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Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Wet your summer whistle with 40...

Under the Stars: Wet your summer whistle with 40 years of ‘Purple Rain’

Plus: Temperatures rise on Kaytranada's 'Timeless,' Mary Timony gets in her bag, dancing in Yerba Buena Gardens, more music

So here we are, people. Dead set in the early-mid ’80s nostalgic ballyhoo I warned ya about a couple months ago.

A glowering retro-tastic Pitchfork review of Cyndi Laupers She’s So Unusual album from 1983, since she’s doing a farewell tour and the record is about 40 years old. The title of track “Money Changes Everything” keeps proving to be my motto in life—such a fantastic ’80s sentiment that nonetheless speaks to any decade.

We’ve been seeing numerous platforms review, rewind, and remind us of Bruce Springsteen’s prowess on Born In The USA, which is also hitting on 40 years old too. Respect to Bruce, but that’s not my jam. Though “Hungry Heart” from The River had the sauce—”Got a wife and kid in Baltimore, Jack”—best intro ever.

But it’s the 40th anniversary of the really, really big one, the Purple One, that really everybody is yappin’ about, and it’s warranted. Prince’s Purple Rain is an American classic, in its vinyl form and on the big screen. Put it on and revel in it.

Our friends at The Guild Theatre in Menlo Park are putting a bit of a zag on The Purple Rain anniversary. They’ve secured a copy of Sign o’ The Times, the 1987 concert film directed by, scored by, and starring Prince and will show it on Thu/20 at 6:30pm and 8:30pm.

Sign o’ The Times originally premiered in Detroit on October 29, 1987 and was released nationwide the following November 20. It didn’t knock out the box office upon release—it actually bombed. But, it became a classic as soon as it hit VHS.

In total, 13 songs appear in the film, 11 from the studio album by the same name and two others, a brief piano version of “Little Red Corvette” and a cover version of Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time,” performed without Prince and showcasing each member of the band. Sheila E almost steals the show. 

With stage props, little vignettes showcasing the ham-and-cheese stage persona Prince could have when not singing, it’s a post-Revolution performance that reminds fans and and naysers that while Purple Rain was his best commercial product, after its release, Prince would continue to play the stinking beejeesus outta anything and everything he set his mind to.

God bless that five-foot genius.

You can get the specifics and tickets of The Guild’s Sign o’ The Times screenings here.

BUT—in the meantime….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.

My manners. 

HAPPY PRIDE EVERYONE.

And off we go…

RAVEN, SECRETS

Bay Area genre-defying artist Raven pulls together several eras of instrumental, ambient, wanting-to-be dance ideas on the album Secrets. It’s a daunting view into how punk-jazz ideas can wrap around ’80s synth arrangments and still sound ultra-modern, without falling into trope-land.

Raven is apparently known for pushing musical boundaries and crafting immersive auditory experiences, but there are a couple of tracks here that summon “Miami Vice” (the TV show) vibes. When Crocket or Tubbs are contemplating maneuvers, that is—not the dance jams. We are talking moody interludes. Or, some would just say, ‘ludes. That’s cool too.

“Windows” is a hooky little jam with bright melodies and sinister refrains. “Relics” kinda hits like an outtake from a crime drama or when “Duckie” from Pretty In Pink decides to take matters into his own hands while feeling tipsy off one juice box.

I’m kidding, but these arrangments mosh-up science-fiction ideas with pedestrian behaviors: Raven makes peculiar arrangments that keep you guessing long after the mango sunset has called it a day.

Grab it here.

SAY SHE SHE, “IN THE MORNING” (BBE RECORDS)

Sometimes it just comes down to going into the rabbit hole to catch your chune.

I’ve been digging on the Say She She project, based out of Brooklyn, which has been out on Karma Cheif Records for a couple years now. This female led, eight-piece ensemble, named as a silent nod to Nile Rodgers’ Chic, have been making dance floor turnkey operators for a couple years now.

Solid stuff.

But then, as I was randomly listening to a top-notch DJ mix, the group’s “In The Morning” just jumped out and rolled all the way down. Talking bassline, shimmery vocals, high-steppin’ melodies and horns sliding all over the track—it’s one of the most forward-operating, chest-out thumpers I’ve heard in a minute.

This song, “In The Morning”, was originally given away as a bonus 7″ white label promo by Karma Chief to buyers purchasing Say She She’s debut album Prism from Bandcamp. It is the first track to be pre-released from a 19 track BBE compilation, The Craig Charles Trunk of Funk Vol. 3, due out on July 5, when it will be available digitally for the first time. Add it to your summertime rotational. With tracks from Syl Johnson and Roy Ayers, too, you’ll have your red cupper party running all summer long.

Pre-order here.

