Words by William Wayland

As I write this, nationwide deaths from COVID-19 are expected to surpass 600,000 in only a few months. We’re close to a year without live music and it’s just hard to watch shows on Zoom. I applaud everyone who’s trying but it’s just not the same. Right? Is it just me?

All of this makes it hard to hear about new releases, so I’ve compiled a few from Bay Area artists that have helped me get through shelter-in-place so far.

This isn’t a “Best Of”, it’s just a few words about local music you may have missed because you were sitting on the couch, watching TV, sharing “Bernie in Mittens” memes, and not dancing.

I don’t like “best of” lists anyway so here they are:

The Shutups: 5

Jonathan Richman sings of the Velvet Underground:

Now you can look at that band and wonder where

All that sound was coming from

With just 4 people there.

Take away two people and that’s how I felt when I first saw Mia Wood and Hadley Davis tearing up the stage at Rickshaw Stop.  They back it up with fun, hooky, alternative (whatever that means) songs.

They call this a collection of “loud sad songs” and I love their no-apologies, no-frills approach to music that makes it a little easier to accept the fact that I haven’t been further than the kitchen for the last two days.

Jeremy D’Antonio: Spinnin’ Wheels

Jeremy D’Antonio, better known for his guitar playing in San Geronimo, assembled an impressive group of musicians that backed country music legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard for a California Country EP with an authentic Bakersfield sound to it.  It plays like a modern classic that helps me remember what it feels like to be boundless.

Monophonics: It’s Only Us

I just love everything that comes out of Colemine Records.  It seems like the label has cornered the market on classic, timeless soul music and that’s what San Francisco’s Monophonics does so well.

Their third album, It’s Only Us, grooves from start to finish and sometimes that’s exactly what I want when I’m doing my laundry.

French Cassettes: Rolodex

Ready or not, French Cassettes release a new album every seven years or so.  Rolodex is a pop-fueled collection of easy-breezy vocal harmonies and bright guitar riffs that make you want to open all the windows on a warm winter day.

Ape: Supersonic

Ape is a band you really need to see when this whole pandemic thing blows over.  They’re the only Bay Area band and possibly the only band in the world that carves a pagan tiki idol at every live performance.

They play campy Hawaiian music and maybe some will find this ridiculous and not worth writing about but music is supposed to be fun, right?

The band’s newest release, Supersonic, is just what I needed mid-COVID last summer, when I couldn’t even leave my neighborhood I could make a piña colada and feel like I had escaped to a tropical cove.

William Wayland loves to photograph and write about anyone trying to pay the rent with their art. Known for his unique perspectives, William can identify every music venue in the Bay Area by smell alone.