Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases and a number of other adjacent items. Keep on shining, SF!
As the world bids their farewell to the stoical Charlie Watts, fantastic drummer of The Rolling Stones since 1963 who died this week at age 80, we here in the Bay were forced to salute an outgoing platform that championed local music to the highest degree for 15 years. The Bay Bridged started in 2006, reached 60,000 readers every month, and produced local showcases Phono Del Sol, The Bay Brewed, and Rock Make Street Festival.
After constructing over 400 podcasts, 12,000 blog posts—YES, they established themselves as OUR own Brooklyn Vegan—the platform will be ceasing operations on October 1.
As we struggle with what local music and its coverage will sound like going forward, we do know this: Without TBB, this column wouldn’t be here. Thanks for keeping us informed and letting the world know that the Bay remains a creative hub that continues to attract global music lovers. Salute!
SONNY & THE SUNSETS — TOMORROW IS ALRIGHT (Fat Possum Records)
Nowadays, it’s easy to look back to 2007 and see how terrific things were.
That year, Sonny Smith formed a band called Sonny & The Sunsets, recorded the album Tomorrow is Alright with a number of Bay Area musicians, using a classic 1970s 388 Tascam tape recorder in various locations, including his own camper. With help from Shayde Sartin and Tim Cohen of the Fresh & Onlys, Tahlia Harbour of Citay and The Dry Spells, Ryan Browne and Kelly Stoltz from Sub Pop and Jon Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees, this confessional style of West Coast pop spins yarns about rough times and gruff people seeking better. Its imprint Fat Possum Records will give the landmark album its proper vinyl release in September.
Just featured in Netflix’s Outer Banks series, the spirited single “Too Young To Burn” gets a 2021 video treatment laced with candid moments of the Bay Area music scene via 2009—and the characters that inhabited and lived in those moments.
“Here is a video that is sentimental, that is really nice to watch,” stated Sonny in a press release that serves as much as a reflection of Sonny & the Sunsets as a “portal” and the shifting nature of human relationships. “And this song I have played seventeen different ways and it continues to have some life.”
In 2019 he began his own record label, Rocks In Your Head records , producing and releasing bands such as Galore, Fake Fruit, the Gonks and more. Tomorrow Is Alright comes on the heels of the recently acclaimed new Sonny & the Sunsets LP New Day With New Possibilities. The band will play at Rickshaw Stop here in the city on September 30th with Fake Fruit.
Buy the album here.
IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS — OPEN THE GATES (International Anthem)
Open The Gates, the gatefold double LP and digital album from the free jazz combustible outfit Irreversible Entanglements, will drop this November. The unstoppable Philadelphia/NY/DC collective, who met during a Musicians Against Police Brutality concert in 2015 protesting the murder of Akai Gurley by an NYPD officer, consists of MC/poet Camae Ayewa, a.k.a. Moor Mother, saxophonist Keir Neuringer, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Tcheser Holmes.
The album was recorded in a single day at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, on January 5th, 2021. It is Irreversible Entanglements’ third full-length album, their first double-length album.
I won’t mince words, their energy and presence speak volumes. The band is a walking, breathing uprising that takes no shorts and always asks the right questions, no matter how prickly.
When this unit chooses to release music, it’s ALWAYS on time.
Buy the album here.
DAMU THE FUDGEMUNK FEAT. INSIGHT INNOVATES — “ENCHANTED SPIRITS”
It’s really rare, like a way out of the contemporary tradition, to hear a hip-hop producer make ‘clean’ boom-bap from the golden era. Washington, DC-based artist and producer Damu The Fudgemunk makes quick and specific work sound priceless with “Enchanted Spirits”, featuring the quick witted wisdom of MC Insight Innovates. With his forthcoming album, Conversation Peace, on September 3rd, it’s the first release in a new series called KPM Crate Diggers from Def Pressé and EMI/KPM.
“Enchanted Spirits” features Damu’s longtime collaborator, the Boston-based Insight Innovates commanding presence on the mic. Together, the two continue as one of the most potent teams, maintaining hip-hop’s simple but complex ethos of beat and rhymes. String laden soundscapes and cliff-hanger stabs, made from the KPM’s iconic sound design library, provided the foreground for Damu to add the track’s athletic drums and metrical scratching. This is hip-hop.
Buy the album here.
NUBYA GARCIA — SOURCE + WE MOVE (Concord Jazz)
Nubya Garcia has announced a remix album of her 2020 debut Source. Set for release on October 22 via Concord Jazz, Source + We Move is a collection of nine reworks by the likes of UK broken beat pioneer Kaidi Tatham, Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue, US singer and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow, and South London jazz drummer and producer Moses Boyd.
Originally released in August 2020, Source was nominated for album of the year at the UK’s 2021 Mercury Prize awards. Garcia, who was born in London’s Camden Town, has been playing tenor saxophone since the age of 10.
Preorder the album here.