A good way to forget that San Francisco is, supposedly “the lamest summertime city,” according to the Atlantic, is to escape the frigid nighttime cloud swells and hunker down in one of our fine, world-class music venues. Nothing lame or tame going on here:
Things are happening for Frank Ocean. He made national news last week for sorta-kinda coming out of the closet. And his latest album Channel Orange is blowing up, and deservedly so. Ocean wins over hearts and minds in three-minute increments like it’s nothing. The slow, meaningful jams are a bit of a departure from his collective OFWGKTA’s confrontational punk rap, and it’s a welcome respite. Start with the track “Thinkin Bout You” and march forth, all the way to the Regency tonight.
Shearwater is perhaps best known as a building block in the career of Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, who started the band some 13 years ago for giggles, among other reasons. Now the keys to the tour van belong to multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Jonathan Meiburg, who has put his own distinct touch on the band’s dark-ish, contemplative ethos since Sheff left the band to focus on Okkervil River. The band is now eight albums into its existence, and the maturity is evident in its latest release, Animal Joy, required listening for fans of things that come out of Austin, Texas.
Long the thinking-man’s rapper, Kweli expresses himself however he sees fit, with beats that make your body think, too. Critics have always revered the Brooklyn rapper for his brainy turns of phrase and deep explorations of urban America. But it’s really the good-time-manufacturing that brings the people back for more. While rumors swirl about a potential Black Star reunification (Kweli and Mos Def’s celebrated late-‘90s project), Kweli is touring in support of his sixth full-length cut Prison of Conscious, which underground hip-hop fans have been anticipating since his hit 2011 solo album Gutter Rainbows.
The simple, lollygagging harmonies of Beachwood Sparks make the mind water and the eyelids lazy. Have, and always will. The recently reunited Los Angeles Americana act have somehow picked up right where they left off after an 11-year hiatus with an astounding collection of songs, known as The Tarnished Gold. The album recalls the ‘60s folk charm of The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, but manages to steal the modern brain’s attention with a therapeutic, easy-does-it mantra.
If you’re a weirder-the-better guy like me, Sonny Smith of Sonny and the Sunsets will leave you perfectly puzzled, and dazzled. But then you listen closely to his playful, simple-minded lyrics, like his punny and groove-filled “Too Young to Burn,” and you realize this oddball is more complicated than meets the eye. He’s one of San Francisco’s finest cultural treasures at the moment, so check him out before the secret gets out.