Tag: Sacramento CA

Lillian Frances is a Sacramento-based singer/songwriter, producer and self-professed “sonic collager.” Inspired by the creative and imaginative nature of children, Frances’ work generally isn’t bound to genre or style conventions. Her work frequently meshes and blurs genre and style lines, often within the same song with lyrics sung in English and Spanish.

Frances’ 2018 EP Timeism featured a sound that some have compared to LordeSylvan Esso, and Billie Eilish — and received praise from NPR’s Heavy Rotation, Indie Shuffle, and Cap Radio.  She supported the EP with appearances across the state and regional festival circuit with sets at  Sacramento PorchFest, the Davis Music Festival and the Davis Cherry Blossom Festival among others. Adding to a growing profile, Frances has opened for Sylvan Esso — and she has played alongside Shakey GravesSage the Gemini, and Lexi Panterra.

The Sacramento-based artist released her full-length debut Moonrise Queendom back in 2020 and the album featured “Raincheck Summer,” a breezy and forward-thinking, summery pop confection centered around a coquettish and mischievous push and pull — and a deep, timely sense of irony: A summertime bop for the summer in which you never actually saw anyone. Interestingly, underlying the song’s bold playfulness and irony, the song as Frances explains “explores the idea of authentic connection.”

This February, Frances did something she had been dreaming of for years: She finally moved out of her parents’ home and into her own apartment. The pandemic had been in full swing for about a year, and she was — understandably — champing at the bit to get out of the way-too-close quarters with her mother, father and sister.

When she moved, the Sacramento-based artist was overwhelmed by what she describes as a beautiful wave of freedom. She felt as though she could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone (within reason) — and so she did.

Week after week, Frances would jump into her Chevy Volt and head to some new outdoorsy location, usually revolving around rock climbing, like Joshua Tree, CA; Smith Rock, OR; Red Rocks, NV; and so on. Through her road trips, the Sacramento-based artist experienced a level of freedom, adventure and romance that reminded her of what it’s like to be truly alive and present.

Those road trips wound up informing and influencing her latest single “Direct Sunlight.” Around the time, she started writing the song, she was figuring out how to be a good plant mom — i.e., figuring out where in the house is the sunniest? shadiest? how much water? etc. — she was figuring out how much sunlight and care, she really needed.

Written, recorded and produced by Frances, “Direct Sunlight” is a breezy pop confection centered around skittering trap-like beats, atmospheric synths and glistening bursts of mandolin paired with Frances’ coquettish, come hither delivery. The song captures the feeling of being on the road — perhaps for the first time in some time — and the sense of adventure and possibility that every single trip brings with it. Add it to your road trip playlist.

Although the rising Sacramento-based trio Best Move — Kris Anaya, Joseph Davancens and Fernando Olivia — formed in 2019, the band can trace some of its origins over the better part of the past decade: the band’s primary songwriters Anaya and Davancens have played a variety of different music under various banners.

Early on, Kris Anaya developed a reputation for his penchant for crafting wry, offbeat, guitar-based folk, and for following his muse down whatever sonic path it might take him. Davancens earned graduate degrees in avant garde composition and jazz double bass. Interestingly, Best Move was born from Anaya and Davancens’ desire to return to their natural inclinations for organic instrumentation and earnest songwriting, with the project drawing from the work of Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson and film and TV scores — in particular, the films of Michel Gondry, Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson. The end result is a sound that Anaya calls a “thank you to the past” while being decidedly modern.

Clocking in at a little over 4.30, the slow-burning “Forgotten Bloom,” Best Move’s debut single possesses a quirky, cinematic soundtrack vibe while drawing from 60s and 70s AM Radio rock, thanks to a lush arrangement of strummed guitar, twinkling Rhodes, atmospheric synths, shimmering bursts of pedal steel, a steady backbeat and razor sharp hooks. While sonically bearing a subtle resemblance to Young Narrator in the Breakers-era Pavo Pavo, “Forgotten Bloom” manages to be carefully sculpted yet rooted in wry yet lived-in lyricism and songwriting.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Returns with a Symbolic and Timely Visual for “Whenever”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act and JOVM mainstays Atmosphere. Now, as you may recall, the duo closed out last year with the surprise release of their seventh and latest album Whenever. 

Thematically, Whenever’s material finds the duo continuing to struggle with their frailties and with mortality, while attempting to figure out what it means to grow up and grow older gracefully — both in life and within hip-hop. But along with that, the album’s material touches upon the need to balance protecting your energy, soul and heart without falling into glowering and bitter cynicism. 

