Co-op cuddles and ’90s nostalgia

Living-room shenanigans: I was cuddled on the cuddle puddle.

That is to say, I was sitting reasonably close to several other people—some who I had just met that evening—on an elevated couchlike surface that residents of Eye Street Co-op affectionately call the “cuddle puddle.” And so, we cuddled on the cuddle puddle because it provided the best view, and there was lots to see.

It was a living-room show on steroids—the cute kind—in the cozy, Midtown residence last Thursday night. About 40 friends and friends of friends covered the floor, while Mason jars of beer, wine and fresh-squeezed OJ were passed around. There was soup—both vegan and not vegan—and cornbread and other shareable goodies. There was a disco ball, a woman knitting and a small dog scurrying around. There was no bouncer, and the guests were invite-only.

When the first musician took the stage—er, empty spot on the floor—the room fell silent. Chico singer-songwriter Fera started things off with some endearingly nervous banter and a sweet, indie-folk sound. He noted that he had never played for a crowd so large. Then, Scott Ferreter—from local alt-rock band Cove—delivered some heartfelt, folky acoustic jams. He noted feeling honored to play for such an esteemed audience, i.e., his mom and elementary-school buddies.

And while the cuddle puddle got cuddlier and everyone sunk into the warmest sea of fuzzies, Zoe Boekbinder prepped to play with Danah Olivetree on cello and Dorota Szuta on violin in what they dubbed the Tampon String Band. The Oakland-based, Canada-born singer-songwriter’s sound conjures up images of vintage record players; her voice rich, bluesy and wise.

In the middle of her set, Boekbinder explained her latest projects. One is called 100 Songs in 100 Days, which is exactly what it sounds like. But that doesn’t make the feat—writing and recording one new song per day for 100 days—any less impressive. The second project is a collaboration with the inmates at “New Folsom Prison”—she’s been playing concerts and teaching workshops there for the last four years, and the upcoming album is planned as a benefit to bring more arts to prisons. During her set, Boekbinder began to play a song co-written by a man who is in prison, facing life without parole.

“Sorry, this is kind of a downer,” she said, as the small dog cried and the house collectively melted.

It was a co-op, after all.

—Janelle Bitker

Tied to the ’90s: Now a resident of Brooklyn in New York City, Lee Bannon could have elected not to include Sacramento in press materials for his new LP Alternate/Endings, recently released via the Ninja Tune label. Certainly, the full length in many respects represents a severing of ties to the body of work Bannon made since producing various mixtape rappers in his Rocklin and Midtown apartments.

Largely known for producing and deejaying for Brooklyn rap prodigy Joey Bada$$, Bannon’s record makes a clean break from hip-hop by immersing itself in the skittish drum patterns of jungle and drum ’n’ bass. Alternate/Endings features a Bannon who’s disembodied from his backpack past, although he’s not forgotten his roots entirely. In an interview with The Guardian, for example, he pegged Sacramento as the source of his interest in jungle.

It’s not widely known, but Sacramento’s EDM history, particularly jungle, dates back to the late ’90s with the 916 Junglist crew—which celebrated a 15-year anniversary in May 2013.

Alternate/Endings is spring-loaded on the front end by “Resorectah” and “NW/WB,” the latter liberal in its sampling of threatening barks from Death Grips’ MC Ride and RZA. A feeding frenzy of sirens and alerts, “NW/WB” sounds like an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to what Bannon’s done up to this point. It’s a manic accumulation of touchstone influences processed into one track.

The album is not without its lulls. Throughout, Bannon lapses into common tropes of jungle and seems unstable with the rapid-fire BPMs in places. Take the outro for “Readly/Available”: While the track is cathartic, its impact is temporarily muted by a downward spiraling for five minutes of entrancing repetition.

Still, great moments exist: the “Readly/Available” piano outro, the ethereal bliss disrupted by glitchy terror blips on “Phoebe Cates,” the FM dial R&B cranked to warp speed on “Value 10.” It’s not a perfect debut, but it sets the bar high and resurrects a genre largely absent from popular discussion for the last 20 years.

—Blake Gillespie