Make it rain
So metal, bro: Battle Hag lets its notes hang heavy on the air like the fake fog they pump out before their set. But only for a few moments—soon enough, they’re back to hammering down a fat, rocky riff with their ponderous doom tones.
The Sacramento band opened last Tuesday night’s show at Press Club, laying the groundwork for Chico’s Shadow Limb and Seattle’s Helms Alee.
I love Battle Hag like I love any Sacramento metal band: passionately, and with an inclination toward automatic praise. But if you’ve seen or heard Battle Hag, you know they’re a good choice if you’re feeling like being crushed by the despair of doom metal without getting your mind numbed by the genre’s tendency to drone into the void.
The audience seemed to enjoy the set as much as I did, but one dude in particular was most definitely more committed. Standing out from the usual plaid-and-beard looks, the guy in the red polo and ball cap took to the front of the stage with a fistful of ones and started dismissively chipping bills at the band, occasionally stepping back to hold his arms out and look kinda angrily at the rest of us.
Never thought I’d see a dude making it rain on a doom band, but so it goes. Bro at the metal show, I salute you.
Ex-Ganglians return: When Pitchfork rated Ganglians’ debut album an 8.1 in 2009, the four-piece quickly became one of Sacramento’s most buzzed about indie bands.
But soon after Ganglians’ sophomore effort in 2011, things started to fizzle. The drummer moved to Brooklyn—and as vocalist Ryan Grubbs says, no member of Ganglians would ever be replaced. Instead, the band entered a “permanent hiatus.” It was time to move on anyway.
“I feel like Ganglians was stuck in the endless summer of low-fi ’09,” guitarist Kyle Hoover says. “All that retro shit was super popular and we were kinda doing that without knowing.”
A couple years ago, Grubbs and Hoover teamed up with drummer Antonio Gulaco (Fine Steps), guitarist Adam Finken (Blasted Canyons) and bassist Ryan Hansen in San Francisco to form a more grown-up band, Tiaras. It’s not Ganglians 2.0, they say, but, ya know, kind of.
Tiaras’ self-titled debut—an excellent collection of hooky, new-wave-inflected power-pop—dropped this month on local label Mt. St. Mtn. And the band opens for the Dodos on Tuesday, February 10, at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub.
Tiaras is only the second band for Grubbs and Hoover, but as nearly-30-year-olds, they’re stoked that everyone’s better at their instruments and that “shit comes together quicker” than in their Ganglians days. Grubbs is also ready to no longer be the chief songwriter, which was his position with Ganglians as well as on most of Tiaras’ first tracks. The next album is going to be a full-on, democratic collaboration.
“Part of starting a new band was wanting to sing over other people’s music and ideas,” Grubbs says. “The next record is like a blender. There’s some really cool stuff coming out of it.”
Big news for Autumn Sky fans: The local indie star is recording her first full-length record—a concept album about the female psyche, and in particular, Sky’s psyche.
Sky says she’s exploring her own childhood, her relationship with her dad—who was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease five years ago—as well as past trauma to create a full illustration of the life of a young, modern woman.
“You can easily read 1,000 stories about being a teenage boy, or 1,000 stories on how to be a sexy girl,” she says. “But what about being a 13-year-old girl, told that you’re vulnerable, that you’re different?”
Sky and her band used amethod acting-form of songwriting this time around. Sky has been accumulating a file of inspiring images for a year as a starting point, then she tries to become the idea or emotion that surfaces. “All these thoughts come out that are slightly more crazy and slightly more true,” she says.
Musically, expect the band to tread into more adventurous, ambient indie rock—more electronic sounds, bells, xylophone and recorded ambient sounds, for example. There’s no estimated release date yet, so look for updates on Autumn Sky’s Facebook page.