Words by Annie Bacon
It’s time for round three of the Band-to-Band Relay!
If you’ve missed it the last few months, the Band-to-Band Relay is part of The Bay Bridged’s ongoing desire to curate and deepen your awareness of your local music scene. Each month we’ll start off with a single local artist, write about why we like them, and then ask them to pick and talk about another local artist they dig. We'll carry the line as far as it’ll go, and start again the next month.
We know you’re oversaturated, and we know how important curators are to our modern musical experience. Who better than the bands you love to point you in the direction of great music being made around you?
Our third relay made it from MAGO to Esses.
MAGO – the band of artist Mateo Lugo – was introduced to me by a friend recently and I was immediately attracted to their sound. It struck me as both indie and traditional, as if inspired as much by Bon Iver as by the old Celtic (Irish and Scottish) songbooks — the inclusion of a bodhrán (a traditional Irish hand drum), or something simlar on several tracks contributes to that impression. The music is intimate, quiet, and thoughtful, but still has a power-driven by melody in every song. I always find it annoying in sportsball when announcers say a professional, highly-paid athlete player is “a real athlete” who “really showed up to play,” but I kind of have that feeling about this EP — the musicality all over this EP is stand-out impressive, and demonstrates that MAGO is here to make music, everything else aside. I look forward to more from this band.
Annie's recommended track: "Them":
Sucker Crush is led by cellist, guitarist, electronic musician, and singer Marissa Deitz; her work synthesizes sonic worlds swelling from each instrument she plays. The classical influence of the cello invites complex harmonies and contrapuntal melodic lines, the electric guitar arpeggiates in folk-pop twang, while swirling noises and flickering drones envelop it all. The music is inviting and daunting: You can sing to it but then in vanishes. It is young but also old; it is quiet and loud. I am very excited to see this band evolve and grow!
Mateo's recommended track: "Other Lovers":
Yoko OK was one of the first people I met when I moved to the Bay two years ago, and has been a lifeline to so many beautiful things since then. Yoko is a powerful community organizer, from her work with NOTAFLOF to facilitating shows and events, and her music is so enchantingly stripped-down and narrative. Her lyrics are effortless and earnest, syllabically displaced in unexpected ways and painting a deeply relatable portrait of desires and self-doubts.
Sucker Crush's recommended track: "Benign":
Yoko OK's next show: April 22, The Octopus Literary Salon
I pick Ötzi! Their energy is both dark and light, fun and explosive, totally danceable, and strong as fuuuck. They're a little bit darkwave, new wave, goth, riot grrrl, and punk. I love the shit out of their music and the people in the band as well — Gina Marie, Akiko Sampson, and Jonathan Snider, all badass babes with hearts of gold. They happen to be not only the most sharp-witted, funny, sarcastic yet sweet people in any given room, they're also incredibly professional, intelligent, socially conscious, great at songwriting, and mindblowing in concert. Their music protects me.
Yoko OK's recommended track: "Gong Show":
We pick Esses! Esses music is dark and ethereal, and quickly becomes hypnotic. It is hard-hitting but lush, with soaring vocals. Listening to their songs feels like a slow dive into a deep abyss. They are also awesome people that have contributed to the Bay Area music and art scene for years. Kevin Brown has been photographing local underground music shows for around 10 years and we look forward to seeing a book in the near future. We are sharing a stage with them in March with UK legends Modern English and are super excited about it!
Otzi's recommended track: "Pestilence":
Tags: Band to Band Relay, Esses, MAGO, Ötzi, Sucker Crush, Yoko OK
Annie Bacon is a musician (her life) and writer (her obsession) in San Francisco. She loves shouting out amazing local bands and finding new music (of any genre) that is emotionally moving or has depth. She also writes for The SF Critic, has her own band, and is raising a little drummer kid.