“We released a new video for an original song called ‘Alone Together’ about life in quarantine,” says Amy Day of indie-folk band the Spiritual Motels. “We did this by getting video clips from our friends, fans, and families about what they’re doing to cope while at home in these strange times. We wrote and recorded the track on our phones in different houses, in our bathrooms while our kids yelled in the background, on an app called BandLab. We hope it can lift some of the heavy weight that the world is currently feeling.” The video was released on Facebook and soon included on the band’s YouTube channel as well. The 2020 San Diego Music Awards nominees for Best Pop were founded in 2018 by Day (a law school writing professor) with Omar Musisko (a school psychologist), a pair who also worked together in the Peripherals. Their debut Spiritual Motels album, Super Tiny Disappearing Oceans, was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studios in El Cajon.
“The first side of our double-EP Dreaming is coming out May 16, but we’re putting out a single on April 28 called ‘Modern Monets,’” says Aimee Jacobs of Belladon. Founded in 2017 and nominated Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards, the band will release the EP in two parts, with the second edition, Dreading, due later this year. “We divided our songs into two four-song categories to make the EP. One side will have all our dream pop songs, and the other has our gothy nasty ‘80s songs.” The single for “Modern Monets” was tracked and mixed by Ben Moore at local Singing Serpent studio. “You’d be hard pressed to find a better engineer or studio in town, especially if you’re going for a heavy sound. I just got first mixes back today and my excitement is finally starting to trump my stress level. I’ll most likely implode before the release from a series of overwhelming emotions I can’t control.” The single sports a sleeve photo of a vintage Juno keyboard dropped onto a broken mirror.
Photograph by Pablito Diego, Brazil
Local singer Whitney Shay’s new Stand Up album earned a three and a half star review in the May issue of Downbeat magazine and topped Billboard's Blues chart. It’s only the latest in a growing collection of accolades that have declared her “a future blues icon” (Blues Matters!), “one of the next best things in soul music” (Blues and Rhythm Magazine), and “the epitome of a rising star” (Elmore Magazine). Her previous album A Woman Rules the World scored Album of the Year awards in Blues Music Magazine and France’s Soul Bag Mag, and high ratings in Norway’s Bluesnews Magazine. She was a 2019 Blues Music Award nominee, and she took home Best Blues Album and Artist of the Year trophies at the 2019 San Diego Music Awards, after which she booked a tour of Brazil running through April. That July, she played her first festival in Europe, on July 6 at a blues festival, performing before 5,000 people backed by the Michael Zito Big Blues Band featuring BB King’s horn section. Shay’s groups have included Shay & the Hustle, the Whitney Shay Quartet, Whitney Shay & Robin Henkel, and the JazzKatz Orchestra, as well as fronting the blues/R&B group Whitney Shay & the Shakedowns.
Watkins Family Hour
The new Watkins Family Hour album Brother Sister, produced by Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Mandy Moore, J.S. Ondara), features seven original songs co-written by Nickel Creek’s Grammy Award-winning siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, along with three covers: Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton’s “Neighborhood Name,” Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like A Martyr,” and Charley Jordan’s “Keep It Clean,” which features guest vocalists David Garza, Gaby Moreno, and John C. Reilly. The siblings first began hosting weekly Watkins Family Hour events in L.A. during a Nickel Creek hiatus, attracting an all-star lineup of players. A self-titled Watkins Family Hour album was released in 2015, promoted with a performance on Conan O’Brien’s TV show and an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Consisting of only covers, the debut album mirrored the experience of their stage residency and featured guests Fiona Apple, Don Heffington, Greg Leisz, Sebastian Steinberg, and Benmont Tench. Brother Sister, their first release in five years, pairs the handful of covers with original tracks that focus on the musical and lyrical chemistry between Sara and Sean, who released the album via Family Hour Records/Thirty Tigers.
Pierce the Veil
Vic Fuentes, frontman for Pierce the Veil, has been appointed CEO and co-chairman of the Living the Dream Foundation, a non-profit helping children and young adults affected by life-threatening illnesses. The Foundation has previously worked with Papa Roach, Corey Taylor, and local Blink 182 star Travis Barker to provide dream experiences for ill fans. Pierce the Veil, which plays aggressive metallic punk somewhere between Kiss and Green Day, was founded in the early 2000s by Fuentes and his drummer brother Mike, both former Mission Bay High School students who previously played with Early Times and Before Today. They made their initial mark as a live act on festival tours such as Warped and Taste of Chaos. Their recorded breakthrough came with 2010’s Selfish Machines, described by the band as “basically a mix of heavy music with a little Spanish feel,” which debuted at number one on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart. They’ve continued to see their releases land in the top ten, with their most recent album Misadventures reaching number four on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, as well as hitting the number one slot on Billboard’s charts for Independent Albums, Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Rock Albums, and Top Alternative Albums. It also topped England’s Rock & Metal Albums chart.