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In its first year in the U.S., China’s Modern Sky Festival brought a diverse lineup to New York City’s Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Saturday and Sunday, October 4 & 5. Acts included not only popular Chinese bands but also some indie favorites as well. It was one of the most unique festival lineups! Here were some of the highlights from the fest below.


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An all-star cast of musicians came out to dazzle for Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor, including performances from Jamie Lidell, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, Sinkane’s Ahmed Gallab, Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark, Dead Prez, Pharoah Sanders and Peaking Lights. The energy of the show really amped up with the addition of the Mahotella Queens (dancers from South Africa) and a couple sparkly rollerskaters.

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Liars frontman Angus Andrew appeared onstage with the same mask that’s on their latest album cover for Mess. He finally took it off about 4 songs into the set, and that’s when their set really exploded as the crowd (even a couple costume Pandas) started dancing for these art punkers.

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Post-hardcore band The Blood Brothers reunited this year (they broke up in 2007) and brought their spastic energy and screaming dueling vocals to Rumsey Playfield.

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Cat Power came out looking like the “Cross Bones Style” era of singer Chan Marshall -- short floppy brown hair and a tom boy white button down with a flannel over top -- and her voice sounded amazing, all enchanting and mysterious. It’s hard not to adore her ethereal vocals and her endearing shyness onstage.

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Canadian band Stars charmed the crowd with their sweet boy-girl vocals and enthusiastic stage presence playing some songs of their upcoming album No One Is Lost.

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The Both, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo’s new project together, sang their sweet dueting melodies, including crowd favorite, “Hummingbird.” To his credit, Ted Leo came out and spoke in Chinese to the crowd and in his cute humorous way said thank you in Chinese throughout the set.

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Aussie singer Lenka had an adorable set with her playful vocals and her adorable personality.

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Of the Chinese bands that performed, I really enjoyed Re TROS and Queen Sea Big Shark. Post punk band Re TROS definitely had a Gang of Four vibe that was easy to relate to. Electro band Queen Sea Big Shark had a lead female singer with a big, fun personality that had the audience jumping along. It was refreshing to see bands that sang mostly in a different language but were still able to cut through the language and cultural barriers to delight the mixed audience.

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Clearly though, Second Hand Rose was the big Chinese act of the festival -- as the crowd erupted when they stepped on stage. Big props to any man who can wear glorious long lashes like Second Hand Rose lead singer Liang Long.


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About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, Jinners.com. She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners

Whether you're a born and raised local or a lost Bay Area transplant looking to find the best tunes in the city, we've picked out this week's best live shows in our home town of San Francisco for you to check out.


Mammoth Life + Magicks + Kitten Grenade @ Brick & Mortar (Tuesday)

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With freshly released visuals for their track "Wanna Be Loved" off their first full length, Mammoth Life reminds us why we want more of their local self-described Pop n' Roll. Also on the itinerary is a brand new Bay Area transplant, Magicks. Having headed west from Chicago, their dreamy soundscapes have influences from shoe-gaze to hip-hop. Rounding things out are the ukulele oriented stylings of what is more than just one of the best band names in town, Kitten Grenade.


Rubblebucket + Royal Canoe @ The Independent (Wednesday)

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If it is your first Rubblebucket show, there is a strong possibility you will be won over upon the band taking the stage. Kalmia Traver commands a crowd with ease and is backed by the full force of a rock band ensemble complete with a horn section. Forget how great the new album is, just be prepared for a lot of crowd participation, from using a parachute to carrying around band leader and trumpet player Alex Toth. Kicking the night off is a rival to such an elaborate instrumental array with a strong focus on effects heavy guitar and keys.


Wildcat! Wildcat! + White Hinterland + Rio Rio @ Bottom of the Hill (Thursday)

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Are you behind on some new synth focused, pop friendly, indie poised for prime licensing opportunities for new present day network dramas? Great, go to Bottom of the Hill. Wildcat! Wildcat! and White Hinterland jumped on the road together with new albums and the match-up sounds great. Throw in locals Rio Rio with fresh new tunes, stage lighting, and their amazing covers of songs like "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" or "Silvia" and you're set.


Kate Boy + Kite String Tangle @ Rickshaw Stop (Thursday)

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Further cementing the Swedish stranglehold over dance-pop, Kate Boy's addition to the ranks a few years back has led to a steady stream of bass thumping singles ripe for a new round of Popscene. Acts like this can often fool people into going to a show with only a vocalist and a laptop but fear not, a full band will be taking the stage. Supporting is Australian newcomer The Kite String Tangle. Fans of fellow countrymen Thief, Touch Sensitive, and Hayden James will easily become fans.


