CTM debuts monthly local San Diego music playlist

The first installment features songs from disco-punk mainstays Glass Spells, bedroom pop masters Shindigs, and psych tinged hip-hop of 10-19 & The Numbermen and more

Tulengua%2C+Kelsey+Bair+photo

Tulengua is a uniquely local group with members on both sides of the border. (From left) Charity Joy Brown is featured on their new single, with Tulengua’s Alan Lili and Amari Jordan. Jamie Mora not pictured. Kelsey Bair photo

Jakob McWhinney and Skylar Eppler

San Diego’s music scene has always been sort of like the ugly stepsister of Los Angeles’ thriving, commanding presence.

L.A. has an undeniable gravity. For years it’s plucked up-and-coming bands from our fair city and drawn them up to the City of Angels like the Death Star’s tractor beam.

You really can’t blame the bands, either. San Diego just doesn’t have the infrastructure or audiences needed to support working bands. L.A. does. 

All that being said, there are countless incredible musicians and bands in our midst, regardless of whether they’ve gotten the kind of breathless press hailing them as “the next big thing” many L.A. bands can expect. 

In an effort to shine some light on San Diego’s musical offerings, we at City Times Media decided to create a monthly playlist that highlights local musicians. So, welcome to our first installment!

Please, get in touch and let us know what you think. And if you’re a local musician interested in being featured, shoot us an email at [email protected].

10-19 & the Number Men – “Lunch Break”

10-19 & The Number Men are a bit of an oddity. An experimental hip-hop group that’s been putting out psych-tinged jams since 2015, their newest album “Spokes” (released on excellent local boutique label It’s Okay I’m Crying) is a masterclass in the genre. 

While many hip-hop groups can primarily serve as a vehicle for the MC, this is a true band. Their cohesion and musicality make “Spokes” an incredibly immersive listen. “Lunch Break” is a haze of reverb, booming bass and gut-punching drums, with J. Smith’s near-spoken word refrains hanging over the composition like a ghostly confessional.

It wraps up with a series of otherworldly synth arpeggios that ascend and descend amidst a jagged drum line, before fading into silence. 

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSpotifyYoutube

Glass Spells – “Shattered” 

San Diego’s disco-punk mainstays Glass Spells have been producing danceable synthwave for the better part of 7 years, but their latest album “Shattered” finds the group at the absolute top of their game. 

On this release songwriter Anthony Ramirez leans into the 80’s new wave influences that have always been present in his compositions. Tania Costello provides the ethereal, siren-esque vocal presence that previous Glass Spells releases lacked, and Ramirez’s writing creates the ideal vehicle to showcase it.

The title track, “Shattered” is a cathartically dreamy leather-clad pop song framed by a driving synth bassline and silky pads. The perfect soundtrack for a late-night drive.

Check out Glass Spells Dec. 11 at The Casbah.

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSoundcloudSpotifyYoutube

Jinx! – “Favorite Color Gold”

“Favorite Color Gold” feels like a mix between Brian Jonestown Massacre and Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing.” It blends bouncy basslines with crunchy guitar parts, lively drums and dreamy synth pads to create a pretty timeless sound, bringing to mind the reckless abandon of a youth well-lived.

This track feels like it could easily come from some obscure vintage Vinyl Junkies find — the kind of underappreciated gem that gets a room full of Doc Martens-wearing music “aficionados” hot and bothered. Its sun-drenched sonic optimism almost convinces me that there are still things in this world to look forward to. Almost.

Catch Jinx! on Nov. 21 at Til Two Club.

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSoundcloudSpotifyYoutube

Jordan Krimston – “Quiet Conversations”

The perpetual motion machine known as Jordan Krimston is back with a new batch of tunes, his second released this year. “All Commodities” (on which he wrote all parts, and played nearly all of them) is a tight, angular set of indie rock that straddles the line between the epic, driving Muse-esque alternative rock of “Scams,” and the more introspective, radio-ready “Safe With You.”

