This week, we were blessed with an onslaught of new music from Bay Area acts that run the gamut from rap and R&B to experimental pop and indie rock. Check out the ditties below for an eclectic taste of what the Bay Area music scene has to offer.
1. “I'll Keep Loving You” — Sage the Gemini
For someone who typically makes booty bouncing, club bangers, “I'll Keep Loving You” is a big variation from the norm. The love song is still club-appropriate, mixing equal amounts of pop with rap, and rumor has it it's about Sage's ex, Jordan Sparks. In a recent (now deleted) Instagram post, Sage wrote that he “missed [her] too much” and lamented the fact that he's “not able to call [her] and express how much [he] appreciated the look [she wore at the Clive Davis party] because [she] won't answer nor text back.” How said. Hopefully, if Sparks didn't see the Instagram post, she'll at least hear this song.
2. “Planeando El Tiempo” — Elsa y Elmar
The video for this Spanish folk-pop song is a visual delight of colors, prints, funky outfits, and dramatic hand gestures. Elsa y Elmar, who hails from Columbia, moved to San Francisco after studying at the Berklee College of Music. She dropped her debut album, Rey, last year and won the John Lennon Songwriting Award in 2015 for her track “Me Viene Bien.” Of “Planeando El Tiempo” (which translates to “planning time”), she says “the video is a playful demonstration of what the song says and sounds like in my head: A lonesome girl meticulously planning how to tell someone she's madly in love.”
3. “Never More” — Crashing Hotels
There is an uncanny sonic similarity between the English band Fujiya and Miyagi and San Francisco electro-dance-rock outfit Crashing Hotels. The duo's newest single “Never More” was joined by an accompanying music video today featuring a young girl wandering the streets of New York, replete with a lot of hair whipping. The band, consisting of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ao Anderson and drummer Tony Bednar, dropped their debut album Advisory Act in 2014 and are currently gearing up for the release of their sophomore EP sometime this year.
4. “Best and Worst Remix” Feat. Slum Village — Cool Nutz Produced by TOPE
Portland rapper Cool Nutz teamed up with Detroit's Slum Village and Portland-to-Oakland producer TOPE for this melodic, sample-infused hip-hop creation. The lyrics in “Best and Worst” sound like poetry and the similarities between spoken word and rap are clear in this track. The structure is old school — each rapper gets their own verse — which lends a sense of order and uniformity to the song. Oakland producer TOPE melds various genres to create a palette of early hip-hop, soul, jazz, and electro sounds.
5. “Tennessee” — Mark Nelson
“Tennessee” is a folksy Americana banger replete with twangy guitar chords and campy lyrics. The retro music video featuring vintage footage of hikers and Betty Paige, among other things, fits perfectly with the song. Singer/songwriter Mark Nelsen is also in the Oakland band Annie Girl and The Flight.
6. “It's You” — Rayven Justice
When I spoke with R&B singer Rayven Justice in December, he told me that he had some love songs in the pipeline; a deviation from his uptempo, 808-heavy club songs. “It's You” is the first song of this nature and it shows a softer, more sensitive side of the young East Oakland crooner.
7. “Statue of Liberty” — Philthy Rich Featuring E-40, Nef the Pharaoh and Ezale
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more Bay Area-centric song than this one. Not only is it hyphy to the max, with thumping bass and snare drums, but it's chock-full of Bay Area rappers: Philthy Rich, E-40, and Ezale hail from Oakland and Nef is from Vallejo. The piano-laced melody adds a delicate touch to this otherwise dark, hard song. But it's catchy, nonetheless.