It’s time! The year is wrapping up and “Best of 2013” lists are popping up like gopher heads on that bitchen Chuck E. Cheese game. I decided to forgo a “Top Albums” list and focus on the future (total copout). And to satiate my own curiosity I stole Owl and Bear’s idea of summing up the top posts on Sounds in San Diego this year. Read on, readers. Have a happy and safe New Year’s, peeps!
12 SD Bands to keep an ear out for in 2014
(In no particular order and with no particular rules other than these are bands I want people to listen to & go see/support in 2014. It was supposed to be 11 but… fuck all rules.)
Starting this week the indie-rock band is releasing one single at a time from their upcoming EP, Conversations. They’re pairing each song with work from a local artist. I give these guys mad points for creativity and for supporting another artistic scene. Not to mention, I’m a huge fan of their tunes. The EP’s title track is out now and highlights singer Miguel Ramirez’s passion-filled vocals. Mark your calendars for their EP release show on January 10 at Soda Bar with support from locals Buddy Banter and Fresno faves Strange Vine. And be on the look out for more singles and more art.
I keep missing GB shows… but in 2014- no more! I mean business (haha, get it? ok, I’ll stop). The band sounds a bit like The Strokes and from what I have seen live they’re quite infectious. Give their tunes a listen and keep up with them on Facebook for upcoming shows. They even have one more in 2013- free show this Monday the 30th at The Griffin with St. Cloud Sleepers, Sundrop Electric, and AsOfLate! New Year’s Eve Eve party anyone?
These young musicians stayed super busy this year including garnering a San Diego Music Award nomination for “Best Pop.” A few months back their lineup took a hit with the departure of multi-instrumentalist, Brian Disney. But the band didn’t skip a beat, so to speak. They’ve worked on song arrangements creating a tighter feel and seamless transition into life as a quartet. I simply can’t get enough of the juxtaposition of singer Michaela Wilson’s angelic vocals with the deeper nuances of her male counterparts Rutger Rosenborg and Cameron Wilson (yep, her baby bro)! Looking forward to more great shows from EGT in the new year… like on January 6th when they’ll headline the Casbah with Neighbors to the North and Pleasure Fix.
Mr. Meeks’ voice is one of my favorites in town. Recently a new EP, Oh Dry Land sprung up on Spotify and I’ve been inebriated by these fresh songs ever since. The opening track “Night Drive” is haunting and spacey. Another ethereal musical journey takes place on the closing song “I Gave You Love” with Meeks voice accompanied by Joanie Mendehall’s velvety vocals. I hope this new release means lots of show dates are just around the corner.
I love love love this band. Though somewhat reminiscent of The Beatles’ blending of pop and psychedelic rock, the band’s sound is a bit hard to pin down. Vocal and guitaring (not a word) duties are shared by Ian Owen and Ryan Combs adding their own character to each song. One of the only tunes online “Where Is This Headed?” will give you a taste of their rad song arrangements. The guys keep promising to release an album or EP so 2014 should be an extra good year.
Following up a killer debut like TITW’s No Work Dancing is no easy feat. But what I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from their upcoming album Slide Rock proves that these dudes have more than one good album in ’em (in fact: at 16 tracks Slide Rock practically is two albums in itself!). The first single released “Taken” reminds me of some great bands I grew up on including Talking Heads and Traveling Wilburys. The band’s sophomore effort will be out January 14 so save some of your Christmas cash for this one- especially since rumor has it there will be vinyl.
Another busy band, TMP released their first album early this year: Awake Now, took home a San Diego Music Award for Best Local Recording. Al Howard‘s brainchild also released an EP of covers – click play on that song above for a delectable taste of that. No official release date yet but they have recorded a second offering to the best of my knowledge. The stripped-down acoustic sound of the band is a perfect accompaniment for singer Shelbi Bennett’s ethereal voice. The band recently lost guitarist Sean Martin when he moved out of town but Josh Rice (The Heavy Guilt) will be stepping in. Hold yourself over by seeing the band at Soda Bar on January 13 opening for The Meat Packers.
Formerly known as Leanna May and the Matadors, this group has gone through more than a name change recently. Daniel Cervantes (Mrs. Henry) is now a permanent fixture in the band and dude sure does wail on the guitar. The band has a nostalgic charm, due in part to singer Leanna Patterson’s vocals which have touches of Grace Slick and Patsy Cline rolled in to one. The group quietly released a self-titled EP this month so hopefully that means there are many more shows to come.
