Savages take all the nonsense that comes with being a much-hyped buzz band and pummel it into the ground on their intense sophomore album. Love and its various manifestations fuels these songs — “if you don’t love me, don’t love anybody,” androgynous frontwoman Jehnny Beth sings over a grinding riff on “The Answer.” The jagged post-punk groove of a song like “Husbands” returns on “Evil,” though it’s darker and more drawn out, as the band knows it can command attention without having to shake it out as it once did. Though many of these songs go for the jugular, restraint serves the band well on “Adore,” a slow-burner that clears the way for a Beth’s singular refrain, “I adore life,” a statement of purpose that drives the band into a fearless crescendo. It takes that kind of conviction to overcome the bullshit of being in an all-female band and both held to an unfair standard and knocked down by anyone tired of the hype — as if the breathless coverage of the band’s live shows and prior album, Silence Yourself, was at all their fault. It doesn’t matter, anyway —the band’s follow-up album is endlessly intriguing and, despite lacking obvious hooks, grips you the more you listen. Simply allow the band to exist on its own terms, and you won’t be disappointed by Adore Life. Watch their episode of "What's In My Bag?" below.
Oakland based hip-hop crew Zion I's sole remaining member Zumbi has been keeping busy, performing and recording as Zion I ever since his longtime musical partner/co-founder Amp Live quit the group a year ago. Next week on January 28th, Zion I performs at the Federal Underground in Long Beach on a bill with 2Mex and Crimewave 5150. On a separate bill a week later, Amp Live performs on February 4th with Vokab Company. When he split Zion I a year ago, he said it was to focus more on his solo work and the increasing number of outside projects he is undertaking. One of these is the new project Unified Highway. Unified Highway is the collaboration project of Amp Live and Rebelution founding member Eric Rachmany. As producer, Amp Live gracefully fuses the reggae vibes Rachmany brings with electronic and other flavors, creating a fresh new sound. Unified Highway's self-titled full-length vinyl release will be dropping in March.
Zion I fans will be happy to know that one of the album's many guests is Zumbi. He returns on a track with The Grouch, recalling the popular Heroes in the City of Dope 2006 collaboration between Zion I and The Grouch. Among the other forthcoming album guests are Busy Signal, Keznamdi, New Kingston, Shana Halligan, Garrett Douglas, and Sophia Scott.
Among all the top ten hip-hop albums in 2015 that caught my ear was Tone Tank's late in the year cassette release ONE-OFFs & ONE-UPMANSHIPs via indie Brooklyn label Modern Shark. It's the super-gifted Brooklyn emcee's first release in five years. The wait was worth it for what the longtime NY hop-hop artist considers his first official solo album. Complimenting Tone's unique flow and always engaging storytelling hip-hop style is a well-chosen array of mic and production collaborators. These include Serengeti, Cool Calm Pete, Kool A.D., Edan, Victor Vic, J Howells Werthman, and his longtime production partner Scott Thorough. Other 2015 albums that made my top list included UK poet/emcee Kate Tempest's Bad Place For A Good Time (Big Dada), Knxwledge's Hud Dreems (Stones Throw), and Blackalicious's Imani, Vol. I (Black Mines). Their first album in a decade, it was also released in an instrumental LP version.
Sketch comedy and stand-up comedy are enjoying a healthy renaissance all over including in the Bay Area. With an already rich history for stand-up comedy, more Bay Area venues have begun accommodating comedy nights in recent years. Most of these are not the traditional two-drink minimum styled styled comedy club. A good example is tonight's (and every Monday night's) popular weekly East Bay event Move Along, Nothing to See Here at The Night Light at 311 Broadway near Jack London Square (8pm, no cover). Tonight's lineup includes Joey Devine, Cameron Vanini, Ben Kolina, and Gabby O'Poccia. Night Light co-owner Johnny "Scobey" Nackley said that with the East Bay's vibrant comedy scene it's important to include comedy shows alongside music nights.
Meanwhile, tonight in San Francisco Nato Green (SF Sketchfest / Iron Comic) will be at Doc's Lab at 124 Columbus Ave. (8pm, $8 - $10) - the former site of the famed Purple Onion. Presented by local NPR station KALW, tonight's show features Janine Brito, Chris Thayer, David Gborie, Trevor Hill, Matt Lieb, Kurt Weitzmann, and Emily Epstein White. Another show in SF tonight is the monthly comedy night “Am I Rite?” with Torio Van Grol headlining at the Rite Spot Cafe at 2099 Folsom St. (near 17th) (9pm, no cover).
Last week we had an experience at Amoeba Music that was about as different as it gets for us. Clothing designer Stella McCartney presented her upcoming Autumn 2016 line at the store at an exclusive party that drew some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
|I hate to use the word "fierce," but how else do you describe Carrie Brownstein here?|
Needless to say, it was something new for us, but we were game. Who’s to say we at Amoeba can’t rub shoulders with starlets and models?
It was definitely a thrill to see people as famous as Gwyneth Paltrow, Quincy Jones and Kim Gordon stroll into Amoeba on the black carpet while bulbs flashed and journalists got into it about who was wearing what. I got the chance to chat with Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”), who revealed to me that her first album was Aqua (I assured her mine was no cooler with Ace of Base). I spoke with fashion icon Rachel Zoe, who told me her first concert was U2. And I share a moment with Mary J. Blige, although I mostly just mumbled some nonsense because she is awesome and looked like an angel.