There’s an interesting contest and event called the Oaktown Music Festival which showcases and celebrates musical talent hailing from the other side of the Bay Bridge. San Francisco always seems to steal the Bay Area music spotlight, so it’s refreshing and exciting to see some Oakland representation.
The contest is put on by local Oakland venue, Awaken Cafe and entertainment production company, Oaktown Indie Mayhem. The first round of the contest began with an online song and video contest in which bands were nominated and voted upon by judges and the public. This year, there were supposedly 2,100 submissions and 30 band finalists selected. The final round of winners (see below) were selected by a jury (musicians, writers, marketers, producers, etc.) and have been given the title: “Best of Oakland.” The winners will be headlining the Winners’ Party/Concert on November 15th & 16th at Awaken Cafe, and are also given recording time at Fantasy Studios, along with other perks.
Below are hand-picked, highlighted (and alphabetized) winners and finalists – Some beloved, some newfound joys, and a couple of wacky gems ranging from groovy funk, whimsical folk, surf/punk/psych-rock and “chill pop.” I’ve included commentary on any of the bands I’ve actually seen live; hopefully more so in the future.
My boyfriend, an Oakland resident, (does this mean I get some Oakland street cred?) introduced me to Bells Atlas. We saw them play an insane debut album release show back in June at The New Parish in Oakland. They have a huge and loving Oakland/Berkeley fan following, which was easy to hear and see why. They’re an extremely talented, vibrant, groovy, funky group.
Bells Atlas – Loving Your Down (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Video)
Emily Moldy – My Own One (Won: Best in Show – People’s Choice)
Fever Charm – Magazine
Minute is 4-piece of good lookin’ boys and their good lookin’ musical toys. I saw them play a packed show at The Stork Club in Oakland and it was a sweaty good time. Occasionally a trombone was thrown into the mix and people commenced to dance up a storm. They also did a cover of Keyboard Cat just for kicks and I nearly went insane with excitement. This is one of their dreamier, psych-inspired slow jams:
Minute – Adrift
This year I saw Shannon and the Clams play at Burger Records’ Burger Bugaloo Music Festival in Oakland, and as an opener for Sonny & The Sunsets in SF. They’re one of my favorite Bay Area acts to see live and they always steal the show! The rippin’ three piece look and sound like something out of the movie Hairspray, and their jams are so damn catchy. I obsessively listened to their latest LP, Dreams in the Rat House, for a good three weeks.
Shannon and the Clams – Rip Van Winkle (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
The Tambo Rays – Take That (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
Tin Cup Serenade – Sunny Oakland Day (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
We Became Owls – Suitcase (Won: Runner Up for Best Song)
Experimental art-rockers, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan have been on radars and piquing serious interest ever since their raving 2011 debut album, YT//ST and, “Lamia,” an Adult Swim Single Series release last year. The self-proclaimed “Asian diasporic psychedelic noh-wave opera group,” is a mouthful to say, but luckily a delightful earful as well.
The 6-piece group hailing from Canada describes their sound as a fuse of “noise, metal, pop and folk music into a multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool of ‘eastern’ culture in giant monochrome paper sets.” Still with us? The group says they blend “Noh, Peking Opera, Buddhist Ritual Punk, Taiko Shows, Tokusatsu, Performance Art, Rock Opera and a cardboard ‘NEVERFLAT’ style of 2.5D set design.” All of this bizarreness wrapped up in one band? You betta believe it!
In eager anticipation, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan have just released a new gem, “One” which can be found on their sophomore LP, UZU due out October 29th via Suicide Squeeze (US) and Paper Bag (Canada) – Exciting! Have a listen and download “One” now:
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – One
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – Lamia
The weather warmed up in San Francisco this past week for a hot minute – Our (one and only) glimpse of a true summer. So naturally, all San Franciscans piled into parks, crammed onto bar patio benches, threw on floppy hats and maxi dresses, and put our instagramming hands in the air to capture the clear blue sky, like we REALLY care. Alas, the moment has passed us, and our real “Summer is Coming,” which means chilly wind and eerie fog thicker than Turkish coffee. So with that, I bring to you a fresh track roundup of hot new tracks for cool days, or for cooler heads, depending on your geographical preference:
Joywave is a Rochester, New York-based electro/experimental group mastering in mixtapes. They released their mixtape, 77777, back in March of ’11 and just released a follow-up with, you guessed it, 88888. According to Interview Magazine, “The process behind Joywave‘s upcoming mixtape is an intriguing exercise in self-improvement. … frontman Daniel Armbruster, created a record that is not comprised of new material, but rather rethinks and reintroduces material from the band’s debut EP, Koda Vista. This idea is rooted not only in the dance and hip-hop tradition of the remix, but also in the paintings of Expressionist painter Edvard Munch, who famously remade the same painting several times, in order to best communicate with his audience.”
