Texas-based singer Leon Bridges and his brand of ‘50s doo-wop and ‘60s soul descends upon the Bay Area this week.
Kevin Barnes’ songs and performances contain all the surreal whimsy and mysticism you’d happily bring to a child’s birthday party. In other words, he’s magic. Last time I saw him, at Great American Music Hall, he dressed up in some alternative dimension Gandalf gown, climbing a ladder to make his guise larger than life. He also has a magical new album out, the trippily titled Aureate Gloom, which Paste magazine calls “an audacious delight, delivering aural odysseys that slither in and out of the territory of heavy-lidded dance-club bangers, junkie-punk ragers, symphonic Baroque-pop gems, plaintive guitar-rockers and myriad lessons from the Marc Bolan school of glam-rock depravity.” Like I said, magic.
Oakland’s own Bells Atlas gets a hometown gig at underrated music hall Leo’s. Count both among the East Bay’s best kept secrets, but word is getting around on Bells Atlas. The Bay Bridged (among others) was fascinated by "the way vocals and guitar dance alongside the drums, bells, and chimes instead of playing over them."
It should come as no surprise that Fiery Furnaces bandmember Eleanor Friedberger thrilled audiences and critics alike with her fascinating, sprawling 2013 solo effort, Personal Record. Friedberger’s now taken a victory lap around the country promoting the album, while working in her latest single "He Didn’t Mention His Mother."
The Bay Area doesn’t get a Phish concert for New Year’s Eve this year, as per usual, but jamband god Trey Anastasio gives local Phish fans their annual fix on Friday. Anastasio is touring in support of Paper Wheels, his first solo album in three years. The LP marks the tenth in his career, just shy of Phish’s 12 studio albums.
Bridges has been dropping 90-minute sets on this tour, an incredible feat for an artist still in his infancy. The soul singer from Ft. Worth, Texas, made tremendous waves in his debut album Coming Home, reimagining late ‘50s doo-wop and ‘60s soul without a hint of irony or kitsch.
Follow @ChrisTrenchard on Twitter for more words like these.