Tag Archives: indie

Video Premiere: Ed Ghost Tucker takes you underwater

So Cal indie pop darlings Ed Ghost Tucker just released their latest music video, and it’s dreamily beautiful. Continue reading Video Premiere: Ed Ghost Tucker takes you underwater

Theme Song This Week comes from hip hop duo N.A.S.A.

Making waves in the hip hop/dance hybrid scene is LA based duo N.A.S.A., who started off with street smart beats and witty rhymes back in 2009, but are now getting people pumped on the electro dance floor. And you might have heard this song already, but didn’t know who it was.

N.A.S.A’s latest single, “Hide” has blown up, thanks in part to being featured on an ad for Sonos’s HiFi Home Entertainment System; but a lot of credit is due to Tropkillaz, who remixed the track quite beautifully. If you take a listen to their earlier music, a la 2009 album The Spirit of Apollo, the group’s vibe is more along the lines of classic 70s and 80s early hip hop and artists such as Atmosphere or Blackalicious.

Related: Atmosphere talks tour with Slightly Stoopid, ‘Bob Seger’

But now? Now the duo is taking an electro approach, and they’re definitely doing it the right way. Never a stickler for labels, N.A.S.A.’s entire project has been an exercise in genre-bending tunes with little to no rules. Couple their flexible characteristics in collaborations with the fact that hip hop has become the world of mainstream dance music for now, and the new sound makes sense. Plus N.A.S.A. (which is an acronym for North America South America), is indie enough to make the changes in their music without casting a huge tidal wave of confusion over their current fans.

More: Hip Hop Music to Love

Hopefully they have a new full length release in the works, but for now, this amazing single will just have to tide us over. It’s been on my “Going Out” playlist for weeks. What do you think?

You’ll be surprised by Butchers of Sky Valley

Trust me, Butchers of Sky Valley is not what you are expecting. With a band name that already commands a precedence, it’s easy to think that this New York based group is going to melt some faces. But what their music actually does is melt the barriers of psychedelic rock.

According to lead singer Mike Mokotow, a band name shifts once you get to know the music. (Which couldn’t be more true — after all, most of us worship a band called The Beatles). Diving into the repertoire of Butchers of Sky Valley is no exception to this rule. With a bluesy attitude, relaxed and cool 70s inspired vocals, and guitar riffs for days, these guys create a nostalgic feel to their music that sings out to the listener from beginning to end.

Their end goal is to join many elements into one album, not just reciting the same lyrics and recycling the same riffs over and over, but instead transcending above the expected and tossing their listeners a curve ball every once in a while. And though there is a very particular sound across most of their songs, the multiple influences of Butchers of Sky Valley can still be heard.

At times, the music overpowers the vocals – guitars are shredding and drums are beating out movable cadences, while the vocals lazily croon over the top, creating an interesting lesson in contrast. But at the end of the day, lovers of throwback rockers like The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr, and legends such as Fleetwood Mac, will enjoy Butchers of Sky Valley.

Speaking of Fleetwood Mac, Mokotow cites the iconic group as being a heavy influence for him. (Most notably their third studio album, Then Play On.) He also unabashedly discusses the beauty of jazz and blues, and even states that the band’s self-titled album cover is an homage to the “cool, sweet, gritty look” of old jazz records.

More Bluesy Soulful Rock: Caught a Ghost is reviving the spirits of soul

Words can only describe the music so much, so take a listen and let me know what you think. Though this group is based in New York, they have exciting tour plans in the works for 2014. Let’s cross our fingers for some west coast dates!

Butchers of Sky Valley have released their self-titled album, and it’s available via iTunes and all other digital media outlets.

Caught a Ghost is reviving the spirits of soul

Caught_A_Ghost_the_indie_sdOn tour and coming to So Cal is modern motown act Caught a Ghost, and after speaking with frontman Jesse Nolan, I’ve discovered that this act is multifaceted, deep, not afraid to cast Nolan’s great-aunt in their music video, and most importantly, sure to be a meaningful show that you won’t want to miss.

