NorCal nuggets

NorCal bands gotta make some noise: The Fresh and Onlys and Raw Deluxe dive in. Plus: Flipper, The Grouch, and more
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Raw Deluxe top it

a&eletters@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Now playing: Locals Only II (see part one here). You can't stop it from happening, even if you crumble to the ground like Keanu, fire your pistol in the air, and scream, "Nooo!" NorCal bands gotta make some noise, Bay-bies.

Hey, what gives? The Fresh and Onlys promised to release their self-titled Castle Face debut in May, yet last week I spied the CD, prominently displayed, twinkling brightly on an Amoeba Music endcap. Could it be an inside job, being that Fresh and Onlys Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin have passed through the store's payroll? Whatev, Kev, be happy it's there, polishing off rough gems like "Endless Love": "Why don't we live forever /inside this little mirror /so that your eyes and my nose /and your ears and my mouth /and your chin and my beard /they all fit together? / Na-na-na-na-na-na-na!"

Just as you turn to dismiss "Endless Love" as another joke song — albeit one tuned to a staticky channel of surf and '60s-style garage rock by way of Flying Nun novitiates and Jonathan Richman's post-punk pop naifs — the group unleashes a mini-nugget of "A Man Needs a Maid" wisdom: "Don't you know you gotta give yourself / to get somebody else." Happily tucked into an echo chamber of passion-first rock 'n' roll, and armed against the apocalypse with a here-to-help sincerity that could stand the test of time ("The Mind Is Happy." "Feelings in My Heart"), the Fresh and Onlys pull off the seemingly impossible: discovering a clunky sweetness and lo-fi grace in a very singular rock primitivo.

"Snap back like a bungee chord — Lord!" Watch yourself, Raw Deluxe. The Bay Area group's flow is as satisfyingly smooth and substantive as classic Del tha Funkee Homosapien times three on "Can You Spend It," off its new Raw Communication (Reel Deal). MCs Lexxx Luthor and Mic Blake of Alphabet Soup and Soulati of Felonious are unstoppable and at the top of a mix that showcases the sheer delight of word-slingers riding the exact same wavelength. There's nothing particularly uncooked about the smokily intoxicating old-school jazz-funk gumbo on Raw Deluxe's third long-player: keyboardist Matt Fleming, saxophonist Tony Jurado, bassist Christ Arenas, and drummer Chris Spano are on point on "Something to Build Upon" — a celebration of the band's actual music-making process — which would chart in a better world and provide the foundation for a more maximalist hip-hop.

On the post-rock-cum-math side of the spectrum is the far-too-scarce From Monuments to Masses, now SF-NYC bicoastal and back with a new mostly instrumental full-length, On Little Known Frequencies (Dim Mak), possibly the most powerful recording yet by Francis Choung, Matthew Solberg, and Sergio Robledo-Maderazo. Mars Volta and Minus the Bear — MTB keyboardist Matt Bayles coproduced, engineered, and mixed the disc — are obvious referents. though neither band finds its voice via fragments of sampled dialogue like FMTM does, as if tapping directly into the culture's transmissions. Almost monochromatic in its clear-eyed devotion to alt-rock propulsion, FMTM's music has the closed-circle urgency and internal fury of a sonic dialectic. Are these frequencies to be plumbed with increased frequency?

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