Listen up. 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. Every now and again we get extra stoked about incoming summer.
Breathe in that Golden Gate Park air. Nothing like it. Get bent, CNN!
BLACK ARTIST DATABASE, SYNERGY (B.A.D.)
If necessary, Black Artist Database has a roster of creatives who can keep the dance floor rocking for 48 hours nonstop. They represent the future of how electronic music will look, sound, and feel. Do you want proof? Co-founder of the non-profit NIKS, demonstrates this prowess with the supreme “Badness, Can’t Work.”
Black Artist Database has launched the BAD imprint with its debut compilation Synergy, which showcases that deep-bench roster of talent.
The comp, scheduled to be released on June 2, features rRoxymore, AFRODEUTSCHE, Amaliah, Chmba, DJ Holographic, Lyric, and BAD co-founder NIKS.
Its Bandcamp liner notes describe it as, “a collection of sounds that journeys through the electronic spectrum; exploring celebration, unity, and Black joy by an intercontinental selection of visionary artists who deeply inspire B.A.D.”
Formerly known as Black Bandcamp, BAD was founded in the aftermath of the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings. The platform has become the go-to grassroots source for Black underground music, with thousands of profiles of Black artists.
RÓISÍN MURPHY AT PORTOLA MUSIC FESTIVAL, OCTOBER 1
Finally, San Francisco. We get to see the veteran electronic music artist Róisín Murphy, who draws the grandest Venn diagram of fans. You may have read it right here in 48hills courtesy of writer Adrian Spinelli that she will be performing at Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 on October 1. Her new album Hit Parade comes out on September 8, and is produced by DJ Koze.
As I’ve confessed before, I did not know who in the hell Róisín Murphy was three years ago. Seriously.
And then I got hip. She put out two records over the course of eight months. Her fifth album Róisín Machine in late 2020, and a remix project Crooked Machine, made by her producer DJ Parrot aka Richard Barratt aka Crooked Man. Filled to the teeth with pitched down 4/4 bliss, weighted chugginess, dirt-mcgirt basslines, bleepy-glitchy crunch, and wavy synths billowing about—both records became instant classics.
Murphy continually refuses the poppy-claptrap beat production. Her fans love her for it.
At 50, she’s entrenched to deliver esoteric characters in her songs by way of the most bizarre-yet-foundational presentations of house, techno, and disco.
As she revealed in The Guardian last month, her twin inspirations are Grace Jones and Iggy Pop.
She’s on some Gangster shit.
“’I go out on stage like him—like a bullet from a gun, straight out—and I commit to the point where it could be dangerous for me,’” she is quoted in that interview. “’Nothing else is more important than I do this show and you really fucking feel what I have to express to you right now. I have had accidents. I’ve smashed my face, right here’—she points to a small scar—’in Moscow, many years ago, because I was head-banging, like really head-banging, and there was a wooden chair and I just … head‑banged into it. The guy in the hospital looked at it and went: “We can’t possibly do that, you should go home and see your plastic surgeon!” Like I had a plastic surgeon on speed dial!’ She laughs. ‘There you go, that’s Moscow.’”
Nooooo. That’s Róisín Murphy.
Get your tickets here.
LP GIOBBI, LIGHT PLACES (COUNTER RECORDS)
If you believe that Deadheads are the first incarnation of ravers, then Leah Chisholm, an Austin-based Berklee jazz piano performance graduate is here to keep ’em dancing. Leah, who DJs, records, and produces as LP Giobbi, became a Deadhead in the womb, born to parents who grew up spinning to the legendary jam band.
According to this former North American music director for W Hotels, who wears DeadHead tees in publicity shots, electronic music blew her mind after seeing Tornado Wallace perform here in SF at Public Works. Since breaking into the dance scene in 2018, Chisholm has performed her “one-woman jam band” DJ sets at high-profile festivals, blending the decks with her live piano plus sampler.
Light Places, her debut album, follows on the heels of numerous burning-lighters-in-the-sky accolades for having remixed Jerry Garcia’s first solo album Garcia on its 50th anniversary. The debut long player is filled with big, bouncy spaces and warm-gooey chord changes.
“When it came to my debut album,” she told Apple Music, “I wanted to give more musicality to the songs—to make more B-sides as well as bangers.”
Bangers to bangers bro-friendly EDM records don’t just suck, they are quite pedestrian these days. To be quick: boring AF. Bro, drop thee dang drop already.