Whenever’s latest single, album title track “Whenever” find the JOVM mainstays collaborating with an All-Star cast of talent including veteran, Los Angeles-based emcee Murs, Sacramento-based emcee Gifted Gab and Minneapolis-based newcomer Haphduzn. Centered around an eerily atmospheric production featuring shimmering synths, reverb-drenched guitar and tweeter and woofer rocking beats, the track features the collaborators matching wildly different  and self-assured styles and flows to an overall “blessed to be alive and see another day” tone of Slug’s opening verse. Considering the uncertainty of our existence — financially and physically — all we have to hold our hats to is the fact that we’re alive and healthy for yet another day. Nothing else is certain; nothing else is guaranteed. 

Directed by frequently visual collaborator Tomas Aksamit, the recently released video for “Whenever” continues a run of cinematically shot and highly symbolic visuals:. Opening with Atmosphere’s Ant entering an empty movie theater, the song’s emcees become the cast in an apocalyptic movie: We see Slug in an all-too-timely hazmat suit with respirator in an abandoned Midwestern industrial area/farm, planting some seeds — perhaps in some poisoned soil; we see Gifted Gab emerge from a painting and escapes into the fields; Murs, rides around in a convertible Cadillac, re-living and re-writing parts of history, while a homeless Haphduzn warms himself on the flames of world burning around him. The video is unsettling because it accurately captures what feels like the end of everything as we know it.

Last year, I wrote about the critically acclaimed Northern Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jeff Crosby. Crosby’s work draws from and meshes folk, rock, American and country in a  way that feels and sounds warmly familiar and radio friendly. Dropping out of school when he was 17 to pursue a music career with a touring West Coast band, the Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has spent a significant portion of his life on the road, playing night after night, show after show, from load-in until the last drink is poured and the house lights are finally turned on.

Crosby’s material is deeply inspired by the beauty found in his travels and the unconventional stories of the people and places he has encountered along the way, giving his work the feel of being like a page ripped out of intimate and personal diary, detailing the love won and love lost and experiences of someone who has relentlessly kept on the move. Throughout his career as a solo artist, his work has been compared favorably to singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle while building up a profile by sharing stages with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Crockett, Widespread Panic, American Aquarium, Niki Lane and a list of others.

For about five years, Crosby lived in a small apartment off Los Angeles‘ Sunset Boulevard. Giving up coffee so that he could pay rent, Crosby played with The Homeless and the Dreamers — and while struggling get to get by, he found a way to thrive and make poignant music. Through a chance encounter, he met and befriended a music editor for the critically applauded TV series Sons of Anarchy and wound up with two of his songs being featured the show. During that same period, Crosby split his time touring with his band and later with Widespread Panic’s Jerry Joseph, which found Crosby traveling abroad to tour the UK, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua. His experiences in each of those countries helped influence the material off his Gregg Williams and Geoff Piller co-produced album Postcards from Magdalena, an effort that received praise internationally.

Crosby’s forthcoming Geoff Piller-produced full-length album Northstar is slated for release this year. So far, I’ve written about the album single “Laramie,” a deliberately crafted song that that recalls 70s AM rock and Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty — but with a wistful and nostalgic air. Northstar‘s latest single “If I’m Lucky” is an upbeat and country-tinged rocker centered around an enormous hook and earnest lyrics, written from lived-in, personal experience. In this case, the song is deceptively ambivalent: the song’s narrator expresses the hope to be lucky enough to hold onto love, the motivation to keep on going when things get tough — but there’s also the acknowledgement of time passing by quickly and getting older and of the mistakes and poor choices piling up.

“’If I’m Lucky’ is about getting older and avoiding the inevitable end of relationships I’d neglected while spending the last year on the road,” Crosby told Parade. “I finished the verses watching a couple fight in a Motel 6 parking lot in Sacramento, California. I felt kinda lonely and envious that they at least had someone to fight with!”

New Audio: Soft Kill Releases a Gorgeous and Deeply Personal Meditation on Life and Death

With the release of 2015’s Heresy and 2016’s acclaimed Choke, the members of Portland, OR-based post punk act Soft Kill, currently comprised of Tobias Grave (vocals/guitar/synths), Conrad Vollmer (guitar), Owen Glendower (bass) and Adam Bulgasem (drums) had spent a an increasing amount of time on the road; in fact, they have been on rather extensive touring cycle through North America and Europe to support Choke. Interestingly enough, the band announced a series Pacific Northwest tour dates with Harms Way, just as they officially dropped their latest album Savior.  

