Del the Funkee HomosapienBoth Sides of the BrainHiero Imperium

In 1991, Del the Funkee Homosapien dropped his P-Funk-soaked Elektra debut, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, a great hip-hop album that bobbed heads—okay, mostly rock critics' heads—and raised some chuckles but didn't sell much. His label was still confident it could mold young Del into a cash cow, to the point where he probably could've become as rich (and diluted) as his cousin, Ice Cube. But Del balked and split from Elektra, starting his own label to get away from hip-hop's all-about-the-Sacagaweas moneymaking mentality. Both Sides of the Brain is his return to, if not the spotlight, then at least the edge of it. It's an album bound to bring up many of the same silly-smart/ novelty tags he's been stuck with. He has since stretched out his drawl significantly, carving himself a distinctive and properly funky voice. His delivery is still one of the best out there, a potent but silky-smooth huff, and his eclectic imagination often makes the mundane song topics just a little something more ("I'm comin' down on the mic like eggs from ovaries!" he declares upon his "Time Is Too Expensive" arrival). Other subjects range from personal hygiene ("Wash your ass!" goes the grinding rump-shake chorus of "If You Must"), weed, video games, delusional crack fiends and drunken driving (he's outspokenly anti-, a rare stance in a hip-hop nation where swigging 40-ouncers is too often depicted as glamorous). Brain also reveals his DIY ethic and—naturally—how just plain dope he thinks he is. But Del's flow is good enough to merit all that bragging. Del the Funkee Homosapien performs with Blackalicious and Blood of Abraham at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 469-5800. Mon., 7:30 p.m. $12.50. All ages.

The Bridges of Orange County
Presenting . . . The Bridges of Orange County
Lemar Productions

You'll be scratching your head after just one helping of "Vanilla Schubert," a snazzy, four-part, bluegrass-tinged suite that opens this debut from neoclassical quartet the Bridges of Orange County. That's because this local ensemble, fronted by mandolin monster Evan Marshall, seeks to be "ambassadors of chamber music for bowed and plucked strings." Okay, so that idea is normally expressed in works by Haydn, Puccini and Vivaldi, and the rest of the group—Barry Cogert and husband-and-wife team Eric and Ann Brenton—are rather serious-minded musicians. But with Marshall, an imaginative misfit looking to cross-pollinate genres in bold ways, there's also a dollop of cleverly disguised hillbilly music well-suited to the classically impaired. Not only are Marshall's earliest influences Doc Watson, Chet Atkins and the Beatles, but he also routinely causes a ruckus in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon as a member of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies—yee-haw! Marshall's contributions are far from simplistic, though, whether he shows this with the catchy melody lines and cascading mandolin notes raining down in J.N. Hummel's "Rondo" or via his highly romanticized arrangement of Francisco Tarrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra." The collection's real ace, however, is "Adante con Variazioni," on which each dexterous solo by Marshall is delivered with exquisite grace. The Bridges of Orange County prefer donning formalwear for their shows, but behind at least one tuxedo is a freewheelin' picker itching to bust some rules. (John Roos)

Available through www.bridgesoforangecounty.com.

 
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