PUP + Hard Girls + Mini Death @ Brick & Mortar (Friday)

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These loud, aggressive Toronto-based hellions unleashed their debut album this year, along with a string of epic music videos. Proceed directly to YouTube to take the PUP journey as they chronicle a legend of their own through forming a band, playing parties, and saying goodbye to a member's first car. If the recurring sweat and blood imagery is any indication, I would start preparing to make some physical contact. Give the record a listen and you'll find some dangerously catchy hooks for all those looking to merely spectate and spare themselves a theoretical bruise. 


About Mike: Habitual Bay Area show-hopper and new music junkie. Currently Artist Relations at DeliRadio and occasional DJ at KALX. Follow the music based ramblings on Twitter.

We tend to socialize with our favorite DJs in the dark confines of the club as they spin vinyl to get us dancing. So we wondered what would it be like to meet them in the light of morning, eat breakfast and discuss deejaying with them. In this new series “Breakfast with DJs," I got to hang out with Jacob Peña of San Francisco DJ crew Sweater Funk in the daylight to talk about boogie and soul. 


Where?

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On an overcast Tuesday morning, Jacob Peña of Sweater Funk met me at People’s Cafe in the Upper Haight before he headed into work at Amoeba Records.

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What was on the menu?

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Jacob ordered the Fresh Herb Scramble with roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, parmesan cheese and zucchini. I opted for an Eggs Arnold with poached eggs, salmon and hollandaise sauce. Breakfast was good, but unremarkable. We both drank coffee and water.

 

What piqued your interest in deejaying? How did you get started?

I was going to this monthly soul night, The Good Foot, in Long Beach, CA. Didn’t miss a month for the first few years. Figured I could make folks dance too. The Good Foot guys helped me out, let me spin a bunch of times and showed me what's up. They're still going strong after 16 years. Which means I've been deejaying for about 16 years.  

 

What are your essential tools?

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Records I love hearing played over and over again are essential. I play what I love. No sense being miserable doing this, right? 

 

Tell me about Sweater Funk and how that began?

Sweater Funk is weekly Sunday Night dance party at the Knock-Out in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of SF. 

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In 2008, Jon “Sweater Funk” Blunck and I started Sweater Funk to play the boogie, 80's funk and modern soul music we loved. At our first Monday night party, The Better Half, folks would ask us to NOT play "that 80's disco stuff." Soon, Jon bought sound system speaker cabinets, an amp, two technics 1200s and a mixer and we began spinning in Li Po Lounge’s Chinatown basement on Sundays. Li Po didn't care WHAT we played, as long as they made money. 

We christened the night, “Sweater Funk” - in reference to the funky sweaters wore by musicians on funk and boogie album covers. Soon we were playing to a growing crowd of boogie heads. Along the past 6 years, we pulled other folks into our now 14-strong crew. Now, we’re part of a movement pushing this sound (back) into the ears of folks. Other crews responsible for this resurgence include Dam-Funk’s - Funkmosphere (The Mothership), O.C.'s - Funk Freaks, Chicago's - Boogie Munsters, Austin's - ABC crew, Portland Oregon's - Let It Whip and Omega Supreme. Funk is back in a HUGE way. But for us, it never left. 


What type of music do you have on deck?

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At Sweater Funk, it’s boogie, modern soul and 2-step soul. Only vinyl. When I’m at home, I’m usually listening to something mellow. Lately, it's been Cocteau Twins and Taylor McFerrin's debut LP.


Get your dance on to this Sweater Funk Promo Mix:


About the author: Based in SF, Mai deeply obsesses about music, fashion, art and social justice. Chances are high she's photographed someone you know for her seven year old street style site, fashioni.st. More info than necessary can be found about her, here: about.me/mai

On September 2nd, a Brooklyn resident by the name of Caleb Olson began an incredible mission of biking across the country to help spread the word about Street Soccer USA. If you’re unaware, Street Soccer USA is a non-profit organization that uses soccer to help the homeless with a mission as explained on their site: “to improve health, education, and employment outcomes for the most disadvantaged Americans by using sports to transfer the skills necessary so that they can achieve these outcomes for themselves. We also seek to raise awareness about the challenges of poverty in America so that as a country we can develop a more level playing field for all.”  

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Caleb Olson quit his desk job in Arkansas about three years ago to pursue his passion for helping others and incorporating new music discovery along the way. He is now a coach and the NYC program director for Street Soccer USA. He tells us that “I see the power to change through soccer and ride because I want to inspire others to get up and do something they are passionate about."

Just over a week ago, Olson started this Bike Cruisade from NYC to San Francisco. He has been/will continue to live blog every part of the journey with SOL REPUBLIC DECK speakers soundtracking curated playlists for this two month trip on the bike. We are excited to be sponsoring Olson’s social change and will be keeping you guys updated on his adventures through our social platforms. 

