The Mandalorian, Barry, Swarm, Perry Mason, Yellowjackets, Succession, etc. Get cha’ popcorn ready. Springtime TV/streaming prestige watching is here. But in between your stories, Go: RUN to the 4Star Theater, the Balboa, and Vogue theaters in their their desperate time of need.
And then get ready… for summer. The most ideal time for live music—SF Jazz Festival, Outside Lands, Madison McFerrin, Souls of Mischief, Mill Valley Music Fest, Janet Jackson, Larry June, Nabihah Iqbal…these are just a few highlights incoming.
For now here are our April Bandcamp Friday Picks (that’s April 7), when all money goes direct to the artist… Let’s get it!
KING BRITT, ANCESTOR MESSAGE (BLACK CATALOGUE)
When he’s not instructing his undergraduate course “Blacktronika: Afrofuturism,” King Britt, assistant professor in the UC San Diego music department and practicing electronic music producer, is aligning himself with the digital pioneers of color that he educates his students about.
Returning to Monty Luke’s Berlin-based Black Catalogue imprint (Luke has credited San Francisco as one of several locations assisting his education on club culture), Britt creates his 30th release there, a sinewy percolating three-track affair titled Ancestor Message that’s intended for late-night cooking. Described on his Bandcamp page as “a communication, a meditation, a warning to the future and the past”, it serves its purpose and then some.
These extended cosmic thumpers that Britt has released on Luke’s label? Full of slow-building arrangements that miraculously wind up in full go mode while you scratch your noggin wondering, “How’d Britt do that again?”
Getting modular upside your head, much like 2020’s Back2Black on Luke’s label, is one answer.
Yes, there are similarities to Carl Craig’s mid- to late-’90s minimal output if you include constant funk face in your get-down. But the mega-jam for days “The Comeback,” displays Britt’s fascination with systems.
How they build. Level on top of level is the step-by-step process that feels nothing like work and more of a revelation. An inner frequency where some sort of Herbie Hancock squawk talk box gets really active; accentuates the funk amid all these other central mechanisms reacting to one another. Maybe it’s the ancestors speaking. I’d bet it’s just Britt teachin’.
Purchase it here.
AVALON EMERSON, & THE CHARM (ANOTHER DOVE)
Avalon Emerson, who was born in San Francisco, deviates from the typical DJ tradition with her new endeavor and goes back to her high school days as an autodidact who recorded and engineered bands. According to the artist, & The Charm was written during a protracted break from the hectic blur of her life as a touring DJ. This album is regarded as a personal declaration of intent from a musician who has long sought inspiration outside of the club.
& The Charm, which was created in collaboration with a small group of like-minded musicians, including UK avant-pop authority Bullion, meanders through indie and pop using guitars, cello, and Emerson’s vocals. Oh, she can sing, and based on the two songs that have been made public so far—”Hot Evening” and “Sandrail Silhouette”—it seems that the abilities she developed in high school have not deteriorated.
This change is quite enjoyable.
THE REDS, PINKS & PURPLES THE TOWN THAT CURSED YOUR NAME (SLUMBERLAND / TOUGH LOVE)
There is a steady, forward-leaning progression of how bands get recognized, booked, and seen nationally here in The Bay. As a starter-upper, you can play warehouses, dive bars, and then graduate to empty outdoor spaces—sometimes it’s jammed between a famous North Beach bar and an alley named after Jack Kerouack. Or get in on a fantastic local line-up at Balboa or Four Star Cinema.
A local promoter told me last week that the City has gotten a lot better now quasi-post COVID, we’re seeing a lot more shows return to somewhat normal attendance figures. However, it seems like the greater demand is almost shifting away from live music and into more kitschy, themed dance nights.
“There’s like 10 different Taylor Swift dance parties any given week in SF.”
Welp, I’m here to tell ya. Glenn Donaldson can survive it all. And then some.
It’s been well documented that he’s been in (AHEM) a few musical projects, and despite the outcome, he’s not just here, he’s a relevant town scribe. Pitchfork said his most recent communique, The Town That Cursed Your Name, “is bookended with odes to bands that never made it.” That’s real. I’ve seen more than my share.
Staying power is THE superpower that allows Donaldson to beautifully speak on these times employing that evergreen late 80s, (the polar opposite of Big ’80s) college rock vibe that always has a hint of cherry blossoms in the tone.
At least they return once a year.
Pick up Donaldson’s ode to SF here.
Label owner Terry Cole coined a phrase a few years ago to describe the sound of his band, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, which now serves as the core value of his Colemine Records empire.
It cuts to the bone, not that I enjoy being Mr. Filthy McMouthy. In an interview with Bandcamp Daily from 2019, Cole discusses the impact of the vintage Hammond B3 organ, funk drumming, and cutting guitar stabs. “This shit is pocket as fuck” needs no further explanation.
The Ironsides, a San Francisco-based psychedelic soul group, have been releasing singles for the label since 2013, but their debut full-length, Changing Light, gets right into the mood for extended listening. So much in fact, fictional actor Rick Dalton might show up with a Beretta 8000 Cougar, some Dom Pérignon, run a covert operation on the major baddies, and do a seduction seuence with Pamela Camassa on the track “The Web,” which was recorded at Transistor Sound Studios in the North Bay, home to Kelly Finnigan and Monophonics.
Horns swoon—it’s their love language—on their mellow ‘pocket’ banger. That ’60s European film essence gives folks the idea Stereolab is behind the curtain chopping up breaks and horns on the trusty SP-1200 sampler.
Pre-order this soon to be Bay classic here.