Pronounced “man-you-okay,” Manuok is essentially the one-man-band project of Scottish-born Scott Mercado of Via Satellite and Lost Pets. Mercado toured as a member of the Black Heart Procession, but did not formally join that group, and he’s also performed with the Album Leaf and Tristeza. When Via Satellite’s singer and drummer joined the Album Leaf, Mercado started Manuok to keep busy (along with forming Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects). While touring as Manuok, he’s usually accompanied by backup players. A new single just dropped, “If I Could Dance.” “I’m always working on new music,” he says. “That’s both good and bad, as I have a lot of unreleased material that’s weighing on me. I often joke that every song is a new mouth to feed. ‘If I Could Dance’ was written and recorded during this lockdown, and I just felt like releasing it as is, right now, alone. The song is about the struggle to keep it together, to make things work when everything internally and externally seems to be fighting against you. It just seems like there might be some people out there who can relate to that feeling right now.”
Named after an Indian boy that his father treated at a domestic psych ward during the Vietnam War, Simeon Flick writes folky, jazzy, alternative, R&B, alt-country, and pop-rock music. He has a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Redlands, and he also took a master guitar class from Segovia protege Christopher Parkening. Flick has two different album releases this year, one just out this week and the other due next month. The first, Scarlatti’s Greatest Hits For Classical Guitar, tackles the work of Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), an Italian Baroque composer known mainly for his keyboard sonatas, which helped revolutionize the harpsichord. Recorded at Flick’s own Blue Chair Studio, the album features twelve self-produced, transcribed, performed, recorded, and mastered arrangements of Scarlatti keyboard sonatas for classical guitar. The second release, Gung Ho Hum, is an alternative R&B pop rock project due November 17. Tracked at Blue Chair, the album was written, produced, performed, and recorded by Flick, who describes it as “A groove-based dance party album of alternative R&B protest songs and raps with topical, poignant, poetic, erudite lyrics delivered in a soulful vintage tenor.”
Based in Imperial Beach, Abner features guitarist Adam Baez, who was still a teen when recruited for the band Fuzz-Huzzi. When that group splintered in late 2012, Baez at first joined with several other ex-members to form Freak the Mighty. In 2014, he was studying Recording Arts at Mira Costa College in Oceanside when he became friends with bass player Ian Blaemire and drummer Kyle Hansen. Baez used his resources at Mira Costa to record demos of the songs he had written, now accompanied by a bassist and drummer, launching Abner the band in spring 2015. After performing their first show in February 2016 at Lestat’s, Abner entered Kings Ransom Studios in Lakeside to record their debut three song EP, which dropped later that year. “Abner has been in the studio and will be releasing a music video soon; we’re one of the many bands getting material together during the pandemic,” says Baez. The video for “Amore I” is a bass-heavy, disco-colored 8-track flashback that approaches a goth sound, with low Sisters Of Mercy-style vocals. The band is seen miming the track in colorful but moodily lit shots that bring to mind vintage Cure and Joy Division videos.
Jim Ryan Project
Though originally only extant for a few years in the late ‘70s, the Cardiac Kidz were an influential punk band whose vinyl records now fetch big money among garage and punk rock collectors. One of their earliest TV appearances was on the San Diego morning show Sun Up San Diego with host Jerry Bishop, aka the original Svengoolie. Singer/guitarist Jim Ryan says they were playing every week at long-gone venues such as the Spirit, the Skeleton Club, the North Park Lions Club, the Roxy Theater in P.B., and SDSU’s Backdoor. The Kidz have reunited several times, with various rosters, while the Jim Ryan Project was formed in 2012. His upcoming 14-track JRP album Sampler is due from local Blindspot Records at the end of October, featuring a cover photo of Ryan standing and performing on guitar for a seated dog who seems inordinately interested in whatever he’s playing. “The CD will include never-released remakes of a few Cardiac Kidz tracks,” says Ryan, “along with instrumentals, indie pop, and also some acoustic tracks, a sampling from past and current works.” The recordings are from the JRP vault, some over 30 years old and others recorded this year. Guests include David George (who played in Eddie Vedder’s San Diego band Bad Radio), as well as occasional Cardiac Kidz Bill Lubbers and Tom Roach.
Nicey Nice World
Specializing in experimental improv rock, the current incarnation of Nicey Nice World features founders Marcelo Radulovich (Playground Slap, Me Me the Moth) and James Call (the Penetrators, Sensational Big M.R.), backed by frequent collaborators including bassist Barney Firks (Taz Taylor Band, OjoMalo) and drummer Dylan Lee Brown (Vaginals, Chinese Rocks), who also happens to be the son of Alan Brown of the Bed Breakers and the Eleven Sons. Among the band’s unusual instruments are a hurdy gurdy, as made famous by sixties folk icon Donovan in “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and an electronic Theremin, popular in science fiction film soundtracks. The new Nicey Nice world album Obelisks and Asterisks features, according to Radulovich, “Eight new songs born from improvisations recorded in 2015. Prog-rock, poetry, psychedelic funk, noise, history lessons, chaotic sonic expression, old and young, sad and happy, funky, sloppy and spastic, I’m really happy with how this mess turned out.” Band co-founder James Call also hosts the online Anchor FM show Punk Lives, where he chats with musicians, fans, and artists for whom punk was, and continues to be, a defining feature in their lives.