SF ambient artist Joel St. Julien seeks the true self on "Masking"
Spote Breeze and OG Jarin drop "Cascade Viewing"; Slumberland Records re-releases Go Sailor comp; Kelley Stoltz returns with 17th album "The Stylist"
Good morning, Bay Area, and good luck surviving the first sweltering heat of the summer. A few top updates today:
1. Interested in writing a review for White Crate? We are opening up the newsletter to submissions from more writers. If you have a passion for local music and a knack for clear, concise writing, reach out for more details. This is a paid opportunity.
2. Last week we were honored to host the shapeshifting songwriter and producer James Wavey on Lower Grand Radio. There’s the link if you missed the live show.
3. Up for more live music? Summer has arrived and—in spite of high COVID rates—there are tons of shows for the ready and willing. If I could go to everything, here’s what I would hit up in the coming week:
[experimental] Eiko Ishibashi — June 10 at the Lab
[hip hop] Chali 2na & Cut Chemist, Grand-O ft. Baghead, DJSAY, Afterthought, Professa Gabel — June 10 at the Chapel
[rock] Fantastic Negrito, The Stone Foxes, Cowboy and His Sometimes Blue Band — June 10 at the UC Theatre
[rock] Prince Birthday Dance Party with Jazz Mafia — June 10 at the New Parish
[rock] Huichica festival featuring Brigid Dawson and Madeline Kenney plus headliners ESG, Woods, Allah-Las, and Turnover — June 10-11 in Sonoma
[experimental] Fuji||||||||||ta — June 11 at the Lab
[jazz] Alice Coltrane Tribute – Brooklyn Raga Massive ft. Reggie Workman — June 11 at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
[jungle] SOENEIDO, RITCHRD, AIRCRAX — June 11 at Alimentari Aurora
[rock] Bobby Oroza and Marinero — June 13 at the Chapel
WHAT’S BENEATH THE MASK?
“The idea of ‘masking’—the process of learning certain behaviors to conform to the pressures of seeming ‘normal’—made him realize that he had been hiding his struggles rather than expressing them.”
Following EMPATHY—one of the Bay Area’s best ambient albums of 2021—SF artist Joel St. Julien returns with Masking, a new full-length work released on Yann Novak’s LA-based imprint Dragon’s Eye Recordings. Nearly half the length of its predecessor, the new work sees St. Julien intermingling slow and beatless sonic tapestries, thumping ambient techno twittering (“Secrets Come Out”), and hazy downtempo IDM (“Float”). While it seems likely that tracks like “Masking” and “Collected Breath” intentionally allude to the pandemic, for St. Julien the overall theme of the album is highly personal, investigating his “neurodivergence” in a world where we’re so often encouraged (both directly and indirectly) to seek acceptance by taking on other forms. Another fantastic entry from the Haitian-American composer and producer.
SCRATCHY SOUL, BREATHLESS FLOWS
“I’m hell bent on producers and beat makers getting they’re true respect because without their canvases, sonic terrain, and compasses of sound, us ‘rappers’ would just be rhyme sayers.”
Giving credit where credit’s due, Oakland MC Spote Breeze today dropped Cascade Viewing, a full-length album produced by OG Jarin with guest contributions by Bryan C. Simmons, sndtrak, Mani Draper, DLEE, and J Mitch. Soul samples and midtempo beats abound beneath bars that just roll into bars bars bars that will leave you breathless. Lean into it.
PRE-INTERNET INDIE POP
“Basic and lovely in their song-writing, they're perfect snapshots of where indie-pop was during that last burst of pre-internet indie activity.” Slumberland Records just released an 11th anniversary edition of this release compiling all three singles plus compilation tracks by mid-90s SF indie pop band Go Sailor. It’s sweet as twee, upbeat as a sunshine-y day, and bouncy, beautiful, poetic, and pretty. Perfect soundtrack for a California roadtrip.
CEREBRAL, ARTFUL BLACK METAL
“Oddly enough, it was one of the members of The National who turned me onto this.” The debut 2017 album by SF metal band Succumb was featured in Bandcamp Daily after being selected as one of the favorites by Nabil Ayers—the son of Roy Ayers, former general manager of 4AD, and current president of Beggars Group U.S. For more greatness by the band, check out XXI, one of the Bay’s best metal albums of 2021.
INDIE SOUL WITH A SKIP IN ITS STEP
The Best (Remixed) by Zelma Stone, featuring Oakland’s Madeline Kenney and Meernaa plus Huntington Beach artist Ginger Root. Limited edition cassette available via LA’s Anxiety Blanket Records.
indie, rock, electronic
HEART-OPENING AMBIENT HOUSE
Dance Planet Remixes by Space Ghost, featuring Central, Dirk 81, Jarren, Nelson of the East, and Space Ghost. Vinyl available via Copenhagen’s Tartelet Records.
electronic, ambient, deep house
GUITAR POP STYLINGS
The Stylist by Kelley Stoltz
alternative, indie rock, pop
“AmaMeditation” by izzy wise ft. QVLN
Interested in writing a review for White Crate? We are opening up the newsletter to submissions from more writers. If you have a passion for local music and a knack for clear, concise writing, reach out for more details. This is a paid opportunity.