CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Oct. 18, 2023) — Every few months, I inform readers about new albums and EPs coming out of the East Bay, with an emphasis on bands and artists from Diablo Valley. This month, we’re heading to the other side of the Caldecott Tunnel to check out a handful of recent releases from Oakland, an especially prolific city in terms of new music as of late.
The Seshen is back with their signature blend of synth-pop and soulful R&B in their new mesmerizing album “Nowhere,” an introspective journey across 13 songs dealing with personal growth and the complexities of love. As with previous releases, “Nowhere” features the entrancing vocals and haunting harmonies over a sonic landscape of synthesizers, drumbeats, and live percussion. The Seshen is performing Oct. 20 at the New Parish in Oakland. More information at TheSehsen.com.
Attendees of this year’s Spring Brews Fest in Todos Santos Plaza may recall the incredible energy that Forrest Day and his genre-blending band brought to the stage. On his latest EP “In Limbo”, that energy shines across five new inspirational tunes on the subjects of love and loss. Forrest Day is performing in Half Moon Bay on Oct 21. More information at ForrestDay.com.
Artemisia is a female trio that has developed their sound from a shared affinity for Appalachian folk music, which is evident on their new album “Catastrophe Darling”. Expect mostly acoustic instrument – including dulcimer, harp, violin, and ukulele, intelligently layered to create delightfully warm sounds to compliment their brilliant vocal harmonies.
Queer Glam Goth
“Queer Glam Goth” is how Pretty Frankenstein describe themselves aesthetically, but I’d describe their overall sound as ranging from punk to experimental rock, often with spooky elements and undertones. Their new EP “Tarantula” adds two more originals to their catalog, plus a fun cover song. They’re playing the Spire Church in Oakland on Oct. 28. More information at PrettyFrankenstein.com.
Remember those classic, unsanctioned house parties in feel-good 80s movies? Usually with a full house of teenagers dancing wildly to some upbeat rock band? Well, that’s The Hot Takes, basically. Their new EP “The Hot Takes II” brings us five new, immensely catchy, danceable, upbeat anthems. Check out “Up All Night”, their first single off the new EP, to see what I mean.
FeeFawFum is a fiery rock group with an urgent sound that’s somehow both frantic and restrained. Each of their nine original songs on their debut album “100” demand your attention right out the gate, and then race along with elements of math rock and the general “freak out” vibes of Zappa and Devo. The excitable ride might be too abrasive for some, but others will find it stimulating and inspired. For the timid, maybe start with the track “Evergreen.”
Concord Art & Music Jam
Locals who attended Day 2 of Creative Concord’s Art & Music Jam in the park this month may have caught a performance by the new post-punk group Diabolical Pool Party. Their debut EP “Dripping Wet” offers five original tracks with moody synthesizers, glimmering guitar, moaning saxophone, and melancholy vocals. Diabolical Pool Party is sure to find a fan in anyone who enjoys the sounds of ‘80s darkwave.
Ryan Pate is an avant garde jazz guitarist and composer who splits his time between New York and Oakland. His new album “Superbloom” is all electric guitar, with some knob-twisting of various effect pedals, resulting in a visceral sound that’s both relaxing and compelling. As a jazz composer, Pate isn’t shy about embracing “the blue notes” in his writing, which gives this ethereal work an edginess that separates it from other guitar-based ambient works. Lush tones, loops, and layering draw the listener in, while intriguing modal movements throughout the album prevent it from ever falling into the background. “Superbloom” is due out on Oct. 27.
Links to all of the aforementioned releases and more can be found at ConcordRockCity.com.
Contact Dave Hughes at MrDaveHughes@gmail.com.
Dave Hughes is a local music advocate with an extensive network of independent artists. He produces and hosts a local music program on KVHS called The Beat of Diablo, every Sunday at 7:00 PM on 90.5 FM. Dave also catalogs local music releases at ConcordRockCity.com.