So I pretty much just go on and on about vocals it seems… and this will be no exception. Tori’s voice is pure and gorgeous and raw. Six tasty treats by Tori were recently released by Randm Records. Can’t wait to see the lovely lady live again- stalker side note: her skin is as flawless as her voice. #girlcrush
I caught this band at The Griffin a few months ago and thought their post-punk grunge style was quite rad. The stuff I found by them online was scarce and pretty raw but it sounds like they’re heading in to the studio to record so stay tuned. And make sure you RSVP for SoundDiego Live in January when The Gods of Science will play with Sprung Monkey at Casbah.
Saw these youngens at The Merrow when it was still The Ruby Room. Somewhere between blues and folk these guys find a nice comfortable niche. The unique vocals are timeless and intoxicating with touches of Ray LaMontagne and David Gray. Anyone that can cover anything from MGMT to Bob Dylan is good in my book. Hope to hear more from them in the new year!
[Sorry no tunes yet!]
While some of us are anxiously awaiting a new album from The Paragraphs (and tiding ourselves over on NYE), singer Jesse Lee Hofbauer has another project in the works. He tells me his solo project, DRUGGS, will have a release in 2014 and when pressed to describe the sound he says it’s “just fun.” As long as its got JLH’s raspy croon at the helm, I’m sold.
Top 11 SISD Posts of 2013
1. Hey There: An Interview with Shelbi Bennett of The Midnight Pine: One of my favorite interviews of the year. It’s been great to see how Miss Bennett has blossomed this year and know there is more to come from this talented beauty.
2. Where You Want To Be: Montapalooza 2013, a Benefit Show with Trouble in the Wind, Taken by Canadians, & More: This was a heart-warming moment if ever there was one. An event in memory of a dearly departed uncle benefitting local music and art programs. I’m very happy to have met Monty and interviewed him for this one.
3. Funky Drummer: An Interview of Sorts with Jake Najor: One of the busiest boys in town. Najor currently beats the skins for Chess Wars, Lord Howler, Rebecca Jade and The Cold Fact, and probably a few I’m forgetting. This interview was a lot of fun and covered a lot of ground in The Naj’s lengthy career.
4. They’re Comin’: The Styletones Featured in “Got Milk?” Commercial Airing During Super Bowl XLVII: Super cool to see good stuff happen for one of San Diego’s finest ensembles.
5. Shifting All Along The Dial: Another Interview with Al Howard: Apparently y’all like interviews. This was my second go of it with Howard. Never a dull moment with the multi-instrumentalist- excited to see what 2014 holds for his arsenal of bands.
6. Reverie: Musings on The New Kinetics and Their Final Shows: As The New Kinetics called it quits guest-writer Danny Katz (Neighbors to the North) took the time to write this love letter of sorts to a band that inspired him. Not surprised it drove lots of readers our way. Thanks Mr. Katz!
7. 22 Day Song Challenge – Countdown to the 2013 SDMAs – Day 1: Your Favorite Song (and meet the panel): The first in 22 days of sheer madness. Over three weeks of prompts inspired myself and some friends in the San Diego Music scene to recognize our favorites. It was exhausting, but wonderful.
8. Resident Power from Dirty Sirens: Another guest writer Sandy Myskowski articulated on the rockin’ force of Dirty Sirens. Sadly the group is no longer, but her eloquent post lives on.
9. Say Hello: An Interview with Social Club: The eclectic group gave me an interview in between big festival appearances at Oyster Fest and IndieFest. If nothing else check out their video for “Slow Motion”- that shit is awesome.
10. You Can Stop Dreaming: An Inside Look at The Dead Lovers’ Recording Session at The Lost Ark Studio: Every so often I cover a non-San Diego band, not very often are they an international group who travelled great lengths to record. Visiting The Lost Ark Studio to observe The Dead Lovers’ recording session was a unique opportunity I won’t soon forget.
11. 22 Day Song Challenge – Day 22: A Song That Is Uniquely San Diego: Finishing up that 22 day song challenge was a beast but this was the prize waiting at the finish line. In addition to the “Panel of Rad” a bunch of guests got in on the fun for the final prompt. The musings included song picks from a wide variety of folks including my dear ol’ dad, local musicians, fellow writers, and basically my favorite people on the planet. Seems apropos that it made this list.