Listen to ambient performances by Leila Abdul-Rauf and Shipwreck Detective recorded live in West Oakland
Brijean reworks a single by Tycho and Benjamin Gibbard; Oakland rap duo Su'Lan goes hard on "Free Su'Lan"; plus new-old videos by Guapdad 4000 and Soltrón
‘Tis the season… for a flood of “Best of 2021” lists! It seems that every year it’s a race to see who can post their favorite albums of the year as early as possible in December. My only question: Are albums released this month eligible for next year’s list?
In any case, The 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2021 by KQED can be your first stop for discovering new music from the past year. Featuring everything from hip hop to punk to country, it’s a great view into the variety of styles being explored here. Of all the artists that made the list, I’d like to give a special shoutout and congratulations to SF ambient producer Joel St. Julien, who was originally slated to perform at FALL MASS but had to drop out for personal reasons. His album EMPATHY is fantastic.
White Crate plans to share our favorite artists, albums, and songs of the year soon, but for now you can listen to this mix (part 1 of 2) of the best of the Bay from 2021, recorded live on Lower Grand Radio. The first third is hip hop, the second third moves from soul and jazz into dance, and then the final third transitions into ambient.
THAT NEW NEW
Speaking of FALL MASS, dark ambient artist Leila Abdul-Rauf posted a video of her entire performance. Combining footage by Albert Yeh with audio captured by Dev Bhat, the film captures the eerie, disorienting, sonic purgatory presented by Abdul-Rauf as dusk fell and darkness settled in. For those unfamiliar, FALL MASS was a live ambient showcase hosted by White Crate in West Oakland last month.
While Abdul-Rauf closed FALL MASS with darkness (above), Shipwreck Detective opened the ambient event with soaring, ineffable light. With an Arturia PolyBrute synthesizer center stage (and a handful of samplers and processors in the background), the SF producer cast a spell that seemed to entrance everyone from the humans in the audience to the seabirds circling in the sky. Listen to a recording of the performance.
“A lush, house-leaning world” from a couple Bay Area favorites plus one of the biggest names in indie rock, period: Brijean reworked “Only Love”, originally by SF artist Tycho and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service.
Oakland pedal steel guitarist Chuck Johnson, who offers subscribers on Bandcamp a steady stream of music new and old (for $4 per month), released “Drift Clearing”, an 11-minute ambient exploration recorded live last month.
Following a few videos and single releases, LA/Oakland rapper C5 released ME vs. ME, a full-length album of bold and introspective hip hop. Featuring guest appearances by Rexx Life Raj, Marty Grimes, Lil Bean, Killa Fonte, and Bale.
“calm” — That’s all that needs to said, according to the release page for “smoothin’”, a new dreamy jazzy hip hop beat from dakim via their imprint ddust direct.
“I want to shout out my girl and my family; and PEACE to all the real DJs out there. Enjoy the album / yourself.” Oakland’s GHOST REPORTER released Tenderness by hellatallbaby, which may be my new favorite producer alias. Kicking off with some classic ragga inspiration, the EP moves through ethereal jungle, distorted juke, and dubbed out lofi. In other words, it’s a sonic treat. A couple copies of the tape, which was produced Vallejo producer SELA., are still available for purchase.
LOUDA (aka Laura Camacho of Louda y Los Bad Hombres) released a beautiful, jazzy cover of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “My Favorite Things”, made famous by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. LOUDA’s version is stripped down to a voice and guitar duet arrangement loosely based on the version by John Coltrane.
SF rapper Professa Gabel teams up with ToBy and DJ SAY (plus Baghead on production duties) on “Blue Faces”, and dropped a dope video featuring shots of Chinatown and the Bay Bridge.
SOENEIDO released Tha Strugglist EP, featuring three hardcore jungle tracks—and it’s all fire. Get it while you can: The artist planned to take the release down after Bandcamp Friday, but it’s still up for now.
“Don’t get on Su’Lan’s bad side. Working as a formidable duo, Saunsu and Emahalani rap like they’re ready to be at the throats of anyone who tests them.” Read the full review of “We Talkin Shit Again”, which was named “the must-hear rap song of the day” by Pitchfork this past Monday. And then check out the Oakland duo’s 15-min EP, Free Su’Lan.
In the tech industry, content creators talk about “repurposing” content for new audiences and new channels, or even new times. Well, why not do the same in hip hop? In the comment section for the new official video for “Money” by West Oakland rapper Guapdad 4000, fans are making sure to note that they have no problem with the re-release of the two-year-old song. Get tickets to see Guapdad 4000 at the Cornerstone in Berkeley as part of Noise Pop Festival in February 2022.
“As people deeply rooted in the Mission's Latin arts community, we want to document the stories of eviction and displacement that our extended circle of artists and activists have experienced.” Over the summer, Soltrón released three-song EP Frisco Tales, inspired by Latin rock, Chicano soul, and even hyphy to create a new style they call the “Mission Sound.” This week, the group premiered a video for “Eclipse del Amor”, featuring J. Ele and La Doña.
Often credited as early architects of the San Francisco sound, the Beau Brummels found success right out of the gate with their 1964 debut single, “Laugh, Laugh.” With its autumnal folk-pop jangle and moody melodic hooks, the song bore enough resemblance to the burgeoning British Invasion that many fans mistook these young Americans for invading Brits. — Allmusic
Ain’t that just the cheesiest cover ever? Surprisingly, it wasn’t just a photo op: The Beau Brummels were actually formed in San Francisco in 1964 and went on to release a few popular singles and albums through 1969. And what a fitting time to be reminded of them, as San Francisco is once again in the music press for its weird jangle pop and post-punk. While this new anthology Turn Around: Complete Recordings 1964-1970 from Cherry Red Records doesn’t seem to be available on any streaming platforms, you can easily find their music through other releases.
But did the band ever ride a cable car to a gig? Unconfirmed.