Electric Shepherd, The Imitation Garden
Between the Seventies and shoegaze resurgences, my ears are drowning in reverb. Thankfully, Electric Shepherd understands how to use reverb for its stoner-rock-meets-New-Age-psychedelic. The blues-heavy jams on The Imitation Garden range from the two-minute experimental instrumental track "A Mechanical Flower" to the twelve-minute mountain-climb of "Heaven Don't Need," which is crammed with cymbal crashes, funk bass lines, and wah-wah pedal effects. At times, it all gets too far out (man), but there's enough grit and weird here to keep it interesting. (self-released)At Brick & Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco) on Thursday, Dec. 20. 9 p.m. $7, $10.
Fever Charm , West Coast Rock and Roll
Yep, that's a cowbell you hear on "Show Me What You're Made Of," as well as throbbing guitar hooks and chanted ah-ah-ah vocals. It's a rock song perfect for a car commercial and, yeah, it'll make you want to buy whatever Fever Charm is selling. Still a relatively young band, the Oakland outfit previously produced some singles of mostly unmemorable indie rock, but West Coast Rock And Roll shows it going in the direction of a British Invasion, bluesy-yet-dancey, bordering-on-surf-rock sound like The Hives or Franz Ferdinand. (self-released)At Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco) on Saturday, Jan. 5. 8:30 p.m., $10.
Broke for Free, Gold Can Stay
Broke for Free might have to change its name if it really blows up (it's already a regular on The Hype Machine's Top 50), but right now, all its chillwave tracks are free, including its new EP Gold Can Stay. The project of the prolific Tom Cascino — who released two full-lengths and two EPs just this year — Broke for Free sounds pretty polished for a bedroom-recording artist. Cascino's style is similar to local favorite and Ghostly artist Tycho, who takes downtempo beats and accents them with pop-influenced guitars and bass. (self-released)