No official proclamation has been issued, but with Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass both around the corner, San Francisco is once again on the precipice of what many locals consider to be the prime of live music season.
Speaking of Outside Lands: festival organizers have unveiled a few marquee aftershows to keep the tunes going after Golden Gate Park goes dark. They include an Aug. 4 mixtape release show from Pussy Riot and intimate bookings with Phoebe Bridgers (Aug. 5, The Independent) and Best Coast (Aug. 6, Rickshaw Stop).
Looking ahead to the fall, fans of last year’s Halloween Meltdown in Mosswood Park can start awaiting its return this October, with recently announced headliners Amyl and the Sniffers and hometown favorites Shannon and the Clams.
Read on for a rundown of five new local releases.
Oakland’s Spacemoth Draws Inspiration From Afghan Heritage
Yes, technically, Berkeley’s Maryam Qudus released her debut album on July 22. But the psychedelic space-pop of Spacemoth is not to be ignored. Under the moniker, Qudus taps into her upbringing as a first-generation Afghan-American on tracks like “Pipe and Pistol,” which pairs lyrics detailing the challenges of “building a new life in America” with a looping drum line, dreamy vocals and chirping synths. The pace slows a bit on the brooding “UFObird,” while “Asking for You” is a simple, quiet love song. Ultimately, every track on the album is the beneficiary of the knowledge Qudus gained during stints with local institutions like San Francisco’s Women’s Audio Mission and John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone recording studio. To see these songs come to life, grab a ticket for Spacemoth’s special record release show on Friday, Aug. 12 at Bandcamp Oakland with support from There’s Talk and Beaunoise.
Small Agency Records Full-Length in Abandoned Downtown Office
After the pandemic hit the city in March of 2020, it took six months for designer Brad Kayal to return to the office. In his case, it was an ad agency in downtown San Francisco, which by early 2021, still resembled, in Kayal’s words, “a ghost town.” With everyone working remotely, Kayal and his friend, fellow designer Matt Wyne, schelped a drum set and other equipment into what would become Small Agency’s makeshift studio. The music video for lead single “Don’t Let It Go” offers viewers a look at this layout while also showcasing the duo’s knack for lush harmonies and wistful pop. Recorded last summer and mixed by Kayal over the winter, Small Agency’s debut record, Don’t Let It Go, offers a compelling case for making the most of a bad situation. Across the album’s eight tracks, Small Agency blends lyrical introspection with sonic uplift in ways uniquely indebted to their choice of recording studio. “We recorded some of the vocals in the office bathroom because we wanted some natural reverb,” Kayal shared. “We also sang into an acoustic guitar to get some sympathetic resonance. We had no engineer watching the clock, so we got to try whatever we wanted.”
Grateful Dead Drummer Returns With Percussion Supergroup, Planet Drum
It would be a mistake to classify Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s sidegig as a member of Planet Drum as a mere vanity project. The recipient of the first-ever Grammy Award for Best World Music Album for 1991’s Planet Drum, the group won the trophy again for 2007’s Global Drum Project. Now, after a 15-year hiatus, the percussive supercollective is back with In the Groove. Out Aug. 5, the band’s latest effort finds Hart collaborating with fellow rhythm masters Zakir Hussain (India), Giovanni Hidalgo (Puerto Rico) and Sikiru Adepoju (Nigeria) for six exuberant and, at times, altogether hypnotizing tracks steeped in the percussive sounds of drums, sticks and hands. Somehow, the music sounds even sweeter upon learning that Hussain’s father—the great Indian tabla player Allarakha—was a close friend of Hart’s and influenced the Dead’s interest in unusual time signatures. Today, that bond continues in the form of Hart’s close friendship with the late Allarakha’s son. Recognized today as “the pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time,” Hussain’s friendship and working relationship with Hart is an inspiring testament to a musical partnership now in its second generation. “I thought there was a great need for this,” reads a statement from Hart in a release for In the Groove. “Rhythmic unity among cultures is what Planet Drum is about, and with the world in torment, it sends a powerful message of healing.”
Members of Boy Scouts & Ezra Furman’s Band Join Forces On New Project
When Oakland’s Taylor Vick got together with Erza Furman collaborators Sam Durkes and Trevor Brooks in January 2020, the idea was to write music with an eye toward film and television projects. Already acclaimed for her solo work under the moniker Boy Scouts, Vick agreed to join Durkes and Brooks in an Oakland studio with no expectations. The sessions would ultimately result in the formation of a new band: Art Moore. On the trio’s self-titled debut, Vick’s immense talent for lyrics and melodies shine once again on this strong collection of delicate songs. Steeped in subtle electronic flourishes, tracks like the achingly gorgeous “Rewind” suggest that the trio of Vick, Durkes and Brooks—each so individually gifted—may somehow be even better than the sum of its parts. Art Moore’s creative appetite even extended beyond the studio to include making the art featured in the videos for early singles like “A Different Life.” Catch them live when they play Thee Parkside on October 13.
Osees, Titans of SF’s Mid-2000s Garage Rock Revival, Drop New LP
It’s true: members of the Osees (aka Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees, etc) have Los Angeles zip codes these days. But where vocalist and guitarist John Dwyer, bassist Tim Hellman, keyboardist Tomas Dolas and drummers Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone get their mail delivered is beside the point. Osees will forever be a San Francisco rock band. The current iteration of the group, first formed back in 1997, is scheduled to play a three-night run at the Chapel in San Francisco from September 5-7. The occasion? The release of A Foul Form—a new album the band describes in press materials as “an homage to the punk bands we grew up on.” Part of the forthcoming record’s promotional efforts also include a message provided by punk icon Henry Rollins. “Osees don’t seem to mutate or morph so much as remain extraordinarily open to what moves them to do next and capable of getting music done that’s consistently good,” the statement reads in part. For a taste of what’s to come, check out the Logan Feser-directed music video for lead single “Funeral Solution.”
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