Solid pop-rock never goes out of style, and San Francisco's Pine and Battery plays it with panache. This 2006 debut was recently picked up for digital re-release, while its song "Southern" is in frequent rotation at KFOG and featured on the station's new Local Scene compilation. Some records go stale after two years, but this one sounds as good as ever.
Like Ratatat without the guitars, hip San Francisco group Tussle turns electronic music into a living, breathing form. The quartet's seamless blend of dub, Krautrock, minimalist techno, and more is a feat unto itself, but better yet is the contagious life and color these guys inject into what could otherwise be a soulless DJ dance party.
Gibbons' country-rock is as earnest and moving as it is competent and mainstream-ready. Most notable is the extent to which he blends the two genres: one moment a tale of being a regular guy with a big heart, working on cars in a warehouse and trying to make it in the music business; the next a blistering electric guitar solo.
The playing could be tighter and the recording brighter, but young East Bay band the Associated has its head on straight. One thing: opening with punk, then reggae, then straight back to punk does not a Clash record make, especially when followed by a Dave Matthews cover. More performing and songwriting experience could work wonders.
An all-star avant-garde lineup led by Aaron Novik made this spooky, but not too heavy metal album almost entirely on clarinet - guitar, bass, and keyboard sounds were created by playing clarinets through various amps and effects. Many of the choppy, tense instrumental passages would work perfectly as boss-level videogame soundtracks.
If you have a hankering for underground music from abroad, check out 89.7 KFJC's live broadcast of underground music from Tokyo. Three of the station's staff members are flying to Japan to engineer the show, which will be broadcast in real time on August 25 and 26 at 2 a.m. PST (6 p.m. in Tokyo), and re-broadcast at 6 p.m. each day. The shows will also be videotaped and webcast live. This project is part of trend from KFJC, which has already broadcast from New Zealand and the U.K. It's the station's way of bringing music here from bands that have largely been denied visas to enter the States - kind of like the underground equivalents of Amy Winehouse and George Michael. Check out their website to see the bands playing and listen to music on their MySpace pages. The bands playing are Majutsu no Niwa, Reiko A. + Sachiko, Katsurei, Keiichi Miyashita, Sax Ruins, kuruucrew on Monday, August 25; and Kawaguchi Masami New Rock Syndicate, Astro, Up-Tight, Amazon Saliva, Oninko, and Tabata Mitsuru on Tuesday, August 26.
Heavy heavy is a fairly apt description of this San Jose band; "low low" doesn't factor into the equation, unless you're talking low tolerance for excess. The quintet's post-post-hardcore undergoes frequent shifts and twists à la prog-rock, but boils them down to the most salient, rough-edged details.
Berkeley High grad Carmen Jones, who has sung with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and Jamie Foxx, moves two ways on her four-song debut. Songs like "Microdancing" (with Prince and the Revolution's Doctor Fink on keyboards) and "Mrs. Jones" mine early-'80s electro-funk. Soulful R&B ballads comprise the other half. The result is jarring but effective.
A band was robbed of instruments, equipment, and a computer in Oakland on Sunday and desperately needs its gear back before going on tour, according to an email just received: "On the morning of Sunday, August 17, 2008, alternative-Latino group MEZKLAH were robbed of several essential pieces of equipment from a vehicle parked in front of lead singer Angel Garcia's home in Oakland. Among the stolen goods were a sampler, a MacBook computer, and a Gibson guitar. The band needs these essential items before they depart for a Japanese tour this Thursday. ... If you have any knowledge of any of the equipment's whereabouts or location, please call Matias Pizarro, (562) 544-9798, or email the band at email@example.com."
The list of stolen gear is as follows: "ROLAND SPD-S SAMPLER, with slight scratches on the sides. GIBSON SG 1981, BROWN WOODSTOCK, all natural wood brown guitar with silver humbucker pickups.XIO NOVATION MIDI CONTROLLER KEYBOARD. ROLAND PD 80 PAD, with small tear along the black rubber rim. BOSS DD-3 DIGITAL DELAY PEDAL. WHITE APPLE MAC BOOK 2.4 COMPUTER, slightly scratched on the scroll pad. Top of the computer has a sticky black tape mark. NOVATION GIG BAG. SWISS ARMY BACKPACK, with a SunStudios patch sewed on it. Various cables and Roland SPDS Manual inside bag."
This San Francisco trombonist can play, but what sets him apart is his affinity for Latin rhythms and his ability to settle into various styles as effortlessly as he floats between them. On The Nature of the Beat, Wallace does Latin funk and jazz, timba funk, cha cha, bolero, and more. None fall short, and the high-energy tracks are irresistible.