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.
NON PLUS TEMPS, DESIRE CHOIR (POST PRESENT MEDIUM)
Sloping bass lines, nervy atmospherics, and a perennial groove fill all the dubby crevices in “Continuous Hinge,” the charming lead track from Oakland’s Non Plus Temps.
How long have I been waiting for a Bay Area band to capture the post-punk/dub essence found throughout the timeless On-U Sound imprint? A very long minute.
A quick listen to their debut album Desire Choir becomes a journey down the wind-and-grind punk-funk pathways laid down by the forbearers. Yes, we’re talking about ESG, A Certain Ratio, early Was Not Was (not that pop radio bish), and B-52’s “Mesopotamia” era.
Amber Sermeno’s heartfelt, chirpy vocals are soaked in the baptismal soundbath waters of purring electric viola and jerky hallucinogenic climates. Sounds like Basquiat smiling.
Pick the album up here.
LAKECIA BENJAMIN, PHOENIX (WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS)
Lakecia Benjamin, the highly accomplished saxophonist and composer, will release an eagerly anticipated new album on January 27. The alto saxophonist’s Phoenix was produced by multi-Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington and features a star-studded lineup of specially curated guests Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, and Wayne Shorter.
According to the press release, the compositions on Phoenix were written with the skillsets of her triumphant guests in mind, a group of jazz women who have had a significant influence on Lakecia.
From a quick listen, Phoenix sounds like a massive career statement that will catch the ears and minds. The titular track features Georgia Anne Muldrow on synths and vocals, and Benjamin performing acrobatic runs, establishing the project’s high standard.
VARIOUS ARTISTS, FG X (FINE GRAINS RECORDS)
Boss sauce alert. FG X, a 10-year anniversary collection of assorted grooves from the Fine Grains Records outfit, assembles a quality—some might say, “slept on”—sound that represents extensive beats from a diverse range of local scenes worldwide. Curated by label founder Alexander Horne (DJ Uraki Riddim) with Duncan Grant (CAIN), and Rich Jones (Niven Trust), the 12 head-turning thumpers of tracks come from creatives of Oslo, Aberdeen, London, Amsterdam, and other burgeoning scenes. With sequencing done through great care, it’s as if the compilation were a movie soundtrack. It establishes momentum-flow in one forward direction, employing atmospheric scenery and pounding, undeniable dance floor heat.
Make time for Beatbully’s trip-hop adjacent cool “One-Two” to Pursuit Grooves‘ pinpoint broken beat figure “Inu” to Lazy H’s glitchy blip funk “Whisper Bits.” Hold space for the sneaky-banger workout energy of Moroka’s “No Time To Chat.” Funk-face alert has been officially engaged.
This smattering of model electronic feel will hypnotize the senses, and will be apt for any type of gathering in need of a proper soundtrack. Dinner with friends or a late-night blowout, FG X is the right fit.
Pick it up here.
REBECCA JADE AT SAN JOSE CIVIC CENTER, DECEMBER 22
Rebecca Jade has performed with Sheila E, Sir Elton John, and at jazz festivals all over the world. Not bad for a former Division I basketball player who received a full athletic scholarship to UC Berkeley. Jade, a distinct vocal presence and beacon of enthusiasm, delivers compelling hooks with efficacious vigor on “What’s It Gonna Be,” the neo-soul earworm that won two statues at this year’s San Diego Music Awards. On December 22, you can see the singer-songwriter and featured vocalist on Dave Koz and Friends’ 25th anniversary Christmas tour, which also includes Koz, Rick Braun, Peter White, and Keiko Matsui, at the San Jose Civic Center.
Get tickets here.
NO COSMOS, “ALMOST LOST YOU”
Scott Bevins, a Montreal-based trumpeter and musician who plays in the electro-soul and hip-hop group Busty and the Bass, has previously collaborated with multi-disciplinary collective Moonshine and 2022 Polaris-prize winner Pierre Kwenders. But with his latest release, those grand experiences seem to be mere foreshadowing. His new single “Almost Lost You,” a stunning instrumental imbued with R&B, new jazz ideas, and constant bump gives off the vibes of something that is just getting started or winding down.
Bevins, who records under the alias No Cosmos, will release an album next spring, the details of which will be announced in January. It will include this jam.
Pick up the single here.