Born in Jamaica and based in San Leandro, Selah blends modern roots reggae with dancehall, dub, and rock. Light on the well-worn spiritual and social imagery of Rasta culture, he prefers to pair smart, serious commentary about contemporary issues with pure positive vibrations - especially throughout his sophomore album's superior second half.
McGaraghan and Simpson's warm, bright acoustic guitars bind this collection of hopeful, self-assured bluegrass and California country. Both musicians are skilled as singers and instrumentalists alike, seamlessly trading roles from track to track and proving their chemistry to be as natural as their muse.
With less than a month to go until the 17th annual Noise Pop festival, organizers recently announced more performers, including Pavement's Steve Malkmus playing solo, former Hüsker Dü wild man Bob Mould, and Kool Keith. Also slated to perform are the Mountain Goats, Antony and the Johnsons, and local folk rock artist David Dondero. The lineup isn't set in stone yet though, so look out for more late-breaking additions. Noise Pop events and concerts start February 20 and continue through March 1.
But where's Devendra Banhart when you need him? Well, perhaps Outside Lands and Noise Pop are a little much, but at least you'll get to see some of his artwork, which will be included as part of photographer Lauren Dukoff's show Family, documenting Banhart and other "freak folk" artists (or whatever you want to call them) such as Joanna Newsom and Bat For Lashes. Family opens February 20 at Eleanor Harwood Gallery (1295 Alabama St., SF). - Ben Taylor
REM's "Losing My Religion" and the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" may not seem to belong on a jazz album, but Naylor shows no fear in tackling these and other covers - inventive arrangements courtesy of bandmate and co-producer Art Khu - across her seventh record. In this sense it's not a jazz album at all, but a showcase for the fluidity of music.
Stiles' voice conveys the gravitas of Eddie Vedder and the carefree spirit of Jack Johnson, but his music may not appeal to devotees of either. Instead, he hits a tougher spot in the middle where solemnity and whimsicality vie for supremacy. Call it a stalemate after four tracks, which is just long enough for the ambiguity to become addictive.
As a platform for the talents of two accomplished bluegrass musicians (Evans wrote Banjo for Dummies; Lynch is a champion fiddler), Let's Do Something succeeds. But the real joys are less expected: weary and delicate vocals working in concert, Evans' patience and care with his banjo, and a haunting adaptation of Editors' post-punk song "Fall."
Frontman Stephen Pride hasn't forgotten indie rock icons like Pavement, the Replacements, and Hüsker Dü. But as Dinosaur Jr. and Built to Spill taught us, an unhinged guitar is nothing without a sturdy song. Pride's range extends to country and blues, and a line like I'm not looking for a paradise, just a cleaner jail proves he means it.
Only a plump, lumbering bassline accompanies East Bay jazz singer Stephanie Crawford and her ethereal, breezily sweet vocals on the opening track, "Devil May Care," lending an air of the unusual to this batch of songs recorded years ago in Paris. From there she moves toward more traditional vocal jazz, but not without rare emotion and sophistication.
The Melatones formed in 1996 and this is their first album, meaning they're either perfectionists or procrastinators. The East Bay band says it's finally captured its true sound, the essence of which is modern, off-kilter classic rock that makes no secret of its myriad influences. Not perfect, but not lazy either.
Adam Yas can sound a bit like Thom Yorke, but his tortured, operatic style fits well with As A People's unsettled alternative rock: guitar lines that rise and fall like mercury with the songs' shifting dispositions; a dynamic rhythm section that never lets the bottom fall out; and sinister, almost insidious melodies in constant supply.