Savior may be the most personal album the band has ever written and recorded, as much of the writing was inspired by a real life experience: as the band was returning from tour, Tobias Grave’s pregnant wife began to bleed out in the van. She was eight months pregnant, and practically in the middle of nowhere, far from a hospital or any other medical facility. The band raced through the night, eventually winding up in the emergency room of Sacramento’s UC Davis Trauma Center, where surgery was performed to try to save the lives of both the mother and the then-unborn child. Although the surgery went well, the baby’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flatline. Grave was forced to standby and watch as doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn son alive with a series of blood transfusions, breathing and feeding tubes. As his vigil turned into weeks, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend and began to write the material that wound up becoming Savior. Thematically speaking, the songs focused on loss and hurt — the tragic loss of his newborn son, his long battle with drug addiction, the tragedies and heartaches of life, the weirdly empty and ambivalent space between mourning and celebration, life and death that we all know far too well. In many ways, the album is written about a man, who has come to grips with the reflection of themselves, as seen in the eyes of their dying son — and as you’ll hear on the shimmering album single “Hard Candy,” the material manages to possess the palpable weight of devastating and senseless loss, and the acceptance of what it means to the song’s narrator and his life, making the song a gorgeous and mournful meditation on life and deat

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Chelsea Wolfe Releases Sensual and Hellish Fever Dream-like Visuals for Album Single “Spun”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a series of posts featuring the California-born and-based singer/songwriter guitarist and JOVM mainstay artist Chelsea Wolfe. And as you may recall, with the release of her four previously released albums. 2010’s The Grime and the Glow, 2011’s Apokalypsis, 2013’s Pain Is Beauty and 2015’s Abyss, Wolfe received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for an imitable sound that draws from gothic rock, folk, neo-folk, electronica and metal with a moody and cinematic quality — while thematically focusing on burrowing beneath the world’s brutality, ugliness, messiness and hurt to get at a profound sense of beauty. 

Wolfe’s recently released sixth full-length album Hiss Spun is reportedly inspired by a Henry Miller quote —  “What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside me. I want everybody to open up. I’m like an imbecile with a can opener in his hand, wondering where to begin — to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.” And unsurprisingly, the material finds the renowned California-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist adopting Miller’s quest to become truly empowered by embracing the complete, messy self and to control the tumult within one’s soul — in the hopes of reigning in the chaos of the surrounding world. 

Ironically, as Wolfe explained in press notes, when she started working on the album, she had initially wanted to write escapist music with songs about being in your body and getting free; but “you’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember that it’s been fucked for a long time; it’s been fucked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.” Of course, as you may recall, Hiss Spun was recorded by Kurt Ballou in Salem, MA earlier this year, during a brutally (and perhaps prototypical) New England winter, several major upheveals in Wolfe’s personal life, her coming to terms with years of conflicting feelings of vulnerability, anger and self-destruction, and a dark family history that has managed to weigh heavily in her life.  And as a result, the material on Hiss Spun may arguably be the heaviest, darkest and most forceful material she has written to date. Additionally, long-time collaborator Ben Chisholm contributes swaths of sound collages recorded while Wolfe and her backing and were on tour — the rumble of street construction while they were on tour in Prague; the howl of a coyote outside Wolfe’s home; the scrape of machinery on a floor of a warehouse at a down-and-out friend’s workplace, as well as samples from the bomb blasts of the Enola Gay, the shrieks and mating calls of primates, the fluttering pages of a book of Walt Whitman’s poetry are all manipulated and seamlessly placed within the music.

With the release of the album’s first two singles — the brooding  Tool and A Perfect Circle meets PJ Harvey-like cathartic, emotional purge of “16 Psyche” and the atmospheric and moody “Offering,” Wolfe has managed to reveal herself as a restlessly chameleon-like artist and songwriter, actively pushing her sound to new directions while crafting material that possesses a fearless, unvarnished honesty.  And the album’s latest single “Spun” continues in the same vein as its predecessors as Wolfe and her backing band pair enormous power chords, some dexterous and blistering guitar work and pummeling drumming in a slow-burning, sludgy dirge — but Wolfe’s ethereal crooning and wailing brings an plaintive and urgent yearning to the song.

Directed by Wolfe and shot in Sacramento, CA, the video is a dark, sweaty, yet sensual fever dream that manages to have an empowering quality as its female leads — Wolfe and pole dancer, Felicia Drake possess an cool, self-assuredness, although Drake in many ways is a siren through a tense and fucked up journey through one’s own memories and dreams. And as a result, the video manages to have a lingering, almost sickening quality of life’s very real ghosts. 

Comprised of frontman Daniel Trudeau, along with Schuyler Peterson, Sean Hayashi and Brynley Stoner, the Sacramento, CA-based electronic folk pop quartet PREGNANT bonded over a mutual desire to make music more interesting. And from their latest single “Dead Dog Head,” the quartet specialize in a unique and kaleidoscopic sound in which they stitch together vintage soul and funk samples in a way that nods at Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys, Girl Talk and others, and while trippy as hell it’s all within a accessible, pop-leaning song structure.

