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Sunday, August 7, 2022

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Taj Mahal doesn't like your friends,...

Under the Stars: Taj Mahal doesn’t like your friends, and other funky tales

GZA and Space Moth live, Yemenite psych-boogie from Sababa 5, Con Brio leaves its 'Heart on the Dancefloor, 'more new music!

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, remaining steadfastly amazed—stoked and chuffed—about new singles from old friends, old sounds from classic icons, and undiscovered gems from unknown artists. The journey is the trip.

Speaking of tripping… Get your 2022 GODZILLAFEST tix in advance. Three huge days, Friday August 12 through Sunday, August 14 at the Balboa Theater. This year’s show features everyone’s favorite mutant ninja turtle, GAMERA, which will be featured in eight classic films, most of which will be shown on beautiful 4K digital prints for the FIRST TIME IN THE US!

Ok. Let it rip!

TAJ MAHAL, MONOPHONICS, DJ SHORTKUT AT STERN GROVE, AUGUST 7

I was kicking it at DJ GUILLERMO and his partner Melissa’s vinyl encyclopedia flat, drinking some amazing ginger beer and speaking on the vast array of sounds Taj Mahal has produced during a colossal career, when the homie pulls up a treasure.

“Why Did You Have To Desert Me?” a slept-on soul tune from the 1974 Mo Roots album is some dancefloor whimsical clapback at an ex who, as the title indicates, up and gone. You can definitely get your groove rite, but keep an eye out for the line “speaking of people, I don’t like your friends,” since you could tumble and break a gut laughing while doing that footwork. And as a follow-up, said GUILLERMO dug out a 45 version with a dub side that will drive me insane until I can get it myself.

Taj Mahal, who has collaborated with everyone from Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters to Jerry Garcia and the Rolling Stones, plus Bob Marley and the Wailers, has spent his career bending genres and pushing the limits in jazz, funk, reggae, country, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Seeing him perform at Stern Groove will be a musicology education. There’s also Monophonics and Shortkut on the bill. Take notes while getting it in on the grass. More info here

SPACEMOTH PLAYS A RECORD RELEASE SHOW FRIDAY, AUGUST 12 AT BANDCAMP OAKLAND

Spacemoth, the brainchild of Bay Area Afghan-American artist, producer, engineer, and musician Maryam Qudus, has a deep and very specific love for synthesizers, experimental sounds, and psychedelic space-pop. The video for “Round In Loops,” the most recent song from her upcoming debut album No Past No Future, complements those aesthetic sensibilities.

Maryam and her brother Dean Qudus co-directed the visual. It pays homage to the legendary Maxell “Hi Fidelity” advertisement from 1983.

 “I often start a song by creating tape loops and layering different sounds together to create a bed of abstraction to build upon,” Qudus explains. “In ‘Round In Loops,’ I wanted to connect the loops in the song with the cyclical patterns we endure both in our minds and in our lives.”

You can pre-order the album, out July 22 here, and be sure to catch the record release at Bandcamp in Oakland on August 12 here.

GZA PERFORMS LIQUID SWORDS AT GAMH ON JULY 29

GZA unleashed hip-hop classic Liquid Swords on the globe November 7, 1995, and beat heads have never been the same since. It’s been alluded to, argued, applauded, and engraved onto the Mount Rushmore of rap, having been recorded entirely in the basement studio of fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, who also produced 12 of its 13 tracks on Staten Island, New York. From the widely sampled speech from the martial arts film Shogun Assassin to the lyrical references to chess, crime, and philosophy, it’s an album and a feeling that wasn’t dominant in the culture, but once shared, was replicated indefinitely.

GZA will be performing his certified gold album at Great American Music Hall on July 29, and you can play him in a chess battle for $200. Best wishes!

BUTTERING TRIO “CLOSE TO YOU” (RAW TAPES)

Yuvi Hawkin, a Tel-Aviv-based producer who goes by the pseudonym Rejoicer, has built his Raw Tapes Label into a respectable imprint that reflects what’s next in the region’s beat scene movement.

For more than a decade, Tel Aviv’s Buttering Trio has been making that arid landscape bloom with a wonderfully grooving funk. Foursome, the band’s latest LP, which is set to be released at the end of this month, is ready to offer the world a pragmatic, steadily rolling escalation of scorching bump, expanding Hawkins’ strong reputation for the premier collective. 

“There was a moment in the recording session when the guys were playing this very simple yet incredibly sexy groove, and it blew my mind. They were ready to move on and try something else, and I was yelling, ‘No! Wait right there! Just play this shit forever'” says vocalist Karen Dun. Thus “Close To You” was born.

Pre-order Foursome here.

MEJIWAHN, BEANNA

Mejiwahn, an Oakland musician and producer, loves to show rather than tell. On Beanna, the semi-anonymous performer’s cinematic instructional invitation to chill would have any other studio genius shrieking from the top of Sutro Tower. It’s an enduringly lovely follow-up to 2018’s Lil Fadó, with magnificent cool-out, tropical winds ever-flowing on the singularly strange, library music feel of a record. This lesson about the power of action may benefit us all. It’s not hot air. Purchase here

CON BRIO, “HEART ON THE DANCEFLOOR

“Like a party punk version of Sly and the Family Stone,” according to Consequence of Sound, Con Brio, a Bay-Area soul band, began its tale in 2009 by singing at open mics, home parties, and street performances in San Francisco and Oakland. They were produced by Mario Caldato Jr (Beastie Boys, Beck, Seu Jorge) and worked with none other than Oakland rapper Lyrics Born in 2019 as a result of that ground-level ability to read a room correctly. The first time.

Con Brio’s first song of 2022, “Heart on the Dancefloor,” addresses the value of self-care in today’s frantic world. The single has an addictive disco-pop beat with ’70s strings, but it’s vocalist Sarah Clarke’s intelligent and poised tenor that makes it strike the heartstrings as well.

More information on their new album Seasons, which will be released on September 16, can be found here.

SABABA 5 FEAT. SHIRAN, “RALI EP” (BATOV RECORDS)

Sababa 5, a Tel Aviv-based four-piece including the brilliant vocalist Shiran Tzfira, recorded here for the first time, fuses psych rock, funk, and traditional Yemenite music into their own amalgamated get-down. They recreate traditional Yemenite music in current disco, funk, boogie, pop, and rock styles. Sababa 5’s melodic instrumentals and popular tunes, such as “Tokyo Midnight,” have piqued the interest of BBC 6 Radio Music’s Gilles Peterson.

From an outsider’s perspective, who is unfamiliar with these traditions, it almost sounds like a prehistoric version of pop, with all these fuzzy, wavy edges, massaging the brain, that lure you into a head-nod that won’t stop.

Sababa 5’s Rali EP, is a lock for grabbing the ear of everyone who enjoys a nice bop supplied by otherworldly voices.

You should purchase here, it’s selling out oh so quickly.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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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