Ruben Reveles, one of the founding members of MothSpyEros, describes his band’s upcoming debut album, Sueño Rojo, as “a soundtrack to a dream in red. Where ambient sounds, words [and] thoughts come together in an abstract world of beauty and chaos.” The album, due later this month, features core members Reveles, Kevin Dockter and Ruebi Freyja, as well as a host of other local musicians, including Amber Padgett (Spider Silk Dress), Sam Coe (Low Flying Owls), Brianna Lea Pruett and Sean Hayashi.
Local electronica artist Tycho, a.k.a. Scott Hansen, is a true triple threat. He’s got the charm, the good looks (the ladies will agree) and the talent (he’s a gifted graphic designer and musician). Tycho, a moniker paying homage to the Danish Renaissance astronomer Tycho Brahe, creates hip-hop-styled beats, lush harmonies and haunting melodies that are beautiful and entrancing. “Tycho never ceases to create sublime melodies that can actually bring you to another place. The man is awesome,” exclaimed Faith Wolfram of Blue Bell Records. The Evening Episode
“There are not too many bands that can pull off the sultry-electro-lounge-dance thing the way the Evening Episode does,” remarked Clayton Nutting of Concerts4Charity. Inspired by the likes of Portishead, Blonde Redhead and the Notwist, the Evening Episode—which consists of Teresa Eggers, Chris Loental, Ira Skinner and Brian True—specializes in a haunting combination of electronic beats, organic sounds and emotive vocals. The quartet’s debut album, The Physicist Has Known Sin, is due this July. Two Playa Game
Xtra Man (a.k.a. Takeshi Lewis) and Game Bwoy (Evan Schneider) are Two Playa Game, an electronica/experimental duo that describes itself as “two young male humans on a mission to find the soul that lies within the plastic and metal housing of a game console.” Given the duo’s mission, it’s not surprising that it cites Pitfall, Q-Bert and Mario Paint as its major influences. The song “First Strike Weapon,” available for your listening pleasure at www.myspace.com/twoplayagame, features a series of blips and beeps with the WarGames-sampled “Shall we play a game?” repeated throughout the video-game-inspired track. Tha Fruitbat
On Tha Fruitbat’s MySpace page (www.myspace.com/thafruitbat), he claims to be a “nocturnal vegetarian.” This makes sense—his introspective, complexly arranged drum ’n’ bass, breakbeat, jungle, and psychedelic beats speak to the up-all-night, socially conscious herbivore crowd. But he’s also experimental, be it busting out sounds en homage to Louis Malle films or exploring more interstellar fare, like on his self-titled LunaticWorks debut album. His latest album, of which SN&R has heard tidbits, is due to drop this summer—it’ll keep you up all night.
Do you need a drummer to form a strong jazz band? Apt. 12 has been doing just fine without one. Cole Cuchna (guitar, piano and harmonica) and bandmate Jaydn DeWald (bass and piano) abandoned their distortion-driven songs to form a more gentle, intricate sound with vocalist Natalie Portlock. Rehearsing in Portlock’s studio apartment did not provide the space for a drumset, but it did provide the intimacy needed to create the sound they were looking for. Since its creation in 2004, the group has catalogued roughly 25 soulful ballads together. RACE!!!
The self-described “electric improvising collective” released its debut album, Travels, in 2005 and continues to hold down the stage at Old Ironsides every Sunday night. Guitarist Ross Hammond, whose eponymous trio was nominated for a Sammie in 2004, is now joined by Scott Anderson, Erik Kleven, Tony Passarell and Tom Monson to complete the quintet and generate what SN&R contibuting writer Dennis Yudt calls “the sound of free Sacramento.” Vivian Lee Quintet
Vivian Lee brings a smoky beauty to her lyrical interpretation of jazz standards, both in live performance and on her three CDs. As much of a player offstage as she is on, this two-time Sammie nominee is part of an ongoing initiative to support jazz programs in local high schools, and is a driving force behind the Sunday jazz series at Savanna’s Lounge inside the Red Lion Hotel. A staple performer at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, Lee’s rapport with the crowd easily includes others in her personal world of jazz. Capital Jazz Project
Part community jazz-education program and part improvisational ensemble, the Capital Jazz Project has been a solid presence in the Sacramento arts community since the late ’90s. Beginning as a seven person ensemble, the group—which features American River College music professor Joe Gilman, Mike McMullen and a revolving list of guest artists—has given more than 40 self-produced concerts featuring the work of legends like Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, as well as original compositions. Capital Jazz Project has released three albums and continues to stimulate the public’s interest in jazz through education and performances. Four Guys From Reno
And the award for most misleading name goes to … Four Guys From Reno! With a 50 percent accuracy grade on the band’s name—the band actually consists of three guys from Sacramento—its eclectic mix of contemporary jazz, reggae and world beats gives it more than enough extra credit to skyrocket the trio to an A+. Winners of both the 2004 and 2005 Sammies for Outstanding Jazz Band, the Four Guys are looking for a third win (and entry into the Hall of Fame) in 2006.
R&B/FunkFeva in Da Funkhouse
Though the band has “funk” in its name and its grooves, Feva in Da Funkhouse is actually an influential hip-hop group in Sacramento. The eight-member ensemble is determined to spread its Hip-Hop Nationalist Theory—a musical manifesto aimed at countering the “powers that be,” who attempt to destroy hip-hop by labeling its true goals as violence and materialism. Leading lyricists include Magilla, Infinity, Xclusive and Mz. Bebe London, with musical accompaniment handled by Animal, Maurice, Malcolm 2001 and WesMarsh. After the release of the underground album The Cloud 9 Lounge, Sacramento quickly caught the ‘feva’ and joined the ranks of the Hip Hop Nationalists. The Bennys
Art Luna, owner of Luna’s Cafe, calls the Bennys music “definitely great funk”—a sentiment echoed by a small legion of fans. The band certainly appeals to fans of super-cool Jack Johnson with a touch of pop, a touch of reggae beat and a heaping helping of “laid back.” While they sometimes channel the lighter side of Sublime, the Bennys are equally able to sustain a long Grateful Dead-like jam. Definitely danceable. Brother Nefarious
Trust Your Ears columnist Jackson Griffith says Brother Nefarious “sounds like a collision between the 1970s edition of the Isley Brothers and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.” Bro-Nef melodies are soft, but the slap-bass is tight, like Motown meshing with Simon and Garfunkel. The blues grooves move like Led Zeppelin’s best, and the style remains fresh with plenty of time changes and instrumental sections to keep things interesting. Winners of last year’s Sammie for Outstanding R&B/Funk band, the Brother is looking for a repeat.
Compadre is certainly more R&B and hip-hop than funk. The band mixes a keyboard sound from Steely Dan with raps akin to A Tribe Called Quest or Jurassic 5, before shifting to a sound that’s a bit contemporary hip-hop, a bit ’80s smooth R&B. And Compadre is philanthropic; the band will donate a portion of the sales of its upcoming album to help support disabled veterans and their families.
Supaphat is more alternative rock than R&B or funk, especially on tunes like “Please You,” but the band shows its funk-ability—with a heavy blues influence—on the appropriately titled “Funk with Me.” Before you can label them, the members close in on a Frank Zappa groove on “Drama,” peppered with a few turntable scratches, and roll into straight-ahead pop on “Tomorrow,” a song that sounds like it was borrowed from Rob Thomas. Strong performances all around, particularly from vocalist Eric Schley, have landed them in the Sammies pool.