Oakland Afro-soul veteran steps out her own. Plus: Adios Amigo fights cynicism with Erasable Truth, and other local releases
"You don't have to cut off who you are, keep those roles so separate," she adds. "In fact, the world is a better place when you don't."
Zakiya Harris and the Elephantine EP Release
With Antique Naked Soul and Miss Kia
Sat/14, 9pm, $10
1429 Broadway, Oakl.
Trying to make it as a musician in San Francisco arguably requires a certain amount of stubbornness — if not starry-eyed hope and obliviousness, at least a determination that you're not going to let cynicism and the high cost of rent get the best of you, and you're not going to measure your own worth by any rubric that involves commercial success. Johnny Major has that determination, but to hear him tell it, he also has no choice.
The singer and frontman of Adios Amigo — a jangly/moody indie pop outfit that started as a side project, as Major also drums for SF scene veterans Il Gato — has learned the hard way that not making music is simply not an option.
"I can't live without playing music," says Major simply, a week or so after releasing the band's third EP in three years. Erasable Truth is a bright record with some disillusioned lyrics, a contrast that plays with the relationship between staying hopeful and getting jaded, between melancholy and introspection and positivity and focus. All of it has somehow been funneled into warm, horn-punctuated little gems of very sweet pop music. Comparisons to Built to Spill and Broken Social Scene (certainly, at least, the moods induced by listening to the latter) are apt.
Johnny Major of Adios Amigo.
"I think in comparison with the other EPs, it's a little more jaded," allows Major. "It's darker, there are some strains of sarcasm." He note that the band's lineup has shifted, dissolved, re-formed and dissolved again over the course of the band's four-year lifespan. That was part of the inspiration for the record's title — the idea of coming to terms with the fact that "there is really no sense in trying to hold onto things, to finding truth...all you can really do is try to make sense of life on the fly, and try to seek a medium of expression that's satisfying, that allows you to connect with other people."
"I've been playing music in the Bay Area for six years in several projects, and I have a ridiculous amount of time and money invested, and having to have a day job when all you really want to do is play music, especially in a city this expensive...it's a constant struggle with disillusionment," he elaborates. "You do get to the point of, 'Why the fuck am I doing this?' But I can't give up, regardless of how illogical it might be. It's a spiritual thing for me — you gotta feel alive, you gotta feel passionate. And there's a certain one-ness I only get from playing music."
Check Adios Amigo on Facebook for upcoming shows and the like: www.facebook.com/adiosamigomusic