There are a lot of musicians out there who claim to “bring things back” — Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, Daft Punk claimed to be bringing back soul, and Bruno Mars is bringing back…Soul Trains. But rarely, an artist comes along that isn’t just copying an earlier style or mimicking an era, but also making that style into something fresh, exciting and new. Enter Caught a Ghost, “a modern take on blue eyed soul” voiced by Nolan and supported by a slew of talented onstage musicians, all of whom have seamlessly created a project worth listening to. Nolan admits that he feels he’s a “conduit” of his influences, embodying the spirits of the past and channeling them into his own music, while hoping that this channel continues on to the listeners’ ears. (And from this listener’s ears, I have to agree.)

But there is more to be said about his musical influences than a simple appreciation of the throwback. Nolan self-describes his music as being influenced by “bass heavy” tunes with a “groove feel”, and yet he can still find the appreciation in artists such as Nirvana, Dr. Dre and Jimi Hendrix.

If you could mesh all of those artists together, the result might be a crazy musical Frankenstein experiment; however, in Caught a Ghost’s case, it’s a trifecta of sensational sounds. Listeners can either linger on the smooth tone of Nolan’s voice, the upbeat ‘dancability’ of the tracks, or take it all in and relish in the feel good vibes and catchy lyrics.

All of these traits are clear in the single “Sleeping at Night”, a soulful track that urges the listener to dive deeper into the meaning and themes behind the song. (The phrase “caught a ghost sleeping at night lyrics” is a popular Google search term, and I now know why.) The moody and quick-paced intro of the song sets up Nolan’s horn-infused chorus, as he croons the lines: “I hope you make it alright! You can sell dust and steal the daylight for all that I care, just as long as you’re sleeping at night.” Though I don’t believe a literal interpretation is needed here: the lyrics as a whole seem to allude to the pandering nature of society, all set to music you can move to.

The song is a clever work of R&B influenced art, and the music video follows suit. Nolan lets me in on a little background, adding that the original video was a stop-motion animation created via iPhone. After extremely positive fan review, fast forward to the full length version, which features real people who Nolan has interacted with in his life. (One is his great-aunt — which I have to admit, makes her one of the coolest great-aunts. Ever.)

The astute and witty details of Caught a Ghost’s music doesn’t stop with this single. Dive into the full EP, Nightworks for the same caliber of music, song after song after song. Nolan adds that the EP is meant to be an appetizer for the full-length album, which should hopefully be ready for release in early 2014.

We’re waiting. Not very patiently, might I add. But the full length is sure to be worth the wait. In the meantime, Nolan is notorious on the web for singing just as well live as he does on tape, so check out Caught a Ghost during any of their fall tour dates on the west coast. San Diegans can see them at the Griffin on Sept 30th.



SDMT: Ra Ra Riot – Don’t miss this!

Start off your San Diego Music Thing experience with a huge pop act and a party. After all, it is Friday…


Ra Ra Riot with Caveman at the Birch North Park Theatre – Friday September 13th

ra_ra_riot_birch_theater_the_indie_sd_sdmtIndie pop lovers are not going to want to miss this show, with Ra Ra Riot headlining what is sure to turn into a dance party. Playful and amusing lyrics are coupled with cheery musical backdrops that are sure to get you moving. This group has gone through several trials as a band, but that didn’t stop them from playing festivals like South by Southwest and being nominees at the Independent Music Awards. Maybe their optimistic tunes are a reflection of their personal mantras, but either way, you’ll be happy you went to see them live.

Indie rock group Caveman is warming up the crowd with music that is just as riveting and energetic. Fans of Vampire Weekend, The Joy Formidable, and Matt & Kim are going to love this entire lineup.


For more information on the San Diego Music Thing, including the full lineup and how to buy tickets and passes, check out the official website.


SDMT: Go see Baywood, your folk heart will thank you

Time to clap your hands, stomp your feet, and harmonize along to catchy songs that will instantly melt your heart. San Diego Music Thing is offering a multitude of musical genres in tonight’s shows, and this one is sure to please all the folk/indie pop fans out there.


