Rogue Wave Asleep at Heaven's Gate (Brushfire Records). The indie-pop pride of Oakland, which recently left Sub Pop for Jack Johnson's small and surf-friendly Brushfire Records, issues an excellent, dramatic third album about the mysterious joys of hardship.
Mavrik About Face (Skoman Productions). A local microcosm of the major-label rap release: guest appearances (Mistah F.A.B., Jennifer Johns, Gift of Gab), high production values, spoken word interludes, and interwoven elements from the urban spectrum (turntablism, R&B, funk). A paint-by-numbers success.
Talking Wood Talking Wood (Jizo Records). Multi-instrumentalist Keenan Webster and Oakland African roots ensemble Balafo form Talking Wood, whose improvisational style centers on prominent playing of the balafon - an ancient wooden xylophone from West Africa with a warm, bright sound - over percussion, string, and wind accompaniment.
The Drift Ceiling Sky (Temporary Residence Ltd.). Instrumental rock and progressive jazz collude quietly in this hour-long collection of rare tracks and remixes from San Francisco quartet the Drift. Don't stare too hard, or you just might miss it.
The Action Design Into a Sound EP (Pop Smear Records). Remember Tsunami Bomb? That tenacious pop-punk band blanketing Bay Area clubs around 2000? The one with the cute-chick lead singer? Her name is Agent M, and she's back with a new band and a more mature, occasionally rousing sound.
Bad news first: The Oakland Opera Theater was forced to move recently, just weeks before the start of a new performance, after being priced out of its previous location at 201 Broadway. According to a press release sent today, "a property tax clause in the original lease that had never been put into effect was suddenly enforced, nearly quadrupling the rent on the space the company had been leasing since its inception in 2001." The good news: Their new space at 630 3rd Street, just five blocks away, is twice as big and apparently better suited for the opera house's productions. The only caveat is it's no longer on Jack London Square's main drag, but this shouldn't surprise our readers.
And check out our two-sentence Local Licks review.
Roger Anderson, founder of the music web site Cool Waves, announced he's calling it quits today. Cool Waves started two-and-a-half years ago to promote the surge of Bay Area bands of the shoegaze, post-rock, and dream-pop variety -- listing bios, links, and MP3 samples of the bands. Eventually, the project grew to include three mini Cool Waves Festivals, with bands like Montana, Foxtail Somersault, Tomihira, and Anderson's solo project, Halcyon High performing. To date, some 85 bands are featured on the site. Anderson says he's stopping work on Cool Waves because he's moving, but anyone inclined to keep it up should contact him.