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 getting used to the multiple parades and gatherings that are returning SF to its previous stature.
As Taraji P. Henson put it, it’s a terrible day in our nation when weapons have more rights than women.
Right now, recall the noble, virtuous, and decent Thurgood Marshall, lawyer and civil rights fighter who successfully defended numerous cases before the Supreme Court, notably Brown v. Board of Education, during his service on that court from October 1967 to October 1991. It’s a travesty that Clarence Thomas would take his position. UGH!
Last Friday was a terrible day. We can take action in the streets, and comfort from music.
MAKAYA MCCRAVEN, IN THESE TIMES (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM RECORDINGS) + THE INDEPENDENT, OCTOBER 23
People used to wait and then buy the new Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Parliament-Funkadelic, Chaka Khan, Level 42, Grace Jones, and Stevie Wonder albums without hearing a single note or reading a review from a stank or known writer about the new attempt (according to my elders.)
Co-signers were Frankie Crocker, Don Cornelius, Larry Levan, and The Electrifying Mojo.
That’s how strong a reputation those pioneers had—and still do, when you go back to the beginning and take their repertoire in again.
By today’s standards, and for my money, Makaya McCraven’s rep holds up to those artists previously mentioned. I will blindly buy a ticket to his October 23 show at The Independent, and happily roll the dice on the new album.
But also: In These Times is an 11-song suite that is described as a “highly personal but broadly communicable fusion of odd-meter original compositions from his working songbook with orchestral, large ensemble arrangements and the edit-heavy ‘organic beat music’ that he’s honed over a growing body of production-craft.”
With contributions from over a dozen musicians and creative partners from McCraven’s tight-knit circle of collaborators—including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, and Marquis Hill—the music was recorded in five different studios and four live performance spaces, while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work from home.
October can’t arrive quickly enough.
JIMETTA ROSE & THE VOICES OF CREATION, HOW GOOD IT IS (DAY DREAMER RECORDS)
Jimetta Rose, a vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer, and connective tissue of the Los Angeles music scene has been featured in hip-hop, soul, electronic, indie, and experimental work. Name an avant-garde specter of 21st century soul music, and she’s already done the genre—twice.
Plus, she put together a community-based choir. The Voices of Creation are a multigenerational group of mostly non-professional singers, backed by some of the city’s best musicians. The group serves a welcome throwback to a time when community choirs released albums that represented “The Word,” as well as several sentiments happening in the non-religious world, too.
For Rose, the endeavor has been part of a healing process: “I was very low at the time and I wrote most of the songs going through hardship,” stated Rose in a press release. “But I found comfort in the songs as a way to adjust my mindset to where things got better. So I thought ‘if this music works for me, maybe it will work for other people. I believe that every person has their own voice and their own note and that we can use our voices to heal ourselves. That’s the intention behind creating the project.”
How Good It Is, recorded in a church in East Pasadena, is an earth-shattering album that will bring joy, hope for the future, and serenity. It’s a safe haven for individuals seeking peace on a globe that appears to have lost its course. More than gospel, it’s nourishment.
Pre-order today since this will sell out well before its August 14 release date.
ANDY BEY, EXPERIENCE AND JUDGMENT (REAL GONE MUSIC)
Andy Bey’s Experience and Judgment, originally released on Atlantic Records in 1973, is a how-to songbook on making your way through life-giving love and seeing through the third eye. These practices paired with yoga—according to Bey—can improve your sex life. Instructing and philosophizing from the nexus of spirituality, folk, jazz, soul, and some higher frequency other stuff we’ve yet to define, Bey’s oracle (just look at that cover art, amazing) is re-orbited by a new wave of crate-diggers every seven to 10 years. This is example number 5080 on how Black Music encompasses everything under and including the Sun.
“You Should’ve Seen the Way” is a Betty-Davis-meets-Jon-Lucien vocal turn of a track, set to a bluesy funk come-on, and it will have you square pushing Amazon right quick, purchasing a new yoga mat. Out on August 5, the album’s been reissued in sea blue vinyl to match its cover and námaste mood.
You can pre-order here.
FARSIGHT, “TRIANGULATION” EP (BREAKS ‘N’ PIECES)
We chatted with Farsight (alias Marshall Smith) a South Bay-raised, San Francisco-based DJ-producer-painter this past winter about his predilection for producing non-4×4 kick drum-based arrangements—given that in the compositions of other artists, they tend to sound stale. He’s followed up that chat with the release of a very energetic track “Triangulation,” taken from a forthcoming EP of the same name that will be released on vinyl by Breaks ‘N’ Pieces, a Lobster Theremin sublabel, on July 15.
“Triangulation,” according to his description, blends rolling percussion, party-starting vocal samples, and constant whistles, letting listeners know we’re truly off! For my money, this is where Smith shines, bending that UK funky-broken beat thing into this complicated pepperpot obsession that is unstoppable.
THE MARS VOLTA AT THE WARFIELD, OCTOBER 18
The Mars Volta, one of the most recognized bands in 21st century prog-rock, appears to be back with new songs after a 10-year hiatus. A string of tour dates brings them to The Warfield, just about 11 days before Dia de los Muertos. Their new track “Blacklight Shine,” the follow-up to 2012’s Noctourniquet, is accompanied by an 11-minute video created by the band’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Despite the fact that the song is only three minutes and 20 seconds long, you’ll hear no complaints from us. We hope to hear the album shortly.
Secure tickets here.