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Check out Olson's planned bike path on the website. You can also follow Olson directly on the blog and Facebook page.

Here is a playlist from a radio show called CAN YOU NOT for Olson’s Bike Cruisade:


About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.

Prince has just simultaneously released two new albums that are streaming on Spotify -- PlectrumElectrum with his backing band 3rdEyeGirl and Art Official Age, his first solo album since 20Ten in 2010.

The prolific Prince has been songwriting since he was just 7 years old and released his first album, For You, in 1978 at 19. That’s how much of a musical wunderkind he is with 10 albums to go platinum and 30 Top 40 singles. Not to mention he’s had his own NPG label since 1993. His catalogue is distinctive with sexual innuendos and his famous falsetto combined with a blend of post-disco, funk, soul, pop, R&B and rock influences. 

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Here are some of our favorite Prince tracks over his 36 year career thus far…


His self titled album in 1979 was the first to go platinum with hit singles, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.”


In 1982, Prince released the album 1999 with this band The Revolution with popular songs like “1999” and “Little Red Corvette.” The album made it to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. The video for “Little Red Corvette” was one of the first from an African-American artist to receive heavy rotation on MTV, which had just launched the previous year.


Prince and the Revolution released Purple Rain in 1984 as the soundtrack to the eponymous film.  It’s one of his most successful albums to date and one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time, spawning some of his most iconic tracks: “I Would Die 4 U,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain.” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry” both reached #1.


As the soundtrack to his second film, Under the Cherry Moon, Prince released Parade in 1986 before breaking up with The Revolution. The song “Kiss” was his third #1 hit.


Sign O’ the Times in 1987 was released by Prince as a solo double album. His single, “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” was written in response to his jealousy of the close relationship of his then fiancee Susannah Melvoin with her twin sister Wendy. Though at the time, there wasn’t much commercial success for this song, today it is considered one of his classics. Also on this release was the duet with Sheena Easton, “U Got the Look.”


Following Sign, he released a couple more soundtrack albums: Batman in 1989 and Graffiti Bridge in 1990. He debuted his new band The New Power Generation on his 1991 release, Diamonds and Pearls. The title track and songs “Cream” and “Gett Off” are still faves today. 

Who could forget when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol that people just ended up referring to as the Love Symbol in 1992? He also adopted the symbol as his new performer moniker. He released “My Name Is Prince” and “Sexy MF” as the first two singles off that release but neither were big hits. Under the Love Symbol name, he released several more albums without any huge hits, mostly to fulfill his record contract with Warner Bros, who he was unhappy with. He finally dropped the Love Symbol name for Prince again on his 2001 album The Rainbow Children, which had a jazzier vibe than his past work.

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Prince won two Grammys for the release of Musicology in 2004 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance on “Musicology” and Best R&B Vocal Performance for “Call My Name,” while “Cinnamon Girl” earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance.


Check out the album streams for PlectrumElectrum and Art Official Age below:



Artists (probably) influenced by Prince: Pharrell, Outkast, Daft Punk, Cee-Lo, D’Angelo


About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, Jinners.com. She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners

Music from this week that channels your feelings and speakers from 0-100 like the famous words from your boy, Drake.


"Lovely Jubbly" - D Double E

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London MC D Double E ignited the grime scene with a track produced by Nat Powers titled “Lovely Jubbly." Their craftsmanship together include taunting inflections in the digital music and D Double E’s playful vocal expressions that pokes fun at your mind and body. Listen to “Lovely Jubbly” through the Soundcloud link below and watch D Double E throw you extreme side eye in the picture above.



"Don't Wanna Be Your Girl" - Wet

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The new music video for Brooklyn pop trio Wet’s “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” is as captivating as falling more in love than out. Kelly Zutrau explores the woods alone with frames of various angles of her journey while she repeats in her delightful, charismatic voice about how she’s’ moving on from a relationship, “I don’t wanna be your girl no more."



"The Experiment" (prod. by Cubby) - Rome Fortune ft. OG Maco

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“The Experiment” is the first track on Atlanta rapper Rome Fortune’s free album Small VVorld. While the album has 11 songs featuring acts like Makonnen, Suicideyear, and Blood Diamonds, New York based producer Cubby soundtracked the introduction of this record with arousing beats that spirals as OG Maco and Rome Fortune tickles your excitement for the rest of Small VVorld.



"Our Love" - Caribou

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With one of the year’s most emotional dance records released earlier this week, Caribou gave a visual accompaniment to the album’s lead single “Our Love” on the same day. The Canadian electronic engineer worked with a few others to produce this captivating music video that follows an elderly woman around her house in Ireland where she visits memories of her youth and a specific romantic affair.



About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.