," the First Single Off His New Album MCII

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So Mikal Cronin -- the S.F. rocker whose 2011 debut proved way more hooky than its modest garage trappings suggested -- has a new album coming out May 7 on Merge Records. "Shout It Out," the first single, ups Cronin's debut with sleek production and a pretty much indelible chorus, the kind that lingers inside your head after only a listen or two. It starts out pretty -- alarmingly pretty -- but Cronin's rock instincts arrive decisively at the 36-second mark. From there, the Cali surf-pop vibes take off like a 747, with guitars that sound reminiscent of Merge staples Dinosaur Jr. But even at max volume, Cronin keeps the melody at the forefront. Here, then is "Shout It Out" -- and count us excited to check out all of MCII when it arrives this spring.


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Local Song of the Day: The Easygoing Disco of Glenn Jackson's "Morning Swim"

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Glenn Jackson
As we noted today for SFist, one of the Bay Area groups we're most excited to watch in 2013 is the Oakland duo James & Evander, who make synth-pop that's both affecting and danceable. Glenn Jackson is the Evander in James & Evander, and his solo work -- to be showcased in a forthcoming EP on Brooklyn label Ceremony -- includes the kind of understated grooves and strong melodies we love in his other music. "Morning Swim" is the title track from Jackson's forthcoming EP, a buoyant instrumental disco that feels like a five-minute tropical vacation.


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Local Song of the Day: Cocktails' Scrappy, Snotty "No Blondes (in California)"

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Matthew Scott
Cocktails
Power-pop springs eternal. It doesn't matter how many bands have made it, how many are making it now, or even how many such acts populate the Bay Area ('cause there are a lot). You put hooky melodies over raw guitars, sprinkle that with a few lines of arrogance, apathy, or lust, and you're probably onto something good. So while San Francisco's Cocktails is one of the newer entrants on the local scene, their song "No Blondes (in California)" does power-pop just right: Counterintuitive, sticky chorus refrain? Yep. Female background vocals? Indeed. Blaring, basic guitar riff? Of course. There's even a cute, toy-like synth line that tinkles along as the song concludes.


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Cocktails

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