White Crate — Feb 26, 2021
Brijean debuts on Ghostly with dreamy beachside disco, James Wavey re-releases "Babe" on vinyl, and Varsha explores the history of house on Lower Grand Radio
9/11. The storming of the U.S. Capitol. Daft Punk breaking up.
Okay, these things aren’t actually equivalent, but for someone who is probably the biggest Daft Punk fan you know, the news of the French house duo’s parting felt momentous—in spite of the fact that no one actually expected them to release an album or tour anytime soon. As far as I’m concerned, the chance of a new album or tour is the same as it ever was.
Anytime Daft Punk comes up, however, it’s a chance for me personally to reflect on how I think about music.
Before I went to college, Daft Punk represented everything I hated about dance music. I judged it stupid, repetitive, and shallow, and I hardly even considered it music. Then one fateful night in a random college dorm room, “Robot Rock” penetrated my drunken brain, and I tumbled into a deep obsession. In a complete inversion, Daft Punk would come to represent many things I love about music, and not just dance: the power of simplicity (which led me to Steve Reich’s minimalist masterpieces), the attention to detail, the sanctity of rhythm, and the ecstasy of being human amid crowds of people celebrating life for the sake of life—one more time.
In a way, they humbled me: I know so much about music, and yet know nothing.
If you feel like mourning through dance, check out my buddy Moto Tembo’s just-dropped banger of a mashup of George Michael and Daft Punk. Otherwise, read on for the best music in the Bay this week.
THAT NEW NEW
Brijean (of Poolside and Toro y Moi) released Feelings, her second full-length and first for Ghostly International. A collaboration with Doug Stuart (whose Familiar Future was included on KQED’s 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2020), Brijean’s new album is pretty much described by its tracklist: it’s “dreamy” and “soft” and “moody,” a half hour of beachside disco “paradise” “lathered in gold.” In short, it hits you right in the feels.
SF indie rocker Carlie Mari released “Rose Colored Glasses”, a short bittersweet love song.
Oakland trombonist Danny Lubin Laden released his second album Through Our Time. Recorded in Brooklyn, the jazz-meets-ambient album features a quartet playing cello, guitar, electric bass, drums, and a bunch of analog synthesizers.
Oakland experimental electronic musician Dax Pierson released his debut solo LP Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Disappointment) on Dark Entries Records. Pitchfork gave the album high marks, describing how the artist “utilizes custom-built software systems that allow him to navigate around disability, with electrifying results.”
SF rapper Dregs One just dropped Fog Mode: The Album, featuring a ton of great local talent: Andre Nickatina, Black C of RBL Posse, San Quinn, Stunnaman02, Blimes, Telli Prego, and more.
The Reds, Pinks & Purples—an indie pop project by SF’s Glenn Donaldson (of Skygreen Leopards and Art Museums)—is releasing new LP Uncommon Weather this April on Slumberland (US) and Tough Love (UK). Check out the second single “The Record Player and the Damage Done” and preorder the limited edition blue vinyl on Bandcamp.
Mexican electronic label Illegal Aliens Records released Warming Themselves, a four-track EP of experimental techno by Oakland duo Sentient (Andrea Aicardi and Quentin Notte).
SF synth pop artist Silverware released “Important”, a quick and catchy single from her upcoming album No Plans, out in April.
Toro y Moi released an instrumental version of Underneath the Pine for its 10th anniversary. Chaz Bear writes on Bandcamp: “I was listening to a lot of disco, funk, astral jazz, and psych rock […] It was the last record I made before moving to California and a lot of the themes in my lyrics were about leaving home and staying in touch with family and friends.” Last year, Causers of This (Toro y Moi’s 2010 debut on Carpark Records) got the same instrumental treatment.
Constellation Tatsu (Oakland) released its Winter Batch 2021, featuring three cassettes of experimental ambient music: Shell Collector by Cofaxx, above the northern skies shown by Hakobune, and The Early Dove by Rose.
11 months after its initial release, Babe by James Wavey (aka Alleyes Manifest aka Michael Bridgmon) is now available on vinyl. KQED included the ten-track neo-soul and hip hop album of “love songs for listeners” on its 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2020. This comes three weeks after the release of his new album Nights.
Want to hear “an extraordinary tsunami of sound that travels at immense speeds across a massive horizon, devouring everything in its path and leaving a massive gaping void in its wake”? Check out To Walk the Path of Sorrows by Obscurae, the solo project of SF multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis. The ambient black metal album was originally released by American Decline Records but just got re-released on cassette by Oakland’s Sentient Ruin Laboratories.
Earlier this month, SF alternative punk band Pardoner released a video for “Donna Said”, the first single from their upcoming album Came Down Different, due out May 14 on Hoboken’s Bar/None Records. Read more on Under the Radar.
Also earlier this month, SF producer RITCHRD released five-minute disco house single “ABOUT YOU”.
IN THE MIX
House music most definitely didn’t originate in the Bay Area. But now it’s a global phenomenon, if not a way of life. In this new Lower Grand Radio mix - a fitting tribute for Black History Month - local model and DJ Varsha explores the history of house music from its origins in disco and 70s underground queer dance culture through 80s house and 90s voguing. Definitely worth checking out whether you want to learn the history or just dance in your bedroom!