JUANNY DEPP drops DADA, house-driven dembow inspired by post-WWI aesthetics
Brycon back at it with surprise instrumental EP "Gradskool"; generative probability music from the Cyberneticist; a smooth rap collab from Shy’an G and Shino Smoke
There’s great news, there’s good news, and there’s questionable news.
The great: For the past two years (and even longer than that), the story has been of another venue closing, and then another, and then another. Well, today marks the opening (!) of a new venue in Oakland named Crybaby, taking over the old Uptown spot on Telegraph. Check out their stacked lineup for the next month (featuring Dâm-Funk, Machinedrum, and Bbymutha) and read their story on Oaklandside.
The good: It’s Bandcamp Friday, so buying music today on Bandcamp is still one of the best ways to directly support the artists you love.
The questionable: Bandcamp has been sold to Epic Games, a much larger company popularly known as the creator of Fortnite. It’s uncertain what this means for Bandcamp, which is still headquartered in downtown Oakland, but we do know that Epic is partially owned by Sony and 40% owned by Chinese multinational conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd., which has stakes in Spotify. In other words, what was once a cherished independent music marketplace—the one that still pays out the highest royalties to artists—will probably be going through some changes.
THAT NEW NEW
“Dadaism rejected wartime politics, bourgeois culture, and capitalist economic system.” Opening with the sound of an 8-bit-like alien transmission before moving into house and reggaeton, DADA is another great dance EP by JUANNY DEPP. The work is inspired by Dada (aka Dadaism), the leftist art movement that emerged in Europe in reaction to the steamrolling effects of capitalism following World War I. With reggaeton now a worldwide phenomenon and massive mainstream moneymaker, it’s deeply satisfying to see JUANNY DEPP take the sound and morph it into something completely weird, unique, artistic, and yet still irresistibly danceable.
Is this just for Bandcamp Friday? Bored Lord released three-track EP Midi Message, which starts fast and ravey, gets slinky and psychedelic, and then finally rests in downtempo acid. Get tickets to see the Oakland producer perform tonight at 1015 Folsom on a stacked lineup presented by DJ Dials & As You Like It that includes Kerri Chandler, Danilo Plessow (Motor City Drum Ensemble), and Joy Orbison.
Brycon dropped surprise instrumental EP Gradskool, a collaboration with Gahn. For those familiar with the SF producer’s recent work—both solo and along with the Watershed, Professa Gabel, Ill Sugi, and many others—it will come as no surprise that these are high-quality beats. Downtempo, soulful, sizzling, and always spliff-ready. (For more dope Bay Area hip hop this week, also check out “Lights Off” by Luke Sick, QM, The I.M.F, and Cyph4.)
Chuck Johnson released “Carpathia”, a five-minute piece originally composed for David Delaney Mayer’s debut feature film The Castle on Red Mountain. Elegant and light piano, guitars, and synthesizers suffuse the icy track, warmed only by the angelic voice of Kristine Barrett. All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, who are mobilizing to assist the war-wounded in Ukraine.
“Generative probability music.” If you’ve enjoyed Arca, Holly Herndon, or other artists exploring the sonic possibilities when you fuse advanced technology and music, this is for you. To create The Cyberneticist, SF producer Colin Dyer “set up the parameters and sounds for things to exist” and then let it execute based on percentages. What results is two-and-a-half hours of fascinating, glitchy IDM.
“When deciding between taffy flavors at a candy store; while wearing cat ears in public; after binging your favorite anime; while dancing in your room; when wanting to want to be alive.” These are the suggested times to listen to crystalline corset, released on Cherub Dream Records last year. Described by its creator Goth Lipstick as “a trans feminist coming-of-age album,” the album is bouncy and bubblegum bassy as promised, and now one of its tracks “catgirl goes to college” has been remixed, washed out, and possibly made even more of a delight for the ears by If I Promise.
Smooth and easy, “Pictures” is the newest single by Sebastopol rapper J.Lately. Get tickets to see J.Lately perform next Friday, March 11 at the Cornerstone Berkeley with Ian Kelly, Roux Shankle, Space Cadet, and Poo$ie.
