San Francisco has always been and continues to be a DJ-friendly city. People from all over the world come to attend a modern boogie night where up to 17 DJs play vinyl exclusively. This shows dedication on both ends.
David Harness is a treasure to the city, connecting with sets that radiate on a higher frequency—catch him throw down sunny, soulful house sounds Sat/7 during the Electric Fields daytime party at Monarch Gardens in SoMa. The SF dancefloor intelligentsia has always had love and made space for all genres of music, whether it’s bass-centric, hip-hop, acid-jazz, jungle, UK garage, drum and bass, dub, broken beat, footwork, juke, or techno. If it makes the make the bass bins and booty shake, that’s a win.
It’s great to see the San Francisco Park Department and SF Parks Alliance acknowledge this fact.
DJ Umami, resident selecta for the SF Giants, has joined the party for the final installment of Noise Pop’s free Due South 2023 series featuring Sheila E. and the E-Train on Sat/7 at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park. I witnessed Umami rip it up at 2022’s Outside Lands, so expect that type of energy from her opening for Bay Area original Sheila E.
The following Sunday, October 15, at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell you can catch DJ QBert, DJ Sep, Olly, Tik Tak, and MF Mama bringing turntablism, breaks, juke, jungle, and drum & bass to a family-friendly outdoor setting, from noon to 4pm, all for free. Stick around for Crucial Reggae Sundays right afterward at 4:20pm featuring DJ Sep if you want to keep it moving with that Sunday Funday revelry.
That’s how this city gets down.
But remember, it’s Under The Stars, babe, a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes and thinking outside the margins.
Let us begin with our Bandcamp Pick of The Week…….
JAY STONE, STONE STU (GOLD ROBOT RECORDS)
After years of yearning for it, I finally copped a vinyl wax version of bassist-producer Dougie Stu’s 2020 stand-out Familiar Future record, which was mixed at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studio before it closed. It just had an old soul spirit to it, ya know? I slapped it on the turntable, and that combination of soul-jazz, hip-hop, and R&B, presented in hyperreal astral jazz form, reassured me of my choices. Hitting up a Brijean concert at The Independent to purchase it was well worth the effort last summer. Seeing that band, headed by duo Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart, with Stanley Ipkuss djing in-between on the same bill, live and killing it on a Saturday night on Divisidero was a supreme SF moment from a summer of top-notch live performances.
I always imagined that Familiar Future would be even better with some emcees on it, as the record had that type of alchemy just waiting for the proper vocal flow.
Fast-forward to my wish, Stone Stu by Oakland emcee Jay Stone, is just that lived-in, mellow, and mystical ensemble of lushness that I always knew could work. Produced by Brijean’s Dougie Stu himself, this eight-track release, an ode to what we feed ourselves, as stated in the Bandcamp liner notes, is a balance of electric bass lines, Rhodes piano chords, live flutes, and violins, but most importantly, emcees who respect space, take time and become part of the milieu.
Not shout over it.
Nappy Nina hops on a track with elite bars, as always, she rips, but it’s Jay Stone and Dougie Stu’s mind-meld vision, forever stamped on the brain with the supreme closer “MINCEDSAFFRON,” that makes this a low-key banger for the 2023 season. “Gumbo” is another centerpiece that has less is so much more vibes all over it.
Many hip-hop projects claim “smoking weed and talking about life and philosophy in the backyard was a starting point” for recording projects. STONE STU will make you a believer in that process.
Cop it here.
DANIEL ÖGREN, FASTINGEN 92 (MR BONGO)
Sometimes, you strike gold when gambling on those rare records that defy genre categorization but always deliver exceptional musicianship, above-par execution, and a little spirit that urges you to hold on just a little longer. You’ll find bliss if you keep your ear open just enough.
Daniel Ögren is a key artist in Sweden’s contemporary underground music scene.
South American folk music, soul, Nordic folk music, and film soundtracks make his imprint sweeping and heartfelt. Genuine to the core. Trippy, but ever so real.
Fastingen-92 was initially released as a limited-edition vinyl pressing in 2020 on the independent label Sing A Song Fighter Records. After witnessing his band by chance at the Stockholm Jazz Club, the folks at Mr. Bongo decided this album needed more ears, and it was a wise decision. Genres are just words, people, but Ögren creates with feeling, grooves, colors, spaces, odd-ball tactics, and wide-open soulful stretches that keep you buffering, saying, “No, he didn’t just do that.”
From lush acoustic chasms such as “Picasso” to the should-be James Bond theme song “Idag” featuring Anna Ahnlund, this album, beyond a crate diggers Buffett or exquisite library music, Fastingen-92 is the ultimate expression of being alive.
Cop it here.
