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Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: La Doña shines, Kelly Lee Owens...

Under the Stars: La Doña shines, Kelly Lee Owens breaks through

Plus: A Mexican retro-synthpop compilation, 'Entroducing' at 25, more musical highlights

Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, and a number of other adjacent items. Keep on rising to the top, SF!


We profiled Cecilia Cassandra Pena-Govea aka La Doña in November last year. This San Francisco Mission District native, who blends Caribbean beats, reggaeton, and hip-hop styles into compositions that explore her radical brown femininity, is an up-and-coming national figure to be reckoned with.

Interviews with NPR and New York Times have raised her profile, and she’s earned every ounce of that spotlight. When she performs this Saturday at The Great American Music Hall, cherish all the flavor and talent she brings. In light of the unfortunate fire at 111 Minna Gallery (the third fire in a year and a half), GAMH has offered to host this important hometown show for the artist (co-presented by Blank Cassette). Need proof of that La Doña drip, proudly repping for San Francisco’s Latinx community? Look no further than her 2018 video for “Algo Nuevo,” and believe the caption: “A Frisco slapper about boss shit and desire.” Purchase tickets here and thank us later. 


Kelly Lee Owens, the 33-year-old Welsh producer, is currently dealing with the Faustian bargain EVERY breakthrough artist had to confront during our COVID year—navigating when to release music so it can be properly heard and promoted. Her Inner Song was one of the 2020s most acclaimed albums, and NPR declared that Kelly is “reclaiming space for women in dance music in really powerful and important ways.” Ranked as one of the top 100 albums for the year, the albums release was initially pushed back a couple of months so it could hit when record stores were re-opened. 

Then, another wait before it could be properly toured. Finally, we get to hear Owens persevering through her struggles via “hair-raising bass and tickling textures” live. The record spotlights a distinct Radiohead cover, the vocal imprint of John Cale over a hallucinatory cradle song, and minimalist arrangements that capture breaking light. These upcoming performances, long overdue and in demand for Bay Area electronic music aficionados, are not to be overlooked. Purchase tickets here.


On Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop, San Francisco imprint Dark Entries showcases 10 dissimilar tracks of Mexican new wave and post-punk from 1980-1989, full of clockwork drum sounds and raffish synth expanses. Eight of these songs were culled from the 2005 CD-only compilation Backup: Expediente Tecno Pop on AT-AT records. Also included are two previously unreleased cuts. This release marks the first time many of these songs will have appeared on vinyl; it’s also the first ever vinyl compilation of Mexican New Wave and post-punk.

“While synth pop and obscure electronics from Europe and the United States have been extensively documented, much less attention has been paid to such offerings from other cultures, according to a press release. Back Up, remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios-who passed away recently due to Covid-19 complications-serves as a vital document of Mexico’s flourishing DIY scene in the 1980’s. Surveying a wide range of styles and moods.

By using home recording techniques, the bands featured here were able to circumvent relying on the expensive studios of the era.”

Dark Entries will release Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop on September 24. Pre-order here.


Time to get crafty people. Bay Area dignitary H.E.R. announced last week the daily lineups for her Lights On Festival at Concord Pavilion September 18-19. I’ll just put it on front street, it’s sold out. However glancing at the “the first female owned and curated festival in decades” lineup below, you just may be motivated to call in some favors. For the full info go here.

Saturday, September 18   
Ekyka Badu, Ty Dolla $ign, Keyshia Cole, Masego, Fousheé, Blxst, Tiana Major9, and more.

Sunday, September 19
H.E.R. & Friends, Bryson Tiller, Ari Lennox, Lucky Daye, Kiana Ledè, Arin Ray, and more.


When Josh Davis aka DJ Shadow recently discovered the original DAT tape that served as the final mix source of the seminal record Endtroducing, he was able to provide it for the remaster just in time for this release. “When comparing the new version with the old, I was shocked at how many audible details were revealed that I had completely forgotten about” he was quoted recently in Pitchfork.

Endtroducing 25: The Abbey Road Half-Speed Master is a double-vinyl reissue with remastered audio from the original studio tape that’s been cut at half-speed. A separate 7-inch, meanwhile, features a Cut Chemist remix of “The Number Song” as well as a new single containing isolated elements from Endtroducing.

Both are due on September 24 via Island Records. A tee-shirt with the original Endtroducing artwork is also available as part of the anniversary celebrations.

Released in 1996 by Mo Wax, Endtroducing was a landmark for instrumental production made the term “turntablism” popular. Like a selfie. The record officially earmarked the windup of “golden age” hip-hop and put the Lower Haight sensibilities into the international cultural zeitgeist. “Slower Haight” now had traction from Japantown to Japan.

Check here here for more information.

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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