On and Off the Record

By Chris Jay 08/09/2012

Rocky Gunderson

Everything Within Reach
RGThe local singer-songwriter waters are crowded, to say the least, but Rocky Gunderson’s introspective full-length Everything Within Reach is a notable entry. With dark relationship-based lyrics, sparse instrumentation, the occasional drum loop and some nice string arrangements, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a bad breakup. Although Gunderson’s style makes some songs difficult to differentiate from one another, for fans of artists such as Elliott Smith and Jeremy Enigk, it probably won’t be much of an issue. Having just been a finalist among thousands in a massive competition sponsored by Guitar Center, and with the current popularity of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Gunderson’s record very well may be the most well-timed local release of the year.

— Chris Jay 

Everything Within Reach is available at rockygunderson.bandcamp.com.


Matt Zeltzer

Desert Tortoise
ZReleased last year, Desert Tortoise is an interesting blend of Americana, country, rock and folk. Zeltzer’s style is tricky to classify; a refreshing change for a solo singer-songwriter. Even lyrically, Zeltzer is tough to pin down as he mentions everything thing from the Grecian Isles to vampires. The highlight, “Delilah,” is a swaying country waltz complete with pedal steel and a Bob Dylan reference. Well produced by local guitar hero Joe Baugh, and with some of the area’s finest players on board including Sam Bolle and Bill Flores, it’s a polished recording from a promising artist that leaves the listener wishing it was a full-length. Zeltzer’s sound is almost as daring as his gig schedule: he is gearing up to play Zoey’s and the neighboring Tavern in the same week. His brave adventure in booking should at least provide some good material for his next record which could be titled The Night Zeltzer Drove Old Santa Clara Down.

— Chris Jay

Desert Tortoise is available at mattzeltzer.bandcamp.com. Matt Zeltzer will perform at Zoey’s on Aug. 13 and The Tavern on Aug. 17.

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice
DRAs the area’s breakout band this year that brought hundreds of people out to support slots at the Ventura Theater and afternoon gigs at the Pierpont Inn, there’s no doubt Dirty Rice delivers live. So how’s its first recording? Well, when it comes to reggae, when it’s done right, there’s nothing quite like it. When it’s done badly, often by those too stoned to realize it, it’s unbearable. As for the South Oxnard 7-piece, it’s absolutely sublime. Like all great reggae, the grooves are slow and simple and the positive lyrical vibes carry the songs. Dual female and male voices blend together seamlessly, and even card carrying reggae haters can’t deny the catchy hooks on “Groove With Me” and “Give It To Me.” The band members seem to be legitimately enjoying playing together and it comes across on this short but solid recording. Dirty Rice’s future is as bright as sun-drenched reggae it plays.

— Chris Jay

Listen to it at www.reverbnation.com/dirtyrice805. Dirty Rice will perform at Amigo’s on Thursday, Aug. 9 and at  Spencer Makenzie’s Block Party, Saturday, Aug. 25.

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