If you like The Strokes,
then you’ll like Hot Flash Heat Wave
The first time I listened to S.F. band Hot Flash Heat Wave’s “Bathroom Song,” off 2015’s Neapolitan, I was shocked when I didn’t hear Julian Casablancas’ apathetic drawl, because the track sounds so much like the Strokes. And “Bathroom Song” is far from being Hot Flash Heat Wave’s only Casablancas-inspired cut: The guitar solo for “Homecoming” smacks of Albert Hammond Jr.’s deft guitarwork, while “Hesitation” conjures memories of the Strokes’ mid-aughts anthem “You Only Live Once.”
But it’s not as though Hot Flash Heat Wave has just slathered DayGlo paint onto their garage-rock ditties and called it their own. The foursome are one of several young bands (including Twin Peaks, Hinds, and the Orwells) who have also culled inspiration from their Lower East Side forefathers’ discography — namely Is This It?, Room on Fire, and even 2011’s overly maligned Angles — to make contemporary rock something worth hearing. Think of it this way: Hot Flash Heat Wave are Casablancas’ sons who ran off to California — and never once looked back. Elle Carroll
New Blues — Donnie Parker
Trap soul is not an official subgenre — yet — but it should be. Popularized by contemporary R&B artist Bryson Tiller through his 2015 debut album of the same name, the nascent category is a subset of hip-hop, combining the murky, synthesizer-laden sounds of trap with sensitive, heartfelt vocals that consist of both rapping and singing.
In Bay Area native Donnie Parker’s debut EP, New Blues, the 26-year-old follows the trap soul formula to a T. Over buzzy synths and live chords from Smash Mouth guitarist Sam Eigen, Parker showcases his sinewy soprano, which sounds like the Weeknd when he’s singing and like fellow Bay Area rapper Young Bari when he’s rapping.
The bulk of the songs revolve around women, dating, and relationships, but each track manages to sound slightly different and nuanced from the next (although it helps that there’s only six tracks on the album). Still, it’s an undeniably catchy record, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you heard one of the tracks on KMEL in the next few months. Jessie Schiewe
SF Weekly Song of the Week:
“NCAT” — Bells Atlas
“An extravaganza of zippy synths and burbling bass from the eclectic Oakland band.”