On the first Friday of every month since March 2020, 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 10 individual days, fans paid artists and labels over $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, 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 picks, add them to your shopping cart, and support these artists!
Lara Sarkissian, “Suspended in Time, By The Sea” from YERAZ [Past, Present and Future Armenian Sounds From Los Angeles to Yerevan]
Loosely wavering between ambient, meditative, and electronic moods, YERAZ, an all-Armenian compilation highlighting talent from “Los Angeles to Yerevan,” is a fetching cultural snapshot deserving of mainstream ears who crave environmental IDM.
“Suspended in Time, By The Sea,” the contribution from Oakland’s Club Chai founder Lara Sarkissian stretches through several forms. Starting with a drum-and-bass, zither-accompaniment opening section, the track moves into into a breakcore middle (with substantial vocals for verve), and finishes off by walking our ears where the ocean meets the sand. This is what Sarkissian does best. Escorting nature to humanity. All we have to do is listen. Get it here.
Toro y Moi, Underneath The Pine (Instrumentals)
“What For?” was my gateway record to Toro y Moi. I just dug it, in spite of the critics, purple pants music journalists, and people in general talking out the side of their neck, piling all these labels—chillwave, garage pop, electro r&b, alt pop—on top of this guy and his music. So in turn, he moves away from the R&B section, straps on a guitar, and in 37 minutes runs through Beach Boys and Big Star harmonies like it’s nothing. Toss in some alternative ’90s buzz and ’70s AM radio blue-eyed rock ballads. It’s a quick, crisp, very familiar meets you have never heard this before type record. Flipping the bird in the most polite manner to all the inside the box thinkers.
I became an immediate fan.
So when he released the “Underneath The Pine” instrumentals last month, and stated “For me this record opened the door to make records like ‘What For?'” I paid attention. I guess the album was made just before he left South Carolina for The Bay Area, so there are emotions about starting a new trajectory. For a guy who right now is a serious connector in the Bay Area music scene, it’s nice to go back and understand the footing. Get it here.
Dax Pierson, “For The Angels”
Coming off Dax Pierson’s debut solo LP, Nerve Bumps; A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction, released last month on San Francisco’s definitive imprint Dark Entries Records and Oakland’s Ratskin Records collective, “For The Angels” is a percolating lead single from the project that soars on the energy of shuffling arpeggios. Pierson blends hip hop, jazz, John Carpenter-esque malaise, trap/anti-trap-influenced percussion, and musique concrete elements that overall paint a future with dynamic yet muted colors. Mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios after Pierson put in two years of work on the record, Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction) was both named after and guided by the following quote from choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Get it here.
Cool Ghouls, “The Way I Made You Cry“
I’ve never heard the San Francisco band Cool Ghouls live, but like so many of us you’ve heard bands like this while in passing from one show to another, bar and club-hopping on a Friday night. Making their way in SF on house shows, minimum wage jobs, BBQs in Golden Gate Park, and the romance of a city’s psychedelic history… The boys played their debut gig as Cool Ghouls at San Francisco’s legendary The Stud in 2011.
That solidifies legitimacy in my book.
Their kind of this Dead-esqe folky, twangy band who can burn when the moment arises. Their upcoming At George’s Zoo album includes 15 of the 27 tunes they managed to eke out while simultaneously working through major life moves. It was a 5-month, all-out, final sprint down the homestretch process. Instead of recording the entire album over a few consecutive days—as they’d done with the first three LPs—the band took it unhurried, working through a few songs each weekend after rehearsing them the week before. Slow cooking seems to work best with this bunch.
“The Way I Made You Cry” from the upcoming release on Empty Cellar/Melodic Records March 12th makes me want to give that one band on a rando Friday night… just four more minutes of my time. Get it here.
Bachelor (Jay Som & Palehound), “Anything at All“
Melina Duterte likes to posse-up with her contemporaries in the indie rock world. This constant recontextualizing of the new guard for this genre keeps the message clear: Things are still changing. The former Oakland-based artist who records under the name Jay Som, recently collaborated with Palehound’s Ellen Kempner to form the duo Bachelor.
“Anything At All,” is a soaring three-plus minute pop song, with plucky bass line and seething guitar solo, that combines the arrangement skills of Duterte and the six-string ballast of Kempner.
The two musicians came together in pre-quarantine 2020, recording in California during what was then a rare break from touring. Written, performed, and produced entirely by the pair, the new single has a youthful sing-song taunt that contrasts the darker lyrical themes heard on the verses of queerness, lust, and longing. Get it here.