Under the Stars does the heavy lifting, placing good music in your pocket. Listen up: we are 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.
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PARAMORE AT CHASE CENTER, JULY 22
I think I’ve become a Paramore fan. Two reasons:
Sure, the recent blip up in the press about the band performing at Capitol One Arena in downtown Washington DC, during which the 26-year-old Democrat representative from Florida Maxwell Frost added his vox gift to the band’s track “Misery Business.” That came after he hurled some rather blunt precursory assertions denouncing faciscm and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential candidate. Yep, that’s one.
And then there’s the actual band. The title track from its most recent album This Is Why is a timely reminder that you never know who is sitting next to you or what is running through their Bluetooth, wi-fi pea brain. There are many with no cultural or intellectual connection in 2023.
Zac Farro’s punk-funk drumming comes at you all knobbly and high-strung, with Taylor York’s rip/tear guitar approach, and lead singer Hayley Williams in full Iggy-Pop-high-on-Tae-Bo-VHS-tapes mode, ensnarled in a human hurricane snarkdown.
Oh, it’s an updated post-punk jam.
By omitting all of the boring, bloated parts of late-stage Red Hot Chili Peppers, this band is taking a punk approach to quick-hitting pop-R&B. Without the bro-down—it’s just a hoe-down. They friggin’ rawk.
Grab tix to their Chase Center appearance here.
VARIOUS, TIME SQUARE: THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK (RSO RECORDS)
I know it’s Pride Month, and I hope LGBTIQA+ voices scream H.A.M. for the rest of June and every month after that. The constant attack on their community in the press, on the street—especially in the Twitter skreets—and in government buildings across the country is sickening.
It’s a great moment to pay tribute to Times Square soundtrack. Although the film with vibrant queer characters received mixed reviews, at best, and was a commercial flop when it was released in 1980, it has since become a staple at gay and lesbian film festivals. When the film was released on Blu-ray around 2000 and re-released in rep theaters, two things stood out to me about this project: The killer soundtrack and the movie’s accurate portrayal of 42nd Street in New York City at the time.
Times Square was rough with a capital “R” in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Not a Tony Roma’s in sight. As it has been documented, the City of New York allowed that area to deteriorate so that Manhattan could be monetized later in the decade. The original, same story.
But I remember Times Square had so many break dancers. Like, every block and corner was blasting WBLS or KISS FM from a boombox, and kids were pop-locking, top-rocking, doing freezes and suicides … getting in that footwork on the cardboard and linoleum. People forget that hip-hop, now a multi-billion-dollar Super Bowl Halftime Show entertainment entity, came off these dirty corners, around the way from grindhouses.
Culture comes from the concrete.
While the film does not focus on this music, it depicts a realistic version of New York’s Times Square in which those sounds can and did flourish.
Now, for the music on the soundtrack itself. Oh, my gush. Listen. This is a treasure trove 101 in post-punk, indie, and new wave. Look at this lineup: The Cure, Joe Jackson, XTC, Gary Numan, Pretenders, Suzi Quatro, Roxy Music—it’s the polar opposite of Saturday Night Fever, but released on Robert Stigwood’s RSO label, like that generational disco film.
Money is money, right?
According to rumors, Bowie planned to provide a re-recorded version of his 1971 song “Life on Mars?” for the soundtrack. While no such re-recording has ever been discovered or released, Bowie did perform a rearranged version of “Life on Mars?” on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” on September 5, 1980, about a month before the release of Times Square.
Regardless of that probable near-miss, this album was the next-level future for the times. Times Square foresaw the next decade’s worth of emerging artists, and gathered them up for a double album that still plays.
Purchase it at your favorite record store on Haight, in the Tenderloin, The Mission, or wherever you buy quality music on vinyl in the city.
ACTIVE SURPLUS, “CERULEAN BLUE” From MIRRORING (TELEPHONE EXPLOSION RECORDS)
We keep keepin’ an eye on those who bring that unique heat in terms of electronic music.
And Evan Vincent, the producer from Toronto known as Emissive, who used the “less thinking, more feeling” mantra on his Wave Science release a few years ago, gave us pause. His productions were, how can I say, straight cash homey.
Future boogie frequencies, wonky left-hand house, and melodic bump for the dancefloor? Sign a brother up. Like, right now.
Fast forward to the present, and Mirroring, the upcoming collaboration between Emissive and Tan Sierra to be released on Active Surplus features, “friends bonded over a love of vintage hardware, bizarre tape recordings, and spicy ital roti.” It has all the 808s, synth washes, and electro-ambient feels to keep your home turntable spinning all summer.
According to the project’s Bandcamp page, “the duo’s lush, singular sound has undergone vaporization. And where there is vapor, there is heat.”
The first single “Cerulean Blue” will have you geeked, with basslines that go deeper than the US debt.
For that buoyancy that makes you say Namaste, pre-order Mirroring here.
TREVINO, BACK (BIRDIE)
Marcus Kaye, the UK-based electronic musician who also went by the names Marcus Intalex and Trevino, died on May 28, 2017. Fans and contemporaries from all over the world mourned his passing.
His melding of crisp rolling breakbeats with lush atmospherics via synth pads and melodies always stood out in any DJ’s set at The Top or Beat Down at Jupiter in the East Bay during Northern California’s drum and bass heyday in the late 90s through early aughts. Those bombastic low-end vibes, cross-switched with house music characteristics, propelled his records to the top of the “I must have it” charts. Once those 12-inch vinyl singles got to Compound Records or Tweakin on Haight, dem joints were gone.
Later in his career, Intalex began releasing quality 4/4 techno records under the name Trevino, inspired by the Belleville Three. It reminded him fondly of his early days working in record stores, where he would receive genre-defining tunes ranging from Chicago house to Detroit techno.
On Back, created during Marcus’ time in Berlin, you can hear the darkness seeping through, moving about Breakbeat’s outer threshold. Trevino makes some “’til the doors come off” minimalism with “Gateway,” aquatic ether textures on “Dance Decay,” and funky half-time electro bizness on “Moodswing.” Back follows a popular yearning by several landmark drum and bass peers—see Photek and Calibre—of successfully converting the headiness into 4/4 machinations.
A vast communique of electronic music that snarls, pops, and downshifts into dubby half-time stratagems, Back is so expansive, it will make die-hards and newbies misty-eyed.
Purchase Back here.