E S S, Biosexual, Ghostplay
Local bands you should have sex with
Originally published in SacAlt Magazine October 2013
By Lovelle Harris
We’ve all heard the same sob story about the music scene in Sacto: all of the good bands have left for greener pastures like New York, Los Angeles or the Bay Area, fans don’t want to pay for shows and the scene is a watered-down shell of its former self.
Well, grab some Kleenex and dry those tears because it’s time to start supporting local musicians again—there are some incredible bands starting to make their mark by serving up music that doesn’t subscribe to the trappings of the old guard. Here’s a taste of just three of some of the best new acts rocking this town.
E S S
E S S, the project fronted by a doyen of the local music scene, Jesse K. Phillips, who has collaborated with the mutated folk-rock group, Dead Western and avant-pop ensemble Appetite as well as his solo work under the moniker Ellie Fortune, is serving up a potion of doom-drenched tunes rivaling the likes of Chelsea Wolfe and Bauhaus. This dark, gloomy post-punk outfit belts out plodding soliloquies, sonic vocal reverberations and spacey riffs that screech out into the inky darkness of the soul.
On the band’s nine-track oeuvre, released in 2012 and simply titled S/T, Phillips releases a symphonic flood of phantasmic vocals while the band unleashes wave after wave of foreboding keyboards and wavering guitars that are bone-chilling yet hauntingly beautiful. Ensnared somewhere between the gloomy grandeur of Wolfe’s Apokalypsis and the baleful undercurrent of the most recent La Sera offering, S/T is a glorious plunge into the choral recesses of the mind.
Enter Biosexual onto the milieu: the electro-pop, three piece unit composed of Sacto’s own Michael R.J. Saalman, Zac Nelson, the prolific auteur from Portland who nimbly integrates elements of alt-folk, scrappy noise-stomps mixed with faded synth-based ambience, and Jocelyn Noir, of the experimental Sacramento indie band ALAK, will be bringing their brand of slow, methodic, frothy baselines, combined with Nelson’s passionate, warbling vocals to Luigi’s Slice on Oct. 17 and are set to drop their new album late October.
Aside from the fact that the trio’s name is downright alluring; suggesting one who is aroused sexually by nature, plant life and all things of the mother Earth, their music is an amalgamation of spacious arrangements, bold melodies, offbeat syncopation, and an unequivocal energy that harkens back to the decadent ’80s. Yeah, they’re all that, and a bag of chips.
Another threesome moving up the musical ranks, Ghostplay offers an arcane, yet buoyant take on the melancholy vibe permeating Sacramento’s musical sphere. Inspired by indie rock darlings Deerhunter and Snowden, the trio of Jason Hess on vocals and guitar, badass babe Leticia Garcia on vocals and guitar and Mark Rocha pounding the skins simply rock. They’ve got a demo out and are presently in the studio laying down tracks on their first album. So, be sure to keep your ear to the ground, their first E.P. is going to be a ferocious display of lively guitar riffs, stentorian percussion work and vocal elements channeling the late, great Ian Curtis.
Not to be confused with the sex act of stealthily dry humping ones partner, hooded under the cloak of a white sheet while slowing grinding back and forth until reaching the peak of orgasmic pleasure, Ghostplay formed late 2012 but erupted onto the scene and gained some serious buzz among local musicians and music-lovers with only a few short months under their guitar straps earlier this year.
Ghost Play is also proving that they’ve got real staying power; Garcia formed SacIndieMusic in 2013, a start-up booking and management company endeavoring to put out local music with the aspirational goal of helping to pave the way for other bands to break into the regional musical circuit. Oh, and the band’s already shared the stage with local musical powerhouses Sea of Bees and John Vanderslice at the third annual Davis Music Festival. Not too shabby for the new kids on the block.
So, throw away the piles of tissue that have accumulated on your bedside table over the so-called demise of the local music scene, put in your eardrum-saving earplugs and gear up for some incredible live shows, because great local music hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.