On the first Friday of every month since March, local music platform Bandcamp has waived its fees to help support the many artists who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic. Over the course of those nine total days, fans paid artists and labels $40 million dollars, helping cover rents, mortgages, groceries, medications, and much more. Nearly 800,000 fans have participated.
Although vaccines are starting to roll out, it will likely be a while before live performance revenue starts to return. So we’re going to continue supporting Bandcamp Fridays here at 48hills in 2021, on February 5, March 5, April 2, and May 7. While boosting local talent is the first order of business, recommending good music—no matter where it comes from—shall remain in the mix as well. Enjoy our first batch of 2021 picks!
SITKA SUN, ALL THE WAY WEST
Over the past couple of years, Jazz has become the genre of choice to serve a new generation of musicians who think about music, in general, differently. Sitka Sun, the project from Oakland’s Patrick Murphy, corrals diverse inspiration from Americana, psychedelic prog arrangements, and rare groove IQ. The palette of influence remains wide on sophomore release All The Way West. This instrumental journey remains full of twists, embracing contemporary beat tape verve alongside David Axelrod (composer) erratic splurges into chaotic timbre. This kind of project feels sun-kissed by the Southwestern blue airspace: New ideas on jazz-adjacent frequencies remain in abundance here. More here.
TERRY GROSS, SOFT OPENING
Listen if you have the stones to call your weighty sounding rock trio Terry Gross, not in direct homage the iconic public radio interviewer, but just for shits and yuks, having the same level of wisdom to label your three-song album “Soft Opening” can’t be coincidental. Guitarist and vocalist Phil Manley (Trans Am, Life Coach), bassist Donny Newenhouse (executive director at KQED), and drummer Phil Becker co-own San Francisco’s El Studio. These are veterans in the Bay Area music scene. So hearing these long-reaching strains of intense guitar energy, should not come as a surprise. I see it as a kraut-rock blessing. So should you… Now Terry, explain that Gene Simmons interview if you can?
DANIELLE DE PICCIOTTO, THE ELEMENT OF LOVE
Danielle de Picciotto is an American interdisciplinary musician, residing in Berlin. Besides singing in bands (Crime & The City Solution, Space Cowboys), exhibiting her artwork internationally, and releasing books, she co-launched the Berlin Love Parade in 1989, initiated the Clubart movement in 1992, and sang in The Ocean Club with Gudrun Gut. In 2001 she began collaborating with Alexander Hacke, a founding member of Einstürzende Neubauten. They married in 2006 and have been touring the world ever since with their band hackedepicciotto.
The Element of Love, out on the San Francisco imprint, Broken Clover Records, is a mixture of spoken word, electronic soundscapes, and live instruments that combine for a narrative with all the sound design of a podcast you can’t quit and the instructional wordplay you can’t pry your subconscious from. Strap in for the truth, delivered by a tinny lunch room speaker system, that cuts just a bit sharper than a dull night. More here.
PS The Broken Clover label has announced that it will donate its profits through the month of February to non-profits of the artists’ choosing, so hit that catalog.
JUJU, LIVE AT 131 PRINCE ST
After forming in San Francisco, JuJu began to hone their fusion of Afro-Latin rhythms with free and spiritual jazz before signing to Strata-East in 1972. Following a high profile live show at the Lincoln Center, Ornette Coleman invited JuJu to his gallery and loft at 131 Prince Street to perform there and to stay on while he left on tour.
JuJu’s Live At 131 Prince Street, culled from the original reel-to-reel tapes, is out on Strut, this February 12. The album was remastered by The Carvery and includes full sleeve notes based around a new interview with bandleader James “PLUNKY” Branch.
“That was life-changing for us,” states Plunky. “It was a giant space with a large gallery on the 1st floor and an equally large loft living space on the 3rd floor with a pool table, a sauna… it was fabulous. The recordings you hear on this album are in close proximity to each other, maybe across one day or a weekend at the gallery. ‘Thembi’ is a Pharoah Sanders piece which he wrote for his wife in 1971 and it’s one of my favourite pieces by him.” That particular selection, at almost 15 minutes, catches the band in full bloom. Any type of Jazz archivist, no matter if its Black History Month or great music listening week, shall covet this once lost recording. Pre-order here.
glue70 & ZULA, “COME BACK”
Hailing from Manchester, the combo of Xenya Genovese (Freak Slug) and established favourite producer glue70 makes up the wonky-broken up bass tones. Racking up praise from Tom Ravenscroft (BBC 6 Music) Jamz Supernova and Complex, the duo draws comparisons to Greentea Peng and Girls of the Internet. Their new EP “PLAY” has all the bassbin click-clack you need. “Come Back” plays with the alt-pop broken beat biz, real smooth. Not peak dancefloor, but not kidding around either, hold space. It’s an EP worth your time.
It’s slated for release on February 19th via Manchester based imprint Ad Hoc Records. More here.
Over the past couple of months, SF producer Bézier, aka Robert Yang, has been on a consistent roll, releasing project after project, keeping the bass rolling, moving that leftfield techno, electro and dark disco all around. As of 2021, Bézier took on another alias 羅伯特 (pinyin: Luōbótè, transliterates to Robert) under a newly-conceived label, Piece of Work. His first album on the label, Heirloom, was released earlier this month.
But this “Continuum” EP, a dance-forward collaboration with Vin Sol, is some of his most inspired work to date. The title track is a return to that synthy rave electro goodness met with the right amount of low end bottom bass. “Continuum” EP will be released March 2nd, here is a snippet and pre-order information.