Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins, and wondering about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME 🤔
They announced the final list of inductees for its class of 2022 last week, with Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, and Carly Simon among those who made the cut in the Performers category. This year’s ceremony, which will be held on November 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, will be the first time in the Hall’s 37-year history that six female acts from all induction categories will be inducted in one class. That’s fantastic, and long overdue.
I believe that all of the 2022 inductees are deserving of the honor, but Eminem was given a fast pass. Didn’t it take LL Cool J and Public Enemy, genre pioneers and architects of the historic Def Jam label, DECADES, to get in? Marshall Mathers will be inducted on the first ballot before these rebuffed nominees: Beck, A Tribe Called Quest, DEVO, Kate Bush, MC5, Dionne Warwick, Fela Kuti and Rage Against The Machine.
Just looking back in time reveals that this “Hall” has been plagued by problems since its inception. But we can’t just look at Eminem’s position. It’s who and what he looks like, and how many of those numbers are voting for him. Maybe it was that Super Bowl performance (and grouping) earlier this year that put him way over the top. He deserves to be recognized.
But on first ballot? Seems shady to me. But you know what can’t be debated? It was a great, far above par, couple of weeks for music coming from the Bay. We got it all. So let’s get to it!
Brijean “Shy Guy” from Angelo EP (Ghostly International)
It’s truly amazing what the human mind and heart can accomplish when put under pressure. Brijean, our favorite Bay Area duo that transmits vibrant sunkissed colors and emotions through music, is back with an EP made under difficult circumstances.
The sudden death of Brijean Murphy’s father and both of Doug Stuart’s parents, around the time their career-defining release, Feelings, from 2021, was released, forced the duo to leave the Bay Area in a fog of sorrow. Sorting out details in four cities in less than two years.
Angelo, their upcoming EP, named after a 1981 Toyota Celica, contains nine songs written by the duo during that period of extreme challenges. “Shy Guy,” their new single, exemplifies human perseverance with its funky disco-house swagger. Despite it all, Brijean continues on with that good good.
Angelo EP is available August 5, pre-purchase here Catch them at The Independent, August 11.
Toro y Moi, MAHAL (Dead Oceans), at Stern Grove June 19
Chaz Bear’s Toro y Moi project has shifted through various slapped-on names and genres, some of which are accurate—while others are so far off the mark that they resemble an Eric Andre parody. Yes, I did it.
MAHAL, you make me smile. It should make you happy too, Bay Area. Our Dood came back home with his guitar slung over shoulder. Through an indie-rock meets psych-glam record, Chaz discusses our strange times. An eccentric yet comfy chopped-and-screwed treatment allows the album to warble along.
He contextualizes the return to a rock-based project by teaming up with his contemporaries. The move to the Dead Oceans imprint makes him allies with Phoebe Bridgers, Khruangbin, Mitski, and Japanese Breakfast. Indie musicians that don’t have time for nonsense. They cut heads with words and vibes and resemble what indie rock looks like today. Period.
Take opening Hendrixian beauty of “The Medium,” an instrumental burner off top that makes us all foam at the mouth and wonder when the eff is Ruban Neilson of New Zealand psych-rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra returning? Although this tune was recorded many years ago, those killer guitar licks and vibes could be used in more of a regular rotation right now.
Other songs on MAHAL loop, drag, and speed up, grind to a halt. Creating the impression of being in that Jeepney, the one with engine trouble, while Chaz is personally delivering the music to ffolkes in the Bay Area. Making that connection.
MAHAL is a comfortable, slow-building, meta-based session. Chaz Bear gets to a new plateau of laidback, slumber-some acumen by way of these 13 varied songs—some rock, some ’70s golden—that hit correct, in the midst of these very confusing times.
We should all look forward to his upcoming free performance at Stern Grove on June 19.
Purchase MAHAL here. Get seating arrangments here.
Alland Byallo, “Ready To Go feat. Sally Green” (Full Bleed)
With the moody temperate business at the top of “Ready To Go,” veteran techno producer Alland Byallo comes back at it ‘one mo gin,’ as if taking cues from sublime authors who know how to capture interest on the first page—see Walter Mosley, Elmore Leonard, or local hero Clane Hayward.
Made with Fender Rhodes love, assisted by Oakland funk ensemble Sal’s Greenhouse baritone sax heaviness, and broken beat patter simmering right into the batter. This mode? Digital shuffle-foot blues for the bruk fanatics. Vocalist Sally Green flosses that boogie queen royalty, with “oh my gush” talk-speak, making it all go 3am cosmic. Uptempo and deep, Byallo done tripped into the fantasmical.
MXKA & Stylolive, No Ordinary Love (Succo Sounds)
Just quick enough to make you snap your neck as to say did they actually do that?
MXKA, a vocalist from the Bay Area, breathes new life into Sade classic “No Ordinary Love.” With a wailing guitar stretched over a drum and bass structure, producer Frederick Melendez aka Stylolive creates tension and breeze. With just enough room for MXKA’s aereal cadence to be heard above the updated construct.
Succo Sounds is an indie record label based in Los Angeles that releases Stylolive’s Global Latinx-blended hip hop, afro, soul, and electronic dance music.
Expect creative maneuvers from these contemporary architects who combine pop instrumentation with their culture.
Thee Stork Club Grand (Re)Opening July 1 in Oakland
It’s not a throwback; it’s been around for a long time.
Oakland’s Stork Club, a well-known DIY watering hole for dive bar enthusiasts, closed its doors in 2015. With new ownership and a star-studded grand opening launch team (July 1) that includes cultural icon John Waters, Shannon Shaw, and Budget Rock DJ Chris Owen, it will rock, live, and make a ruckus once more as the newly minted Thee Stork Club.
According to a press release, the new owners of the venue, Marc Ribak and Amy Carver of Mosswood Meltdown, Billy Agan and Matt Patane of Eli’s Mile High Club, and Tony Bedard of Hemlock Tavern, promise to make the new venue legit for punk bands while keeping the energy of a blue-collar, family-run establishment. A full bar separate from the main stage area is planned, with a cocktail menu celebrating the campy drinks of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and a design motif harkening back to 1972.
A priority was mentioned as to taking advantage of the underutilized outdoor space and installing a custom-designed sound system.
Purchase those Grand Opening tix here.