Grand Forks, North Dakota native Tom Brosseau moved to San Diego in 2001 and quickly became one half of the American Folk Singers alongside Gregory Page. The duo’s first album was taped in Page’s living room over two days, through an old phonograph, with Page also working on Brosseau’s solo CD. He also performs and records with local bluegrass star Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), as well as touring with John Reilly & Friends, headed by comedian/musician John C. Reilly. Brosseau is dropping two albums this week. “A Lifetime Ago is a curated collection of the more obscure and unreleased songs spanning the years 2002 to 2019,” he says. “It features B-sides, studio outtakes, and live performances. Live in York is a live acoustic album recorded by Dan Harding at a private event in York, England on May 11, 2019. Ten original songs, seven from various past releases, [and] three brand new ones played live for the first time.” Those new tracks — “Maybe Tomorrow Night,” “Town & Country,” and “I Found a Horseshoe” — can be streamed or purchased individually online.
Singer-songwriter Christopher Sluka is an FAA gold-seal-certified flight instructor, with a commercial pilot’s license and over 3000 hours of flight time. From 1994 until around ten years ago, he owned Javanican Coffeehouse in PB, but decided to sell the operation (bought from a previous owner) in order to concentrate on his growing music career as Sluka. His first two albums were released on a Japanese label, while a third was recorded for an Italian branch of Time-Warner. Subsequent recordings have been released through his own Steel Flower Music label, with different distribution deals throughout the world. His Colorful Radiation album was highlighted by a hit single and video for the track “Rise,” which he describes as “my reaction to the Trump phenomena.” It reached number 17 on the Cashbox Rock Chart. His most recent album Ready to Connect was led by a single for “Hey Oh,” produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Rolling Stones vet Alan Sanderson at local Pacific Beat Recording Studio, with a video directed and edited by Eric Bishop. The San Diego Music Award nominee just dropped a new single and video from the album, for the track “VIP.”
Planet B features Justin Pearson (the Locust, Head Wound City) with his frequent collaborator from those bands Gabe Serbian (Dead Cross, Zu) and Luke Henshaw (Sonido de la Frontera, First Power Crew). Their debut 7-inch was tracked at Penguin Studio in San Diego, and some of their early music was heard in the soundtrack to Asia Argento’s film Incompresa. Their debut self-titled album includes appearances from Martin Atkins (Ministry, PIL), Brian Evans (Retox), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Sonny Kay (Year Future, the VSS). Other collaborators include San Diego writer and performer Adam Gnade and Bronx-based rapper Kool Keith, who is signed to Pearson’s Three One G Records label. A music video is available online for the track “[A] Not At All [B] Somewhat [C] Very Much,” created by Displaced/Replaced and opening with a Cornel West quote before spinning through historical archive footage of civil unrest. Another video was produced for “The Beginning is Near,” also created by Displaced/Replaced (who has worked on videos for other Three One G bands such as Geronimo and Deaf Club) and capturing Planet B indulging in their love of lighting things on fire and blowing them up. They have a new single just out this week, a cover of the M.I.A. track “Bad Girls.”
Hawaiian-bred reggae band Iration, whose members live in Santa Barbara and northern San Diego, cites several of the usual sources as inspirations, including Black Uhuru, the Mighty Black Diamonds, Steel Pulse, and Pato Banton. However, they also dig deep into alterna-reggae and cub acts such as Mikey Dread, Ooklah the Moc, Natural Vibrations, Elijah Emmanuel, Easy Star All Stars, and Dub FX. They’ve maintained a steady schedule of releases, including a self-titled 17-track album that features guest appearances from Slightly Stoopid, J Boog and Tyrone’s Jacket, and an acoustic album called Double Up. Their summer 2017 single “Fly With Me” debuted at number 1 on the iTunes Reggae Songs chart, but they’ve mainly built up their following by playing the festival circuit alongside never-ending jam bands, often accompanied by fellow local reggae stars Pepper. Their upcoming album Coastin’, due this summer, will (hopefully) be supported with a national headlining tour running through July and August and featuring fellow locals Tribal Seeds (and, on a few dates, Hirie), kicking off July 9 in Atlanta and concluding August 30 in Santa Barbara.
Alvino and Dwells
Surf rockers Alvino & the Dwells have their roots in San Diego’s teen post-punk and mod scenes, with occasional Manual Scan members David Fleminger (aka David Flack) and Tony Suarez (aka Al Flack), both of whom previously played with the Answers. Co-founding drummer Didier Suarez came from bands like Sub Society, Furious IV, and Enigma Piercing. A self-titled album, released in 2015, was recorded live at Rarefied Recording. Their song “Chocolate Mint” was just picked up by a new coalition of Spanish record labels joining forces to launch a fundraising effort to raise money for medical supplies in Spain during the global Coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish compilations, entitled Music For Gloves, so far include two other San Diego bands on two digital EPs: Manual Scan covering a classic Beatles track, “For No One,” and True Stories (“Can’t Seem To Make You Mine”). The EPs can be downloaded via musicforgloves.bandcamp.com, and the band still plans to appear at the San Diego Music Awards Showcase Concert, which is to be rescheduled from its original March 20 date.