Raleigh Moncrief

Sacramento producer Raleigh Moncrief grew up south of San Francisco, climbing trees, damming gutters, drawing things and starting fires. He wasn't allowed to watch MTV, but he found Nirvana on the radio dial one blessed day and spent the next several months begging his father for a guitar. It was a cream-colored Squier Strat—like the one he thought Kurt played—and it sealed his fate at the tender age of 13. Raleigh (then, and sometimes still "Robby") cut his teeth in several rock bands on his way to community college. There he heard Philip Glass' "Rubric" in a music appreciation class and soon dropped out; he had things to do that had nothing to do with a marine biology degree.He moved north of San Francisco.

Though Moncrief's march through music has been tireless, it's happened largely behind the scenes. A longtime collaborator to prolific Hella drummer Zach Hill, the two have made beautiful noise together both on the road and on record (see Hill's 2008 Anticon/Ipecac solo LP Astrological Straits, and their joint album Who Do You Think You Aren't?). He's been Marnie Stern's go-to touring guitarist, the master of a freewheeling post-rock trio called What's Up?, and producer/engineer to Dirty Projectors, with whom he spent three months in a Portland warehouse tirelessly tracking the band's contemporary classic Bitte Orca. (More recently, he produced the similarly ambitious new Ganglians album, Still Living.) But in 2009, Moncrief went solo in the manner of the modern troubadour: he began making beat-oriented music, with atmospheric grit and compositional prowess arguably channeled from his earliest influences. The trio of EPs that followed—Combed Over Chrome (2009), Carpal Tunnels and Vitamins (2010)—earned comparisons to L.A. abstractionist Matthewdavid and Glaswegian agitator Hudson Mohawke. More importantly, they displayed an artist quickly evolving.

His debut LP, Watered Lawn, expands those earlier experiments with exponential aplomb as Moncrief utilizes the guitar as the primary songwriting tool for his homespun electronic soul and discovers his singing voice in the process.