Win Tickets to Phono del Sol!

Panoramic view of Phono del Sol, July 2014.
Panoramic view of Phono del Sol, July 2014.

Phono del Sol is a one-day music festival staged in Potrero del Sol Park by John Vanderslice’s magnificent Tiny Telephone recording studio in conjunction with Do The Bay and The Bay Bridged. It is kid friendly, music focused, civilized and affordable with a great selection of local food and beverages. Much to my chagrin, I’ll be missing my favorite California music festival this year because it’s wedding season and two more beautiful humans in our lives are getting hitched on the SAME DAY, July 11th.

My loss, however, is your gain. Due to the double-booking, Nostos Algos is giving away two regular admission tickets to Phono del Sol (a $60 value). To win these tickets, you need to:

  1. Become a subscriber to Nostos Algos by clicking the “Follow” button, and tell your friends how awesome we are somewhere on Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc)
  2. Send an email to (subject header “Phono del Sol Giveaway”) that includes your full name, where you promoted us, and a short explanation for why you want the tickets. Extra credit awarded if you include a photo from the last local concert you attended.

All entries must be received by midnight on July 3rd, 2015, and the winner will be notified of their remarkable good fortune on America’s birthday, July 4th, 2015. Below you’ll find a selection of my favorite bands, and you can peruse other offerings on the festival’s website.

Sonny & The Sunsets: Sonny Smith has become is a prolific staple of the local music scene in San Francisco. While I’ve seen him perform live many times over the years, I never know what the next show will hold. He is a spontaneous, musically brilliant goofball playing infections 1960s-inspired garage rock that seemingly rolls ashore with the surf at Ocean Beach.

Everyone Is Dirty: This Oakland band is on the verge of many things, most imminently of breaking out from indie obscurity into the limelight. Just like their city, these East Bayers blend raw kickass with polished perspective to deliver a uniquely California sound. So much energy, so great live–they’ll provide a wonderful compliment to the skateboarders shredding next to the main stage.

Tiaras: The debut album from Tiaras has just been released by Mt.St.Mnt (pronounced Mount Saint Mountain), a colony of creators that publish printed and audio art in limited batches. With the indie music scene in San Francisco endangered by real estate scarcity and superficial patrons, this band and this project give us hope for what’s artistically in store for the Bay Area.

Scary Little Friends: Another local band that offers a beautiful 60s-80s-90s mashup of sound imubed with a Jeff Buckley vulnerability that is hard to authentically master. Each song on their album From the Beginning brings such a different vibe that it was impossible to pick just one feature, so you’ll find the first two tracks available for a listen below. So bummed to be missing them.

Tanlines: Never fail, listening to this synth-pop duo makes me want to watch Empire Records. Perhaps its the way the album’s 1980s evocation sparks 1990s nostalgia in my listening heart. Whatever the reason, the band’s newest album Highlights is polished and pleasant from first to last. Also, they built a website that mimics Netflix in a subtle commentary on consumer culture. Brilliant through and through.


Modest Mouse: A Singular Review

The first band to make an everlasting impression on me was Modest Mouse. They were my first: my first concert, my first band t-shirt, my first (new) vinyl. I can vividly remember the first time I heard them on mainstream radio. My ex-boyfriend and I were driving down Geary in San Francisco, and I screamed so loudly he almost veered out of the lane. We immediately pulled into the Tower Records outpost near Mel’s Diner, and I proudly bought the first CD to gain them far-reaching recognition–Good News For People Who Love Bad News.

A lot has changed since then. Different boyfriend, different car; Tower Records long since in the grave, and it’s Geary store closed to become a carpet store, and ultimately its current incarnation: a Chase bank. I don’t fervently love Modest Mouse as I once did, but this is not because I’m so effected as to dump a favorite indie band once it’s gone mainstream. Rather, the Kerouac-obsessed teenager that feel in love with them grew up, and became a 30-year-old with a more complex agenda.

Seeing them perform at First City Festival a few years back was quite the anachronistic experience as my memories met the present state of things. The venue was huge compared to the dives in which I’d formerly seen them around Los Angeles, although the crowd was just as stoned and amorous. The production was vast, with a coordinated light show and the stage populated by a million instruments, musicians, and sound techs–a far cry from the homeless guy they adopted and performed with many moons ago, and the handful of well-worn guitars that accompanied them.

In short, the music was a far cry from the raw garage rock I’d worn out in my childhood bedroom and experienced in the Los Angeles of yesterday. This, however, is the inevitable progression of things as artists mature into different states of minds and their music follows suit. When I began to part ways with Modest Mouse, I was also a far cry from that suburban Los Angeles bedroom, and moving north had matured my priorities as I immersed myself in local San Francisco music–national commodities be-damned! But Modest Mouse and I didn’t break up, we were just on a very long break.