New Video: !!! Get Fierce In Video for New Single “Dancing Is The Best Revenge”

Deriving their name from the subtitles of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the clicking sounds of the Bushmen’s Khoisan language were represented as “!,” and currently comprised of founding member and vocalist Nic Offer with Mario Andreoni, Dan Gorman, Paul Quattrone, !!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk) originally formed in Sacramento CA when members of three local bands, The Yah Mos, Black Licorice and Popesmashers, decided to collaborate together on a project that would mesh disco, funk and dance music with more aggressive post punk and punk. Relocating to NYC, the members of !!! quickly became part of a famous batch of dance punk acts, who got their start in the early 00s including The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem and a lengthy list of others; but unlike their renowned peers and counterparts, they’ve managed to remain operating as a cohesive unit — although the band’s members now reside in NYC, Sacramento and Portland, OR.

Shake The Shudder, !!!’s sixth full-length effort is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through Warp Records and the album continues their collaboration with long-time producer Patrick Ford at the band’s Brooklyn-based home studio. Renowned electronic music producers Phil Moffa, Joakim and Matt Wiggins were recruited to mix the album and adding to the overall communal feel, the album features a rotating cast of guest vocalists including Lea Lea, Meah Pace, Nicole Fayu, Cameron Mesirow and Molly Schnick. Already, the album’s first single “The One 2,” which has seen airplay on BBC Radio 6, KCRK and KEXP has seen 400,000 streams, and building upon the buzz that the first single received, the act has released the album’s second and latest single “Dancing Is The Best Revenge” is a self-assured and sultry strutting song that nods at classic disco, funk, classic house and contemporary electro pop-like production while possessing one of the funkiest bass lines I’ve heard this year.

Directed by Will Galperin, the recently released video for “Dancing Is The Best Revenge” feature’s !!!’s Nic Offer with a collective of some fierce, take no prisoner drag queens — Kamryn Moore-Fierce, Nikki Moore, Makena Moore and Phoebe Monroe De La Strawberry strutting and dancing their asses off to the song. But perhaps more important, the video captures the performers camaraderie, pride and decency as they transform themselves to perform. And from the video, these ladies are a crazy, dysfunctional family — but a family in which every member accepts and loves their quirks and foibles, and offers the sort of love and understanding that they wouldn’t have received from their own biological families.

Interestingly, as Nic Offer explains in press notes, “When we recorded ‘Dancing Is The Best Revenge’ I pitched up voice, becoming Nicole Fayu in the studio — much like Prince became Camille and Morrisseey became Ann Coates. The groove felt like a strut or a walk and I imagined it akin to drag or ballroom culture.

“After ‘The One 2’ video featured such strong dance performances and was filmed in the historic L.A. venue Jalisco, we decided to give the song to some girls, who could really walk the walk and perform the song as in the spirit of reinvention. We traded some outfits and makeup tips, and they helped me become IRL Nicole Fayu. Dancing with them was a blast, and it was a great to finally see the song walked. I’m not used to being out-performed in a video.”

“These ladies ignore a world that tells them who they should be — they take the stage, walking as whoever they want to be, and that’s their best revenge. Maybe you’ll never walk onstage, maybe you’ll never be anyone else, but maybe this song/vid/story inspires you to try something you haven’t before.” Along with that though, is a very powerful message that being your truest self and not caring what anyone else thinks is arguably one of the simplest yet most revolutionary acts. And in a political climate in which their community is being attacked, the love these ladies show for one another, their pride and their zero fucks attitude towards life should truly be inspiring.

Perhaps best known as members of renowned Sacramento, CA-based experimental hip-hop act Death Grips, Zach Hill and Andy Morin formed their experimental rock/noise rock/punk rock side project The I.L.Y’s in 2015 and they’ve quietly released two full-length albums, their 2015 debut I’ve Always Been Good at True Love and their 2016 sophomore effort Scum With Boundaries. The duo’s third full-length album is slated for a May 16, 2017 digital release, followed by a vinyl and CD release through Castle Face Records on June 16, 2017 — and while the new album has the band collaborating with guitarist Tristan Tozer, who’s best known for his work with Yah Mos and Drug Apts, the album’s first single “I Love You, Man,” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting noisy and swaggering, industrial-leaning rock that sounds indebted to hip-hop, punk rock and 80s post punk.




Perhaps best known as the frontman of Bay Area-based indie act Sic Alps, Mike Donovan’s latest project Peacers initially began as a solo recording project but has since expanded to feature members of Thee Oh Sees and The Fresh and Onlys. Interestingly, with the release of the project’s Ty Segall-produced, self-titled 2015 debut,  Donovan cemented a reputation for wobbly and scuzzy, outsider psych rock that draws from his hometown’s storied, psychedelia-fueled counterculture as you’ll hear on the jangling,  boogie woogie, Marc Bolan-like single “R.J.D. (Salam)” off their debut.

The band is playing a May 13, 2017 set with Ganglians at Sacramento‘s The Red Museum. Catch them while you can, eh?