White Crate — June 25, 2021
Spellling and FLOWERTOWN each named Bandcamp's Album of the Day this week, plus a well-deserved feature on a variety of Oakland artists and collectives
I partied last weekend—with an actual wide variety of humans. Maybe you did too.
I purchased tickets to shows—one outdoors, another indoors. Maybe you did too.
Music, like so much else, is coming back to life in the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading across California (and the rest of the country). The data so far says our vaccines still work against this new even more contagious form of the virus, so the only immediate cause for concern are individuals and communities that haven’t been vaccinated yet. Have you gotten yours?
THAT NEW NEW
Oakland experimental R&B star Spellling (aka Chrystia Cabral) released her third full-length album today, The Turning Wheel. While her previous work was primarily synth-based, the new tunes “feature an ensemble of 31 collaborating musicians” directed by Cabral herself. But what remains the same is Cabral’s haunting, enchanting voice, the centerpiece of a swirling, downtempo soundscape. Read more about the new album on Bandcamp, where it was recognized as today’s album of the day.
Shelter by Albert Yeh was featured on Bandcamp’s New & Notable: “On his latest, San Francisco artist Albert Yeh offers nine beautiful tracks that bridge the gap between drone & ambient music.”
Three months after releasing the very good soul, jazz, pop, and poetry album Sounds of Haejin, Oakland bassist, songwriter, and producer Caroline Chung has returned with the acid funky “I Will Not Stray”, a single “dedicated to [her] father and anyone dealing with depression or mental illness.”
Diamond Lung, an SF hip hop duo made up of producer Brycon plus Lightbulb on the mic, announced an upcoming album called Jeweler’s Loop, which will also feature appearances by other collaborators in the Watershed circle, including Monk HTS, Professa Gabel, Baghead, and Dregs One.
A repackaging of two EPs from 2020 originally released on Paisley Shirt Records (FLOWERTOWN and THERESA STREET), the new self-titled LP from SF band FLOWERTOWN was Bandcamp’s album of the day on Wed Jun 23: “Flowertown’s 12 songs place the project squarely on the lo-fi end of the Bay Area’s simmering underground pop scene […] It’s bewitching and primitive and peculiar and beautiful, and somehow, Flowertown makes it sound effortless.”
Blues guitarist and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Gregg Wright plays on “Right on the Edge” as the next collaborator featured on Funkwrench Blues’ “Need to Know Badass Blues Instrumentals Series.”
Oakland cumbia group Mariposas del Alma released a new studio recording of “La Gentrificadora”, though they’ve been performing the song live since at least 2019: “This song represents the struggle & frustration that gentrification brings to communities of color. It is also meant to empower us as a larger community to stand up.”
Berkeley rapper Rexx Life Raj shoots for the stars in a new video and single for “Lockheed Martin”.
Following the debut album Heirloom on his new label Piece of Work, 羅伯特 aka Robert Yang just released Lexicon, “an LP that is incredibly lush and well-timed for this season of pre-summer blooms.”
Vallejo juke producer SELA. opened up pre-orders for You Can Keep It - Vol. 2, set to be released July 31. The first volume was rightfully snatched up by footwork lovers in the know, so it’s safe to say a lot of people will be looking forward to this one.
SF ambient artist Shipwreck Detective released Live at Audiotalaia, a half hour set recorded live for music group and Twitch channel Audiotalaia.
Another one from Paisley Shirt Records (in addition to FLOWERTOWN above): The Telephone Numbers just released jangly power pop album The Ballad of Doug.
More atmospheric rock from SF group TREASVRE on the new single “Storm”.
This makes me extremely happy. Bandcamp published a new “scene report” called Meet the Oakland Artists and Collectives Holding it Down for the Town During the Pandemic, spotlighting a bunch of amazing Bay Area artists, including rose cherami, Dakim, Erica Mar, and 4d. as well as collectives like SMARTBOMB, WE ARE THE ONES (WATO), Lower Grand Radio, and CLUB CHAI.
Says Alex Shen, founder of Lower Grand Radio:
There’s so much cool shit happening in the Bay Area that doesn’t always get recognized. I want to showcase it, one mix at a time, one DJ at a time. Just showcasing cool people with a priority on people of color, bringing different scenes together.
It’s an extra special piece for me because, though I’m still learning about this network of scenes, one of the featured albums (LIGHT BEINGS #2 by SMARTBOMB) was one of the first releases I fell in love with when I moved from SF to Oakland last year. It’s what started to open my eyes to the richness of the music scene here, it led me to starting a monthly show on Lower Grand Radio, and it practically urged me to dig deeper and start this project you’re reading now, White Crate.
Much love to all the artists featured—it’s well-deserved recognition!
I hadn’t heard of Young American Primitive (aka Greg Scanavino) a week ago, but now I have Shawn Reynaldo of First Floor to thank for the house music history lesson:
Originally released in 1992, “These Waves” was a product of San Francisco’s house scene, although Young American Primitive’s twirly melodies and spacey, hip-hop-indebted breakbeats take clear cues from the neo-hippish sounds that were coming out of the UK at the time. Light-hearted and psychedelic, it’s easy to imagine a monged-out raver smiling wide when this one came on at the full moon party back in the day.
Check out the track on Planet Love Vol. 1 - Early Transmissions 1991-95, a new compilation by Amsterdam label Safe Trip that explores “the roots and formative years of trance music.”
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!