Discover more from White Crate
Celebrate White Crate’s 3-Year Anniversary at Mothership in the Mission!
New Bay Area releases: Ambient acoustic by Catch Prichard and Maria BC, death metal by Vastum, sonic experiments by Tom Bickley, and pop punk by Spiritual Cramp
Three years ago, deep in the pandemic, I wondered: Is there a single source where you can learn about all the music coming out of the Bay Area? I wanted to know because, even as someone born and raised here, I had internalized the “fact” that music here is dead. All the best bands already moved to LA. Nobody can compete with New York. If you’re serious, you would already be in London or Berlin. We started White Crate to see if all that was really true.
Not sure it’s possible to be more wrong. Within a month of creating the White Crate newsletter, I was drowning in new music from Oakland, San Francisco, the entire Bay Area. And the quality was astounding. Starting out clueless in my own backyard, I began to find my way to new artists creating inspiring, boundary-expanding music from the heart. Week after week after week. Three years later, and this hasn’t changed: We continue coming across more great artists every week. The only thing that has changed? We’re no longer surprised.
In celebration of the third anniversary of this project, we’re hosting a party at Mothership this Saturday, November 18. We’re super proud to be joined by a few of our favorite DJs from some of the most deeply caring and connected local crews:
Huge love to everyone who has inspired us to keep White Crate going. Thank you to all the curators and tastemakers here that have been doing this long before us. Thank you to all the people providing infrastructure—venues, publications, labels—for local music. Thank you to all the music lovers following us here. Thank you for subscribing to the newsletter. Thank you for listening to our Lower Grand Radio show and attending our events. Thank you for coming up and saying hi randomly and expressing your love for what we do. And the most massive heartfelt thank you to all the artists—you’re the only reason this project exists.
Bay Area Music Love!
— Ronny Kerr
I love sad stuff. Sad movies, sad songs, sad first-person essays about people’s dogs dying. Sadness is the biggest emotion, and forcing it on myself makes me feel alive and wholly human. If you’re also unrepentantly mopey, boy do I have an album for you.
Everything I Love Has Fallen from Me by Catch Prichard (led by Sawyer Gebauer) is 33 minutes of cathartic melancholy. Sawyer Gebauer, the band’s founder and sole songwriter, has always kinda been like this: While Catch Prichard’s previous albums were more acoustic, countrified affairs, there’s always been a vein of gloom running through them. But there’s no steel guitar here. Everything I Love plays more with electronic tones, exploring synthesized sound as a vessel for this persistent ennui.
It’s a lot like Perfume Genius’ 2020 album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, but somehow even more morose. (I also can’t help drawing a connection between the deep sadness of this album and the fact that, before moving to Oakland, Gebauer lived in Sweden. While the Swedes write some of the catchiest pop tunes around, the sun does set at like 2:30pm this time of year. So maybe he carried some of that darkness home with him.)
No matter your outlook on life, Everything I Love is an album to curl up with in the coming dark and dreary days.
— Jody Amable
NOSTALGIC LULLABIES, POETICS
Spike Field delicately holds Oakland artist Maria BC’s deep psyche to a candle, coaxing a wordless realm. Cradled within nostalgic, lullaby-like melodies and poetics, and haunted by a charmingly out-of-tune Steinway, the folk soundscape shimmers distinctly through fragments of shattered glass and mirrors reflecting past selves.
Released by New York’s Sacred Bones Records, the album is deceptively “pretty.” What appears to be a series of gorgeous, flowery vignettes is actually sharp to the touch. Maria BC sifts through this landscape fearlessly with that candlelight, carefully unearthing each thorn, giving once-feared shadows their outline and a name. In a creative attempt to engage in dialogue with the entirety of their being, along with the good bits and hard-to-love bits, the project bids for reconnection, regrowth, and enlightened understanding. Be prepared to be held, devastated, and held again.
— Elise Mills
Whether or not you feel personally close to death in this moment, it is difficult to escape the fact that death is all around. Many of us, closely watching the atrocities occurring in Palestine and other parts of the world with unprecedented access to real-time photos and videos, have been sitting night after night “In Bed With Death.”
And so is titled the opening track to Inward to Gethsemane, the fifth full-length album by Vastum, a death metal band that has called the Bay home for a decade. Gethsemane—for those unacquainted with Christian belief—is the garden in Jerusalem where Jesus begged God to spare him from his impending suffering. Of course, Jesus ultimately accepts God’s will, Judas arrives to betray him, and the crucifixion occurs as God had planned. So what are we to take from this? Beg all we want, we’re doomed anyway? Disgusted and aghast, Vastum’s five members scream their way through the garden, concocting a maelstrom of beating black and white inner turmoil. Aside from a brief, trudging reprieve on “Judas,” it’s a nonstop pummeling.
