Singer-guitarist Esteban Rene attended boarding school in Ensenada, while bassist Beto Bautista grew up in Tijuana. Rene met Bautista while working for Hornblower Cruises and the duo formed the Slashes. They have a new album coming out digitally February 20 (followed later this year by a limited vinyl run) called Embalmers Blush. According to Rene, “Inspiration for the vibe of the record, with loops and vignettes, comes from listening to full albums and long playlists during the pandemic. We wanted for there to be a thread a theme that ran through every song.” Tracks include the first two singles, “Heavy Bowie” and “City By,” and the haunting ode “Rain Ballet.” According to Rene, "'Heavy Bowie' and 'City By' seemed as the obvious choices to be the singles. A new direction and a new energy that spoke of what’s to come. Musically, these songs were more aggressive and shorter yet with a pop willingness." Two Spanish tunes were recorded: “Extra Extra” touches on the theme of the 43 students that tragically and mysteriously disappeared, while “Es Asi” pays homage to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. "Pablo Neruda has always been a writer I admired," says Rene, "so it made sense to hear his love lorn voice at the beginning of a sad tale of a loveless subject, the protagonist, which lyrics happen to be in Spanish, first of two songs in Spanish on the album." Like their self-titled debut, the album was tracked at Singing Serpent Studios with Ben Moore. “It felt like we were hermetically sealed in the recording room, with our only method of communication with Ben through the mics that were placed in the room and headphones.” The record features new drummer Carlos Robles, and guest Derek Cannon plays trumpet on “Extra Extra.”
Art of Elan
A 10-minute video collaboration between local chamber music organization Art of Elan and New York-based orchestra The Knights combines music, dance, and architecture. “Bits and Pieces” was inspired by American composer Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa, originally written for pipa virtuoso Wu Man in 1997. The two-day shoot was filmed safely at Joshua Tree’s architecturally significant Harrison House and in a wooded backyard in Hillcrest. The video features a choreographed performance with a string quintet, dancer Maile Okamura, and Wu Man in his first in-person collaboration with other musicians since the pandemic. “The pinnacle was performing on the idyllic grounds of my late friend Lou Harrison’s home in Joshua Tree,” says Wu Man. “Lou was ahead of his time, and understood the unique beauty in combining multicultural influences to create a global sound. His music, in particular, is very special to me and holds many fond memories.” Originally planned as a virtual collaboration, Maile Okamura and her husband, Knights artistic director Colin Jacobsen, decided to work in-person in their current hometown of San Diego, along with Knights cellist Alex Greenbaum. Art of Elan artistic director Kate Hatmaker (Greenbaum’s wife) joined the collaboration alongside Elan musicians Travis Maril (viola) and Jeremy Kurtz-Harris (bass). Wu Man will also be seen in the upcoming livestream event Wu Man: Celebrate the Year of the Ox, taking place February 12.
Inspired by Krautrock and Japanese psychedelic bands, Earthless took home the trophy for “Best Hard Rock Album” in 2007 for their LP Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky. The band will livestream five concert film experiences, Live in the Mojave Desert: Volumes 1-5, featuring performance footage filmed and recorded throughout day and night at the natural amphitheater of California’s Mojave Desert, backed by a visual performance from San Francisco's original trip inducers, the Mad Alchemy Light Show, which traces its lineage back to the iconic rainbow hued liquid light projections birthed during the 1960s counterculture movement. Founding Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba says, “Having the opportunity to set up out in the desert and play how we do was one of the best experiences ever, actually. Adding to it the Mad Alchemy liquid lights and the surroundings made for a very satisfying day and night of jamming. Thankful for the label preserving the night by filming and recording this. I hope people can enjoy the release as much as we did doing it.” The trailer features four minutes of the band performing their epic song “Sonic Prayer.”
February 19 will see the release of Anya Marina’s album Live and Alone in New York, produced by Eric Hutchinson, who accompanied her on a tour of west coast wineries in summer 2019. Recorded solo, live, and uninterrupted over two nights at Rockwood Music Hall in December 2019, the 17-track collection of songs (and accompanying backstories) spans Marina’s entire catalog. Tracks include “Clean & Sober,” “Move You,” “Notice Me,” “Go To Bed and Shut Up,” and tunes from her latest LP Queen of the Night. The performance would be Marina’s last in the city she called home for eight years, as the pandemic resulted in her relocating two hours north, to the mid-Hudson Valley, with singer/songwriter Matt Pond (of Matt Pond PA) and their dog. Marina also just dropped a video for “Pretty Vacant,” the sixth single from Queen of the Night, shot during her last days in Chelsea, NYC. Marina is seen onscreen reminiscing about her years in the city, flashing Polaroids of friends while packing up boxes, and taking in the last views outside her kitchen window of the famous mural of Warhol, Kahlo, Haring, and Basquiat, painted in the style of Mount Rushmore.
San Diego native Joshua Bassett is best known as Ricky Bowen on the Disney+ TV show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, now filming its second season in Utah. Signed to major label Warner Records, Bassett was only 16 in 2020 when he released his first original songs, “Common Sense” and “Anyone Else,” which within a year had together earned over 20 million streams. His single “Lie Lie Lie” debuted at number 33 on the Billboard Emerging Artists chart, scoring nearly four million U.S. streams and selling 1000 downloads during its first week of release. In advance of his self-titled debut EP (due February 26 via Warner Records), he has a new song and video for “Only a Matter of Time.” “I wrote this song in the summer of 2020, in a moment in time where social media was bringing a lot of darkness to my life,” he says. “It was healing to put my phone down, turn off the noise, and just write. There’s good that comes from social media, but it’s also become a place where people can say anything about anyone, no matter how false or damaging, with no accountability. We’ve gotta be much kinder to each other, and recognize there are real people behind the screens.”