“This piece is slow. Very very slow. And quiet. With a bounty of time and space as it draws your ear to the time around the played notes. Every gesture feels like a supernova happening ages away.” Armed with tape delay and an electric guitar, Oakland artist Robert Nance rearranged and performed the 90-second sixth movement “Sehr langsam” (“Very slow”) from Austrian-American composer Arnold Schoenberg’s Sechs kleine Klavierstücke (“Six Little Piano Pieces”) into a cosmic experiment with time, space, and sound.
“Shy’an, Davis & I labbed in the Red Room in Oakland a few years ago and came up with something absolutely wonderful. Since then we’ve tinkered on the song and stored it until we thought it was the right time. Now is that time.” Berkeley rapper and producer Shy’an G and Sacramento artist Shino Smoke released wine-buzzed, spacey, and contemplative hip hop single “Everlasting”.
“Atfalouna”—the 1988 debut single by Moroccan artist Hassan Iddedir—is getting re-released by Dark Entries Records. Remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley last year, the single builds for half its length with digital synths, drum machines, and entrancing, chanting female vocals before Iddedir’s voice takes center stage. Another worldly, Italo-disco-adjacent gem from one of the best labels in SF. Even better: 100% of proceeds from the release will go to Sphere (providing support to the young queer community across Ukraine) and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (providing urgent humanitarian care for children in Gaza).
“A snapshot of their stupid corner of Oakland, California at the end of the 2000’s. A place where the deserted warehouses of America’s Industrial heyday housed underground alcohol parties. And Silicon Valley's money was at the gates ready to ruin everything.”
Noise Pop Festival is a great way to learn about artists from the Bay and beyond, and the showcase at Zeitgeist kicking off this year’s festivities was one of the best, featuring all local artists. Alongside the wonderful woman-led acts (Indianna Hale, Mae Powell, and Zelma Stone) was B. Hamilton, an Oakland trio playing low and crunchy blues rock. At the risk of being the millionth person to make this comparison but absolutely meaning it as a compliment, they sound like the Black Keys.
Yeah, this next skit right here is about my hometown, Oakland, California
Home of the Oakland Raiders
Home of J. Kidd, Jason Kidd
Home of Todd, Too $hort
Home of G.P., Gary Payton
Home of Shakur, 2Pac, you know
But, I tell everybody, man
Just ‘cause you from The Town don’t mean you gotta stay in The Town and ride out, let The Town kill you
You gotsta move out and do something then come back and help your people
You just can’t stay there and sit there and rot
Just ‘cause we from Oakland—you gotsta leave this town
That’s the opening to “Tek 2” from Instant Vintage, a 2002 album by Raphael Saadiq, who was part of Oakland’s multiplatinum group Tony! Toni! Toné! in the late 80s, early 90s. Until a friend shared a song by Saadiq with me last weekend, I had never heard of them. (I’m from the Bay, but am gradually beginning to realize that my Latina mama and white dad may have missed some crucial musical education in my upbringing, especially when it comes to local Black artists.)
Saadiq’s story is incredible, and all I’ve done is skimmed it. Born and and raised in Oakland, and then—shortly before turning 18—auditioned in SF for Sheila E's backing band on Prince's Parade Tour. “Next thing I was in Tokyo, in a stadium, singin’ ‘Erotic City.’ We were in huge venues with the biggest sound systems in the world; all these roadies throwin’ me basses, and a bunch of models hangin’ round Prince to party. For almost two years. That was my university.”
After Tony! Toni! Toné! disbanded, Saadiq worked solo and went on to produce songs for a long list of legends, including Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Solange Knowles, and John Legend. Now I know another reason why Solange’s A Seat at the Table is one of the greatest albums ever. If you need somewhere to start, like I did, you can’t do wrong with Instant Vintage, Saadiq’s first solo album. An hour and 15 minutes of outstanding, soulful R&B—and the last 15 is one long song. Uncork a bottle of wine, and enjoy.