White Crate — June 4, 2021
King Woman returns with gorgeous ethereal metal; a bounty of soft rock from Sugar Candy Mountain, Hectorine, and Absent City; plus one from the Radiohead archives
The pandemic is cancelled. Or that’s what it feels like anyway.
Despite the occasional bad news—like research that the Pfizer-BioNTech shows decreased vaccination effectiveness, especially after the first shot, against the COVID-19 variant first identified in India—here in California it feels like everyone is happily returning to normal life. Eating inside at restaurants. Drinking shoulder to shoulder at bars. In San Luis Obispo last week, I saw lines of college kids waiting to get inside a bar already packed to overflowing.
While some semblance of normal society is welcome, some of this is troubling given the still-very-not-great-news around the world. But for this music lover, I can’t deny being happy about gathering with other humans to experience live music. Whether it’s small outdoor parties with DJ friends or festivals or even just the chance to see artists like King Woman and Mdou Moctar at Starline Social Club this fall, I’m grateful that things are moving in the right direction. And I hope they stay that way!
THAT NEW NEW
I remember loving Sugar Candy Mountain when I saw them open for Khruangbin five years ago at the Independent. Back then they had just released their debut album 666, but now they’re back with their third full-length release, Impression. The new album digs deeper into their 60s-era psychedelic pop sound, featuring easy hooks, dreamy vocals, and washed out production.
Oakland’s DJ Flow released “IZM Groove”, which sounds like a classic house track—and you can even pick it up on 7” vinyl!
Funkwrench Blues released “Rosa Amarilla”, a quick and dirty blues track featuring San Diego-via-Texas blues guitarist Rosie Flores.
Bay Area rappers FURGOD and Cousin Fik appear together on a bouncy new single, “Don’t Say Nothing”.
Paisley Shirt Records released TEARS, the sophomore album by Hectorine, an SF alternative folk rock band led by Sarah Gagnon. With Gagnon's voice and songwriting front and center, the album features an extensive list of instruments and personnel, resulting in an 80s Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night kind of vibe.
Five months after releasing the hip hop and experimental electronic music-influenced Virgo, Oakland producer Jerod S. Rivera has released a remixes EP featuring an entrancing minimal techno mix of “Wheaties” by Experimental Housewife (SF) plus reworks by D Tiberio (LA) and Banal.
Oakland’s King Woman will be releasing their second full-length album, Celestial Blues, via Relapse Records on July 30. The first single “Morning Star” comes with an amazing video (above) featuring bandleader Kris Esfandiari casting a spell amid the song’s crushingly haunting metal.
Berkeley rapper Rexx Life Raj appears on “Private”, a new single from Atlanta rapper Russ (aka Russell James Vitale).
Oakland experimental R&B artist SPELLLING released gospel-inspired “Turning Wheel,” the title track and third single from her upcoming album due out June 25.
Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum” get the juke mashup treatement on “Tryin 2 Get 2 Know You” by Oakland producer 4d.
This week in East Bay labels do international artists:
From Alameda, Bad Time Records released Ordinary Life by LA ska and pop punk band We Are The Union.
Released last October, Continue Normal Living is the debut album by Absent City, a chamber pop band formed in Brooklyn but now based in Oakland. The easy listening soft rock album is one of a handful of new releases by Homing Instinct Records, a new Bay Area label cooperative that also recently released Hovering by SF band Eternal Drag and Promises I Kept by Al Harper. Definitely one to watch!
Ever hear this one? From Genius:
The original title for Radiohead’s song “Palo Alto” was “OK Computer,” meaning the song continues with the prominent techno-paranoia, personal detachment, and anti-corporate themes in the eponymous album, applying them to what’s regarded as the world’s foremost innovation hub: Silicon Valley.
Remember: This is from the mid-90s. So how much more relevant is this today?
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!