The rework and re-visitation of Joywave‘s previous material is obviously doing them justice, as “Tongues,” a new single found on 88888, is sickeningly addictive and has fiercely shot up to the top the blogosphere charts. Have a listen to “Tongues” and download 88888 for free on Joywave’s site:
Joywave – Tongues (feat. KOPPS)
Dead Ghosts is a quad garage rock band hailing from the depths of Vancouver, British Columbia whose sound has been described as, “raunchy lo-fi, country-esque, sweet guitar pluck-and-jangle.“ Listen to “Roky Said” a nostalgic-inducing, rockin’, “garage fuzz” psychedelic jam found on their recently released LP, Can’t Get No, via Burger Records:
Dead Ghosts – Roky Said
Ooh Wampire. Let me count the ways in which I’ve idiotically missed you play, and how I’m always kicking myself for doing so. The Portland, Oregon-based indie-pysch-rock-pop band was created by longtime bffs, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps. The two “started jamming in 2001” while in middle school. Now, Wampire is signed to Polyvinyl and has been on tour with friends, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (who also produced their debut). Wampire won me over with their trippy track, “The Hearse,” and I’ve been throughly addicted since. Wampire‘s new LP, Curiosity, is due out May 14 and you can stream the entire album in advance on Pitchfork. Don’t miss these guys!
Wampire – Trains
Wampire – The Hearse
Hot & Cold is the collaboration of two young 20-something Canadian brothers, Josh and Simon Frank. The boys produce trippy, abstract, catchy, drone synth-rock and apparently made their first live debut in Beijing, of all places. According to an interview with Vice, the transnational brothers, while in Beijing, “earned a spot alongside the Rose Mansion Analog crew, joining the ranks of the Offset:Spectacles and Soviet Pop.” Have a listen to “Out of the Grey” an addictive single from Hot & Cold’s new LP, Border Area, via Moniker Records:
Hot & Cold – Out of the Grey
Phèdre is one of my all-time favorite wacky electro Canadian duo/bands, and that’s saying a lot ‘cus there are so many to choose from! Phèdre released their self-titled debut album just last year and left many hungry for more. Luckily, they’re currently in the album-producing mood and are in the process of finalizing another LP, Golden Age. “We spent the darkest days of the winter writing a new record in Berlin. We made a collage for each song. We’re gonna put this out into the universe real soooooon.” They’re also currently producing a spontaneous “ongoing record,” Eterna, in which they’re “droppin’ tracks as they come.” Listen to “Zenith,” the first track from, Eterna:
Phèdre – Zenith
Kisses is an LA-based electro-pop duo made up of Jesse Kivel & Zinzi Edmundson. Their sophomore album, Kids in LA, is due out May 14th via Cascine and was produced by Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs. Kisses is also currently and appropriately on tour with Chad Valley – A surefire dance party in the making. Have a listen to “Air Conditioning,” Kisses‘ synthtastic gem from the new LP:
Kisses – Air Conditioning
I’m convinced that great things, especially garage/rock/pop ‘n’ roll, begin with “thee” and Thee Rain Cats fall perfectly into that theory. Caleb Palomo, Miguel Gomez, Nelson Rodriguez and Patrick Palomo who make up Thee Rain Cats are a bunch of OC boys currently residing on the outskirts of Disneyland. They’ve joined the Burger Records family, like to produce insanely addictive dreamy pop “technicolor rock” gems like “Kenyah” and have just released a 7-track EP (on cassette).
Thee Rain Cats – Kenyah
Thee Rain Cats – OJ Krush
Indians is the moniker of Copenhagen-hailing, Søren Løkke Juul. Having just played his/their first show almost a year ago, the band has already impressively performed a whirlwind tour with Bear in Heaven, Lower Dens, Beirut, the CMJ music marathon in Brooklyn, and more. In continuance of their success, Indians has just signed with 4AD, will release their debut album, Somewhere Else, out January 28/29th, and will embark on a full-blown 38 show North American tour with Other Lives.
