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Aug 31st
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Features

Game Over

Game Over

Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur sets down his controller and  faces the music

Escaping from reality, via plunging into virtual, alternate worlds, appears to be all the rage for musicians these days, especially when you consider the viral rise to fame of Lana Del Rey’s hit “Video Games” and Dustin Payseur’s preferred pastime.

During a trivial Thursday, the frontman for Brooklyn-based indie dream pop quartet Beach Fossils clicks away the afternoon with good friend, collaborator, and Captured Tracks label-mate, Jack Tatum, of Wild Nothing.

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Love Your Local Band

Antdog Da Beast

Antdog Da Beast

At Santa Cruz High School, Anthony LaFrance easily blends in—he’s 18 years old, on the track team, and his favorite subject is English. But once the school bell rings, he unleashes his rap, R&B, and hip-hop-inspired alias, Antdog Da Beast. “The first time I touched a microphone was in seventh grade,” says LaFrance, who was visiting a radio show at UC Santa Cruz’s KZSC. When the show ended, “I started freestyling over instrumentals and heard the recording … ever since then, I’ve had the urge to make music.”

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Features

Nothing To Hide

Nothing To Hide

James McNew of Yo La Tengo picks favorites: albums, sports teams, coffee…

On the classic surf rock jam, “Nothing to Hide,” off of Yo La Tengo’s 12th album, Popular Songs (2009), husband and wife indie rockers Ira Kaplan (guitar) and Georgia Hubley (drums) sweetly sing, “We all decide/how to draw the line/we’ve all got something to hide.”

On bass, James McNew—who is anything but a third wheel—gives off some serious attitude, while Kaplan’s guitar playing mirrors an emotional tantrum, reminiscent of the tension that builds by bottling up feelings for too long. These two minutes and 46 seconds are torturous for the devoted listener, who, despite hoping to hear at least one scandalous secret, is, alas, cheated—until now, as McNew comes clean about all sorts of YLT-related and unrelated things.

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Love Your Local Band

The Spokesmen

The Spokesmen

Looking like a middle linebacker who traded in his helmet for a surfboard and a Jack Johnson signature guitar, Matt Conable and his band, The Spokesmen, are all about rock and roll with sunburnt Americana flavor. With no website, CDs or band ephemera, it’s easy to assume The Spokesmen are wanted for nefarious actions—but Conable maintains they’re just low profile. “We’ve been playing off and on in the local scene for a long time, but the four Spokesmen have just gotten together in January—we’re taking our time,” he explains. Guitarist Mark Roths and Conable began playing together 20 years ago in an early incarnation of local rock outfit Xing.

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Features

Transculturation

Transculturation

Border hopping to American jazz fame: the Alfredo Rodriguez story

After struggling for three years to leave Cuba and enter America legally, Alfredo Rodriguez found himself with only one option to pursue his dream of playing jazz in the U.S.: He had to cross the border. Driven by his passion for music and an offer to join legendary producer and music magnate Quincy Jones’ record label, Rodriguez knew that he had to try, even though it meant defecting from Cuba and leaving his friends and family behind.

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Love Your Local Band

The Backup Razor

The Backup Razor

The Backup Razor was raised on Santa Cruz punk, and the band is working hard to keep it alive. The four-piece “extreme music, not punk” band grew up watching local punk-metal legends like Good Riddance and the Lonely Kings perform at $2 Tuesdays at The Catalyst and The 418 Project. Influenced by thriving ’90s music, Jesse Williams (vocals), Jonathan Mumma (drums), Jeff Badagliacca (bass), and Nick Hardesty (guitar) formed The Backup Razor in 2007, bringing their spontaneous brand of high-energy, up-tempo, eclectic rock into the scene.

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Features

Days and Confused

Days and Confused

Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker chronicles the band’s wavy ride to its sophomore effort

In the music video for “It’s Real”—the dreamy synth and bass-driven tune off of Real Estate’s October 2011 release, Days—lead singer/guitarist and songwriter, Martin Courtney, is in the kitchen playing cards with guitarist Matt Mondanile. Meanwhile, in the living room, bassist Alex Bleeker pieces together a puzzle and Jonah Maurer (keyboard/guitar) reads a magazine. This laid-back opening scene is narrated by anxiety-filled lyrics: “I don’t know who’s behind the wheel/ Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know the deal.”

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Love Your Local Band

Jackie Rocks

Jackie Rocks

Local teen band Jackie Rocks has played legendary venues like The Catalyst and Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go with their idols from the Santa Cruz music scene, including Cylinder, Stellar Corpses, and Dirty Penny. But if the impressive number of shows the trio has played since 2005 doesn’t convince you that they’re right on par with their mentors, their onstage energy will certainly do the trick. “We play loud, we play aggressive … we play loud,” Jackie Partida says with a laugh.

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Features

Reclaimed and Reinvented

Reclaimed and Reinvented

Fishtank Ensemble turns the gypsy music stereotype on its head

When you hear sultry vocalist Ursula Knudson wail on “Woman in Sin,” it’s hard not to imagine a mythic Gypsy woman covered in jewels and scarves, and surrounded by accordion players.  

Though historically tainted with negative connotations, “Gypsy” is the popular term that refers to the Roma people. Their deep ethnic history is a 1500-year story of multiple movements between diverse regions and cultural acclimation and preservation, which has fueled the mystique and stereotype of the free-spirited Gypsy.

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Love Your Local Band

The Native Sibling

The Native Sibling

Though Ryan and Kaylee Williams have each been playing music since they were children, they are only now preparing to release their first batch of tunes recorded together. The brother-sister, indie-folk duo call themselves The Native Sibling—an appropriate moniker considering the two were born and raised in Aptos. "Growing up in Santa Cruz had a big influence on our music," Ryan says. "But it's one of those things that you don't really realize until you leave." Currently, the two live outside of this seaside town—Ryan in Venice Beach and Kaylee in Davis, where she is attending college. Santa Cruz is still home, although figuring out exactly what "home" means—in a deeper sense—has been tricky for the pair over the past few years.

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Features

One Great City

One Great City

Weakerthans indie-rock frontman John K. Samson is mad about Manitoba

I hate Winnipeg,” sings John K. Samson—lead singer of the Canadian indie rock band The Weakerthans—as he channels a fed-up dollar store clerk, a driver stuck in traffic, and The Golden Boy statue atop the Manitoba Legislative Building, on the sarcastically titled track “One Great City!” off the 2003 album, Reconstruction Site.
Samson’s hostility towards the capital city of Manitoba, Canada, is infectious—at least until the song ends with a final strum of guitar. After all, there must be a reason why Samson has chosen to live in the prairie town for his entire life.

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Love Your Local Band

Mini Mansions

Mini Mansions

Grunge-pop trio Mini Mansions may officially be a Los Angeles-based band, but they’ve got a good dose of the Cruz in them too. Bassist/ keyboardist Zach Dawes and keyboardist/ guitarist Tyler Parkford both went to UC Santa Cruz—or that “slug school up on the hill,” as Dawes calls it. “We played a forest show once in Santa Cruz, but it started raining and it was a full moon so there was a drum circle on campus,” Dawes remembers. In true Santa Cruz fashion, the boys went with it and embraced the elements. “Tyler was building these elaborate cones in an art class and Michael [Shuman, keyboardist/ guitarist/ drums] had just built an oversized guitar from the wood of a canoe,” he explains. “Anyway, we used the cones to amplify the guitar and played with the drum circle. …Then the naked runners came.”

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.