Baywood, Denison Witmer, Trouble in the Wind, others at Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge – Friday September 13th

baywood_the_indie-sdI cannot stop singing and humming this tune by Baywood, a perfectly quirky and perfectly catchy duo that is mastering their medium of folk pop. If the lyrics don’t warm your heart, then surely the happy melodies of “Gotta Get You” will. The song title is wildly appropriate, since I feel like they got me as soon as I started listening.

Denison Witmer is just as alluring, with a mellow almost bluesy tinge to his songs, reminiscent of Elliott Smith or Sufjan Stevens . His sultry voice will soothe you as you fight the urge to start singing along with mesmerizing melodies. In fact, don’t fight the urge — I’m sure he wouldn’t mind a lovestruck audience as vocal backup!

A perfect lineup of local favorites will also be on stage tonight, including Trouble in the Wind, who incorporate banjos and a lively attitude to their set. So make sure you check it all out at Clare de Lune Coffee Lounge!

For more information on the San Diego Music Thing, including the full lineup and how to buy tickets and passes, check out the official website.

SDMT: Girl in a Coma, New Mexico at Bar Pink

This show will probably be the most interesting thing you hear this Friday. I mean it. No, seriously. If you don’t believe me, take a listen for yourself…


Girl in a Coma, New Mexico, Buddy Banter, and others at Bar Pink – Friday September 13th

girl_in_a_coma_the_indie_sd_sdmt_bar_pinkAccording to their Spotify bio, Girl in a Coma named themselves after a the Smiths song and bonded over their love of Nirvana. I am in love with their penchant for covering 60s songs with the perfect modern interpretation. They’ve had ups and downs throughout their musical career, but when Joan Jett signs you to her label (Blackheart Records), you know you’re doing something very right.

New Mexico has self-branded themselves as a “Four piece torture chamber ensemble”, but there’s nothing torturous about their alt rock music that dips between modern upbeat riffs and groovy throwbacks. They urge you to listen to their music to find out what they sound like, but here’s a hint: lovers of bands like Interpol and Bloc Party will most likely jump on the train to New Mexico.

Rounding out this lineup are some famous Southern Cali acts like Buddy Banter and Irontom, so make sure you get there early to party with all the amazing music happening tonight!

For more information on the San Diego Music Thing, including the full lineup and how to buy tickets and passes, check out the official website.

Theme Song This Week: Tears for Fears and Arcade Fire, oh my!

listen-tears-for-fears-cover-arcade-fires-ready-to-start_the_indie_sdHow did I not know about this until recently? Who was hiding this amazing musical event from my ears? Despite floating around the internet for weeks now, I’ve just recently learned of Tears for Fears‘ cover of Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start”, and it is glorious. Eargasm overload. Or maybe I am a bit overzealous, but seriously, this cover caught my attention immediately and now I can’t get it out of my head.

Related: Will Arcade Fire dominate again?

Tears for Fears is already a timeless force to be reckoned with, as they continue to have a strong fan base and have even helped to inspire such artists from Kimbra to Kanye West. But to hear their recent venture really reminds you that this 80s group is the coolest ever in any decade.

More surprising covers: The sweet cover of Of Mice & Men

They chose a perfect song, and T4F is able to pull out some of the beautiful moments of Arcade Fire’s melody, while adding in their own playful, unexpected air that the New Wave duo is known for.

But don’t read into it too much. Just listen and try hard to keep your mind from exploding.

Previous Tunes of the Week:

Mercies is ‘indie beach-core forest-pop’ and we love it.

Mercies the Ballet EP The Indie SDThis is the kind of band that can jump between creating inspiring, dreamy and sometimes folky songs and composing modern instrumental pieces for a ballet. Yes, a ballet! I’m talking about indie rockers, Mercies, and when this trio of multi-instrumentalists came into town, they brought along with them their unique, vintage-inspired sounds, high energy rhythms, and a few surprise guests sprinkled along their crowd at the Ruby Room.

