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Local all-star outfit Seal Party headlines the Make-Out Room in the Mission

Twisting together strands of soul, jazz and rock, local outfit Seal Party celebrates the release of new music at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco Thursday night.

Founded by Bay Area-based session players Kevin Seal (keyboards and vocals) and Chris McGrew (drummer and engineer), Seal Party is in some ways an extension of their earlier collaboration as members of Oakland experimental funk outfit Griddle that made two albums in the early 2000s before reuniting for 2014's Meat Kite. Taking advantage of the downtime forced by the pandemic starting in 2020, the pair began writing tunes and inviting fellow musicians to contribute to the recording sessions at Wally's Hyde Out in San Francisco's Tenderloin (part of Hyde Street Studios, where McGrew works as a recording engineer).

Seal Party & Renee Padgett - "Elijah McClain" (Official Music Video) by Seal Party on YouTube

Fleshing out the jazz-inflected, evocative tunes with intricate horn and vocal arrangements -- while Seal fronts a bulk of the material, a number of singers take turns on the mic including Kimiko Joy and Renee Padgett and rapper Xanubis -- an eclectic array of sounds are found on the project's debut album MMXXII. 

The songs offer a mix of Seal's acerbic lyrical wit (on "Turpentine") alongside evocative character studies ("Jimmy Just Clams Up" and "Elijah McCain," which was inspired by the real-life story of a Colorado man who was fatally beaten by police) and crafty instrumental tracks. Among the guests musicians who played on the effort are bassists Larry Boothroyd (Victims Family, Jello Biafra's Guantanamo School of Medicine) and Uriah Duffy (ex-Whitesnake, Points North) and guitarists Jon Axtell (ex-Psychefunkapus, George Clinton, Howard Jones and Notorius) and Sonny Climes. 

Seal Party, "Turpentine" (official video) by Seal Party on YouTube

Since the group self-released the album, they have played a number of local shows in addition to a brief tour of the Midwest (where both Seal and McGrew are originally from). In early March, Seal Party put out Sapa, a 44-minute instrumental suite built from tracks used on MMXXII. The group also has a new single -- "Push On" -- it is getting ready to unleash. 

Seal Party, "Lilypad" (audio only) by Seal Party on YouTube

While the group played a round of shows in the Midwest last spring, it spent the better part of the last year working on new material. The band headlines this show at the Make-Out Room Thursday night to celebrate the release of their second album Circles Headed to the Sky. Jazzy like-minded San Francisco ensemble Uncle Chris also appears with DJ Foodcourt playing records before and between bands. 

Seal Party
Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m. $10 
The Make-Out Room

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