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 (this week) honoring the unique ways Bay Area residents choose to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The entire week surrounding Thanksgiving is a little bit special around these parts. Golden Gate Park is a first-rate pleasure ground for meandering through the fog to walk off that meal. Explore the windmills, give the bison herd a quick shoutout—keep it moving—score a goal on the soccer field, and knock out a back nine on the golf course.
Want to take things a step further? OK, let’s get cinematic.
Consider watching a movie that is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential movies ever made (next to Citizen Kane, shout-out to the Hearst Corporation)—Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, which is being projected on a big screen at Davies Symphony Hall. Similar screening-performances are already scheduled for Jurassic Park in January and Black Panther in March.
The SF Symphony’s live performance of The Godfather‘s score elevates a cinematic hang-out with Vito, Fredo, Michael, Sonny, and some other real American go-getters.
This is an offer you can’t refuse.
Be sure to reserve your seats here for the Fri/25 or Sat/26 performances.
Gobble gobble, folks. OK, let’s get to it!
KELLY MCFARLING, BED OF A RIVER
Kelly McFarling has advanced even further into hybrid textures on the new album Bed of a River, which incorporates mellow psyche, slide guitar groove, and an expansive interpretation of warmhearted Americana rock. This is a follow-up to her distinctive post-folk 2021 LP Deep The Habit. The Bay Area-based, Atlanta-born singer-songwriter builds melodic compositions with electric, wah-wah, and steel guitars. But she uses her own reserved, lukewarm, polite voice the majority of the time to sustain the record’s allure of measured vulnerability.
Bed of a River successfully blends JJ Cale influences with Grateful Dead openness and easygoing weekend simplicity. All the feels and touches captured at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, Virginia, Bolinas, and Stinson Beach are incorporated into this carefully orchestrated mash-up of artistic expression.
Buy it here.
THE JACK MOVES, CRUISERWEIGHT (EVERLOVING, INC.)
Imagine a long player with basslines from a Maxwell album to be named later, peak Quincy Jones string arrangements, cascading MJ vocals, and all the R&B energy that made you fall in love with record collecting in the 1990s. Remember those albums and other assorted physical media that referenced great R&B music of the ’70s and ’80s?
Welp, so do Zee Desmondes and Teddy Powell of the Newark-based duo The Jack Moves. They breathe vulnerability into their NYC Subway fonk release Cruiserweight (that’s right, I’m calling it funk with an “o,” deal with it), which will inspire you to glide “all night long.” Calling “Lionel Ritchie” their crooning masterwork of a single “a banger” is like saying a Muni ride is the perfect metric for calculating what the vibe is in “Ess Eff” every day: well, duh.
Grab Jack Moves’ Cruiserweight, it’ll make you move, on and off public transportation.
Get it here.
VARIOUS ARTISTS, SÍNTESIS MODERNA: AN ALTERNATIVE VISION OF ARGENTINEAN MUSIC (SOUNDWAY RECORDS)
Since 2002, the independent British label Soundway Records has been establishing a strong reputation for bringing to light under-appreciated or under-discovered music from all over the world. They are a go-to source for adventurous music, and bridge the gap from the past to the present and beyond. Through critically acclaimed compilations and rare reissue albums, along with releases from up-and-coming artists, they’ve changed the game.
And now, you may add 1980s Argentine alternative to the label’s “must get” pile.
The three LP treasure trove of “computer and synth powered music,” Síntesis Moderna: An Alternative Vision Of Argentinean Music (1980–1990), is an impressive anthology that shows Argentina was just as advanced at the time in “the bleeps” as North America and the rest of the world.
Beat enthusiasts will forgo rent and gorge themselves on the obscure disco, electro, freestyle, post-punk, techno-pop, Afro-folk, and countless other hybrids floating here in the buttermilk.
These twisted-up combos have so much soul, character, and lived-in purpose that you can tell most of these musicians were working from the heart. Building from passion.
Record collectors, DJs, and producers Ric Piccolo and Ariel Harari assembled the release over the course of five years, and have chosen to present, in most cases, a weird bump—especially with the edits. These artists chose the unknown effect and went for it.
That makes this comp singular. Brimming with austere ideas, it contains the type of electronic music that’s unshakeable and doesn’t rely on said drop.
JELEE, SOIL (RUCKSACK RECORDS/WICKED WAX)
Producer and musician Jelee from Amsterdam has created a quirky-good impact. Something somewhat unique that many cats long for, but rarely manage in a convincing way. He uses the standard 8-bit and bob sound elements from video games and embellishes them with jazz-inspired chord progressions, hip-hop-influenced drum programming, chill mode vibes, and bass-bin thunk.
The first single, “BANGBANG” clicks, taps, bumps, and bloops like the most pleasurable brain freeze you’ve ever experienced, one that makes you go back and have another mind-numbing go at your Slurpee. The release of his upcoming album Soil in March 2023 cannot come soon enough.
Pre-order album and get lead single here.
DJ SAID AND CEE ELASSAAD, “FELA IS EVERYTHING” (FATSOULS RECORDS)
As I wrote in a feature last week, Said Adelekan started Fatsouls Records in San Francisco in 2007 after staging more than a decade of successful events. Through constant releases of energizing music the label has earned a solid reputation in dance music. Fatsouls was founded with the idea of offering organic music with a focus on Afrobeat, soulful house, deep house, minimal tech, and other Afro rhythms. Growing up with Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat, as his neighbor in Nigeria in the ’80s, Adelekan witnessed this icon perform at least 50 times over his lifetime, in venues located in Nigeria, the UK, and the US. Adelekan, motivated beyond inspiration, was destined to be on a path to creating music himself.
“He opened the door for a lot of young artists to shine on the global stage,” DJ Said told 48hills via email. “I feel incredibly lucky to have had that opportunity to experience Fela up close and personal.”
Those experiences helped to motivate Adelekan to team up with Morocco’s extraordinary Cee EIAssaad to create a fitting dedication to Kuti in a two-part release. “Fela is Everything”, the first installment, is an exhalted vibe of words and modern Afro-house, in which DJ Said gives us expressions of perseverance over those horns, synths, and vocals pulsating with brio.