Best Local Indie Pop Artist You've Probably Never Heard - 2002
Gram LeBron moved from his native Houston to the East Bay in early 1999. In Bushland, he'd been one of the principals in a band called Schrasj, which made the kind of stretched and spacey pop that sounded like freedom alongside the highway strip, and featured his ex-wife, Terri Loewenthal (now in Call and Response). When he arrived in Oakland, however, he took to recording a batch of songs he'd written while driving cross-country -- shorter, poppier, more wide-ranging tunes that seemed informed by a Kinks tape to which he'd been listening. There were sad acoustic numbers, funked-up dance tracks, and trippy slide-guitar workouts, all fleshed out with nifty droning organ, fuzzy guitar, and breezy harmonica. As Golden Gram, LeBron sang in an arid tone that floated like a summer breeze, dispatching philosophical ruminations on twentysomethings who pull up and put down stakes. LeBron released all 13 tracks as Golden Gram last year -- to a deafening silence, save for a short write-up in the East Bay Express. With neither a full band to back him nor the compulsion to play solo, LeBron had no way to get the music to the listeners, and another local treasure sank below the radar. Until now.