Shelter in Place Review

From start to finish, the “SHELTER IN PLACE” compilation showcases a diverse array of musical styles and genres, while consistently presenting a natural, homegrown sound on every track. This collection of music by Bay Area artists is the second compilation release from live show promoter, Pocket Buddha. This release represents Pocket Buddha’s effort to help artists he has worked with over the years “cross-pollinate their fan bases.”

The collection is bookended by tracks that deliver powerful messages relevant to today’s socio-political landscape. The first track, “Askari X,” opens with a rumbling jazz bassline, which provides the heartbeat for Keese Sama and Royalty Casti’s call to action regarding police brutality. Their sentiments are echoed by Philharmonik on the closing track, as he describes the true nature of power, with a hint of urgency in his soulful voice. In between these heartfelt and thought-provoking head-nodders, listeners will find an eclectic blend of sounds and messages representing the Bay Area’s independent music scene.

While all of the artists featured on “SHELTER IN PLACE” produce music within clearly defined genres, they all manage to push the boundaries of what listeners expect to hear from those genres. For example, Hip-Hop duo dubldragon.’s “Place Holder,” is a visceral sonic circus, with Skeptik’s cutting lyrics clutched tightly to ominous and relentless production by Dan Gensel of “FullMoonFreakz.” The result is a roller coaster ride that hurtles listeners through soundscapes unique to traditional Hip-Hop. Similarly Fail on Foot’s “Del’s Dungarees” begins as a delightful example of contemporary Indie Rock, with soft vocals sprinkled over big drums and atmospheric guitar. Yet it quickly erupts into a gritty instrumental ballad that is both unpredictable and mesmerizing. “Close to You” by Helltones is a mellow love song backed by crisp drums, with guitar riffs that offer a hint of California Surf Rock.  

Given that many of the artists featured on “SHELTER IN PLACE” operate without major label affiliations, it’s not surprising that “Do It Yourself” is a theme that recurs throughout the album. Pouring layers of intricate wordplay over folksy guitar samples, Onewerd delivers an upbeat indie musician anthem with his song, “DIMNLB.” This track is followed by Mike Incite’s “Ground Up,” which is basically an instruction manual for blue collar working musicians, presented in the form of a rap, leaning heavily on construction metaphors. Cyberclops and Edgewise follow this with “Keep on Grindin’,” a boom-bap slapper reminiscent of Golden Era Hip-Hop, providing a wealth of advice and inspiration for working musicians.

With this compilation, Pocket Buddha has curated a collection of music that is current in its relevance and timeless in its aesthetic. All of the artists featured have shared work that is professional in quality, and sincere in its delivery. “SHELTER IN PLACE” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play.

by J-Scribe

Listen to the album here: