San Diego Music Awards nominee for Album of the Year, Hemisphere draws on rock, pop, jazz, fusion, and metal for inspiration. Their new album American Dreams includes guest players such as Grammy winning percussionist Tommy Aros (Fattburger), singer Rebecca Jade (2020 SDMA Artist of the Year), singer-trumpeter Leonard Patton, trumpeter Derek Cannon, and guitar soloist Patrick Yandall. “If you listen to the end of the opening track ‘America,’ you get the sense of unity, diversity, and equality that we are hoping to convey on the album,” says band founder Rob Shinno. “From there, you get right into the track ‘Dance Club,’ which speaks to diversity and inclusion for marginalized groups. We all have someplace we go to feel comfortable and relaxed, regardless of our views or differences.” The first single “Transmission” concerns the influence of social media. “If you really break it down, there is a different dynamic to stating an opinion online and having a real conversation with someone. Whether it’s about a specific topic, or in some relationship, it’s so much healthier to have the conversation than a one-way communication. We can all get along if we are willing to communicate.” A collectors CD edition is available with a 16 page pamphlet of liner notes, images, and lyrics.
Before co-founding the Sham Saints, Darius Degher fronted the psychedelic 1980s San Diego band Darius and the Magnets, which released an EP and then a single on Big Time Records of Australia. He went on to play and record with Warren Zevon (Sentimental Hygiene, Bad Karma, etc), before embarking on a solo career and releasing several CDs, beginning with Cardboard Confessional. “The Reader very aptly called me a postmodern eclectic,” he says. “Well, I’m working on an album right now that goes farther afield than ever before, even for me. It’s an instrumental lounge-surf-chill project. A cross between the Sandals, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Martin Denny, the Aqua Velvets, and the guitar work of Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree on CTI-era Stanley Turrentine, maybe also Wes Montgomery. The melodies are inspired by Jobim, Burt Bacharach, and early instrumental Santana. It should be released probably early in 2021. At the moment, I’m just trying to decide whether I want to release it using my own name, or whether I should devise yet another ‘nom du song’ in order to make it even more ridiculously impossible for people to track down my music. Just wanted you to know that the bounds of my eclecticism are being expanded yet further.”
Dead Rock West
Singer-guitarist Frank Lee Drennen and singer Cindy Wasserman, aka Dead Rock West, have a new single and video for “Revolution in the Garden,” produced by band bassist David J Carpenter. Guests include Matt Lynott of the White Buffalo on lead drums, indie artist Patrick Dennis (lead percussion), and the Section Quartet (strings). The politically charged song (“The voice in our head/The voice on the tube/The voice tellin’ us/We’re all gonna lose”) was written 30 years ago by Drennen and Patrick Dennis when they played in a Leucadia duo called the Homer Gunns. “A simple direct to DAT recording was produced by Dave Sharp from the Alarm but never released,” says Drennen. “It was written in response to the Bob Dylan song ‘When the Ship Comes In,’ except ours was a rolling 6/8 folk punk reaction to what the future looked like through our 20-something eyes...we wanted something that sounded epic. Big as life. A sound that reflects the urgency of the lyrics. We wanted a big rock ‘n roll sound. We wanted to destroy the idea that Dead Rock West is merely a neat little Americana group from the West Coast.”
Based in PB and OB, reggae rockers Sandollar evolved from daily jam sessions in a high school wood shop class, transitioning into a five-member band in 2006. Their debut Plane Rides and Hillsides (which reached number 7 on the iTunes Reggae Charts) was followed by a self-titled album sporting a cover photo showing the band leaning on their car known as the Beast, a beat-up 1986 Suburban that carried them on countless road trips. They were singled out as San Diego’s best unsigned band in 2013 by the web series Indie Across America, which hosted them for a performance. Their song “Up Up” from the 2013 album Rollercoaster Ride recently took on a second life of sorts, being heard approximately 11 minutes into the first episode of the new Netflix series Outer Banks and thus becoming somewhat of an online sensation. They recently played an hour-long Backyard Session for Bryan Prusiensky’s YouTube channel Tape Heads TV, and their own videos can also be streamed, including one for their track “Pouring Down.” A new single was just released by local Pacific Records, “So Dangerous.”
The music made by Adam Gnade is deconstructed from old talking blues (Woody Guthrie, etc.) rather than spoken word or rap, with lyrics molded as prose, not poetry, which he describes as the “conversational flow of America.” Think folky Americana gone through the wrong side of a looking glass, a Smothers Brother on a bum acid trip. “Music writers sometimes call it spoken word,” he says, “but I hate spoken word. I’m just into nontraditional vocals.” A former editor for Fahrenheit magazine, Gnade published his debut book, Hymn California, in 2010. His 2016 novel Locust House features a (fictional) set of characters en route to a (very real) San Diego house show to see their favorite bands (the Locust, Blood Brothers, etc.) play the housemates’ eviction party. Gnade’s new pocket-size novel Float Me Away, Floodwaters is a documentation of the modern American West, of life on the margins of society, in the places forgotten by the city: the honkytonks and interstate campgrounds, the ghosts of cattle-towns, and the desolate strip malls. According to Gnade, “It’s about ripping all the bullshit from your life and looking for things that make living worthwhile in the midst of poverty, political divisiveness, and a dying empire.”