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Three Must-See Acts This Week - July 26, 2018 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Three Must-See Acts This Week

Raveena. Photo by Harshvardhan Shah

R&B/Soul

Raveena

7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 29, at Cafe du Nord. $17; swedishamericanhall.com/cafe-du-nord

From an early age, Raveena Aurora used music to escape the real world and move into her own fantasy life, inspired by greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Sade, and D’Angelo. Today, she has brought her fantasy to life, delivering sensual, soul-filled R&B with the help of producer and collaborator Everett Orr. Aurora began writing her own music at 16, later enrolling at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to study music production and releasing a batch of indie folk singles. Eventually, she moved on to 1970s- and ’90s-inspired R&B, created with a personal flair. “You Give Me That,” Aurora’s inaugural 2016 single, is a mellow soul track with a subtle jazzy flourish that brings out the power in her voice. She finds much of her creative inspiration from her experience as a first-generation Indian-American and a woman of color, viewing her music as a space for reflection. In an interview with VICE, Aurora says of her songwriting, “The story I’m trying to tell is one of healing. I want to make a community and safe space for women of color because that’s something that I didn’t have growing up.” Last December saw the release of Shanti, her excellent debut EP, which hears a vulnerable Aurora tenderly dissecting ideas of self-love and adversity, along with finely crafted production from Orr.

 

Phil Cook. Photo by Graham Tolbert

Americana

Phil Cook

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 1, at The Independent. $22; theindependentsf.com

There’s something delightfully refreshing about singer-songwriter Phil Cook’s output of soulful Americana, whether it be the way he howls his way through harrowing ballads, or the nostalgic simplicity of songs that inject a spark into often-ignored styles of American music. Cook grew up in the woods of northern Wisconsin, playing piano and guitar throughout his childhood and spending his days listening to Miles Davis and Bruce Hornsby. With future Bon Iver leader Justin Vernon, he formed the short-lived experimental rock band DeYarmond Edison. After disbanding with freak folk group Megafaun, Cook ventured into releasing his own solo work in 2011 with his inaugural album Hungry Mother Blues, a mostly instrumental, blues-tinged effort. The 2015 sophomore album, Southland Mission, hears a reignited Cook adapting to his new home of North Carolina tremendously, delivering heartfelt blues, along with some Skynyrd-esque Southern rock that provides a much-needed bite. Last June saw the release of People Are My Drug, his latest album, which hears Cook continue his brand of roots-based rock, this time with a noticeable New Orleans-style swing. Lyrically, he gets political in standout track “Another Mother’s Son,” but a Randy Newman style of delivery helps guide the listener in sharing Cook’s breezily optimistic perspective.

 

Electronic

Erol Alkan

10 p.m., Friday, July 27, at Audio. $20; audiosf.com

Always able to find the unlikely overlap between techno, alternative, punk, and electro that would make most other DJs’ heads spin, it’s no wonder how Erol Alkan became not only a crowd favorite DJ, but a much-requested remixer for an array of musicians intrigued by his sound. Beginning his career around indie clubs in London, Alkan founded Trash in 1997, and that nightclub would go on to become the launchpad for artists like LCD Soundsystem, Peaches, and Bloc Party over the course of its 10-year existence. By the end of Trash’s run, Alkan was already established as one of the scene’s top DJs, regularly performing at festivals and clubs around the world and earning Mixmag’s DJ of the Year prize in 2006. While his DJ skills earned him the recognition, it’s his production chops that allow him to keep track of the industry’s pulse. Alkan’s status as an influential tastemaker has led to unpredictable remixes of tracks from Daft Punk, Interpol, and Tame Impala, many of which found their way onto the 2017 compilation Reworks Volume 1. The album consists of 20 of his favorite remixes dating back to 2005, all of which are deconstructed from their original mixes and reworked into a kinetic club-friendly fashion only Alkan can provide.