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New reviews of soothing soul by Isaiah Mostafa, a ferocious techno comp from Squirrels on Film, and reissued hardcore punk from Willow House Records
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ANOTHER ONE MOVES TO NY
“Music is my north star.”
Isaiah Mostafa has finally found his north star, and now it seems so obvious. Sultry, soulful, and confident as heaven, Mostafa this month celebrated the release of his new six-track EP North Star at Bandcamp HQ in downtown Oakland. Joined onstage by a full band as well as SundaY, ASTU, and Marika Sage, the artist was almost overwhelmed with the sheer joy and love exuding from the packed room. Almost, but not quite, because Mostafa sang and performed with an equal amount of joy and love.
Beginning with gloriously lovely a cappella harmonies, the new EP gently cruises through back-to-back beats and flows fit for any slow jam playlist. A love letter to community, a love letter to self. Sadly for us, Isaiah and his close collaborator ASTU are both leaving for New York this year, but we wish them the best.
If you missed Isaiah’s recent performance at Bandcamp HQ, you can see them there tonight for the Qamp II Album Release Show. Other performers include Qamp creators Casey Cope and Marquito plus Aroma, Marika Sage, Artist Named You, Pandaraps, and Tope.
— Ronny Kerr
FEROCIOUS, SINISTER TECHNO
These four bangers may as well be a belated love-letter to the late ‘90s/early ‘00s techno heads. The third edition of the Immortal Sin compilations from SF label Squirrels on Film strays a bit further from the left-field, avant-garde computer music of earlier releases in the series, and throws us back to Orbital’s Blue Album era in a major way. These ferocious, absolutely sinister sounds will definitely be spotted at your next warehouse underground. Sure to relieve a revved crowd at peak hour, Immortal Sin 03 allows listeners to explore their limits in the descent through a late-capitalist take on mythic asphodel meadows. It’s one hell of a squelchy trek, that’s for sure. Enjoy, fellow heathens!
— Elise Mills
PRECIOUS HARDCORE COUPLET
Originally recorded by Carles Toshio at The Panda Studios and self-released back in December 2021, “Burning in Water” b/w “Drowning in Flame” is a precious little pair of sonic explosions by San Francisco hardcore punk band OBSOLETE MAN. At 45 seconds long, the first track wastes no time in tearing the walls asunder. The second track, on the other hand, is an epic two-and-a-half minute odyssey, commencing with a slogging drawn out intro before powering through a thunderous hardcore romp, descending into a trancelike death march, and even finding time to squeeze in an arena-worthy guitar solo at the end.
— Ronny Kerr
A DELIGHTFULLY CHEEKY MYTHOS
the supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf, as recounted in folk tales.
• archaic a form of madness involving the delusion of being an animal, usually a wolf, with correspondingly altered behavior.
The dungeon metal punk project lycanthropic nemesis 420 cuts right to the chase, clocking in at just under 8 minutes. Rendering a delightfully cheeky mythos, ^-^ (aka blink182emoji of Berkeley group Axe) presents “5 songs about spells, torture, pattern recognition and emo girls <3”—and I’m thoroughly pleased by the result. Beyond the fact that I had to look up the word “lycanthropy,” this is hardly an inaccessible listen for everyone caught in the oscillation between angst and humor accompanying this confusing mess of a digital age… among other things.
See ^-^ perform with Love Spiral and Treasure Island this Sunday, February 5 at Stay Gold Deli in West Oakland.
— Elise Mills
“Recognize where you got the game
We got our own style, got our own slang
Northern California, it’s a west coast thang
This is the history of the Bay”
Well, it’s not so much a history as it is a roll call. But we’re not complaining. From Too $hort to Zumbi to a hundred players in between, Dregs One digs into the monumental task of naming all the Bay Area’s hip hop legends on “History of the Bay”. B.C. The Producer supplies a midtempo hyphy chiller (with a sweet little nod to Shock G’s piano intro to 2Pac’s “I Get Around”) while Dregs One effortlessly steps around Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo, San Jose, Berkeley, Hayward, Pittsburg, Antioch, Marin, Santa Rosa, and beyond.
— Ronny Kerr
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[hip hop] Qamp II ft. Casey Cope, Marquito, Aroma, Tope — Feb 3 at Bandcamp
[jazz] Ambrose Akinmusire residency — Feb 3-5, Feb 9 at SFJAZZ
[club] Squish ft. Ben UFO, Pangaea, Pearson Sound — Feb 3 at the Great Northern
[club] Vague Terrain ft. Matias Aguayo, Elexos — Feb 3 at Underground SF
[metal] Striations, Æ, Field of Fear — Feb 3 at the Blue Lagoon
[rock] Moon Daze, Louiza, Parallel — Feb 3 at the Golden Bull
[punk] Design, Love Spiral, Treasure Island, ^-^ — Feb 5 at Stay Gold Deli
[punk] Axl Phoenix, Vivian Panache, God's Basement — Feb 8 at Bottom of the Hill
[gospel] The Blind Boys of Alabama, Miko Marks — Feb 9 at the Guild Theatre
[experimental] Alex Abalos, Sharmi Basu, Ronald Peabody — Feb 9-Apr 2 at Audium
Want even more? Join us on Patreon to get access to our full concert calendar, featuring specially curated recommendations for upcoming Bay Area shows.