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Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Arts + CultureMusicNew Music: 3 terrific local acts to support directly

New Music: 3 terrific local acts to support directly

Sci-fi vibes from Salami Rose Joe Louis, uneasy computer nostalgia from Neutrals, and Scatter Swept's wiry grooves

Music platform Bandcamp has become a connective tissue here in San Francisco. 

When Covid-19 hit, Bandcamp announced it would waive its usual 15% fee for one day in order to support artists affected by the shutdown of live music. Since then fans have bought more than $75 million worth of music and merchandise directly from artists and labels, and to date, fans have paid artists over half a billion dollars on Bandcamp. That’s leadership in action.

Since the pandemic is far from over, we’ll continue to select artists, labels, and bands-from everywhere-for you to check out and support. Bandcamp Fridays, the first Friday of every month—meaning Friday, December 4—will be fully supported here at 48hills. Feel free to support these artists even when it isn’t Bandcamp Day!

SALAMI ROSE JOE LOUIS, “PECULIAR MACHINE (GEORGIA ANNE MULDROW REMIX)” FROM CHAPTERS OF ZDENKA (BRAINFEEDER)

So I confess. Salami Rose Joe Louis is the artist I always say, “when this shit-burger of a year settles down, I’ll carve out some time to get into.” I can’t front. I have her Zdenka 2080, which Bandcamp described last year as “a sweet journey into a world of pure imagination,” stacked on my mental nite stand next to the Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina Book by Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, that I still have to finish.

Rose, who roundly gives praise to being inspired by the work of Black sci-fi pioneer Octavia E. Butler, seems to make music that may take work—but the kind I wanna do—in order to get her bag. She’s also named as influences Shuggie Otis and Herbie Hancock, and composer, bandleader, and all-round visionary Raymond Scott, plus the likes of Stereolab and Flying Lotus as influences. I’m down. 

But this cocoa butter smooth remix of “Peculiar Machine,” from Queen Georgia Anne Muldrow on the knobs? Whew. Rose gets that mellow Parliament-Funkadelic polish. You know. That quiet, real sneaky, aquatic type fonk. Like Eddie Hazel and Bernie Worrel are just vibing. No George, just the two masters chilling. That type of frequency, that version of genius where it feels easy, but it’s not. Yeah, it’s really just like that.

No big brain needed. Salami Rose Joe Louis is the project of Lindsay Olsen, who, until a few years ago, was focused on a career in climate science. The Bay-Area resident will release Chapters of Zdenka—an offshoot collection of music from her 2019 Brainfeeder debut December 11th on digital platforms and cassette. (You can pre-order now.)

NEUTRALS, “PERSONAL COMPUTING/IN THE FUTURE” (SLUMBERLAND)

I like the economical raw nature of power trios. It’s difficult to hide the message (rage, for that matter) in a three-person outfit. With the skeletal nature of sound—exposed, bare nekkid, with a demo-type of frank attitude—the vocals and lyrics become very hard to sidestep in the mix. The roustabout Chicago trio DEHD achieved that type of skin and bone wonderland on 2019’s Water and post-punk LA trio Automatic delivered a rapturous doom cold groove on their debut Signal from last year.

But somehow I missed the locals. Neutrals. 

Speaking into existence a better day than today, “In The Future,” a bare-bones, three-minute communique by the Oakland punk band delivers compact terms that register suppressed malaise. With Allan McNaughton on guitar and vocals, Philip Benson on bass, and vocals with Phillip Lantz on drums, the outfit makes simple arrangements seem purposely rigid, fraught with disillusionment.

The Neutrals’ debut album Kebab Disco came out in 2019 on Emotional Response Records and garnered acclaim as “an excellent collection of terse melodies, unique storytelling, and scraping pop,” according to AllMusic. The band followed up with an excellent five-song EP earlier this year on Domestic Departure.

The “Personal Computing” video, directed by Jenn Dorn Heard, takes a performance of the trio-shot by a cell phone—sliced with commercials and videos from ’80s computer commercials and documentaries, infusing elements of the 7-inch cover art into the visual. “The song’s lyrics steered me towards footage of men and women gazing excitedly into computer monitors” said Heard who’s produced visuals for Sea Blite and Younger Lovers. “Luckily the band’s handsomely-designed album art inspired the color finish.”

As for the other song on the single: “Essentially, ‘In the Future’ is a silly pop song about an imagined space-age future of robots and geodesic domes,” said the band, who recorded it just before COVID lockdown. “But on a deeper level, it reflects our retro-futurist nostalgia for the techno-utopia the masses were sold as the first industrialization and then technology took over our lives in the West.” 

I hear Ya brudder. Yes, those fonts, the image on the cover of this single, transmit Cold War evil Reagan vibes all day, but the fear of technology killing us all, instead of helping the human race, is a local reality. With Zuckerburg owning property right across the street from Dolores Park, the fear resides in the neighborhood. 

You can’t even outrun it when you walk your dog to go poop.

SCATTER SWEPT, UNFOLDING (BROKEN CLOVER)

I’m always unsure how to describe or categorize twangy rock that has flickering aspirations towards jazz. I do know that I enjoy my psyche grooves chewy, guitar atmospherics crunchy, and instrumental mathy rock to be different. If you can’t dance to it, at least reap different textures or something else from it.

Scatter Swept can cover those bases. The Oakland band expertly sculpts their instruments as voices to deliver various temperaments and agitations throughout their eight-song release. Unfolding, out December 17 (pre-order available now) on the San Francisco imprint Broken Clover Records, is a droney, head-nod, twang-wirey time.

Advance preview song “Wired Weird” gives a good measure of the “post-rock” quartet’s skills (three of them switch among guitar, bass, and drums duties, while the fourth handles the woodwinds.) Give Unfolding a shot when it drops.

John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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