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. Summer has arrived, and new records, both local and national, are being released left and right.
As the live show alerts keep pinging…We are here to keep you locked in.
Real quick. Need a book about weed for your teen or yourself for that matter?
Pre-order ‘Weed: Cannabis Culture in the Americas, out September 5, written by our own kick-ass editor Caitlin Donohue. It’s made up of interviews on prohibition, health, hemp with experts from Argentina to Canada. It’s the realness done by one of my fave culture writers in the game. Period.
OK. Let’s Get IT!
LAST PLANET AT MILK BAR, JUNE 9
Bands in the Bay Area come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have similar basic properties, while others move at a different density. It is encouraging for all of us. Nobody wants to live in a city full of cookie-cutter bands. Eww. Lame.
Give me up-and-comers that represent the entire Bay Area, because that’s what The Bay does best.
If you read here on a regular basis, you’ll notice that we support the indie jangle wing of bands that have resurfaced in recent years, defining a style that is being broadcast out to the world. That’s fantastic. When I have the opportunity, I go out and catch them. But, as of late, there has been a return to the “bit of this, a bit of that” pop, new wave side of things.
Con Brio is one of them. Each and every time I see ’em, it’s a damn party.
Last Planet, the burgeoning alt-soul band from Oakland, appears to be gearing up for a run themselves. After a year in the studio, the band is releasing singles monthly and hitting greater SF Bay Area stages in the upcoming several weeks.
Cort Young, cofounder, and bassist, contacted us, and I have to say…. this promising modern rock sextet with R&B influences is pretty cool. They’re doing something new while also doing something familiar.
It’s a trick bag many fail at, but not these performers.
If you have time, go see them at Milk Bar on June 9 and add them to your list of Bay Area bands you discovered early on.
SPACE GHOST, AQUARIUM NIGHTCLUB REWORKS (TARTELET RECORDS)
Oakland-based producer Space Ghost, aka Sudi Wachspress, picks up his mantle of positive vibe, peak Chicago house, hornstabs included, on Aquarium Nightclub Reworks, after a successful run playing for crowds in Australia and New Zealand. Three choices here represent the beginning, middle, and end (or beginning again, depending on your type of get-down) of a full night of feel-good, smell-good dance better superior vibes. The big bass, color keys, and inner knocking snare that kicks off the EP “Night Drive (Deep End Mix)” and the following breezy “Sim City (Classic Mix)” with its soft-hued whimsy strike a friendly attitude for the casual to the experienced dancer.
But it’s Aquarium Nightclub‘s final drift mix, the ambient take, that comes across a bit more specific. There is a section of percolating inner kicking riding around the synths, up in the ether, but due to the lack of programmed drums, we cascade down with the peep of day bass tones and guitar simulation towards the end. It’s always useful to know producers who can cruise at any altitude.
Pick it up here.
BUFFALO DAUGHTER AT CAFE DU NORD, JUNE 7
For some reason, I always imagine benchmark Japanese rock band—an intriguingly bizarre confluence of rock, DJ aesthetics, and electronics, who released their first studio album New Rock for the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal Records in 1998—as a hipster darling entity that vinyl collectors sought out at Mod Lang in the East Bay or Aquarius Records on Valencia St in the Mission.
Both stores, which have been closed for a long time, exemplified a certain type of fan who would die for Buffalo Daughter vinyl stock.
Greedy jerks, or “collectors” as my record store coworkers call them.
I’ve always been of the mindset vinyl is a gift that you share with others, not horde for yourself.
In any case, prepare. The Tokyo trio, which formed in 1993, is visiting the Bay Area to commemorate the reissue of their albums New Rock and I on double vinyl, which was originally released 25 years ago. It’s going to be a fantastic night (vinyl merch alert) in Du Nord’s cozy basement.
Grab tickets here.
KUZCO, I VIBE, SHE VIBES (COOP PRESENTS)
The esteemed CoOp Presents label bosses, IG Culture and Alex Phountzi, have done the work of art curators. Luminaries in the world of electronic music recording—broken beat and digital rhythms from the African diaspora and beyond—who envision worlds beyond their contributions to the art form. Their five-year-old imprint remains a go-to platform for discovering who is next on the Bruk adjacent horizon.
It’s Kuzco an Australian-Maori vocalist, keyboardist, and producer based in Melbourne.
I Vibe, She Vibes, Kuzco’s debut EP, is a four-track, 16-minute bass-driven workout that follows her “Immunity”from the They’re Energised compilation, curated by the mighty mighty Allysha Joy. With a highly tuned synth arrangement, snap-tick broken beat cadence, 80’s electro accents, and a snackable taste of that jackin’ Detroit flavor, it covers all the bases.
She cites, and you can hear the playfulness of, Charlotte Adigery, Paula Tape, and Peggy Gou as influences for the songwriting elements, to name a few. But this arrangement of ideas—throbbing bump and sway production value. Even that “woop” that opens the EP on “Drooling” with the dagger arp synthesizer bass line falling in. That’s all her.
It is now official with this warm weather jump-off. Kuzco, a new talent with seasoned sass, has joined the chat. Pick it up here.
NOISE POP PRESENTS SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ QUARRY AMPHITHEATER, AUGUST 4 & 5
Get a head start on experiencing rad music in bucolic settings. One week before Outside Lands descends upon Golden Gate Park and certain parts of San Francisco, check out a different part of Northern California bringing the noise. Head up to Santa Cruz to see Sound Tribe Sector 9 in what some call “Red Rocks in the Redwoods” at UCSC’s Quarry Amphitheater.
With 12 albums released in the last 20 years, the band, an instrumental five-piece, has set the template for EDM in The Bay Area through hybrid design. During the late 1990s boom, they were feeding the frenzy.
“We’re so stoked to be back at The Quarry for a weekend of shows. Santa Cruz is our home and it means the world to grow this event and showcase the beautiful Santa Cruz community” says STS9.
Carved from a former limestone quarry that began in the 1800s, the historic 60-plus-year-old Quarry Amphitheater that is located at the heart of the UC Santa Cruz campus reopened after a major renovation in October 2017 and today, hosts a limited number of touring concert events each summer and student activities year-round with its 2600-capacity, semi-circle asymmetrical design.
Grab tickets here.