In the early ‘70s, Horsefeathers was known a progressive rock band that blended Queen-style pomposity and a sly sense of humor that one would now call Spinal Tap-ish. Fronted by colorful lead singer Mick Garris (about whom there are tales that approach local urban legends), the members were fans of meticulous musician-worshipped (but otherwise obscure) prog acts such as Gentle Giant. By Autumn 1975, they were producing their own concerts, including a Sunday residency at Fat Fingers. A new Horsefeathers compilation, Symphony For a Million Mice, features that title track, as well as complicated classics like “Porcelain Egg Suite,” “Holes In Shangri-La,” and a nearly 20-minute live recording of “Satan’s Creation,” originally created to back a dance-performance art piece by band friend Don McLeod. “It took about a month of very concentrated work and rehearsal,” says drummer Andy Robinson. “We performed our version of ‘Satan‘s Creation’ with Don exactly once, at a concert we produced in 1974. Horsefeathers later did an edited-down version, so we could play it without Don at our regular gigs, but the complete version was only played that one night. Our soundman that evening just happened to record it. We didn’t even know the tape existed until a couple of years ago.”
Known as the godfathers of sludge, -(16)- was founded in the early ‘90s in Santa Ana, where for years they honed their swamp-stomping drone, taking on the more bottom-heavy and guttural aspects of inspirations such as the Vandals, 7 Seconds, Black Flag, Samhain, and Bad Brains. Working with icons like cover artist Pushead helped them land tour slots opening for top shelf metal acts like Slayer, Unsane, and Jawbreaker. The group is fronted by guitarist Bobby Ferry (Maxmillion, Halo Epidemic), who relocated to San Diego in the early 2000s and has seen almost countless band members come and go, especially drummers (R.D. Davies only lasted six months before ODing on heroin). They’ve recorded locally at El Cajon’s Doubletime Studios, where Jeff Forrest (Cattle Decapitation, the Locust) helmed their seventh studio album, Lifespan of a Moth. The band will soon follow-up with a new full-length, Dream Squasher, due June 5 and so far preceded by a single for “Me and the Dog Die Together.” Bobby Ferry is apparently so tired of fair-weather frontmen that, for the first time, he’s taking on all the lead vocals himself.
Founded in 2015 by Pushin' Rope singer-guitarist Josh Renner and singer Carissa Schroeder, Rosa’s Cantina plays bluegrass, blues, classic country, and gypsy swing. The band — which has also included upright bassist Nick Shores (Latex Grenade), banjo player Brent Gutzweiller, pedal steel/Telecaster stringsmith Ben Zinn, and violinist Adam Ainsworth — has enjoyed a growing profile that includes a six-state southwestern U.S. tour in 2018, their first appearance at the Belly Up last September, and frequent invitations to high-profile outdoor festivals such as Summergrass and the Mammoth Bluegrass Festival. With the future of such crowded public events now in question, the band is currently hosting a series of Taco Tuesday livestream shows each week, with donations forwarded to local businesses and charities. They just released two new songs, “Kitchen Creek Road” and “Nashville.” A video for the former track features the four main players performing their parts in four separate outdoor settings and seen all at once in splitscreen, a nod to the social distancing in place during the era of its creation.
A native of Malta, a set of islands located in the Mediterranean Sea near Italy, Josie Day sings pop, jazz, R&B, and hip-hop. She began to perform in school musicals by age eight, later becoming inspired to sing by the vocalists she saw on TV. “I was sixteen when that revelation came to me, and I never looked back,” she says. “Being that Malta’s music scene is pretty much nonexistent, there wasn’t anywhere much to go with it. I had to do something. I realized at the age of seventeen that nobody was gonna write me songs, so out of necessity I started writing.” Influenced by artists such as Adele, Carole King, Beyoncé, and Mariah Carey, she relocated to San Diego and began working with locals like Eric Miller and others. A new single and video just debuted online for her track “Live for Love,” which she describes as “A song that I hope inspires people to be kinder to each other and to treat every fellow human being as just that, an equal. No more hate, let’s live for love.”
The Boston-turned-Lemon Grove songwriter known as Black Hesher released a new full-length last year, Rituals, which he said was about “a downward spiral fighting my demons and addiction,” featuring a former member of local ‘tween pop trio Pink Army. “Lia Marie Johnson was also a big part of this album, and I know she got super famous, but had a similar spiral to mine, which is how we kinda ended up helping each other back up the ladder.” Black Hesher has a new full-length dropping at the end of May, Saints and Sirens, featuring songs created with LA singer Natalie Dime, as well as J. Andrew and Michael Fairchild. A vinyl edition comes with a free download card, sporting a cover painting by local skeleton-themed artist Kate Krysinski.