New Year, New Tunes
Resolve to give your music selection a shuffle, with our roundup of the best local artists.
Mall Walk / Matt Sorensen
This Oakland-based trio, led by Walnut Creek–raised songwriter Rob I. Miller (formerly of Mister Loveless), recently released a terrific EP of what the band describes as “post-punk” music. The five songs on the eponymously titled EP are alternately catchy and haunting, as if Interpol and The Ventures joined forces. mallwalkband.com.
Listen to this: “Teen Missing” is a creepy-cool take on adolescence while “Treadmill” is a perfect workout song for the anarchist who likes to stay fit.
The iconic East Bay singer, raised in Oakland, impressed everyone from Prince to Stevie Wonder with her breakthrough hit, “Closer,” in 2001. Goapele’s fourth studio album, Strong as Glass, dropped late last year. It’s her most powerful effort yet—a groovy neo-soul album with splashes of jazz and hip-hop lifted by inspirational vocals. goapele.com.
Listen to this: The title track, “Strong as Glass,” and the Snoop Dogg duet, “Hey Boy,” start off the album with a one-two punch.
Rumor has it Oakland-based rapper K.Flay was a freshman at Stanford when she started dissecting the lyrics to rap songs. By her sophomore year, she released her debut LP, Suburban Rap Queen, and quickly became one of the Bay Area’s most inventive rap artists. K.Flay’s wildly colorful rhymes over trip-hop beats work well on recordings and in her live performances around the Bay Area. kflay.com.
Listen to this: Her 2014 LP, Life as a Dog, is a start-to-finish blast; “Make Me Fade” and “Thicker Than Dust” are burning up on Spotify.
This folk group, led by Livermore-raised singer-guitarist Tyler Madsen, has had songs featured on One Tree Hill and Cougar Town. Fans of alt-country acts such as Mumford and Sons will chill just fine with Branches. branchesmusic.com.
Listen to this: We’re waiting for the follow-up to 2012’s Thou Art the Dream, but the band has been posting covers to its YouTube channel, soundslikebranches. Beyoncé’s “Halo” and the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” are highlights.
For our East Bay playlist, visit diablomag.com/newmusic.