MARY TIMONY, “WHAT’S IN MY BAG” (AMOEBA)

“Mary Timony always sounds like she’s in control. Even at its most exuberant—the zoned-out trills and slanted poetry of Helium’s The Magic City, the hot-rod anthems of Ex Hex—her music exudes a calm, impenetrable confidence.” That’s a snippet from Pitchfork’s review of Untame The Tiger.

It’s gotten some rave reviews from various platforms… and here’s what is interesting: they are not saying the same damn thing.

From quips about her being a rock ‘n’ roll lifer to descriptions of an album that refuses to be married to one genre, it’s doing this thing, spinning new ideas to various ears, that’s a triumph.

Timony has been escribed by Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein as “Mary Shelley with a guitar”—there is a reason Lindsey Jordan aka Snail Mail studied with her.

But all of that gets condensed into a simple and telling form with her “What’s In My Bag” segment for Amoeba. I keep going back to this series by the folks who sell tons of records at the end of Haight Street because there are no better educators about music than master musicians talking about what strikes their fancy. What records took them by surprise… they even sometimes share thoughts on what they deem is a pile of hot stinking poo.

For example, we find out here that Timony is a Jethro Tull head. Didn’t see that one coming.

That’s the charm of this wise and intelligent tool with which Amoeba keeps us on our toes.

KAYTRANADA, TIMELESS (RCA)

When Lewis Kevin Celestin, producing under the moniker of Kaytranada, exploded onto the scene with a 2013 unofficial rework of Janet Jackson’s “If,” it set his name ablaze on Soundcloud. Jackson herself reached out to the producer to signal approval. His bass-heavy, vocal-floating creation made Jackson’s voice more upfront, by pushing it into the background and framing those chord progressions and atmospherics at the front of the mix.

His ensuing debut album 99.9%, a 15-track, award-winning declaration, saw the producer conquer Canada and the rest of the world by finding the right combination of audio tones and euphoric slump for the vocalists, rappers, and artists who knew what was up from that take on Jackson’s throat-clearing bop.

His “Lite Spots,” a sample-based takeover of the classic “Pontos de Luz” by Gal Costa, took the vocal under a 4/4 tempo. It’s not exactly house or EDM, but a mash-up of all types of dance music, or as Celestin’s brother jokingly proclaimed in a Fader Magazine interview at the time, “it’s black tropical house”.

You can expect more of that elite dynamism production with his new Kaytranada album TIMELESS, which spans 21 tracks and features collaborations with the likes of Thundercat, PinkPantheress, Dawn Richard, Anderson .Paak, and Childish Gambino. It also includes two previously released singles in “Stuntin” with Channel Tres and “Lover/Friend” with Rochelle Jordan.

On his third album, following 99.9% and the GRAMMY-winning BUBBA, Celestin puts something new into the world, and that’s reason enough to expect warm weather in and outside the club.

Pick it up here.

DANCE OUTDOORS WITH RHYTHM & MOTION AT YERBA BUENA GARDENS, WEDNESDAYS

Sometimes climbing stairs is for the birds; power-walking through Golden Gate Park not available to you. And besides, wouldn’t you rather be dancing outdoors, in the sun, with grass under your feet and a collection of people you don’t know, but who all share that same great appetite for movement in nature? Well, hold tight Sparky, we’ve got an exercise answer for you.

Rhythm & Motion is a low-pressure, full-bodied dance workout class that balances the euphoria of a good party with the challenge of learning choreography and movement techniques. 

Now, for your summertime jones, the dance party is happening at noon on Wednesdays at the Yerba Buena Gardens, when Rhythm & Motion and YBG Festival invite dancers of all levels to weekly, one-hour workout classes in a serene outdoor space. They suggest wearing comfortable clothing and supportive shoes suitable for grass. 

Bring water, layers for unpredictable weather (summertime or not SF can get freaky with the forecast), and the mindset of movement connecting us all. Reservations are encouraged, and drop-ins are welcome.

Wednesdays at noon-1pm until October. Yerba Buena Gardens, Great Lawn, SF. Call (415) 543-1718 or more info and RSVP here.

FAST TIMES + GALINE PRESENT: VELVET GOLDMINE AT FOUR STAR THEATER, JUNE 27

Listen up, buttercup. Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine is a modern classic in its own right, deserving of praise at any time of the year. We should have forecasted that Velvet Underground doc from 2021 that’s on the horizon. 

Our friends at FAST TIMES! and Galine from Seablite are showcasing the unofficial Bowie files in the final days of Pride month, along with a drag show, music, and vendors selling amazing art. Low-key coolness with that rock edge to close out June with the best fake Ziggy Stardust ever? Come on down and celebrate the glitter.

Purchase tickets here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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