Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases and a number of other adjacent items. Let’s get it!
Making a retro-tastic visual for their second single “Near You,” including the vintage MTV font for title, band and label, The Umbrellas continue a San Francisco tradition of putting jangle-pop rock front and center.
The city, an important outpost of the alterna-twee International Pop Underground, can now add this foursome to a resurgence that includes bands like The Mantles, Flowertown, and The Reds, Pinks & Purples. With references to The Byrds and Belle & Sebastian, and just a skosh of garage-pop/Paisley Underground, Umbrellas’ DIY flag runs deep like the 38 Geary. Holding down jobs at local record stores and venues, recording their summery vibe in home-recorded confines, they are a local band done good we can all root for.
Their s/t debut LP, The Umbrellas, is due Fri/6 via Slumberland Records and you can catch them at The Rickshaw on that date.
Many years back I stopped into the now defunct Argus, in the Outer Mission, to meet a friend and got distracted by the whirlwind sounds of Tammy L Hall. To say one thing or a specific song was the reason for the amazement would be incorrect. Lemme put it this way. Anyone who grew up in a household that equally was surrounded by jazz, gospel, and classical will understand.
The familiarity and ability to borrow, snatch, and otherwise procure from each of those traditions, then combine them all into one cohesive performance, at a bar no less, left me stuck, in a good way. If you need more ‘clinical’ explanation on this Bay Area based treasure, go to her site. But I can save you some time. Her expertise is vast, touring extensively in Japan, Europe, and Mexico, and the performance downright superior. But I’m telling you. The Tammy L Hall Quintet is playing at The Freight and Salvage on August 14, you need to witness this artist, this incredible Black woman, in person.
OK. Fly Golden Eagle, formed in Nashville, is that blue eyed soul/prog-rock outfit that goes down easy with just about everything. As I informed the publicist, their video for “Stepping Out” might be a tad bit ‘esoteric’ for some, it was made by Tame Impala collaborator Yoshi, but you can’t deny the Unknown Mortal Orchestra vibes with splashes of Vinyl Williams and Once and Future Band in the buttermilk. “Oh Sheila” is another earworm moving in the trippy direction. The double single was recorded at Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas, studio home of Leon Bridges. I wish I could tell you they were coming to The Bay, cause I’d buy a ticket in a sec. Stay tuned.
In 2017 I did a quick Q&A with Melina Duterte, aka Jay Som, just before she broke big. At the time she was about a year removed from working in a cafe in Oakland. Those days are over. On a 2016 tour she opened for Mitski and Japanese Breakfast—forming a powerhouse lineup of Asian-American women working in indie music, still white male-dominated That was the first time I heard of or about Japanese Breakfast aka Michelle Zauner. I’m so glad I did that interview. J-brekkie will be playing at the Regency Ballroom, here in SF on 9/30 and 10/1 in support of her new album Jubilee. It’s a sold out show. So for those without tickets, get crafty, Fool. Michelle Zauner’s New York Times Best Selling memoir, Crying In H Mart, is soon to be adapted for the screen by MGM’s Orion Pictures. Here’s a cooler than you visual featuring her and some hip cows.
RIP Biz Markie (1964-2021)
San Francisco composer, artist, and media performer Pamela Z, legal name Pamela Z (first name Pamela, last name Z), sometimes uses her intense voice, an instrument in the first order, to resemble a wall of droney hubbub on her recent release A Secret Code. “Quarte Couches/Flare Stains” provides a full array of how the voice chooses to communicate. Moving between one delicate flicker and a thundering sheet of blare, Pamela Z is never without particular results on how sound moves. Amplified, digitized, or just hummed, the possibilities remain infinite.
As stated in her Bandcamp liner notes for this recent project: “Everyday experience is never far from Pamela Z’s musical world. Whether it be a typewriter, birdcall, checking in at the airport, or a mess on the street, her creatively quirky imagination transforms it into a moment of profound questioning and wonder.” Purchase A Secret Code here.
Tush, is an all-encompassing electronic music outfit from Toronto who can play high up in those house beats or get real low and swarthy in the heavy bass lines for the after-hours vibes. They can kinda do it all. Scary right?
Powered by Kamilah Apong and Jamie Kidd, who started a creative partnership covering rare groove disco live together in Toronto nightclubs, Tush can transform depending on the presentation. In a live setting, Tush performs as an earth-shaking seven-piece band, whose high-energy live set has taken over festival stages like Pride Toronto, Toronto International Film Festival, and Toronto Jazz Festival. When the pandemic de-railing live shows for the year, Tush pivoted to a more electronic sound.
“Wavy Baby” from the forthcoming debut album Fantast gets us back to that velvet neo-soul era, where bell-bottoms and low bpm were all the rage. Don’t sleep on Tush people, they coming and they next.
Vocalist Alanna Royale, who’s been hard at work on her new album, with Bay Area-based singer Kelly Finnigan in the production chair, dropped the fetching two-stepper “Fall In Love Again” recently. It’s a golden vibe.
Keeping the public off guard, as usual, Yves Tumor resurfaced last week with a six-song EP called The Asymptotical World, out on Warp. It features the recently released single “Jackie.” and includes songs called “Crushed Velvet,” “Tuck,” and “Secrecy Is Incredibly Important to the Both of Them.”
The new EP is available to purchase on vinyl as either a 12″ or a 3×7″ box set. Records are scheduled to ship out around October 15. They are scheduled to play Outside Lands on Sunday, October 31, alongside Brittany Howard and Neal Francis.
London post-punk group Dry Cleaning will play The Chapel on November 11 in support of their full-length debut, New Long Leg. Composed of guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, bassist Lewis Maynard, and vocalist Florence Shaw, the band has fused the two worlds of rhythmic assault and sharp-witted observations, accumulating world wide critical acclaim. We named New Long Leg one of the Best albums of 2020 as well. Enjoy their Tiny Desk Home concert from last month.