What's interesting about Davina is the contrast between her high, willowy voice and the gritty medium in which she expresses it. The cast of guests on her album, including hardcore rappers J. Stalin and Philthy Rich, is enough to establish the singer as part of that scene. But she also has a taste for warm harmonies, groove-driven guitar vamps, and old soul. She samples Friends of Distinction's "Going in Circles" in a song about squashing haters. (self-released)
Jay Sanders, Jay Sanders Plays the Music of Kenny Dorham
Only in the Bay Area would you find a band of this caliber: Grant & Green jam session regulars Adam Schulman (piano) and Eric Markowitz (bass), drummer Smith Dobson, trombonist Scott Larson, and trumpeter Jay Sanders, who excels as an improviser and as an arranger. He studied Dorham's catalogue, but sounds best on one of the non-Dorham ballads, "While My Lady Sleeps." (self-released)
At Club Deluxe (1511 Haight St., San Francisco) on Friday, Dec. 23. 9 p.m., free.
Know Your Saints, Landmarks
Although the cover art to this EP references Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, the similarity ends there. Evidently not fixated on variation, the band seldom plays at slow tempos, or approaches anything close to a ballad. Rather, its songs are pretty by the book: shouted lyrics, burbly guitar riffs, drums that are about 80 percent ride cymbal. For their purposes, it works. Opener "We May See Paris Yet" is surely fit for radio. (self-released)
Finding Fable, This Time of Year
Local reporter Kevin Fagan — who has penned many an award-winning article for the Chronicle — has a separate life as a rock star. He's the songwriter behind folk trio Finding Fable, which also features twelve-string guitarist Sam Hawk and pianist Lori Hawk. The band's new Christmas EP features two politically tinged but purposefully sentimental ballads, both buoyed by warm vocal harmonies and sturdy songcraft. (self-released)