Noise Pop 2014 Cold Cave, Painted Palms, Dirty Ghosts, Happy Fangs

Fri. 02/28 | 7:00PM (Doors) - Fri. 02/28 | 11:00PM @ Slim's (map)

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Founder of Cold Cave, Wesley Eisold, began his foray into the music industry as the vocalist for hardcore band American Nightmare (later known as Give Up the Ghost). During the late ‘90s, A.N. heavily toured underground punk and hardcore scenes and gained a large following throughout the U.S. and Europe. A sudden breakup was announced in 2004 after five years of performing. Eisold then formed noise and hardcore band Some Girls with Justin Pearson from The Locust. After their breakup in 2007, Eisold went on to create Cold Cave. While having several years experience as a lyricist and frontman, Cold Cave was his first attempt at creating his own music. Eisold was born without a left hand, so playing guitar or drums in the traditional sense was not going to be his route. He started out by programming computers and synths by himself, and over time his solo project became a type of collaboration with other artists such as Hunter Burgan (AFI), London May (Samhain), Caralee McElroy (formerly of Xiu Xiu), David Scott Stone (LCD Soundsystem, Melvins) and Cody Votolato (The Blood Brothers). 

Cold Cave’s sound is aptly described as a “collage of darkwave, noise, and synth pop” by allmusic.com. After a few years of putting out self-released and independent label EPs, Cold Cave’s debut album, Love Comes Close, was re-issued by Matador Records in 2009. A follow up, Cherish the Light Years, was also released by Matador in 2011. Starting in October 2012, Eisold periodically released five new singles without any other contributors (and while being free from any label contracts) which he says are more closely related to his earlier independent work, while continuing a minimal and electronic theme. In 2012 Cold Cave performed at two renowned yet unusual locations: the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Spring of 2013 included a first time tour of Asia and there are rumors of a new album heading our way in 2014. If you are a fan of early ‘80s synth pop, Factory Records, Section 25 or Suicide, be sure to catch Cold Cave’s powerful live show. ELISABETH MARTIN


Whether living four states away or four blocks away, Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme have always used the Internet, at first out of necessity, later out of preference, to collaborate on their songwriting.

Although the cousins grew up together in Lafayette, Louisiana, Donohue eventually moved to San Francisco, while Prudhomme stayed near New Orleans.

The newfound distance between them forced the pair to start sending song ideas back and forth via e-mail, a virtual exchange that quickly spawned Painted Palms’ first release, Canopy, which was discovered by of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes

Tours with of Montreal, Braids and STRFKR soon followed before Prudhomme moved out west to San Francisco, where Donohue still lived.

Yet, despite being in the same place for the first time in years, the duo continued writing songs apart from one another, completing individual ideas in isolation and piecing them together through the computer.

And so, the songs that would eventually form their debut full-length Forever, came together as if the musicians were still separated by 2000 miles: Donohue sending a short, looping beat and Prudhomme replying with a vocal melody before continuing to bounce the track back and forth between them until it was complete, this time focusing on creating songs with classic pop structures.

As if crafted by tailors so skilled you can never find the seams, the songs on Forever provide no hint of their patchwork beginnings. Instead, the album is permeated with blissfully buoyant tracks like “Here It Comes” and “Forever,” which glide smoothly on a foundation of instantly memorable melodies.

Elsewhere, touches of Painted Palms’ most prominent influences, ‘60s psych pop paired with modern electronic production, are clearly evident, as on the dark and driving hooks that propel lead single “Spinning Signs.”

Don’t be fooled, though. Underneath the sunny sonic exterior, the lyrics on Forever exist in a different place, with much of the focus centered on how it feels to be caught between the external world and one’s own thoughts.

“Thinking about myself too much I can see that / I don’t know what to be,” sings Prudhomme on Forever’s title cut.

And in that moment a hint of irony is apparent, for as much as the members of Painted Palms want to get out of their own heads, they’re awfully good at writing songs that will immediately get stuck in yours.


llyson Baker doesn’t scare easily. Back in the ’90s, she was sneaking into 
Dwarves shows and frequenting mosh pits before she was barely out of 
junior high; by age of 17, she was playing guitar for some of 
Toronto’s most notorious punk and hardcore bands (Teen Crud Combo 
R.I.P.), before leaving her friends and family behind in 2000 to shake 
some action in San Francisco. And yet, for all her apparent 
fearlessness, Allyson is very much haunted by forces beyond her control. Dirty Ghosts may be her 
new band, but it’s the five-years-in-the-making product of a 
habit she just can’t quit, a sound and vision that—despite numerous obstacles along the way—just had to be unleashed.