TY SEGALL, “EGGMAN” (DRAG CITY)
Crack open your day with yolky six-string riffage and possibly an unofficial announcement of a Noise Pop artist’s performance in 2024. Our boy, Ty Segall, the psychedelic guitar shaman with that workaholic stamina, similar to Jon Dwyer of whichever Osees spelling you choose, puts out records quicker than the Niners score touchdowns or lose quarterbacks in NFC title games.
His new single “Eggman,” co-written by Ty and Denée Segall, strikes the right balance of noise, fuzz, and sludgy riffs, proving further that Segall is one of the spectral rock musicians of his generation. But peep the listing of two live shows at the Great American Music Hall on February 20th and 21st. Noise Pop’s official dates for 2024 are Feb 20-26 on their site.
While it’s unclear if this is an unofficial first listing of an act or performance for SF’s all-inclusive, crosstown, downtown, around-town music party that reads vast and feels personal, it still means good music will reign in the same time span.
Stay tuned boppers…..
KHRUANGBIN, LIVE AT THE FILLMORE MIAMI (DEAD OCEANS/NIGHT TIME STORIES)
Since taking the country, and actually the world, by storm with their YouTube-friendly live shows, Khruangbin— the power trio from Austin, Texas, who can play blues, psychedelia, fusion, jazz, country, funk, and back up any hip-hop artist looking for a real tight band—have proven they thrive from the buzz of performing in front of the masses. They’ve extended that joy by recording Herculean concert sets and having friends who open for the band take part in their live record series. For the latest edition, Oakland’s own Toro Y Moi gets space to deliver selections from recently released albums, with tracks that have the legs to fill and move sold-out performance halls. And not just with those chillwave vibes either.
“Ordinary Pleasure” from 2019 gets downtown chic with elite head-nodding energy to kick off a show, and selections from 2022’s Mahal, especially “The Loop” and “Millennium,” become even more intricate and potent outside of the recording studio.
For Khruangbin’s set, they do what everyone knows will happen: Blow the roof off.
From the hazy Roy Ayers-esque “First Class,” through the psyche-blues stunner of “August 12,” to the dub funk moment that is “August 10,” and closing out with a burner of a Daptone-type dart of “Maria Tambien,”, with a little guess the sample medley in between, you have a first-class shindig for your podhole or Technic 1200.
Both mini-shows, do not miss.
Grab it here.
VAGABON, SORRY I HAVEN’T CALLED (NONSUCH RECORDS)
I was a big fan of the indie rock vibe that Cameroon-born artist Laetitia Tamko, also known as Vagabon, brought to the world in 2019 with her self-titled sophomore record. It was refreshing to see artists like Jay Som, Toro Y Moi, Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, Khruangbin, and Vagabon redefine what indie rock could be, giving new fans an entryway into the genre. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw the video for “Can I Talk My Sh*t?” and witnessed Vagabon dropping it low, and I do mean really low, on a tow truck. Things have definitely changed.
Vagabon’s latest release, Sorry I Haven’t Called, marks a new era for Tamko. Through 12 bold tracks, she showcases newfound energy through dance arrangements, primarily on the pop side with her indie strands at the fringes. These informal, chatty-talky numbers, written and produced by her primarily in Germany, uplift and were born out of grief after Tamko’s best friend passed away in 2021. Sorry I Haven’t Called finds positive moments wherever they can be found, completing a process of healing. Once again, Tamko expands the indie rock prism a bit wider on a macro level.
SOCCER MOMMY, KARAOKE NIGHT EP ( LOMA VISTA)
A good friend of mine is a huge fan of cover songs or, better yet cover albums. I imagine she envisions it as the only time master musicians get gooey with inspiration and tap into that “what made them begin their journey” type energy. It’s their public karaoke moment.
And that’s exactly what Nashville-based artist Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy has done with her surprisingly accessible and pretty good Karaoke Night EP, where she covers songs by Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift, R.E.M., Pavement, and Slowdive.
Let me just say, that I am not a Soccer Mommy, daddy. Nope, not even close.
I don’t even know what her big choons are. So why am I writing about this EP? I accidentally came across her cover of “Losing My Religion,” and dug it, she added a new shade of heft to the classic, but it’s different, new inflections. I’m an OG REM fan (like Murmur, Reckoning, and all the joints that made college radio become alternative back in the day), and I was impressed. Then I listened to her cover of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun” (not even a big SC fan) and really enjoyed the quirky turns she makes with it. I ended up listening to the whole EP with the rock star karaoke idea in mind.
There is a Pavement cover here that has grungy country stems connected to the indie heart that works really well on “Here” and the Taylor Swift joint “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” with synthy refrains and a steady backbeat, it feels like your Tuesday night karaoke spot where the chicken fingers and tater tots remain legit.
Get a taste in the record store cause the Bandcamp is sold out here.