“The Best Room”, the first single off their forthcoming album Strangers To Ourselves, has brought me back into the fold. It showcases everything I love about Modest Mouse: Brock’s digestibly intellectual lyrics and devil-may-care delivery, with all its transitional cracks; those stuccato guitar riffs that are undeniably Modest Mouse, and are perhaps the part of their music most influential on succeeding bands; and the abrupt ending that is jarring, and lingers in the silence after the song–so disrespectful to traditional songwriting, and utterly memorable.

While I don’t foresee myself playing their newest album with obsessive repetition as I did with This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, I do intend to buy it and savor it with nostalgic appreciation. Because Modest Mouse has traveled far, seen much and endured more, and come out on the other side in command of their own sound–a feat not replicated by many a 1990s wunderkind in the lonesome crowded west of popular music. And there’s definitely something to be said for that.

(Double) Daily Dose: The Byrds & Green Day

The 8th grade class with which I graduated in 1998 was given a choice for soundtracking its graduation ceremony: stay within tradition or go rogue. For 30+ years my Southern California middle school played “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds as their 8th-graders symbolically left the nest for high school hallways and beyond.  After extolling the virtues of taking our place within the rank and file of students that had come before us and were to follow, senior faculty members added an aside that we could, if we chose to break with tradition, select a contemporary song by which to remember that year of change. We were then allowed to vote.

Understanding what it meant to the faculty, some of whom were alumni of that very school, our class overwhelmingly voted for “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day and instantly incurred the disappointed wrath of our home room history teacher. For what it’s worth, we didn’t mean to disappoint; we were just too young to want what others wanted for us just because they wanted it. Generation X, Y, Me to the core.

Daily Dose: Nirvana, “About A Girl”

Because this MTV Unplugged blew the world’s mind like Dylan had just gone electric. Because Kurt’s green sweater was just exhibited at an in-depth Nirvana retrospective staged by the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Because rock legend Dave Grohl is wearing a Normcore turtleneck. Because Nirvana fundamentally changed all of us 90s kids, whether or not we understood that.

Daily Dose: Cake, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”

Musicians sometimes takes themselves too seriously, making their music remote. Not Cake, never Cake. This band was omnipresent on KROQ, a Southern California radio station, in the 1990s and early 2000s, and, as such, was in the background of every stolen summer moment at the beach during that period. While I never caught the Cake obsession like so many of my peers, I know the lyrics to most of their songs despite never having purchased an album. Their music is unquestionably a Nostos Algos trigger for me, and since our whiskey brains were listening to their early catalog at an in-home hangout session last night…well…I had to include a sliver of their contribution to my youth in this Daily Dose. As the saying goes, “Let them eat Cake!”

Daily Dose: Bush, “Everything Zen”

If Gwen Stefani was the role model, then Gavin Rossdale was all that a teenage girl could possibly want in an imaginary boyfriend. He was British, incredibly handsome, and frontman for the quintessential 90s rock band. If you lived in the suburbs, this was a particularly potent combination. We little ladies ended many a long middle school week with a sweet slumber party where pieces of paper were folded and a game was played to decide who we would marry, how many kids we would have, and what kinds of cars and houses we would own; I always included Gavin Rossdale. And when I found out he idolized Allen Ginsberg while watching an episode of MTV’s cribs, well, I was done for.

While my lustful teenage melanchology compelled me to put “Glycerine” on repeat, I listened to “Everything Zen” when I wanted to thrash about my room and feel cool. The albums Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were permanently embedded in my walkman, and I recall my sullen puss listening to them while riding in the backseat of my Dad’s car on the way to dinner, my Mom in the passenger seat and his cologne permeating the entire interior–the leather of which would creak as he turned a corner too fast, which he always did because he was a Terrible driver with a capital “T”.

For me, Bush harkens back to Southern California winters in which we wore sloppy sweaters with sleeves that hung past our hands so we could twist them neurotically in emulation of our silver screen idols of the era. Bush helped me build my identity in ways I could not know then, but appreciate now, and Gavin Rossdale has had an indelible influence on the type of men I’ve chosen to date over the last 10 years. While it pains me to see how far the band has fallen in recent years, Bush and its enigmatic frontman will forever hold a place in my heart. Rock on, you 1990s gods.

Daily Dose: No Doubt, “Spiderwebs”

If you were a teenage girl in the 90s and lived in Southern California, chances are your hero was Gwen Stefani. Ska was having a moment and No Doubt was everywhere; Gwen was gorgeous and offered a uniquely strong, DIY role model for young girls who wanted to be independent but glamorous in a quirky way–a fantastic antidote to other independent female voices of the era that were more of the Janeane Garofalo, coffee house aesthetic.

Then she married Gavin Rossdale (whom you will see soon in Daily Dose garb), and started a fashion empire while raising some of the cutest children known to mankind. If we ignore the fact that she’s slated to be on The Voice this season, this means she continues to be an amazing role model fifteen years later.

I watched this video incessantly as a teeny-tweener, and we danced like fools to Spiderwebs at every middle school shindig (right before the chicken dance, directly following a thrilling round of YMCA). Good times.