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Tommy Guerrero

Skateboarding legend Tommy Guerrero has traded his dazzling ollies and kickflips for smooth guitar licks with effortless grace, displaying as much confidence and assurance in his new profession as he did his old one. You're inclined to be skeptical when an athlete becomes a musician (see Shaquille O'Neal -- or should I say Shaq Diesel?), but Guerrero instantly dispels any doubts with his pleasant, intelligently constructed instrumentals. And it's not like Guerrero has a whole bunch of friends helping him out; he plays guitar, bass, keys, and occasionally even percussion -- oh, and he writes and produces all his music too. His sound is super laid-back and upbeat, with little hints of jazz and electronica, focused on relaxed funky grooves and sauntering melodies. With its obvious similarities to Tortoise and The Sea and Cake, Guerrero's stuff clearly falls in the so-called post-rock camp, but it lacks the self-consciousness of much of that music. One can also hear the influence of Booker T (Guerrero is an admitted fan) in Guerrero's gentle, slightly quirky funk.

Guerrero's debut album, Loose Grooves and Bastard Blues, came out in '98 on Galaxia Records. He followed that up with 2000's A Little Bit of Something on James Lavelle's Mo' Wax Records -- home of DJ Shadow -- which seems the perfect place for Guerrero's mellow, ambient music. The subtle groovy synth, beatbox, and bass number, "Tiny," comes from A Little Bit of Something. The laidback lo-fi funk of "Rusty Gears, Lonely Years" comes from Guerrero's 2001 Junk Collector EP, a five-song slice of the skateboard-turned-musician's patented instrumental sound to tide hardcore fans over until his next proper release.