Over Sean Hayes
San Francisco-based freak folkster Sean Hayes has been flying under the radar for years now. He moved to the city from North Carolina back in 1992, when the city's rock scene was nearly nonexistent, but he managed to find a comfortable collection of misfits -- including local favorite Etienne de Rocher -- to work with as he crafted his sound. He spent years playing in any cafÃÂ©, bar or juke joint that would have him and self-produced a series of good, but unremarkable, albums over the years, including 2002's Lunar Lust. It wasn't until 2003's Alabama Chicken that Hayes seemed to really come into his idiosyncratic own, mingling heart-breakingly good lyricism with a slanted take on Americana that made every song on the 12-song release a certifiable gem. (It also included a few appearances from local alt country luminary Jolie Holland.) San Francisco house DJ Mark Farina used a Hayes vocal on a track of his that found its way into Nic Harcourt's hands down at KCRW, and pretty soon Alabama Chicken was on heavy rotation there. Though Hayes has been courted by indie and major labels in recent years, he has mostly resisted the pressure thus far, presumably in order to maintain the integrity of his sound, which, but for its beautiful weirdness, would seem to have lots of commercial potential.