Bay Area trio Bronze's sophomore album World Arena makes a solid foil for modern psychedelic music. In its reflection, supposed proponents of the genre appear static, held back by arrested development and bound to outmoded conventions. Forget the term's loaded meanings; forget Beatle boots, Syd Barrett idolatry, anthropomorphic drawings rendered like melting goop, and gear-snob insistence on vintage tones. All of that is irrelevant neo-psych nonsense to Bronze. The group fulfills the psychedelic imperative — to muddle perception or instill a sense of mental expansion — but without the clichés. Bronze's palette of homemade electronics coils around progressive drum beats as vocal incantations penetrate listeners' psyche. World Arena is accoutrement for enhanced sensory pathways, and Bronze celebrates the new album's release this Thursday, Feb. 13, at the S.F. Eagle with Sam Flax, Screature, and Woman.
Major record label power is concentrated in fewer companies than it once was, but the clout of these cultural arbiters is hardly diminished. In 2011, Ukrainian-American oligarch Leonard Blavatnik bought Warner Music from Time-Warner for $3.3 billion. Still, Warner's sway pales in comparison to Universal, a company that controlled each of the top 10 tracks in Billboard's Hot 100 last September. As one adage goes, the music business is (still) for ambitious people who aren't trustworthy enough for politics.
While the majors can still rely on creating hits, small independent labels are the music industry's truly adaptive players. Savvy upstart imprints are increasingly involved in promotion, booking, digital distribution, licensing, and limited edition releases on unique formats, with a fervor that's seemingly disproportionate to the physical units sold, because the revenue from touring and publishing is more potentially lucrative than peddling regular physical product. It's a viable new model, realigned to the industry's tectonic postmillennial shifts, and local labels like Slumberland, Castle Face, Polyvinyl, and Loglady are leading proponents, not to mention Revolver, the West Coast's most vital and entirely independent distribution house. The Bay Area Record Label Fair, presented by Professional Fans booking group and Father/Daughter Records, brings these companies and over 20 other labels and stores to Thee Parkside on Saturday, Feb. 15, to revel in local music industry solidarity. The free event also includes live sets from Cocktails, Dog Party, Twin Steps, and Al Lover. Download code not included.
Boasting members of the Mantles, Skygreen Leopards, and the sadly short-lived act the Art Museums, Reds Pinks & Purples continue the local tradition of pop deconstruction. With riffs chiseled to mellifluous outlines, muted percussion, tender vocals, and comforting swathes of incidental noise, Reds Pinks & Purples are proponents of the opiate pop underground, lingering in a codeine tunnel to nowhere. Their conspicuous lack of web presence or available releases despite the "members-of" pedigree suggests disaffected urban sophisticate syndrome, which should galvanize those idealistic listeners who insist that the music speaks for itself, man. Reds Pinks & Purples open for the rousing Violent Change and East Bay newcomers Turner on Sunday, Feb. 16, at El Rio for the paltry sum of $3.