Etienne De Rocher
It's hard not to be taken in by Etienne de Rocher's completely assured soft soul. From the collected, Saturday night cool of de Rocher's high, clear voice to the band's pleasant, pop-edged guitars and gentle, confident bass swagger, all the right elements are in place. Sipsey Cane, de Rocher's backing band (ex-
Kinetics bassist Jon Erickson and ex- Tom Waits drummer Andrew Borger) walks the line between moody soul and cheesy pop much like mid-'70s Stevie Wonder, and their ability to stay on the right side of that line is a big part of what makes them effective. De Rocher's not famous (in fact he earns additional money working as a handyman in the Oakland apartment building where he lives), though he's had his chances: he was pursued by Capitol Records' Glen Ballard (the man responsible for the travesty of taste known as Alanis Morissette), but, laudably, he turned down the deal in order to continue making music on his own terms. The track, "Out to Sea," comes from the Fortune Records compilation Fortune Cookies.