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. So check-up on your start-up money Son, and wish Pong a belated happy 50th anniversary.
And fire it up:
NAPPY NINA FEAT. CAVALIER, ”WEEPING WALTZ” (LUCIDHAUS)
Mourning Due, the new project from Oakland-raised and Brooklyn-based rapper Nappy Nina, keeps our fixation on this artist’s progression high, way high. With each release, she digs in and turns out singular bars, distinctly selected beats, and impressive work.
But don’t take my word for it. Even Moor Mother is singing her praises. Over the course of Mourning Due‘s 14 tracks, Nappy Nina paints a vivid world full of various subjects. Her beginnings as an Oakland slam poet are evident throughout the release.
The above track “Weeping Waltz” is a great example of what this emcee can do with the power of words.
Grab it here.
LARRY JUNE & THE ALCHEMIST, “89 EARTHQUAKE” (THE FREEMINDED RECORDS/ALC/EMPIRE)
Larry June, who was born in Hunters Point and raised in Atlanta, continues to rise. This time, the level-up is a collaboration with Alchemist, the highly regarded producer known for his snare work with iconic groups Mobb Deep, Dilated Peoples, and the late great Mac Miller, among others.
The visual for their “89 EARTHQUAKE” combines classic shots of The Bay with that slowed-down plinky piano roll that only Alchemist can turn into a mantra without words. With this track’s “go hard, never quit” vibe, their upcoming collab album The Great Escape could be the start of a regal link-up when it arrives on March 31.
HARVEY SUTHERLAND AT RICKSHAW STOP, APRIL 30
Mike Katz, the Australian DJ and electronic music producer, chose San Francisco as a priority date for his first tour in the United States. Big Joanie from the UK also chose San Francisco as one of the first three dates on the group’s debut US go-round. When people try to tell you that Ess Eff has fallen off, they’re talking out the side of their neck. The allure endures, for good reason.
And as for Sutherland aka Mike Katz, who will make a stop in our city next month, he’s been groovin’ for a while. He began by producing those “shy disco” Mancuso-style private invitation loft jams—and did it so well that he eventually directed an 11-piece band east coast Australian tour in support of New York Boogie icon Leroy Burgess.
A Sweater Funk godfather, if you will. Sutherland’s full expression—disco ideas meet motorik nervous fonk—came fully realized with his debut album from last year, Boy. Those loft jams get sheened up, and that Dâm-Funk collaboration? One for the record books.
“Changes,” his first new music since Boy‘s release, combines those older, lofty jams with contemporary UK club music, or “choppy soulful garage beats,” as Sutherland puts it.
Purchase “Changes” here and grab tickets to the show here.
BORED LORD, 3213123
This in-demand Oakland-based DJ and producer whose releases come at a 100 mph clip recently celebrated a birthday and gave us the damn gifts. 3213123 is a self-produced, private get-down that features breakbeats, chopped-up vocals, hard-driving drums, and the most tasteful selections of vibrant chord structures. Bored Lord knows how to throw a party, broadcasting live and direct from the land of bass grumble, where the rave will never stop.
Get the coordinates here.
NO COSMOS, “EVERYTHING ELSE………” (LIGHTER THAN AIR)
Remember how we told you about Scott Bevins, a Montreal-based trumpeter and musician who is a member of the electro-soul and hip-hop group Busty and the Bass, and who collaborated with multi-disciplinary collective Moonshine and 2022 Polaris-prize winner Pierre Kwenders back in December?
I know it’s been a while, and those were a lot of words … but we appear to have been correct in hyping this rising star.
No Cosmos, the alias Bevis records under, will release his project on March 24, and if the track “everything else….” is an indication of what this project will do—but enough with the speculation, I’ve heard the sucker from tip to tail and it’s really amazing. Here we have yet another multi-hyphenate musician and producer wunderkind breaking down walls between jazz and electronic music, speaking to something happening in the “right now.” “everything else…” is a thunker-down arrangement that pushes limits, while lighting up the room with twinkling new ideas. It functions as a drum and bass boom rocket, with a hybrid amalgam swinging for it all.
Pick up the project here.
30/70, ART MAKE LOVE
This Melbourne collective is influenced by broken beat and intricate sophistication, in addition to nu-soul and jazz. Perversely, that complexity can be found in the large spaces where its singer Allysha Joy chooses not to sing. Her voice, angled like a trumpet, is precise in where it chooses to enunciate.
New album ART MAKE LOVE is a path, a sort of north star, for this Australian supergroup to seize control. On their own Allysha Joy, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Josh Kelly, Finn Rees, and Matthew Hayes are compelling solo artists, band leaders, and arrangers. But on this album, their powers combine to deliver a funky, soulful, bruk-friendly tale you can’t stop moving to.
The sway and wiggle remain strong with this one.
Grab it here.
FOAMBOY, “SONG ABOUT YOU”
A steady kvetching infiltrates the lyrical content of this well-crafted foamboy song. From previous songs about a relationship that is, well, not. To vocalist, Katy Ohsiek going all first person on the blue-eyed slow jam “Song About You,” which at times resembles a three-man Spiderman meme with its over-the-top, real-story origins.
It may sound and feel Netflix and chill, but lyrically, it’s actually think-y and awkward.
Take it, Kay:
“‘Song About You’ is a very meta song. This guy kept bugging me about a song I had written about him in the past, so I wrote this song about that experience. I really like that it’s a sexy slow jam about a very uncomfortable situation! I’m worried that this dude will try to talk to me about ‘Song About You,’ which would be even more meta. Like how the reflection of a mirror goes on forever.”
foamboy is a Portland-based duo comprised of producer Wil Bakula and vocalist Katy Ohsiek, who combine Gen Z meanderings with the most post-disco, indie-pop, jazz-inspired and chic soundscapes. That Bakula can arrange like a mug.
I’m a witness. In a live setting, with a full backing band, they are the most charming, swinging indie-pop-gone-groove-band around today. Plus, they keep it interesting with the lyrical content. It’s not some butterflies and bullshit either—serious head-trip meandering from contemplative people who happen to do music very well.
We’re very stoked they hit SXSW this year, but bummed they will not be back in the Bay Area anytime soon. At least we can hum along, and even get uncomfortable, with this silky smoothness.
Get it here.