After the release of their second full-length album, Icecaves (Little Kiss Records), and a smashing unofficial debut at South by Southwest, FOMA is finally getting some attention from the music media at large. I'll be the first to admit that self promotion can be a tricky, dirty business, but the FOMA crew has appeared effortless at subtly charming our pants off, whether it's through e-zines, college radio spots or glowing reviews from as far abroad as Norway. They're already back in the studio working on a new album, which they plan to support with a United States tour in August. See what Venus Magazine's spring edition has to say about the group at venuszine.com. ... Now that just about every respected radio station in Albuquerque has been blasted to smithereens, I can't help but picture all of our now-defunct DJs panhandling for change by the freeway. Luckily for all of us, I just got a bead on one ex-local radio announcer, and he seems to be doing just fine. You can catch Bill Royal, formerly of 104.1 World Class Rock, in his new gig as front man of a classic rock and blues cover band. Strange Brew is playing at Back Street Bar & Grill this Saturday, April 23. ... The Ben Martinez Project took a break from the dinner-and-jazz circuit this weekend to record their next CD, The Urban Bug. Ben says he hopes to debut the album at the 45th Annual Texas Jazz Festival (October 21-23), marking their 10th consecutive year at the event. Godspeed, gentlemen. ... Congratulations to Raising Cane for making it in to the National Bluegrass Playoffs in Victorville, Calif. The ho-down (or is it ho-off?) is the crown jewel of the Huck Finn Jubilee, an early summer festival with lots of clout in the national bluegrass community. Raising Cane will represent New Mexico as one of four bluegrass bands from the Southwest, which also includes California, Colorado and Nevada. "We're so excited to be asked to participate in this event," says Don Grieser, mandolin player for Raising Cane. "People really respond to our original material, and we think that was a big factor in being invited to the playoffs. It's a chance to showcase the band with some of the best in America."
Friday, Apr. 22; Burt's Tiki Lounge (21 and over): Culture is defined as the behavior patterns, arts, beliefs and all other forms of human work and thought as expressed in a particular community. This is hip hop, a culture, complete with an entire entertainment network of painters, dancers, musicians and more. I am constantly impressed at hip hop events by the cohesion they seem to possess within their community, within their culture. Two of the talents I have watched grow and develop within this network are the fabulous 2bers. Sticky Moco Productions and 2bers will be introducing their new CD, The History of Our Future, at Burt's on Friday, an event that is certain not to disappoint.
It is said that a band has its whole life to draw inspiration for its debut album, but only a few hectic years to record the often-disappointing sophomore one. Judas Priest offer a second-generation debut here, courtesy of a 15-year hiatus. The Birmingham, England, metal icons knock the dust off their leathers and slip into their comfort zone with relative ease on Angel of Retribution, offering up a fully satisfying album rock experience. This is classic and improbably classy. Calculated modern production subdues the sharp edges and highlights the band's thoughtful metal mathematics, a trait usually hidden behind its sideshow demeanor.
Tuesday nights in Albuquerque can be unnerving, especially when you are looking for something to do other than watch television or stare into space. But then there is that diamond in the rough, that glimmer of hope, a free show at Burt's Tiki Lounge with great entertainment. I was happily surprised to take time to check out a decent line-up of rock music at Burt's Tuesday, April 12, with local bands Q's Revenge, Dead on Point 5 and Seattle-based band, Murdock.