“Quiet Conversations,” which carries a bit of Strokes-y swagger, is a clear standout, blending Krimston’s knack for intricately layered compositions with catchy refrains and breathless drum lines. Dense, fuzzy and frantic … What’s not to like?

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSpotify 

Los Shadows – “Coahuila”

National City’s Los Shadows has made a name for itself as one of San Diego’s premier pop dream surf bands. Recorded entirely by the band and released on their micro-label, Milhaus, Los Shadows’ “Coahuila” opens with their signature bass and strummy chorus guitar, before immediately veering into a soothing and rhythmic cumbia track.

At first, this may seem like a significant departure from what we are used to from the group, but if you listen closely all of their trademark dreamy and synthy elements are there, they’re just presented in a fresh way. Regardless, I’m not complaining.

– Skylar Eppler

 

SoundcloudSpotifyYouTubeBandcamp

Matt Lamkin – “Mad Dog 4 U”

Matt Lamkin, former frontman for San Diego garage-punk darlings The Soft Pack, released a new solo album in September. It’s a wild, off-kilter display of his ever-evolving musical sensibilities. At times infectious, and at others perplexing, it’s a true “pandemic album,” channeling a lot of the stir-crazy anxiety that defined the early months of the lockdown.

“Mad Dog 4 U” is an incredibly fun and hooky pop tune with a dark underbelly. The sunny instrumentation obscures lyrics dealing with alcoholism and obsessive behavior. Lamkin thrives when working with these sorts of juxtapositions, and “Mad Dog 4 U,” which I’ve had on repeat all week, is a perfect example of that. 

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSpotifyYoutube

O/X – “Scorch”

Christopher Oxendine, who plays under the stage name O/X, creates the sort of heavy, ominous, pitch-black darkwave one would expect to be blasting at a vampire nightclub, or during a film montage sequence where the protagonist first tries (fill in the blank) drug. And I mean that in a good way.

“Scorch,” off his newest EP “Falling Into,” which dropped on local label Dream Recordings on Nov. 5, is a mesmerizing, gut-pounding display of industrial synth. Like the “Drive” soundtrack if the music also bashed your skull in. The ideal dystopian soundtrack for our increasingly dystopian present.

Catch O/X alongside fellow synth devotees like John Maus and Choir Boy at Substance fest in Los Angeles on Nov. 28. 

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSoundcloudSpotifyYoutube

Shindigs – “After It All” featuring Ancient Pools

Shindigs have long been one of my favorite San Diego bands and their newest release, the 4-song EP “How’s It Goin,” finds vocalist/songwriter Beejay Buduan drifting further into his dreamland of breathy synths, chorused guitars and drum pads. 

Shindigs write the kind of lo-fi jangle pop that makes spending a lazy Sunday at home feel meditative and watching a sunset over a tall can and a spliff (Get off my back, it’s legal!) with that special someone feel revelatory. “After It All” splits the difference between synthy bedroom pop and an anime outro theme, maintaining all of the unironic and intimate twee of both. Anna Jeter of the excellent Olympia, Washington synth-pop band Ancient Pools lends her whispery falsetto to the track, elevating what was already easily one of Shindigs’ catchiest choruses. Drenched in layers of reverb, chorus and ennui, it’s happy-sounding music for sad people.

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSpotifyYoutube

Tulengua – “Unity Cocktail” featuring Charity Joy Brown

Tulengua is a uniquely local group. With members on both sides of the border, their sound weaves together influences from Southern California and Mexico.

Their newest track, “Unity Cocktail,” is a sweeter-than-honey display of their hip-hop prowess. A sing-along that bops just as hard whether you’re speeding down Interstate 5 or the Carretera Federal 1D, “Unity Cocktail” has all the chorused guitars, warm ethereal synths and infectious hooks a person could crave.

Regardless of whether you can understand all of the lyrics (many are in Spanish), this cocktail goes down smoothly.

– Jakob McWhinney

BandcampSoundcloudSpotifyYoutube