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Arts & Culture

7 Songs To Discover In March

Algiers performs at the Casbah this month.
Christian Högstedt
Algiers performs at the Casbah this month.

We’re listening to new music from Algiers, Porches, Louis XIV, Los Shadows, Lauren Ruth Ward, Topographies and Vanessa Zamora

Here's what we're loving right now, including local musicians with new releases and bands coming to San Diego that we're excited to see. This month, I asked KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler for one of the picks. I want to hear from you, too: Tell us what's rocking your world this month in our KPBS/Arts Facebook group or send me a note.

Local Pick: '2:00 AM' By Los Shadows

National City locals Los Shadows released their full-length album "NOT A Safe Space" last fall, and it's a great listen. Raised on rap and hip-hop, the band's singer and songwriter Andy Saldana discovered poetry through Nirvana in middle school. The band eventually landed on a style that pairs textured synth instrumentation with melodic vocals but doesn't get too complacent. The album — and "2:00 AM" in particular — feels fresh and strange while still being catchy with a total groove. Los Shadows plays Soda Bar on Mar. 8 with LA-based pop band Cones.

Coming To Town: 'Water Sign' By Lauren Ruth Ward

A new single by LA-based Lauren Ruth Ward, "Water Sign," is a rock tune evoking the likes of Courtney Barnett, Brandi Carlile or Liz Phair. "Water Sign" isn't a love song; it's a loudly shouted introspection. And Ward has put the leg work in to get a tinge of the '70s in her music: in 2018 she released an album consisting entirely of Doors covers called "Happy Birthday Jim." Her new album comes out mid-month, and she'll hit The Casbah alongside Valley Queen and AC Sapphire on Mar. 13.

Local Pick: 'Playtime' By Louis XIV

San Diego's very own glam rock superstars, Louis XIV, have a lot of history. Their major-label release, "The Best Little Secrets Are Kept" catapulted them to fame 15 years ago, and they're celebrating that album's anniversary — and new material — this month on tour. A new single, "Playtime," is their first material since parting ways in 2009 and recalls their early sound: kind of vintage, kind of ostentatious, very rocking. Recently reunited, Louis XIV will take the Music Box stage in an all-ages show on Mar. 19.

Coming To Town: 'An Eye, Open' By Topographies

Formed in 2017, San Francisco-based Topographies have been making their brand of shoegaze for just a few years but it feels timeless, evoking legends like Slowdive or The Psychedelic Furs in the same breath. "An Eye, Open," the closing track on Topographies' new EP "Difference & Repetition" — just released in February — is dark, atmospheric without sacrificing melody and it has a post-punk kick to it. If front person Gray Tolhurst's name rings a bell, it should: he's the son of founding Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst. Topographies will play at Whistle Stop on Mar. 20.

Coming To Town: 'There Is No Year' by Algiers

Algiers' third full-length album, "There Is No Year," just dropped. I can't imagine having to follow 2017's incredible "The Underside of Power," or even their 2015 self-titled debut, but somehow this new album pulls it off. There's plenty of Algiers' hallmark rock and roll, political anger, soul and epic idealism — but the band doesn't fall victim to just doing a replica of what's worked in the past. This album feels more pensive at times, mixed with a little more synth than usual, but still at the forefront is Franklin James Fisher's glorious, powerful way of delivering jaw-dropping vocals. "There Is No Year" is Algiers at their best because they apparently are just going to keep getting better. Do not miss their live show: Mar. 21 at The Casbah.

Coming To Town: 'Do U Wanna' By Porches

It's not easy to pin down Porches' sound. Porches — the moniker for New York-based performer and producer Aaron Maine — has a catalogue that can be described as earnest pop, gritty country, electronic, punk or sometimes all of that at once. His forthcoming album, "Ricky Music," is Maine's way of seeking clarity. This track, the first single, "Do U Wanna," is stripped down but squeaky clean at the same time, sad and happy, tidy and cracked wide open. I get a bit of a Perfume Genius vibe from the track. Porches plays at Belly Up on March 31.

Local Tijuana Pick: 'Rio' by Vanessa Zamora

And finally, for this month's staff pick, I asked KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler for a recommendation. Here's Max's pick:

The opening track from Tijuana-native Vanessa Zamora’s brightly dark 2018 album “Tornaluna” washes over you in a way that makes you want to give yourself over to the current. We’ve left the dock, are floating down the river of vibes, and Zamora is the sure-handed, world-weary guide. (Wow, you notice, it’s like always just right after sunset. Look at that.) Reminiscent of other synth/reverby sailors like Wild Nothing and Helado Negro, Zamora presents a less punky side of Tijuana’s music scene, which tends towards the good and loud. Zamora probably cranks it up pretty high live as well. Vanessa Zamora performs at the Black Box in Tijuana on Mar. 20, opening for the rapper Sabino.

— Max Rivlin-Nadler