Top 5 San Francisco Bands

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Thee Oh Sees
WRITTEN BY
Abigail Everdell

I spent five days over Thanksgiving happily soaking up the clear air and giant burritos of my hometown, San Francisco. The Bay Area is full of amazing bands who can only occasionally come up with the resources to tour the rest of the country. So I decided to bring them to you via SPIN.com. Below are the top five groups that make me wish I had never left home. Be sure to check them out if they come to your town.

The Dodos

Meric Long and Logan Kroeber's catchy, mostly-acoustic pop mixes honey-sweet vocals and fancy guitar picking with complex, impatientrhythms. I guess it could be called folk, but your irrepressibly tapping feet may disagree. Though the Dodos have only been around since 2006, two well-received LPs and a tireless touring schedule have helped the group build a buzz sizeable enough that you needn't worry about them going extinct.

Listen: The Dodos, "The Ball"

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Thee Oh Sees

I've noticed recently that a lot of the great music coming out of the Bay Area shares a garage rock heritage -- characterized by uncomplicated song constructions, stompingly high energy, and lo-fidelity production. The noisy riffs, boy/girl vocals, and consistently appealing melodies of former Coachwhip John Dwyer's Thee Oh Sees (otherwise known as OCS, Ohsees, etc), add up to the best and most developed example of the aesthetic, which may be the reason everyone I ask about S.F. bands mentions them first.

Listen: Thee Oh Sees, "Ghost In The Trees"

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Papercuts

Jason Quever's sun-bleached folk is the perfect soundtrack to an aimless drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. Weaving echo-shrouded vocal harmonies through psych-indebted organ and quavering strings, Humbolt county native Quever's compositions float somewhere between '60s folk nostalgia and the warped limbo of too long spent on the beach. Can't Go Back, Papercuts most recent release on Devendra Banhart's Gnomensong label, is a tonic for winter blues as effective as the brightest full-spectrum bulb.

Listen: Papercuts, "John Brown"

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Sic Alps

Matt Hartman and Mike Donovan pile heavy stomp and grimy fuzz onto classic pop structures, and jam like the only good amp is a blown amp, working up an impressive sweat in the process. The past few years have seen releases of material old (the early works compilation A Long Way Around to a Shortcut) and new (US E.Z.), both of which have brought the duo some long-delayed attention. Catch them live for a lesson in how impossibly loud and fuzz-ariffic a pop song can get.

Listen: Sic Alps, "Bathman"

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Numbers

Art punk mainstays Numbers have kept dancefloor skronk alive since the turn of the millennium, relying on Dave Broekema and Eric Landmark's guitar/synth combo and Indra Dunis's pounding rhythms and vocal leadership. Though the trio have maintained a consistent devotion to jarring and off-kilter music, 2007's Now You Are This saw them moving from abstract no wave noise towards a restraint akin to S.F. neighbors Deerhoof. But don't get too comfortable with the buzzing synth and slowed pace, these guys can still pack a serious punch.

Listen: Numbers, "The Ball"

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