Another week, another handful of evidence that Bay Area music lives
Psych rock by Arts and Crafts, sad love songs by Rob I. Miller, chill trap punk by Ricky Lake, poolside funk by Space Ghost, doom by Hafner, and a gift of Stunnaman02
“How is San Francisco doing?”
Seems to be the #1 question on every New Yorker’s mind when they find out you’re from the Bay. You can tell they’ve been reading the news, or at least the headlines. It’s a question asked full of meaning, the way you ask a friend how their mother is doing because you heard she was recently diagnosed with a serious illness.
Is San Francisco sick? Yes, like the entire country.
Is it dead, is it dying? Who knows.
But we are alive and we’re here.
So why not dream up big things for this beautiful place we call home?
SWEET AND WIGGLY
Arts and Crafts is a new Oakland/SF-based trio, and their debut album Petrolia is a sweet wiggly piece suspended somewhere between the coolness of Khruangbin and the zany desert wanderings of King Gizzard. Across six morphing jams, the guitarist rocks, the bassist stays funky as heaven, and the drummer crashes and rides our consciousness into bits and pieces. The EP takes its name from the unincorporated community in Humboldt County where it was recorded (in “an old haunted house,” according to the band), and the town got its name from being the site of the first oil well drilled in California. Spooky.
— Ronny Kerr
ALL SHADES OF BLUE
“My attempt to contribute to the canon of break-up albums.” — Rob I. Miller
Only a few months following All in Good Time—the Dark Entries debut of Oakland pop punk quartet Blues Lawyer—the band’s chief songwriter Rob I. Miller is back with another full-length. Out on Vacant Stare Records, Companion Piece is an all-shades-of-blue mosaic of love (lost) songs, in moments played through sparse acoustic arrangements but more often building into the catchy alt rock ditties we’ve come to expect from Miller. From deep sadness and bitterness to detached compassion, he sighs out the spectrum of feelings that accompany heartbreak. After all, it’s one of the original reasons to sing, right?
— Ronny Kerr
POP PUNK MEETS HIP HOP
“I grew up around so many different types of music, it didn’t make sense for my own art to feel so boxed in.” — Ricky Lake
Hyped up like an EDM climax from the very first second, Altered is a new pop punk-meets-hip hop full-length from Ricky Lake on Text Me Records. A completely San Francisco family affair (with a little evening swing through Lake Merritt on “Davonte”), the new album represents an important step in the artist’s journey, saying goodbye to boundaries and exploring the blending of multiple genres. Sometimes it sounds like big music festival trap music, sometimes it sounds like chillwave Toro y Moi, and it almost always sounds as emo as adolescent years spent cruising around the Bay in a buddy’s vintage Volvo. Is it summertime yet?
— Ronny Kerr
RETURN OF THE VIBES
It’s the return of the vibes. Oakland producer Space Ghost revisits three tracks from his 2019 album Aquarium Nightclub on Aquarium Nightclub Reworks, out now digitally on Copenhagen’s Tartelet Records. The first two pieces are palm tree-lined, poolside disco house funk jams, while the closing “Drift Mix” wades into deeper waters, cascading ambient techno to soothe the senses. A repress of the original full-length album drops at the end of May.
— Ronny Kerr
DOOMIE DOOM DOOM
“Peace sells, but we can’t afford it cuz of inflation!”
Hafner is back with “doomie doom doom” EP Neapolitan Sunset, recorded and mastered by Tim Green at Louder Studios in the deep woods of Grass Valley. Brooding post-hardcore dirge “Boba Bill” starts off the album – nearly 9 minutes of swaggering dystopia that would make the Hot Snakes proud. The rest of the EP “pushes the boundaries of tone and mischief” with sludgy hardcore punk and barking post-punk, underpinned by the sonic equivalent of the anxiety one gets walking through the deep tenderloin late on a foggy, moody night.
— Elliot Engel
KEEP THE WINNINGS ROLLING
Heavyweight San Francisco rapper Stunnaman02 keeps the winnings rolling on Around the World, a new album on Empire with fellow SF artist Clayton William. As a songwriter, producer, and DJ steeped in EDM and tech house club sounds as much as hip hop, dancehall, and reggaeton, William layers fine-tuned production and bags of sampling tricks throughout the dozen tracks here. Bay Area and LA folks will love “West Coast,” a G-funk jam studded with references to Mac Dre, Dr. Dre, E-40, and more. The album features a ton of guests, including Too $hort, Gunna Goes Global, and Joe Moses.
— Ronny Kerr
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[folk] Mariee Siou, Kacey Johansing — May 19 at Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center
[club] SFM x UGSF: Russell E.L. Butler, Tomu DJ, Natural Selection, Oso Feo — May 19 at Underground SF
[hip hop] The Cookout ft. Professa Gabel, Stunnaman02, Afterthought, and Sweet Arianna — May 20 at Monarch Gardens
[rock] Pure Hex, Chokecherry, DJ Caro — May 20 at Bandcamp Oakland
[electronic] Levi's 501 Sessions ft. DJ Shadow, DJ Aaron Axelsen, mxmtoon (acoustic), Tune-Yards (DJ set), Toro y Moi (DJ set) — May 19-21
[punk] Cheree, Machinekit, Shut/Eye, Silakbo — May 20 at the Golden Bull
[hip hop] Qing Qi, Aroma, Big Hongry, Gem, Louie El Ser, Yung Tuscon — May 20 at Thee Stork Club
[hip hop] Kehlani, Cordae, Big Boss Vette, DJ Five Venoms — May 20 at Fox Theater
[hip hop] Smartbomb 10 Year: Basement Party ft. Obstac b2b Rayreck, Lil Ze b2b Cherry, Space Ghost b2b Sanlo, The Reef All Stars, Baghead b2b Jenset — May 20 at Commune
[punk] Gang of Four — May 21 at the Chapel
[club] WERD. ft. sfcowboy, Kayleigh Nicole — May 21 at Monarch
[rock] Yves Tumor, Pretty Sick, Evanora Unlimited — May 23 at the Warfield
[club] SPILL ft. nextdimensional b2b Varsha, Lonald J. Bandz, Ritchrd b2b Tom Marsi — May 23 at Mothership
[indie] Cindy, Children Maybe Later, Now — May 24 at Vesuvio Cafe
[folk] Diana Gameros — May 25-26 at SFJAZZ