Varieties of vinyl, CDs, and cassettes of the new album are available via Pittsburgh label 20 Buck Spin.
Vastum doesn’t have any live performances planned for 2023, but you can see Leila Abdul-Rauf play a solo set alongside Stellar Void and Kali Ra at the Golden Bull on Saturday, November 25.
— Ronny Kerr
A TAPESTRY OF PRESENCE
“Listen to the world, always hoping to hear more and more fully.” — Tom Bickley
Bathtubs and crickets and eagles and trains. Tom Bickley has his ears open. One expects no less from an artist with a background in medieval music, African-American sacred music, and Deep Listening—the meditative improvisational techniques developed by electronic music pioneer and San Francisco Tape Music Center founding member Pauline Oliveros.
On Jepson Prairie, his debut solo commercial release after years of composing and performing, Bickley takes the motionless listener on sonic journeys from Houston to Kyoto to Berkeley, at times allowing field recordings to play cleanly (the buzz of machinery, the voice over the intercom giving instructions in Japanese) while at other times modulating recordings into wiry sculptures, alive and plastic all at once. Electronic sounds, arranged stringed instruments, tones, and timbres, twisting and refracting into each other like our daily moments, a tapestry of presence.
Other Minds Records, the label that released Jepsen Prairie, is hosting its annual experimental music event Other Minds Festival 27 this week. More info here.
— Ronny Kerr
FISTS & SWEAT
Starting a punk album with a dub reggae beat says a lot: Aside from simply nodding to the long-standing political and sonic relationships between the two musical worlds, it immediately says this band cares a lot about sound. Sound itself.
The self-titled debut album from Spiritual Cramp does just that. And the sound? Oh, it’s good, kicking off with a high-energy fist-pumping and sweat-thrashing opening track, and then riding on through a half hour of fiery pop punk anthems. The Killers come to mind, or maybe even a little Katy Perry. Not in a bad way. The sound itself is massive and gritty like something you’d find on a hardcore tape, but the melodies and harmonies are shouted clear and catchy as an FM dial earworm. One of the first releases on New York indie label Blue Grape Music, Spiritual Cramp delivers a fizzing good time.
See Spiritual Cramp play Rickshaw Stop as part of Noise Pop Fest, along with Militarie Gun, Pool Kids and Roman Candle on Sunday, March 3.
— Ronny Kerr
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[experimental] Cel Genesis, Cyberplasm, X Harlow, Blaq Hammer — Nov 17 at the Spire
[electronic] Chroma Sea, Privtespeech, Trip Dive — Nov 17 at Elbo Room Jack London
[hip hop] Macarthur Maze, Fijiana, Moe Green, SoLauren — Nov 17 at the Ivy Room
[r&b] Raphael Saadiq — Nov 17 at the Masonic
[indie] Stephen Steinbrink, April Magazine, Briana Marela — Nov 17 at Bottom of the Hill
[club] Bored Lord, Brown Amy, Deezy, Oso Feo — Nov 17 at Underground SF
[rock] Louie Vega, sillygirlcarmen, Coflo — Nov 17 at Public Works
[indie] The Reds, Pinks, and Purples, Hits, Vulture Feather — Nov 18 at the Knockout
[rock] Powerplant, Marbled Eye, Simulation, DJ Bitchfork — Nov 18 at Kilowatt
[indie] Credit Electric, Catch Prichard (record releases) — Nov 18 at Martial Arts
[club] White Crate 3-Year Anniversary ft. DJ Juanny, Ritchrd, Mare E Fresh, SWALK — Nov 18 at Mothership
[experimental] Other Minds Festival 27 — Nov 14-19 at Taube Atrium Theater & Gray Area
[folk] Woods, Vetiver — Nov 19 at the Chapel
[rock] Depresión Sonora, Chokecherry — Nov 20 at Great American Music Hall
[rock] The Basement Tapes Live ft. Chuck Prophet — Nov 22 at the Chapel
JOIN US FOR THE WHITE CRATE 3-YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY AT MOTHERSHIP BAR IN THE MISSION TOMORROW (SAT NOV 18)! BAY AREA MUSIC LOVE!
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