Discover more from White Crate
Embrace your inner nihilistic suburban teenager with glitched out nu metal from Tugboyz
Also new this week: Satisfying lofi crunch by Spiral Dub, whimsical indie folk by Stephen Steinbrink, another "Bay" hyphy hit by E-40, and a boatload of horns from the National Brass Ensemble
Another week, another set of diverse and high-quality new music from the Bay.
All reviews this week by Ronny Kerr.
— White Crate
GLITCHY FEELY NU METAL
Glitched out nu metal deep in the feelings, PIPE is the latest alt-rave concoction by Oakland trio Tugboyz (made up of Idhaz Bitar, Einar Birnir, and Brad Lincoln). Clocking at nearly 16 minutes, it’s the closest thing to a full-length album we’ve gotten from the group, screaming a series of dramatic frantic poetry punctuated by sewer level stomps, gooey glistening synths, and evanescent melody lines. Do you have to be a nihilistic teenager in ‘90s suburban America to enjoy this? Don’t think so.
SATISFYING LOFI CRUNCH
“At once a necessary antidote and stark affirmation of San Francisco’s current DIY Rock’N’Roll landscape, a scene where despite all appearances, no one ever actually wins.”
Another garage opens, another rough tumbling rock band emerges fully formed. Gruff and plain as peak Sonics, Spiral Dub arrived earlier this month with their full-length self-titled debut on Oakland’s “panic rock think tank” Sanctuary Moon. Made up of members from a bunch of other local bands—including Rays, Life Stinks, Almond Joy, and Fuckwolf—Spiral Dub trudges through an all-too-familiar swamp of utterly satisfying lofi crunch to offer up a beggar’s dozen of songs not bothering to masquerade as poetry: Because these riffs and songlines are too catchy to worry about all that. If this is losing, then so be it.
A CARTOON KIND OF LOVE
“Culled from sessions at a variety of professional studios (The Unknown in Anacortes, Tiny Telephone in Oakland) as well as improvised recording spaces (the album was finished in the closet of an old pencil factory in Oakland.”
Named after one of the millions and millions short and strange videos you can find on YouTube—this one of a magician making a quarter disappear from a teenager’s hand—Disappearing Coin is a weird album. Genre-wise it’s mostly folk rock imbued with electronics and whimsical studio experiments, but what sets it apart is its nerdy, silly spirit: This is admittedly my first time listening to Stephen Steinbrink, but I will never forget the name because how many others could casually insert “mandelbrot set” into their lyrics? The entire album feels like drifting through a vintage animated cartoon, psychedelic, light, and dreamy. Its apotheosis? The instrumental, minute-long title track “Step’s Disappearing Coin,” a minimalist, Escheresque structure of piano keys elevating you to unknown heights.
AN EARL STEVENS SLAPPER
“The inside of my house look like the Exploratorium
These suckas Capwell like Emporium
If you don’t know what that is, Google it”
What words do we need to say? It’s a single called “The Bay” by E-40 with his cousin Turf Talk. We’re a couple weeks late to the party but everyone knows by now that an Earl Stevens track lives forever. And if this doesn’t belong on our page, then nothing does. Press play and rock to it with respect, it’s Bay Area royalty bringing us hyphy on steroids.
SWEEPING DRAMATIC BRASS
Is there anything quite as cliche as putting a foggy Golden Gate Bridge on the cover of your album? Well, it’s not like brass is the most subtle orchestra section. (Besides, Toro y Moi made it cool again.)
Deified is a new album by the National Brass Ensemble under Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim, who also happens to be the first woman to serve as music director of the San Francisco Opera. The ensemble itself is made up of members from across the country, though most hail from the San Francisco Symphony. A nearly two-hour collection split into two parts, the album is named after “Deified” by Jonathan Bingham, who won the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco Symphony’s Emerging Black Composers Project competition in 2021.
On the second disc, the ensemble performs Timothy Higgins’ arrangement of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, the four-part German language opera that takes about 15 hours to perform in its entirety. Epic is an understatement, and the shorter arrangement performed here by the ensemble retains that sweeping drama and grandiosity. Even non-classical music fans will recognize the “Ride of the Valkyries” (disc 2, track 8) and anyone who grew up on John Williams soundtracks will appreciate the profound musicality of these big brassy themes.
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[rock] Madeline Kenney, Fat Tony, Jordan Thewlis — August 18 at the Independent
[experimental] Æ, Infinexhuma, KUL, Dean Fraser, Greenling — August 18 at Orifice
[rock] The 1981, Neutrals, Reno Casinos, Yea Ming & the Rumours — August 19 at the Golden Bull
[club] Only Now, Las Sucias, Lagoss, Orogen, Cone Shape Top DJs, Mission Synths — August 19 at Bandcamp Oakland
[hip hop] Symba, Eddi P, Music Museum — August 19 at the New Parish
[club] Petty Fest 2 ft. Tia Nomore, Tomu DJ, Tall CEO, Raymos, and more — August 19 at Secret Oakland Warehouse, DM organizer for location
[indie] Bliss Festival ft. Bobby Oroza, Pearl & The Oysters, STACEY, San Cha, LOUDA, and more — August 19-20 at the Presidio Theatre
[rock] The Flaming Lips, Alan Palomo (Neon Indian DJ Set) — August 20 at Stern Grove
[rock] Gumby's Junk, Grooblen, Busy Lighthouse, Medscool (solo) — August 24 at Neck of the Woods
[indie] April Magazine, Miller Band, Sob Stories — August 24 at Little Hill Lounge
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