In the eight years since they first formed, San Diego's No Knife have amassed a slew of admirers, many of whom cite them as influences. Among them are Sunny Day Real Estate, Rocket From The Crypt and Jimmy Eat World - who particularly owe a sonic debt to the power-pop/post-punk outfit. Led equally by Mitch Wilson (vocals/guitar), Brian Desjean (bass), Ryan Ferguson (guitar/vocals), and Chris Prescott (drums), No Knife's uncompromising approach to sub-mainstream alt-rock yields a big, yet charming and effable sound - equally at place in the modern rock pantheon as alongside the best of their predecessors, such the Plimsouls and the Clash. Their most recent release, Riot For Romance, is both intricate and accessible - and a sure bet to make alternative rock top ten albums lists for 2002.
Jack Tempchin A storied songwriter for many country, rock and pop artists, Jack Tempchin penned his most popular songs for the Eagles, including their legendary hits 'Peaceful Easy Feeling,' 'Already Gone,' and 'Slow Dancing,' as well as 'The Girl From Yesterday,' a favorite from the Eagle's Hell Freezes Over tour album. He also penned the Glenn Fry solo hits 'You Belong To The City' and 'Smuggler's Blues.' Tempchin's natural penchant for country-tinged, easygoing (in feel) yet edgy (in content) rock compositions has also led to collaborations with Ringo Starr, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Sammy Kershaw, Johnny Rivers and -- most unlikely of all -- rap versions of his songs by platinum-sellers Jay-Z ('The City Is Mine' covers 'You Belong To The City') and Coolio ('The Nature of the Business' reworks 'Smuggler's Blues'). He continues to write, record, perform, and according to Tempchin himself, 'watch TV' throughout 2002.
Robert Walter's 20th Congress
Namesake Congressman Robert Walter (Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Piano) first arrived on the formidable San Diego groove-jazz scene when he co-anchored (with Karl Denson) '90s supergroup Greyboy Allstars. Formed in 1998, Walter's 20th Congress includes Chris Stillwell (Bass Guitar), Cochemea Gastelum (Alto Sax, Flute, Electric Sax, Bass Clarinet), George Sluppick (Drums, Percussion) and Charles Prada (Congas, Bongos, Percussion), who offer a logical, yet highly stylized and personal extension of what was once erroneously tagged 'acid jazz': danceable, propulsive rhythms with long, improvisational jamming and blue-collar-- though always top-notch -- musical chops. Often headlining major local gigs and shows at popular San Francisco venues (Great American Music Hall, Paradise Lounge), the group has toured virtually non-stop since forming four years ago. 20th Congress share a tireless work ethic and kindred sonic spirit with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters and The Meters - jazz-funk icons with whom they have also shared bills.
As their name implies, Blackheart Procession represent the dark side of San Diego's alternative music scene, blending post-rock sensibilities and droning, beautiful melancholia to surprisingly engaging effect. Core members Pall Jenkins, Tobias Nathaniel (who were also in 90's San Diego favorites Three Mile Pilot) and Mario Rubalcaba usually invite other musicians along to augment their lineup onstage, some bearing guitars, keyboards, percussion, something called a waterphone and sometimes (gulp) a saw. 'We don't write happy music all the time,' Jenkins has understated in sporadic interviews. But their street cred has grown along with their popularity. Signed to Chicago's legendary indie label, Touch and Go, Blackheart's August 2000 release, three, was a hit with both adoring critics and adventurous new music fans alike.
A native country boy from Mechanicsville (actual town name), Va., this self-described 'San Diego wanna-be' local is not only signed to major label Elektra, but he's often described as a bonafide protégé of legendary promoter Bill Silva. A regular at the flagship venue for the local coffee-house-circuit-to-stardom, Java Joe's in Ocean Beach, Mraz and his partner in percussion, Toca Rivera, have entertained college girls and the sensitive boys who love them for over a year now with his elegant mezzo, superior harmonies, clever word play and the revival of scatting. A student of New York's musical theater, Mraz is poised to crack both the alt-rock and adult alternative music scenes with his debut full length, set for release later this year.
With their latest album, Something To Fall Back On, some might accuse Berkley-Hart of betraying their folk roots on a level similar to that of Bob Dylan plugging in at Newport. But if there is any truth to such an allegation, it's only because the down-home authenticity inherent to the Americana-based stylings of Jeff Berkley (a multi-instrument, percussion wiz who won 1999's New Folk Songwriter Competition in Kerrville Texas) and Calman Hart (Best New Artist honors at the San Diego Music Awards) inspire the same sort of fierce loyalty in fans and critics alike.
Agua Dulce's Searching for Juana (2002) wowed both music scribes and latin-jazz fans alike with a searing blend of Cuban pop, Brazilian samba, Puerto Rican salsa and underground attitude. The album was built solidly on the indie groove jazz-cum-world beat approach of predecessors such as War, the pachuco-hip hop of Ozomatli and fellow local latin-jazz heads B-Side Players. Since then, the sextet has taken their diverse rhythms to the road, entertaining in both high-falutin' supper clubs and dingy alt-rock joints all over the continent and beyond. This fall, they played the hugely popular San Diego Street Scene and plan a tour to invade Japan.
The Troy Sisters
After several years of playing at local coffeehouses, the singing, songwriting, guitar-playing teenage sisters have signed a seven figure record deal with Elektra. Originally discovered in 1999 by singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill, Lindsey and her sister Anna recorded a four-song demo with members of Little Feat, Smashing Pumpkins and Beck Hanson's band. The girls then hooked up with an L.A.-based production company that led to a successful audition at Elektra's main office in New York. Currently working on their debut album, which is due to be released in the 1st quarter of 2003, Lindsey and Anna write pop-rock songs that capture the exhilaration and angst of teenage love.