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Arts & Culture

5 songs to discover in San Diego in December

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Andrew Cayas
San Diego band The Fazes are shown in an undated photo.

We're listening to new music from locals The Fazes, Shane Hall, Julianna Zachariou and Los Saints, plus touring band Fearing — all playing shows this month.

'Remote Control' by The Fazes

The Fazes, a San Diego based-band, is having quite a season. They recently performed to a packed house at The Observatory, opening for Beach Goons, and they have two shows on the books this month. The first is at The Loft at UC San Diego, alongside The Inflorescence, Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. They'll also play Soda Bar with Havnauts later in the month, on Dec. 30.

The Fazes just released a new single this September, "Remote Control," which is a fuzzy, synthed-out grungy pop song. I love the lo-fi nostalgia that shines through, and the lyrics are equal parts angry, fed up and dystopic nursery rhyme. There's something tragic and yearning in this track, and all of their stuff.

'Life Up' by Shane Hall

Hailing from Oceanside, blues and soul powerhouse Shane Hall has recently released both a live album and a new video for a track from his forthcoming EP. "Life Up" is the first taste we've had of "The Slow EP," and it's gorgeous. It feels something like a detour from his energetic blues and rock sound, with falsetto harmonies and descants that suggest a bit of Bon Iver, a pared down sonic backdrop and heartbreaking lyrics. Hall's mesmerizing R&B vocals tie it all together. I can't wait for the rest of the EP, or his show at the Casbah on Dec. 10, alongside Jake Najor and the Moment of Truth, Chunky Hustle Brass Band and Emily Afton.

'(S)he' by Julianna Zachariou

Could you list off the best concerts of your life? Maybe it was because Julianna Zachariou at Soda Bar last July was my first show back post-pandemic (not counting an accidental Led Zeppelin cover band I walked in on), but it was also probably the most joyous, hopeful, earnest and fun show I've ever been to. And lucky for all of us (me), to support Downers on tour, Zachariou returns to Soda Bar Dec. 11 with some incredible new singles in her back pocket. Her latest release is "(S)he," which is an intimately personal retrospective on coming out.

I adore the repeated line, "Love is bigger than fear / Love is bigger than fear / Love is bigger than fear / Why do you think I'm here?"

"I played ["S(he)"] to so many different rooms on this recent tour and you could feel the energy shift into something really exciting every time I did," Zachariou recently told me. "It is about how I wish I came out to my parents. It's also about how it's just kind of silly that we have to come out at all."

'I'm in Need' by Los Saints

Chula Vista rockers Los Saints will play a show at Soda Bar on Dec. 14 with 3LH. They have a melodic pop-tinged sound with a mix of grit and genuine emotion. I'm especially drawn to the single "I'm in Need," a 2020 release, which came out in a flurry of pandemic activity from the band, including a three-part song cycle (the tracks "It's Easier When You Jump," "A17" and "As Bad as the First.") Combined with a steady string of shows this fall, keep your eye out for an album or EP on the horizon. For a special treat, check out their recent lyric video for "It's Easier When You Jump," filmed in Chula Vista.

'Pictured Perfect' by Fearing

The Oakland-based post-punk band Fearing formed about five years ago, feeding on each band member's former punk chops but also washing everything in a darker, mellower mood, almost shoegaze. I love "Pictured Perfect," one of the singles from their 2020 full-length album, "Shadow." It's sprawling and cinematic, both sonically and in the lyrics. The band has such a knack for writing intensely specific and evocative narrative scenes, and this is a devastating glimpse into a kind of numbness that's somewhere between resignation and — unexpectedly — empowerment. Ideal for fans of former locals Soft Kill or Blood Ponies. Fearing is touring California this month so you can immerse yourself in some goth music on Dec. 12 at Soda Bar (in support of Tennis System).

You can find a Spotify playlist of some of these songs here, or follow KPBS on Spotify for more playlists.