(Sandy) Alex G
It took singer and multi-instrumentalist (Sandy) Alex G four years before his ruminative, bedroom-produced albums gained any traction. Acclaim only came after he released his sixth record, DSU, which was written up by the likes of CJM, Consequence of Sound, Vogue, Time Out, and The Washington Post, and the FADER called him “the Internet’s Secret Best Songwriter.”
In the three years since, the 24-year-old has signed to a label, dropped his debut studio album, re-released his earlier Bandcamp projects, and performed at multiple South By Southwest showcases. Rocket, (Sandy) Alex G’s second album, came out in May, garnering rave reviews for its dreamy, distorted indie-rock tunes, eccentric storytelling, and overall intimacy.
With Japanese Breakfast, at 8 p.m., Sunday, June 18, at the Chapel. $16-$19; thechapelsf.com
In February 2016, English singer Ella Mai unleashed her fiery, self-assertive single “She Don’t” to the world. Featuring vocals by heartthrob crooner Ty Dolla $ign, the jingly R&B song sees Mai telling off a fuck boi and provides one of the best lyrical disses in recent history: “Wish you good luck being lonely / I’mma push red every time you phone me / You ’bout to be / A memory.”
Mai first started turning heads in the music industry when she competed in The X Factor as part of a trio called Arize in 2014. The girls didn’t advance beyond the initial audition and broke up soon after, spurring Mai to start a solo career. When she released a four-track EP to SoundCloud in 2015, it caught the attention of DJ Mustard on Instagram. He swiftly signed her to his 10 Summers label, and greenlit her idea to release an EP trilogy.
In exactly one year, she achieved that goal, churning out Time, Change, and Ready. Except for “She Don’t,” none of the tracks feature guest artists, putting the focus entirely on Mai’s thick, muscular voice. She’s currently on tour, opening for fellow R&B singer and Oakland native, Kehlani.
With Kehlani, at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. $39.50; ticketmaster.com
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
Long before Aaliyah released “Are You That Somebody” in 1998, Jamaican producer Lee “Scratch” Perry was already using baby samples in his music. It started with 1968’s “People Funny Boy,” a dubby, reggae track intended to diss label owner Joe Gibbs. Underneath harmonized vocals and a guitar-heavy, chugging beat, Perry folded in a sample of a crying baby, a move that helped make the song incredibly popular, selling 60,000 copies in Jamaica alone.
A proponent of cannabis — he used to blow smoke into the microphone so the weed could infiltrate the song — Perry gave up both alcohol and marijuana in the late ‘80s. He told The Music Box that he was trying to see if “it was the smoke making the music or Lee Perry making the music. I found out it was me and that I don’t need to smoke.” In recent decades, he’s won a Grammy Award and collaborated with the likes of the Beastie Boys, Ari Up, and Pura Vida. At 81, he now lives in Switzerland, but that hasn’t stopped him from touring, or performing at festivals like Coachella.
At 8 p.m., Sunday, June 18, at Mezzanine. $25; mezzaninesf.com