As a right of passage with the 4AD family, Indians has created an interesting and beautiful “4AD Session” set on Osea Island, a small island in the estuary of the Blackwater in Essex. The session filmed in an entire day, starts with “I Am Haunted,” continues with one of my faves, “Magic Kids,” and ends with “New.” According to 4AD, “With the intention to capture the sense of air and atmosphere in the music, each track was recorded in a different location, moving the band and cameras in order to introduce a new element that reflected the change in song…While still flecked with the surreal ambience of Søren’s air-tight compositions, the full-band performance adds a foreboding sense of wonder that provides a fitting introduction into Indians’ very own natural world.”
Indians – Magic Kids
Indians – 4AD Session:
It’s been a weird and heavy week full of road trips, suburbia-ville, hospital visits, uncertainty, and a general lack of enjoyable jams via local radio. Hence, there’s no better way to bring this bizarro week to close with a round-up of new mind-melting tunes that’ll thrust you back into reality, or a lack-there-of.
Montreal-based Airick Woodhead is the experimental brainchild behind Doldrums, and he’s producing some of the freshest, “mind-melting” music around. His latest jam, “She is The Wave” is from a 7″ to be released via Arbutus Records in November. The new jam contains that consistently catchy electro/experimental beat full of synth, scratches, noise, disembodied vocals and screams – It’s Very Animal Collective-esque and once again, unbelievably addicting. Seriously hoping this launches the creation of a full length album – We all want it!
Doldrums – She is The Wave (feat. Guy Dallas)
San Francisco-based Mikey Maramag is the “dreamy folktronica” phsychadelic wünderkind behind Blackbird Blackbird. His latest hypnotic release “All” comes from his highly anticipated EP, Boracay Planet, slotted for release October 16th.
Blackbird Blackbird – All
Southern Shores, the synth-pop Nova Scotia-by-way-of-Toronto “summer heroes” has released an EP, New World. The latest album (similarly to the last one) via Cascine is full of dreamy, tropical beats. Stream the entire EP on SounCloud here.
Southern Shores – Sankasa
Luis Vasquez aka The Soft Moon is the beloved darkwave noise experimentalist from San Francisco and he’s releasing his new album (via Captured Tracks), Zeros, on October 30th. “Insides” hails from the anticipated album and is the latest goodie rupturing from the depths of darkness:
The Soft Moon – Insides
The ridiculously talented and charming “Jizz jazz” weirdo, Mac DeMarco has a new album (hurry already!), Mac DeMarco 2, due October 16th. Captured Tracks has been slowly but surely releasing jams from the (do you sense a theme?) highly anticipated album. You’ve already heard, “My Kind of Woman,” so feast your ears on DeMarco’s jam dedicated to his fav brand of cigs:
Mac DeMarco – Ode to Viceroy
About six months ago, a homie of mine asked if I’d listened to the AlunaGeorge EP, You Know You Like It. He said it was the “hipster bubblegum-pop event of the season.” I looked up two songs and waved it off. “Just a Touch” and “You Know You Like It” were catchy, but I was having 90s R&B flashbacks, and I just wasn’t in the mood for the sound at the time. However, with the recent release of AlunaGeorge’s “Your Drums, Your Love,” arguably the strongest jam of the lot, I’ve succumb to the “hipster bubblegum-pop” and have been fully immersing myself in the “baby-voiced aesthetic” that the duo produce. “Your Drums, Your Love” will be ‘officially’ released early October and their debut album is slated for early 2013.
AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
Generationals has a new addictive jam FINALLY! … and a new EP, Lucky Numbers. The duo from New Orleans, Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, produce indie “jangle pop” and since their Con Air album release in ’09, I’ve just haven’t been as excited about their jams, until now. Lucky Numbers is a synthy, upbeat, summery little number that’ll get you bouncin’.
Generationals – Lucky Numbers
Perth, Australia – The city everyone told me not to bother visiting while I lived in Melbourne – But then again, that’s a typical Melbournian response for you – No where in Australia is as great as the all-mighty Melbz. However, amazing things do hail from Perth, like the psychedelic rockers Tame Impala. The groove rock band has a new album, Lonerism, due October 9th and Elephant is their debut jam – It’s a dreamy, brilliantly rockin’ trancey number that gets you in the 70s moooood.
Tame Impala – Elephant
Have you streamed the new Animal Collective album, Centipede HZ on npr like just about everyone else has? Applesauce from the new LP is by far my favorite jam and it stays true to Animal Collective form. Listen to most of the jams pre-release on npr (and now Spotify) for the goods. Enjoy the video (and all its weirdness) for Today’s Supernatural from the album, out early September:
Animal Collective – Applesauce