When I arrived at the Ruby Room, the guys were immediately happy to sit down with me at one of the dimly lit booths near the bar. Curiosity caused me to ask them first about the ballet music they created, which was commissioned by The Charlottesville Ballet in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Rheault and bassist Jordan Flower, told me that the process was obviously much different than anything else they had written. Even so, the guys included the ballet on their latest EP release, appropriately titled The Ballet.

“Initially we were going to treat it as a separate thing, and then we kind of figured we might as well release an EP and use the EP as a way to house the ballet. It worked out, timing wise.” Jordan and Josh told me, about their choice to include their instrumental pieces on the EP.  The guys have even more up their sleeves, as far as composition goes, as they also noted, “We hope to do a lot more work with other dance companies. We might be doing an indie film, scoring that.”

The indie film is currently in the works, and penned and directed by Nicole Eckenrose. The guys were fairly tight-lipped on the project, since there are so many details that still have yet to be established for the project, but just one listen to what they composed for the ballet will convince anyone that their future soundtrack endeavors will be highly successful.

The group was formed by Rheault and drummer, Sammy Dent, both of whom may have been seen in their previous band, the Deer Hunter. There’s always a “previous band stigma” that can follow some musicians around, but not for Mercies. The trio has successfully branded themselves as a must-listen kind of band, and they boast a sound that is unique, a little astral, a little old school, and a lot of interesting; a feat that I had to congratulate them on. Rheault noted that he spent nearly four years in Los Angeles, touring and writing with his previous project, before finally making his way back home to Connecticut where he eventually started Mercies.

Though New England is their home, the guys had to admit they were really looking forward to their San Diego show. Rheault recalled his last show in San Diego where he played SOMA, a venue that definitely stood out to him. He described the venue in vivid detail as he recollected that night, and added that, “People here seem to really like music and shows, and they still go to them. It’s a good place.” He’s even kept in contact with some of his San Diego friends, including local heavy hitters Pierce the Veil, who were all at the show, ready to support the band with rowdy cheers and generous applause.

The people in San Diego do love their music scene, but it’s also easy for a band like Mercies to draw a crowd on their tour when they can cater to indie lovers so well. At first glance, Mercies may seem like a hipster’s ultimate wet dream; however, as soon as one takes a listen to The Ballet EP, it’s really easy to distinguish a difference between them and some of the other bands that are attempting the same thing. The first difference is in their influences. Mercies successfully draws on some of the greatest sounds of old, making those sounds new and fresh and exciting again. “[Our] biggest influences probably all stem back 50, 60 years. You know: Beatles, Beach Boys, and Les Paul.” All of this is apparent in their EP, and in their Beach Boys cover of “In My Room”. This was quite possibly the best song for the group to cover, and one of my favorite tunes to hear that night, since it is just as good live as it is recorded.

Sometime in November, the trio plans to release a 7″ vinyl of their latest songs. “People usually get a CD and then chuck it, or lose it. With vinyl, it’s something to hold on to,” says Rheault. One thing is for certain, their mesmerizing sound transposed onto the clarity and quality of vinyl, is going to be a unique item that any music lover won’t want to miss.

The very first Streetside Session

“PLEASE do this more often!”

That was only one of the many things that were yelled out at pop-rockers Social Club, as we filmed for the very first installment of Streetside Sessions. If you don’t know what a Streetside Session is (or you can’t guess from the extremely obvious title), then hang tight, because a video will be around here soon. And when it does get here, you’re welcome to swoon and ahh at the brilliance that is performing on the streets of San Diego. To say this shoot was fun would be an understatement. The day was spent in Bankers Hill and included balcony-spectators, rolling compliments, and even a five dollar bill from the window of one woman’s car. Drive-by donations, anyone? The video isn’t here quite yet, but in the meantime, enjoy some behind the scenes shots of the shoot.

I know, I know, we are such a tease.
Click photos to launch full-screen.