In recent years, LP Giobbi has used her growing celebrity to fund her FEMME HOUSE nonprofit, which provides opportunities for underrepresented creatives in the technical and behind-the-scenes aspects of music. With the help of Sofi Tukker, Caroline Byrne, DJ Tennis and Joseph Ashworth, Little Jet, and others, you can be sure this debut will hit different, for a new tie-dye set. This is not deep DEEETROIT shit. It’s not even close, homie. However, it is a way for “Shakedown Street” folk to enter the Tik-Tok era of electronic music.
When LP Giobbi pulls up behind the decks at the Dead & Company After Party here in SF on July 15 at The Fillmore, that Twitch generation of Jerrys kids will be availed to partake in the same type of capitalism their “I will get by” parents did.
Purchase the album here.
ECHT!, SINK-ALONG (SDBAN ULTRA)
Somebody out there, bless they heart, guest-listed me to see ECHT!, the futuristic Brussels-based four-piece, at the Jazz Cafe in London earlier this month. Now granted I couldn’t attend, but listening to the group’s new release Sink-Along, I damn sure wish I was in the building.
When Gilles Peterson, the legendary DJ and tastemaker supreme, signs off on a band with the phrase “Killer” and Mixmag chirps in with “Hard beats and bass,” my antenna begins to search for reception.
This is trap-adjacent muisc dropped in a blender with bass bins going thee eff off.
Deep, dark beats. Warbled. It all looks awkward. Real strange. And it works. In and out of jazz and hip-hop ideas, crushed to form something so attitudinal, using a variety of techniques.
Sometimes electronic music producers—house and dubstep newbies I’m looking at you—rely on tricks and new toys to make a splash, but the results have no musicality. ECHT! (great f*cking name, BTW) are musicians. You can hear and feel the crazy ephemera, wild and brief inserts within the beat structure.
These cats make choices. Bizarre ones, for sure. They don’t let technology take the lead and control the arrangement—no cookie cutter bish up in here.
Sink-Along feels new, applying just the right amount of “WTF bass music just don’t care” vibe in the mix that challenges an adventurous dance floor to get up and popping.
It’s a funky and beautiful EDM project that swims upstream—just what I’d expect from the Brainfeeder imprint. Wish is, you know, Flying Lotus Empire.
I’ll take more of this at the rave.
Buy it here.
HOWARD WILEY AT YERBA BUENA GARDENS, JUNE 1
Go see Howard Wiley during your lunch break; it’s a good way to render irrelevant that afternoon cup of coffee.
The Thursday free concert is one of the highlights of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival’s programming. For one hour downtown, you are provided with top-notch performers who enliven the senses and derail any potential midday energy slump—in addition to what is generally beautiful weather.
Howard Wiley, an Oakland saxophonist, receives the call on June 1—and what a call it is. This veteran has been a fixture on the Bay Area music scene since he was a teenager. He’s long been working in a variety of circles, providing soul-infused jazz unlike any other. Playing ethiojazz with Meklit one night, shuffle beats on drums the next as one of Lavay Smith’s Red Hot Skillet Lickers. He’s accompanied legends of the Hammond B3, Doug Carn, and Chester Thompson. Wiley is not playing games: the term “adaptability” comes to mind.
Perhaps you’ve seen him playing the role of bandleader in The Howard Wiley Show, a boisterous star-studded ensemble that includes electric bassist Marcus Phillips, drummer Dante “Taz” Roberson, and organist L.J. Holoman.
They’ve worked with Dr. Dre, Game, Mary J. Blige, and Raphael Saadiq, among others.
Make your lunch decision a smart one on June 1st. More info here.
SECRET EMCHY SOCIETY AT BOTTOM OF THE HILL, JUNE 18
This Broken Clover artist promises to delve deep into those ethereal musical waters.
Oakland-based Cindy M. Emch, dubbed the “First Lady of Queer Country,” will accomplish what all great musicians do in performance this June: convey stories, yarns, and other narratives that bring us all together. Her 2022 album Gold Country, Country Gold featured a wide range of blues-based confessional music, including Americana, California country, hellbilly, goth, and honky tonk. Expect vivacious spirits to take over the stage with this one-of-a-kind performer.
Grab tickets here.
MONOPHONICS, SAGE MOTEL (COLEMINE RECORDS)
Sage Motel by Monophonics, the fifth studio album since 2012 from this Bay-area-based retro-soul meets psych-rock outfit, is an incredible live experience, one helluva scene.
Kelly Finnigan, lead vocalist, producer, and vibe merchant, performed like a jilted lover settling a score with his ex when they took over The Independent last fall in support of that record. The band took the stage with a scorching horn line and multiple backup vocalists ready to work.
The first 45 from Sage Motel “Love You Better” captures some of the upbeat charm, R&B stamina, and vocal grit that makes this band a “gotta see” situation.