Sun Machine by Go By Ocean
If you told me this album was recorded in a house in Malibu’s Topanga Canyon in the 1970s, I would have believed you.
Like photographs edited with sepia filters, Sun Machine — the second record from San Francisco indie-rockers Go By Ocean — sounds old, even though it’s not. Sonically, it is akin to something from Neil Young, with its earnest songwriting and folksy, Americana influences. Even its muffled, fuzzy production could pass for analog.
Go By Ocean itself had been a long time coming, as frontman Ryan McCaffrey struggled with “addiction and isolation” for years. He eventually broke the cycle — which he talks about in the rousing, shoegaze-meets-psych-rock track “Off The Grid” — and formed the band, releasing its debut, Paper Thin Hotel, in 2015.
Less saturated and rock-centric than its predecessor, Sun Machine is a wholesome, mellow listen filled with instrumentals that bleed together like a watercolor painting. McCaffrey’s soft, blunted voice is particularly harmonious with the music. And even when the lyrics get doleful — as in the line “What happened to the days of one-on-one?” from the tech-centric tune “Favorite Faces” — the upbeat melodies keep the song afloat and buoy it to more positive heights.
Go By Ocean plays at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, at Doc’s Lab. $15-$18; docslabsf.com
If you like Tinashe,
Then you’ll like Zendaya
Like Tinashe, Oakland-born pop singer Zendaya didn’t start out making music. Both women, each in their early 20s, were child actresses before honing their vocal chops. Tinashe had roles in Holly Hobbie and Whoopi Goldberg’s made-for-TV Christmas flick Call Me Claus, while Zendaya was Disney Channel royalty, appearing in shows like Shake It Up and the teen dramedy Frenemies.
They got into music around the same time, too. Tinashe joined the Vitamin C-created girl group The Stunners when she was 14, and Zendaya, after landing songs on Disney Channel soundtracks, inked a deal with Hollywood Records shortly before her 16th birthday.
To date, Tinashe, who is four years older, has released more albums than Zendaya, who has only put out her debut. Still, both women exhibit proclivities for flashy, bombastic pop that makes heavy use of electronic production and centers around heartbreak and love.
In Zendaya’s self-titled debut, she showcases her vocal athleticism, switching from crystalline cooing to full-on belting. Her songs are less tempered than Tinashe’s, who tends to channel alternative R&B elements, but there’s still an unabashed fierceness in Zendaya’s music that goes deeper than the simple sentiment of just making tunes for fun.
SF Weekly Song of the Week:
“Round” by Nim Sins
This jazzy, piano-riddled ditty highlights the East Oakland rapper’s nimble wordplay and ability to spit straight-fire raps.