5-Plus Songs To Discover In San Diego In May
Now that "canceled festival season" is in full swing, it's almost time to kick off "canceled summer concerts" season. Fortunately, we still have fantastic new music to enjoy, much of it brewed locally, and we even have (virtual) shows to look forward to. My selection of songs to discover this month includes Le Butcherettes, The Midnight Pine, Le Saboteur and Maura Rosa, and let's gear up for a special livestream with The Donkeys. Plus, this month's staff pick laments a canceled Jens Lekman show, a couple of honorable mentions and a delightful pandemic-themed video made right here in San Diego.
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'Don't Bleed, You're In The Middle Of The Forest' by Le Butcherettes
Mexico-based garage punk band Le Butcherette canceled their May 22 show at Soma, but their latest 7-track EP, "Don't Bleed" is here for us in our time of need. The band, helmed by the stunning Teri Gender Bender, just released a full-length album in 2019, so it feels like nothing can stop them. The new EP is pretty mellow sonically, but has such an edge to it, a fierceness bolstered by really rich and inventive songwriting. This track, "Don't Bleed You're in the Middle of the Forest" is somehow powerful and chill at the same time, and gives me a bit of a Portishead vibe.
'Stolen Wind' by The Midnight Pine
Releasing an album in a pandemic feels like some sort of precious, selfless act, a gift. But locals The Midnight Pine's forthcoming album, "Live from A.D." is just that. They're dosing out singles right now, with the full album slated to release on May 8. It was recorded live at Audio Design studios, which is kind of a hub for many of the Redwoods Music collective bands like The Midnight Pine. So it still has that clean studio sound, rather than a crowd or venue recording, but has the immediacy — and intimacy — of a single take. The album takes a fresh approach to the band's rich archives, including hits like "Caution." I love the most recent single, "Stolen Wind," from their first album. The beautifully forlorn track lets vocalist Shelbi Bennett's alt country side shine.
'Distant Hum' by Le Saboteur
I only recently managed to catch the enchanting Le Saboteur live at the Casbah this January. The local rockers just released a new EP, "Ditch," and it's a great, cohesive listen that showcases Le Saboteur's impressive stylistic range and formidable talent. There's something a bit '90s, riot-grrrl punk feel (I mean that as a compliment) about "Distant Hum," but vocalist and guitarist Michelle Pannell lets the track build into something complicated, lovely and a little catchy.
'Entra' by Maura Rosa
Tijuana-based performer Maura Rosa released her new single on April 15. The new track follows her 2018 release, the complex, ambient EP, "Cama En La Sala," and builds on an already solid sound. "Entra" pulls alluring vocals along a hypnotic, synth backdrop and it all feels kind of magical. I'm hopeful about the possibility of more new work from Rosa in the coming months (and a chance to see her perform in the border region as soon as we're allowed to see shows again).
'We Are All So Young' by The Donkeys
Upcoming show alert! Exciting, right? 91X Loudspeaker host Tim Pyles' virtual incarnation of "Seaport Sessions" for May will feature The Donkeys. When a local band "makes it," they seem to either move away, we all act too cool for them or … they just steadily make great music for over a decade like The Donkeys. Signed to Dead Oceans (the same label as Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski and Slowdive, to name a few) their latest album, "Sun Damaged Youth" came out over a year ago but my favorite track, "We Are All So Young" is like an entire, timeless summer packaged into three minutes. Tune in on Thursday, May 21 at 6 p.m. to the Seaport Village Facebook feed for the show.
Staff Pick: 'What's That Perfume That You Wear?' by Jens Lekman
It was one of the last days we were all in the office together when KPBS video journalist Nic McVicker found out his much-anticipated Jens Lekman tour was canceled. I asked Nic to recommend his favorite Jens Lekman tune.
"Jens Lekman has a rare mystique about him, able to channel reggae island sounds, mixing them with modern pop, and backing them up with a choir. The song I’ve chosen to share shows the many depths Lekman cascades. A true Swedish sensation, Lekman writes mostly about love and life's awkward situations. A lover of human nature and simplicity, his lyrics trigger common experiences. I’m naturally a romantic at heart so maybe I’m biased. For more check out his NPR Tiny Desk concert from 2011." — Nic McVicker, KPBS video journalist
Check out a few more new releases by these acts who also had to cancel their shows in San Diego this month. I love "Big Feelings" from Brooklyn-based Worriers, and Australian Alex Lahey's latest single "I'm A Sucker For Punishment," which is possibly about scrolling Instagram.
And don't miss this video of San Diegan Missy Alcazar's quarantine tune, "Let's All Stay Home," which will probably get stuck in your head.