True to their name, Dirty Ghosts rose from the ashes of San Francisco sludge-blues combo Parchman Farm in 2006; as an antidote to that band’s wall of squall, Baker and fellow Parchman Farm exile Carson Binks (another Toronto expat) launched Dirty Ghosts as a stripped-down duo, writing rhythmically driven new songs 
built around intricate drum loops pieced together by Aesop Rock. And as if this relaxed, more experimental ethic wasn’t a radical 
enough shift for these life-long punk-rockers, for the first time in 
her musical career, Allyson was forced to add “vocalist” to her résumé.

“Everything that happened with this band was totally out of 
necessity,” she relates. “Post-Parchman Farm, Carson and I had spent about a 
year looking around for a singer. And then I felt like I was going to 
lose Carson and the whole thing if I didn’t decide to just do it 
myself. I had all the songs and vocals in my head, I just didn’t want 
to do it—the idea of being a singer just wasn’t appealing to me at 
all! But then I was just like, ‘Fuck it.’”

Initially, the gambit paid off—Dirty Ghosts’ earliest efforts fused 
Allyson and Carson’s deep-seated love of ’60s funk and bluesy, 
psychedelic rock with a more modernist, mechanized sheen, while Allyson’s newfound voice projected a striking balance of streetwise attitude and affecting vulnerability. Though 
Allyson says she was “completely out of touch with what was going on 
in music at the time,” Dirty Ghosts’ mix of grit and glitz aligned 
favorably with that of au courant buzz bands like The Kills and Sleigh 
Bells, while hearkening back to indie rock’s most dynamic duo, Royal Trux. In 2009, an early recording of the 21st-blaxploitation groover “Battle Slang” even 
got the band some notice on Pitchfork and other national music sites.

However, the sudden departure of Binks in 2011 (to join Oakland-based stoner-metal behemoths Saviours) inspired Allyson to rethink, rebuild and re-record the songs and, with the help of a drummer, transform Dirty Ghosts’ bedroom beat-box experiments into stage-ready rockers. But in sharp contrast to the skull-crushing assault of 
her previous groups, Dirty Ghosts are more about putting the disco into discord, using everything from dubby funk (“Shout It In”) to minimalist electro (“Steamboat to Concord”) to vintage Van Halen-esque contorto-riffs (“19 in ‘71”) as means to showcase the emotional intensity of Allyson’s voice.

Forgoing her usual diet of Black Flag and Blue Cheer, these days Allyson is more informed more by the likes of XTC, The Police and Chrome—bands that, she says, “had distinct 
sounds mixed with other different genres that were new at that time. I play so much less guitar now—to me, this is not guitar music. I’m 
thinking more about songs, and not volume and attack. That’s part of being 
young, but then you get older and you’re like, ‘I want to write a song 
that’s catchy and that people will enjoy.’

So after 11 years in San Francisco—and five spent bringing Dirty 
Ghosts to life—Allyson now has everything she’s always envisioned: a shit-hot 
record and a fully functioning band that’s already got a west coast 
tour and South by Southwest appearances under its belt. But as much as 
Dirty Ghosts is a testament to Allyson’s drive, more often than not, she feels like she’s the one being driven.

“Music takes complete 
control over me, and then just when I think the feeling’s gone, it comes back. 
It’s a total love/hate thing: I love it because making music makes me 
feel so happy, but it kind of does the opposite, in that it takes over to the point where I can’t make any rational decisions about anything else in my 
life. But I have this weird passion for music—there’s nothing else I really want to do.“

And, as this dead-cool debut ultimately proves, good things happen when you refuse to give up the ghost.


Rebecca Bortman and Michael Cobra formed Happy Fangs in 2012 in San Francisco. The two had met through a shared practice space where their bands, My First Earthquake and King Loses Crown (respectively) held rehearsals. Upon hearing that Rebecca was exiting the band and would no longer be around the space, Cobra sought her out. The two initially passed ideas back and forth via email, then got together in person to create the four song Happy Fangs EP. With a drum machine, guitar, and vocals, Bortman and Cobra create power pop tracks with a punky dance pop aesthetic. ELISABETH MARTIN


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