What if every musician you knew put their music first for 29 days? What if every living being who could pick up an instrument spent February exploring their music? These are among the questions posed by organizers of the RPM Challenge, a non-competitive creative call for participants to write and record a ten-song or 35-minute album in the month of February.
Folk music this quiet should be extraordinarily pretty or powerful, and The Locksmith Cometh is neither. It's just there: Nedelle's preciously thin voice; scant guitar, violin, and keyboard accompaniment; and short, nevertheless meandering songs. -- Nate Seltenrich
Officially putting an end to its two-year hiatus, the acclaimed punk group from Berkeley has reportedly entered the studio with plans to complete album number seven. Longtime friend, Bad Religion guitarist, and Epitaph Records honcho Brett Gurewitz joins the band as producer. Rancid's last record was 2003's Indestructible, followed by a two-year break, brief touring, and the replacement of original drummer Brett Reed with ex-Used drummer Branden Steineckert. The new record is slated for release later this year.
This San Francisco group's second EP of '07 - part of a plan to keep fresh product in the marketplace - is a mixed bag of six punky alt-rock tunes. Opener "Make It Right" takes the cake with a fuzzed-out pop jam straight from Weezer's early days. -- Nate Seltenrich
Mega-polished pop-rock from an ex-Minnesotan. That said, it's an impressive debut. Johnson wrote or co-wrote every song, sings like a mainstream Natalie Merchant, and actually has something to say. Single "The Good Life" is a huge hit in Turkey. -- Nate Seltenrich
Sufjan Stevens, eat your heart out: These folks know how to rock a banjo the way it was meant to be rocked. Mandolin and violin, too. Wayward Sway's bluegrass rock is refreshingly authentic, original, and full of life. -- Nate Seltenrich
Last year, pop-punk star Avril Lavigne was hit with a lawsuit for copyright infringement by Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer of the Berkeley band the Rubinoos, whose late-70s hit "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," appeared to be the foundation of Avril's 2007 "Girlfriend" hit. Check out the comparison below: Lavigne, who claimed she had never heard the song before, settled with the songwriters yesterday for an undisclosed sum to avoid a costly legal battle. Though the settlement doesn't mean Lavigne has admitted guilt, some have also speculated whether the 23-year-old Canadian singer also ripped off Peaches' "I'm the Kinda" in her song "I Don't Have to Try": -- Kathleen Richards
Napster has become the latest online music vendor to announce that it will sell unprotected MP3 files from its web site, the UK Guardian reports. What with all of the major record labels but Sony BMG playing ball, it means that most online music files will soon be completely agnostic about which digital device they're played on. Once that happens, there's one less reason to buy another iPod once your existing one craps out which you know it will.
Violence has erupted at least three times at San Francisco clubs this year, resulting in deaths outside Jelly's Dance Cafe and a Soma warehouse party. Officials are so alarmed by the trend that they have scheduled a January 17 meeting between police and members of the city's entertainment commission, according to Jaxon Van Derbeken in today's Chron. "We want to ensure a safe experience for people who want to partake in San Francisco nightlife," commission director Robert Davis told the paper.
Peck the Town Crier has waged war against predictability. Slowish raps tend toward spoken word and performance art, while low-key backing tracks tap into jazz, funk, bluegrass, marches, and more. Not everything works, but at least nothing is expected.