Sudan Archives Headlines This Week’s Must-See Acts

Metronomy at The UC Theatre on Friday, Sudan Archives at Swedish American Hall on Monday, Ralph with Joan at Cafe Du Nord on Wednesday.

Alternative R&B

Sudan Archives

7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 24, at Swedish American Hall. $16; swedishamericanhall.com

A captivating violinist who uses her instrument of choice to create an idiosyncratic blend of smooth R&B and forward-thinking electronic music, Sudan Archives displays both the elegant and playful sides of her artistry on her incredible debut album Athena. Born in Cincinnati as Brittney Parks, she grew up teaching herself how to play violin and later moved to Los Angeles in her teens to study music technology, producing experimental beats on digital audio workstations. After discovering the music of seminal Cameroonian artist Francis Bebey, who blends electronic music with traditional West African instruments, Parks began to incorporate her violin prowess into her self-produced digital beats, which led to the release of her self-titled debut EP in 2017. Along with her 2018 EP Sink, Parks introduces listeners to her carefully-layered approach of crafting thoughtful and multifaceted music that exemplifies her wide artistic range. Her most fully-realized and compelling work yet, Athena, is a testament to Parks’ pristine sonic palate, delivering unexpected yet masterful forays into funk, soul, and hip-hop while retaining a deliberate structure. 

Photo by Grefoire Alexandre

Indie pop

Metronomy

7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, at The UC Theatre (Berkeley.) $32.50; theuctheatre.com

In the 20 years since Joseph Mount started producing low-key electronic music with his father’s old desktop under the moniker Metronomy, the musician has evolved the once lo-fi side-project into a highly respected institution that has released increasingly compelling albums that embrace the group’s avant-garde take on electronic pop. Along with musicians Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing, the trio had a diverse range of sonic influences, from Bowie to Gorillaz, and released their energetic 2006 debut album Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) which stood out amongst their contemporaries in the dance-punk movement of the time. However, Metronomy’s debut served as merely a groovy foundation for the band’s emotionally deeper, and creatively complex later albums, like their breezy 2011 masterwork The English Riviera, a melodic and addicting serving of singular electronic pop that stood out as the band’s commercial breakthrough. Last September saw the release of Metronomy’s sixth album, Metronomy Forever, a decisively more mature record thematically that retains the warm pop melodies the band has always excelled at creating.

Photo by Mariah Hamilton

Pop 

Ralph

(with Joan) 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Cafe Du Nord. $13; swedishamericanhall.com

On Flashbacks & Fantasies, the latest EP from rising Canadian pop vocalist Ralph, the versatile artist weaves through a colorful array of sonic influences, from golden age house to modern R&B, while retaining her natural sense for creating memorable pop-centric hooks. Born Raffa Weyman, the Toronto-native is a classically-trained vocalist who grew up inspired by Stevie Nicks and Prince, and signed with 604 Records in 2017, the same label as fellow Canadian pop icon and creative influence Carly Rae Jepsen. Fully embracing an ’80s synth-pop aesthetic with modern pop flourishes, Ralph’s 2018 debut album A Good Girl highlights how the vocalist naturally takes control in every song, as her powerful voice is the focal point that the album’s neon-bright production is built around. With Flashbacks & Fantasies, Ralph once again shows off the range she could control in A Good Girl, but adds kinetic energy with her throbbing, club-ready single “Gravity.” 

Related Stories