First of all, excellent cover art. The music, thankfully, doesn't disappoint either. Taking its name from early gigs where earnings were collected in a tin cup, this San Francisco quintet plays intimate, low-key swing music of the old-time variety - that is, less Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more ragtime, lounge, and blues.
If there's one thing YouTube isn't short on, it's dudes showing off their sweet licks. Many claim to be the fastest shredder ever, but who reigns supreme of all time? Let's take a look at the evidence, shall we?
In case you've been living under a rock, one of the biggest music events is coming to the Bay Area this summer. The inaugural Outside Lands Festival, August 22-24 at Golden Gate Park, will feature Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Beck, Wilco, Manu Chao, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Widespread Panic, Primus, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Steve Winwood, Café Tacvba, Broken Social Scene, Regina Spektor, Devendra Banhart, Cold War Kids, Galactic's Crescent City Soul Krewe, Lyrics Born, Andrew Bird, Steel Pulse, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers, ALO, Matt Nathanson, the Cool Kids, Two Gallants, Dredg, Little Brother, the Coup, Goapele, and more. Tickets for the three-day fest, which costs $225.50 and give you complete access, go on sale this Sunday, March 30 at 10 a.m. and are expected to sell out. You can donate a portion of your ticket price to help reforest California.
Oakland's Death of a Party has already stepped into the national stoplight, but takes this opportunity to hint at new directions. Its dark, dance-punk approach is nothing unusual, but epic undercurrents offer a welcome antidote to the party-and-forget-it disposability of many of their peers - not to mention the band's early days.
New arrival to Oakland delivers a contender for rap record of the year. Replife, née Daniel Gray-Kontar, comes from so far outside the game - namely Cleveland, and an established career as a writer/editor - that the same rules don't apply. Breakbeats, jazz, soul, poetry, and hip-hop merge into something unique and deeply satisfying.
The Waybacks' style is scarce in the Bay Area: upbeat country-rock with nary an edge, for those who like their good-times tunes served straight-up. Folk, soul, and roadhouse boogie color the Waybacks' approach, but at its heart this is capable, down-to-earth country fare made for the summer concert season. Nate Seltenrich
Grip Grand's brand of lightweight hip-hop weaves coherent if not technically jaw-dropping raps into a cornucopia of creative, sample-based beats. While these fourteen songs don't mesh together as well as they could, Grip and his able crew stay fresh, open-minded, and charmingly attuned to their own fallibility. Nate Seltenrich
Good Friday is as good a day as any to announce the impending arrival of the hit Off-Broadway musical Altar Boyz. The show skewers boy band absurdity with a healthy infusion of piety, transposing a familiar pop-culture milieu over an ardently religious backdrop. The intent is not to diss religion -- even conservative Christians may find themselves drawn in ... maybe -- but simply to elicit a good laugh at the expense of zealouts on both sides. Folks that miss the point may call it propaganda or ignore the irony and embrace it for its "good message." Silly them. No matter; praised by the New York Times and adored by Altar Boyz junkies across the nation, the musical makes its first East Bay stop in Martinez on April 7 and stays through May 11. Grab yer tickets here. But before you do, check out our appraisal of the Altar Boyz CD (at least its cover art) here.
Although it's as beautiful and technically proficient as could be asked of it, Tommy Guerrero's music tends to be relegated to the background. His latest takes this to the extreme: each of the fifteen tracks represents one square in a patchwork chill-out soundtrack. Nate Seltenrich
This curious mish-mash of indie rock and Americana claims influences from Pixies to Drive-By Truckers, and for once it isn't wishful thinking. Childhood friends John Spaw and David Craig hit on something special here; the persistent contrast between high-gain guitars and glossy vocals is unbeatable. Nate Seltenrich