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5 Songs To Discover In San Diego In October

San Diego band Strange Ages released a new EP, "Sad Piano Music Plays" in Sept. 2020. The album was written and recorded at home during the pandemic.
Rebecca Antuna
San Diego band Strange Ages released a new EP, "Sad Piano Music Plays" in Sept. 2020. The album was written and recorded at home during the pandemic.

We're listening to new music from Dani Bell, Ingonoir, Vanessa Zamora, Strange Ages and Cults.

A new month means new music. Here are five new tracks from bands in the San Diego and Tijuana region (and one that got away) to help see you through another month of our modern apocalypse. And one track is even linked to a live show (you have to stay home, though). Read on and have a listen to singles from Dani Bell, Ingonoir, Vanessa Zamora and picks from new releases from Strange Ages and Cults.

'Got You' by Dani Bell

Dani Bell, partial namesake of esteemed local Redwoods Music act Dani Bell & the Tarantist, has new solo work hot off the press. Her first solo single, "Got You," just dropped. Bell's vocals on this quick romp — just two and a half minutes — are hypnotic and delightful, and the track has a hopeful romance to it. Plus, you can catch Bell perform at the Casbah alongside Low Volts on Saturday Oct. 3, streaming live from Twitch — I've watched quite a few of these really well-produced but still no-fuss Casbah livestreams and I'm always glad I tuned in.


'Alien Boy' by Ingonoir

Volar Records (formerly based in San Diego) just put out "Presence Not Absence," a compilation to benefit housing assistance for the trans community and communities of color — with proceeds going to organizations like SDQUEERBLACKHOUSING, House of Resilience and APAIT's Casa de Zulma. Local R&B songwriter Ingonoir offered two tracks, including this summer's "Alien Boy." With intricate vocal layers and a sparkling sonic backdrop, "Alien Boy" feels somewhere between a love song and a surrender. Ingonoir's songwriting is devastating and kind of toe-tapping at the same time. And check out the full compilation for other great songs, like a spin on Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown" by Cody Blanchard (of Shannon and the Clams).

'Ayer' by Vanessa Zamora

A new single this summer from Tijuana-born Vanessa Zamora, "Ayer," is a powerful showcase for her seductive vocals and music, somewhere on the cusp of indie, folk, pop and R&B. "Ayer," which translates to "yesterday," is packed with longing, regret and desire. This is the third single Zamora has released in 2020 (plus some remixes and collabs), and if it's a signal of an album on the horizon, I'm here for it. Don't miss the live performance she put out in late August on YouTube.

'Your Last Day' by Strange Ages

If your album cover art origin story doesn't include a piano repairman, are you even trying? Local guitar-free indie band Strange Ages just dropped the entirely pandemic-fueled "Sad Piano Music Plays," a four-track EP. As with much of Strange Ages' work, it's enchanting and rich. Singer and keyboardist Eve Gross' vocals can be pretty powerful, giving off a little Neko Case vibe, and at turns subdued and understated. My favorite track is the album's closer, "Your Last Day." It's a slow burn, waltzing its way through the aching apocalyptic realities of the now. And it includes one of my favorite sad tropes, pointing out that pretty starlight is actually dead.


'Trials' by Cults

Raised in San Diego, Cults' Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin formed the band in New York, and it's been almost a decade since 2011's self-titled debut with the iTunes commercial earworm "Go Outside." Their latest full-length album, "Host," was released in mid-September, and is a welcome addition to the Cults catalogue — full of synth-tinged pop, a '70s aesthetic and an underlying darkness. "Trials," the album opener, folds a deceivingly cheery and timeless tune with the almost detached resignation and heartache in Follin's dreamy vocals. There's something really delicious and hopeful about an upbeat sad song but, it's the start of an album purportedly about a parasite so let's not get too complacent.

VIDEO: 'Trials' by Cults

What are you listening to? Join the conversation in the KPBS/Arts Facebook group. And follow KPBS on Spotify for a partial version of this playlist, previous months' selections, plus a playlist of our recently completed Summer Music Series.