Music

Nineteen Hand Horse: Cowboy music from the wild, wild...

Archangel and her husband, Mark Montijo, were scratching out a living as musicians when they met, years ago, in L.A. “I saw friends approaching 40 and still not making a living,” she said. “We played music a bit, and I wrote songs—then suddenly the stars aligned. We started playing as a duo and put a band together. Why it took so many years, I’ll never know.”

Ah-Mer-Ah-Su: Oakland soul transported to the sunny South

“I want my art to deal in reality, so the vibe expresses a temperamental feeling,” Amerasu said. “Being inside for a year was exhausting. I want to go out and do all the things I like to do. I wrote it a while ago, but it fits perfectly with the mood of post-pandemic life. I know it’s not over. We’re still moving toward some version of a new reality.”

Sugar Candy Mountain: Bright songs from the heart of...

While the songs on 'Impression' often reflect the stressful events of the past year and a half—wildfires, Covid, sheltering in place—the buoyant melodies, positive lyrics, playful production and Reiter’s breezy vocals shower your ears to unexpected musical sparks.

Destroy Boys: On the road again with open hearts

"The music on 'Open Mouth, Open Heart' is aggressively punk, with nuances of metal, folk, country, pop and Latin music drifting through the mix. The set opens with 'Locker Room Bully,' a song that describes the tribulations of high school women. A forceful vocal from Roditis likens her adolescent harassment to the hysteria of a witch-hunt, as a wall of electric guitar chords and Malik’s formidable backbeat support her."

The Essential Zion-I

Some emcees rap. Others make art. Zumbi Zoom aka Zion of Zion-I aka Steve Gaines...

Mae Powell: Songs of innocence and experience

j. poet writes, "The melodies Powell composed to accompany her musings are as boundless as the feelings she describes. Jazz, folk, rock, samba, blues, soul, country music and more slip and slide together, producing a sound both familiar and distinct. 'I don’t have a conscious style, I listen to everything,' Powell said."

A Beautiful Night: Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist bring...

D'Andre Ball reports back from San Francisco's 1015 Folsom and the collaborative energy that Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist shared with the crowd.

The Umbrellas: Making beautiful music together

"Every track on The Umbrellas shimmers with pure pop energy," writes j. poet. "Luminous chords from Ferrara’s organ and bright acoustic guitar fill open 'Lonely,' a mid-tempo love song that’s balanced between hope and regret."

Sonic Frontiers: Deeply informed by traditional music of the...

"An Oakland guitarist and composer with a rigorously conceived and wide-open aesthetic, Evangelista is a creative force at the sonic frontiers where the Bay Area’s new music scene bleeds into jazz. Deeply informed by traditional music of the Philippines, he designed Apura by drawing on folkloric melodies, though the musical conversation unfurled with the roiling ebb and surge of a jazz colloquy," writes Andrew Gilbert in this week's music section.

Yoshi’s Oakland reopens with a full roster of live...

Lou Fancher interviews Yoshi's Oakland's General Manager and Artistic Director about the reopening of the beloved Jazz venue this month after over a year of uncertainty. "Surviving the 16-month lockdown was incredibly tough for Yoshi’s,' she writes, "even with nearly 50 years of notable popularity in Oakland to its name."

Spellling: Hopeful visions of the future

“‘Little Wheel’ is one of my all time favorite songs,” [Spellling] said. “[Sainte-Marie] does everything I wanted to do on this album in that one song. The theme of ephemerality of time and how special it is to be here, on this planet, as a human. Trying to grasp these big moments we get to share with each other while here and trying to hold onto them. She can speak to grandiose concepts, but the words are so detailed. My album is about that.”

Thought Leaders: Oakland quartet showers splinters of light into...

“Musically, we were in an intense and dark place to begin with,” guitarist Andrew Lund said. “The pandemic paved the way for the album to be recorded in a way that allowed us to put that kind of energy into it. It was touch and go for a while, musically and personally. None of us knew what was going to happen. I don’t think anybody did.” j.poet talks with the East Bay band on moving forward with a debut album post-pandemic.

Ancient Future: Global music without limits

"Ancient Future, the collective led by guitarist Matthew Montfort, can take many forms, from solo excursions by Montfort, to ensembles of three, five or 10 members, drawn from the 28 master musicians who rotate in and out of performances. Montfort usually takes center stage, stating the melodies on his scalloped fretboard guitar that he's been playing since the first Ancient Future concert in 1978."

Jenn Johns leads the vanguard as live concerts reappear

Eric K. Arnold sits down with singer Jennifer Johns to discuss Oakland history, Joni Mitchell, and finally being able to return to live shows post-pandemic.
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