Under the Stars does the heavy lifting, placing good music in your pocket.
That’s pretty much our mantra around here. Good taste can help you out with your pursuit to have better relationships with carbon-based life forms.
For a point of clarification…We are not “the Muscle From Brussels,” nor your corner store discount Van Damme.
We are a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, Bandcamp picks, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins, and trying to keep it simple and carefree.
So let’s get it!
CAAMFEST: DIRECTIONS IN SOUND: FANNY AND FRIENDS AT YERBA BUENA GARDENS FESTIVAL, SAT/20
Originally founded by Ol’ Blue Eyes, Reprise Records built a 1970s fortress of progressive artists who didn’t take any shit. Frank Zappa, Richard Pryor, The Meters, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young—these were the punk agitators before punk was actually a genre. Feel me?
Fanny’s debut album on that label was seen at the time as a publicity stunt. For the first time, for this many listeners, a group of women—sisters June and Jean Millington, Alice De Bohr, and Nickey Barclay—wrote and sang their own songs, played their own instruments and, perhaps most importantly, rocked it beyond a doubt, just as hard as any male band out there. ‘Cause they had to.
And, as the first all-female band signed to a major label, these four women became perhaps LA’s biggest “buzz band,” landing repeated bookings at the Whisky-a-Go-Go with a who’s who of rock’s glitterati in attendance. Cited as heroes by the likes of Joan Jett and Courtney Love, the debut album does NOT sound like a tryout. With the organ testifying, funky-ass bass moves, guitars screeching, and drums pushing that double-time backbeat, it’s an invitation to bear witness.
The legendary Fanny, with Ruby Ibarra and Peaboo and the Catz appearing in support will all perform in partnership with the Center for Asian American Media at Yerba Buena Gardens Festival on May 20 at 1 pm. Admission is free, so come down and get your wig blown back by one of the most legendary bands that you never heard of—until now.
Get more info here.
LITTLE DRAGON, SLUGS OF LOVE (NINJA TUNE)
When a band describes their upcoming project as its “finest work yet” in the press release and liner notes, I always go straight to snore town. I mean, are they really going to say, “We really shitted the bed with this pile”?
Oh, hells naw.
Welp daggummit, this new Little Dragon release may actually BE their best yet. Let’s start unpacking.
Between this much-loved Grammy-nominated Swedish outfit and a slew of Australian bands, my DJ friends and I can never figure out if they are doing a genuine job of copying all the right American soul/R&B people, or if that is just the way they sound. Essentially, all of these cats are preoccupied with sounding slick, and that always made me feel something.
Mostly, not good.
I don’t need them, doing us.
But judging from selections “Kenneth” and “Slugs of Love”, off the upcoming album due July 7, Little Dragon seems to be doing just that. The band is in full experiment mode, applying different textures, and being unconcerned with sounding glossed-up in some fussy R&B business. “Slugs of Love,” the album’s title track, hits a different button with post-punk upticks, as if Robert Smith of The Cure popped a tic tac after hitting the soul food spot.
Strange, but familiar in an obscure way.
I’m on board with the new ‘fit, can’t wait to hear the entire new album, and hope to get some tickets when they hit the Bay.
BÉZIER & LEN, “LEO-WAX & WANE” EP
On the latest EP for miv., short for mémoire involontaire, Robert Yang, better known as Bézier, joins forces with their partner Len.Leo., who made his first appearance on Bézier’s Dark Entries 2022 release “Valencia” as vocalist for the track “Reservoir.” The “Wax & Wane” EP is a constantly evolving, with peaks and valleys layering and revealing. It’sa rapturous collection of arrangements ranging from disco-pop confections to throbbing grisly earworms for the dawn, created in the couple’s home studio deep in the heart of Friedrichshain, Berlin.
TALKING HEADS, STOP MAKING SENSE SOUNDTRACK (RHINO RECORDS)
Talking Heads collaborated with director Jonathan Demme on the seminal concert film Stop Making Sense. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the concerts filmed for Stop Making Sense, A24 will release a newly restored 4K version of the film in theaters around the world.
This performance was outlined in the forward to Remain In Love, Chris Franz’s account of his and his wife Tina Weymouth’s early days in the Talking Heads. Tom Tom Club, the critical and commercial off-shoot band he and Tina created, performed “Wordy Rappinghood” and “Genius of Love” live on “Soul Train”—a fantasy come true for the couple—on a December morning in Hollywood. Then, they rushed over to the Pantages Theater to shoot Stop Making Sense with Jonathan Demme in the afternoon, with David Byrne and the rest of The Talking Heads. That expanded line-up included Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Brothers Johnson guitarist Alex Weir, among others. It’s Worrell’s psychedelic squelches from the keyboard, distilling sheets of funk-weird goodness, that elevate the alien comfort of David Byrnes’ big suit.
For about five years, I kept Fear of Music in my DJ bag, the quirky funk of “Mind” was unshakeable. As fate would have it, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison came into the Portrero Hill Bar, Jay N Bee Club—”an old-school, cash-only hangout” according to Google, where I was playing records. In between alerting “Fast Eddie” behind the bar, and texting friends in the Mission, “get over here, Byrne is at the bar,” I was able to dig out the unusual record and slide on “Mind” before DB trickled out into the night. When he heard the circus show intro to the song, he leaned over the bar, nodded his head, and tipped his hat at me, thereby justifying the record’s five-year residency in my bag.
Rhino will release a deluxe version of the Stop Making Sense concert for the first time on August 18.
You can pre-order here.