Leah Tysee, Love Again
Gospel and blues singer Leah Tysee is capable of being a big belter — she's a featured soloist at Glide Memorial Church, after all. But she largely goes soft on this album of ballads, a couple of which were penned by other local musicians. Tysee's band is fabulous, with such R&B staples as Sandra Manning, Lynette Williams, Eric "Pikfunk" Smith, and Mike Blankenship, who also handled most of the production. It's remarkably clean. (Blue Juno Music)
At Bliss Bar (4026 24th St., San Francisco) on Sunday, Dec. 4. 4:30 p.m., free.
Ladyballs, "Spanish Fury"/"Get Sleazy"
Ladyballs' methodology is based on improvising over electronic beats. The two songs on this disc don't have a logical structure, and are cluttered with bleeps, blips, chirrupy vocals, and drum patterns that plod on a little too long. They speak volumes about a woman whose motto is "grab life by the balls." (self-released)
Drunken Monkey, Diggin' Pony
Drunken Monkey (aka Chrys-Anthony) seems quite happy producing repetitive, trancey electronic music, which is probably supposed to qualify as blues-rock given the growly vocals and occasional harmonica. The production and vocals are mismatched, but that might be a result of budget constraints. The guy can sing; he just can't produce. (Simple Beauty Music)
At Subterranean Arthouse (2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) on Thursday, Nov. 10. 9 p.m.
Lisa Mezzacappa & Nightshade, Cosmic Rift
Metalhead-turned-jazz bassist-turned-avant-garde composer Lisa Mezzacappa seldom makes music for casual listening. That said, Nightshade still offers pleasure on the surface — especially when you contrast the raw woodenness of Mezzacappa's bass with the patient murmurings of Cory Wright's bass clarinet. "Delphinus" has a rough radiance, as does Mezzacappa's Frank Zappa redux, "The Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ." (Leo Records)
At Trinity United Methodist Church (2320 Dana St., Berkeley) on Saturday, Dec. 3. 8 p.m.