July 16, 2014

MORE POSITIVE VIBES

Rebelution remains true to reggae with Count Me In

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Reggae is the musical equivalent of soccer— consistently crazy-popular in various parts of the world, but not so much in the United States when compared with its American-bred competition.

But just like soccer’s fan base, the reggae movement has also grown across the U.S. in recent years, and Rebelution singer-guitarist Eric Rachmany is proud to be part of it.

His California-bred band’s two previous albums, 2009’s Bright Side of Life and 2012’s Peace of Mind, mingled with the mainstream, each one hitting the upper fifth of the Billboard 200 pop-albums chart. Rebelution has expanded its palette a bit with Count Me In. Released on June 10, the 11-song collection is the fourth full-length effort on the group’s 87 Music label and the first partnering with the longtime reggae-centric indie Easy Star Records.

Rachmany checked in this week to discuss reggae’s appeal, the mix of music on Count Me In and more.

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July 08, 2014

FINE-TUNED FOCUS

Nick Diaz puts the emphasis on his Texas guitar roots

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Wherever he’s lived or worked, singer-guitarist Nick Diaz has made a concerted effort to tap into the given area’s musical environment.

Living in New Orleans, Diaz experimented with funk. During his six years in New York, he dabbled with indie-rock sounds. And in his brief time in San Francisco seeking some head-clearing space after what he calls a “monster breakup with a fiancée,” Diaz says he picked up on a mellow, West Coast style of playing.

A native of Houston, Diaz moved to Austin, Texas, about two years ago, and it looks as though he’ll be sticking around for a while.

“I kinda feel like I’d end up there at some point,” he says. “I’ve always listened to all the guitarists who have come out of Austin — like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II and Chris Duarte.”

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July 01, 2014

ALL HANDS ON DECK

The Verve Pipe rocks again with Overboard

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After two consecutive collections of music for children, A Family Album (2009) and Are We There Yet? (2013), Verve Pipe leader Brian Vander Ark wanted his band’s next release to be a rock record.

He pitched the idea to his band mates about a year ago, but it didn’t exactly have a slam-dunk effect.

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June 27, 2014

BACK FROM A LONG REST

The Last Hombres regroup and record third album

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The previous Last Hombres drummer was responsible for a lot of the attention directed toward their second album and subsequent tour. Their current drummer is responsible for the band having a second life.

When concert dates in support of Redemption came to an end, The Last Hombres — whose lineup in the early 2000s included Levon Helm of The Band on drums — went their separate ways and pursued other projects.

Fast forward about a decade to 2012: Tom Ryan, a mutual friend of original Hombres Russ Seeger, Michael Meehan and Paul Schmitz, asked the group to play a set at a benefit show in Huntington, N.Y., with Ryan offering to sit in on drums.

They agreed, performing for about 30 to 40 minutes, recalls bassist-singer Meehan. His musical reunion with Seeger and Schmitz — and Ryan’s involvement with The Last Hombres — was only just beginning.

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