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Arts & Culture

5 Songs To Discover In San Diego In November

Japanese band Tricot performs a no-audience show on March 14, 2020. Local band Positioner recommended their latest release.
Courtesy of Tricot
Japanese band Tricot performs a no-audience show on March 14, 2020. Local band Positioner recommended their latest release.

Live shows were always a tried-and-true way to broaden my musical horizons. I've found many new favorites just by getting there in time to catch the opening act. And on the flip side, I've gone to see out-of-town bands I hadn't before known, just because a local band I liked was sharing the billing.

In the absence of live shows for the last nine months with no relief in sight, I wanted to bring in some expert help to discover new music in a similar way. So I asked five local acts — many with brand new music out themselves — who they'd like to bring to town.

You can listen to any of these embedded tracks below or follow along with the full playlist on Spotify. And sign me up for all of these fantasy shows.


Neutral Shirt Recommends 'Honey' By Corey Flood

I loved local band Neutral Shirt's album "Daisyworld," which came out in March. The opening track, "Breathe In," is lush and layered earnest indie rock (and when you listen, yes, you're hearing that correctly, it's set in suburban Poway). I've returned to this album often throughout the pandemic as a source of comfort — as well as a reminder of one of the last shows I went to before live music screeched to a halt.

I asked Neutral Shirt's Matty Terrones who they'd like to share the bill with if bands were touring. Terrones recommended the Philadelphia-based trio, Corey Flood. Corey Flood (named after one of the many memorable side characters in the 1989 classic movie "Say Anything) recently put out a new album, "Hanging Garden."

"I lived with a member of this band and heard some of these songs in their infancy as they practiced in the basement," said Terrones. "Hearing them fully realized on this record makes my heart extremely happy. 'Honey' is one of my favorites — feels like a candle slowly burning and keeping a room lit; a steady rhythm exploding into shooting stars visible on a mountainside. Melodic, thoughtful, driving music," said Terrones.

Positioner Recommends '悪戯 (Itazura)' By Tricot

Newly formed San Diego band Positioner — with former members of Weatherbox — will release their debut EP, "Unsteady Hands," this month. You can check out the fantastic single "Rattle In," which leans into the more meditative side of math rock and the darker side of indie rock.


Positioner's George Pritzker said they'd like to see a Kyoto band jet through town. "The band Tricot from Japan just put out a new record called '10' that's awesome," said Pritzker. "It definitely has a strong math-rock, prog streak, but it's also vocal-driven and quite sonically diverse. They manage to weave together catchy and challenging sounds in a really impressive way."

Pritzker recommended " 悪戯 (Itazura)" — itazura translates to mischief.

18scales Recommends 'Look Over Your Shoulder' By Busta Rhymes (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Local rap and R&B duo 18scales combines the talents of Ric Scales and Ralph Quasar. They released a single last week called "Burn Me Down," which also features Devvlov, local singer, songwriter and pianist. It's a powerful track and captures a moment in time this summer as the country erupted in protests against police brutality and racism.

"We were supposed to be working on new music. [Quasar] had these beats he had been working on with Devvlov that were all amazing. George Floyd had just been killed a few days prior and I couldn't bring myself to write. Everything felt so shallow," said Scales. He channeled it all into this track. "Those feelings became this song."

"On a larger level, Ralph Quasar and I are both huge fans of Busta Rhymes. We both draw a good deal of inspiration from his style and sound alongside people that have produced for him such as Nottz and J Dilla," said Scales. "With him dropping 'Extinction Level Event 2,' which is a follow up to our favorite project he put out in 1998, we'd imagine he'd end up in San Diego in which case we would leap at the chance to open for one of our biggest inspirations."

Here's "Look Over Your Shoulder" by Busta Rhymes (feat. Kendrick Lamar). It also features the notable "Just look over your shoulders honey" cry from the Jackson 5's 1970 hit, "I'll Be There." FYI, expect some explicit lyrics.

Le Ra Recommends 'Dance With The Devil' By Elis Paprika

Cross-border indie band Le Ra recently dropped "Relieved," a vibrant and textured new single that rocks start to finish. Le Ra's Mónica Mendoza is the founder of GRRRL Independent Ladies, a collective and hub for women and nonbinary musicians in the border region and beyond. Mendoza also books in the San Diego, Tijuana and Los Angeles areas.

I asked Mendoza who she'd book if she could create a dream lineup with Le Ra to tour throughout the border region.

"There's a great artist from Mexico City, Elis Paprika," said Mendoza. Paprika's new single, "Dance With the Devil" will be part of the forthcoming album "Lost Kids," which will explore urban legends and myths from across the globe — Mendoza said that it's ideal for kids (and it's punk enough for any age). "Dance With the Devil" is about the Mexican urban legend of a young girl who dances with a man at a party without realizing he is the devil.

Plus, like Mendoza herself, Paprika is heavily involved in fighting for representation in the business. "She is also the powerhouse behind 'Now Girls Rule,' hosting a series of showcases, bazaars, workshops and even recently launched a podcast supporting women in the music industry," said Mendoza.

Forest Grove Recommends 'Leather Funeral' by New Skeletal Faces

What better way to end this list than with a local-on-local recommendation? San Diego's dark metal/punk band Forest Grove released their self-titled full-length debut a few years ago, but the prolific and dynamic performers seem to have a knack for getting on — or maybe creating — great shows, with locals and national acts alike.

Guitarist Zeno (Zack Wentz) opted to recommend brand new music from a local band they haven't yet shared a stage with. Wentz described New Skeletal Faces as "magical demons of rock." The San Diego band just put out a new video for "Leather Funeral."

"Beloved local band photographer Chad Kelco shot that one," said Wentz of the video. "He's incredible."

YOUTUBE: 'Leather Funeral' by New Skeletal Faces

You can find a playlist of each of these songs on Spotify. And join the conversation: What was your favorite live show musical discovery? Share your music recommendations in the KPBS/Arts Facebook group.