White Crate — April 23, 2021
Sing along to sad girl synth pop from Silverware, get weird with the fifth Tune-Yards album, and space out to a local shoegaze classic from Young Prisms
Tough news for the rap world following the deaths of DMX and Black Rob.
Today it was confirmed that Gregory Edward Jacobs aka Shock G aka Humpty Hump, the founder and lead vocalist for influential hip hop group Digital Underground, was found unresponsive in his hotel room after struggling with drug addiction for years.
Even though Digital Underground was based in Oakland and has been legendary in the Bay since their classic 1990 album Sex Packets, I confess I didn’t really get to know their music beyond “Freaks of the Industry” until listening to the whole album five years ago. But I was instantly hooked. With irresistibly funky basslines backed by goofy, hilarious, and irreverent lyrics, it’s all very clearly inspired by George Clinton’s playbook—and helped define the trajectory of West Coast hip hop.
Thank you for the amazing music, Shock G.
THAT NEW NEW
Synth pop artist Silverware (aka Ainsley Wagoner) released her debut album No Plans. Totaling under a half hour, the seven songs offer an enjoyable, polished journey through sad girl synth pop. Notably, the album was recorded at Tiny Telephone San Francisco, the indie music studio which closed in July 2020. (Tiny Telephone Oakland is still operational.)
SF rapper A.M.K. (Alien Mac Kitty) released a video for her single “SMKE BRK”.
“Your local soft rock specialist” Al Harper released a music video for “Hey You, What’s New”, the first single from her upcoming album Promises I Kept, out May 14 on Oakland’s Homing Instinct Records.
Alameda-based Bad Time Records released “Morbid Obsessions,” the first single from Ordinary Life, the upcoming album from LA ska and pop punk band We Are The Union.
Dark Entries Records reissued 1987 deep house track “Essence of a Dream” b/w “Risqué Madness” by Chicago’s Risqué III, remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios.
Inspired by last year’s wildfires, Oakland psych pop band Sugar Candy Mountain released a music video for “Running From Fire”, the first single from their upcoming album Impression, due out in May.
Richmond rapper White Dave, whose track “Appraise” appeared on the soundtrack to Judas and the Black Messiah in February, released a new 14-min EP called Porch Sessions. Watch the video for “Hotel Motel” here.
Last month Oakland alt pop duo Tune-Yards released their fifth full-length, sketchy. And this week, to celebrate the the 10th anniversary of their sophomore album W H O K I L L, the band added their whole catalog to Bandcamp. Though the newest album is very much a Tune-Yards album, listeners should find it less forced in its experimentation. Group founder Merrill Garbus explains:
Thinking about how I approached songwriting in my earlier days, I think I felt a lot more insecure about writing catchy songs. There was something that felt really important about setting ourselves apart, being creative or more creative than the pop music that I heard. […] As we mature, I do think that we’re more comfortable with settling into catchy choruses. Tune-Yards has a texture that is very different than a lot of other sounds of other groups. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be different anymore.
It’s funny to think that I went to high school with a couple of the guys in this band—and, like any self-respecting Catholic school boys, we treated each other like shit.
Well, that was half a lifetime ago, and all that matters now is that Young Prisms is still one of SF’s best kept secrets in dream pop and shoegaze. Or is it a secret? The band has been teasing new photos from the studio over Instagram, signaling an upcoming release, and the response from fans has been very positive.
This past week, I re-listened to In Between, and it still sounds great almost a decade later. If you’re looking for some heavy, dreamy, psychedelic sounds to soundtrack one of your weird pandemic days, give this one a whirl.
If you ever want to press play on the growing list of artists covered on White Crate, follow this Spotify playlist. Shuffle and crossfade recommended!