Scott Mercado (aka Manuok) is a vet of local bands such as Via Satellite, which he cofounded, as well as touring or recording with the Black Heart Procession, Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects, the Album Leaf, Tristeza, Ilya, and Lost Pets. Mercado has also produced acts from outside the local talent pool, including French folk-rock group Grimoon, who he met during the Black Heart Procession’s 2005 European tour. Mercado’s newest project Dream Demon pairs him with musicians from all over the left coast: Ben Heywood from L.A.’s Summer Darling, Mike Sparks and John O’Connell from Seattle’s He Whose Ox Is Gored, and Robert Cheek from By Sunlight (another Seattle group which has also featured Sparks and O’Connell). Their debut single “Hell” came out last year. “We’re releasing four EPs that’ll make up a double vinyl,” says Mercado. “Overall, the album will be mixed with ambient to hard rock music, ranging from The For Carnation to Can, to Tortoise, to Sunny Day Real Estate, to Hum. But really, it’s a mix of By Sunlight, Summer Darling, and Manuok.” The Dream Demon 2 EP drops February 26 and, according to Mercado, “It starts with one of the best songs I’ve done, 'Salton Sea.'”
Alt-pop trio almost monday features teen surfing pals Dawson Daugherty (vocals, bass) and Luke Fabry (guitar), later joined by Cole Clisby (guitar). Citing influences such as Oasis, Green Day, the 1975, Coldplay, blink-182, and Sum 42, early recordings were done with producer-engineer Mark Needham (the Killers, Imagine Dragons) and producer Simon Oscroft, of the band Frills. One song produced by Oscroft, “Broken People,” hit the Top 10 on Sirius XM’s Alt 18 Countdown, was featured on Amazon Music’s Best of 2020: Alternative playlist, and the tune was covered on a summer 2020 single from Sofi Tukker. Almost monday’s debut EP Don’t Say You’re Ordinary has generated more than 23 million total streams. The band recently dropped the video for their single “live forever,” which they describe as a “Beastie Boys-inspired visual [that] showcases the track’s message of not taking moments for granted and living boldly.” They were also recently profiled in GQ Australia’s 21 Breakout Musicians to Know in 2021, Amazon Music’s 2021 Artists To Watch playlist, and Apple Music’s Shazam Predictions 2021 playlist, which features 50 emerging artists “who are poised to have a breakthrough year.”
Horror punk rock band Warish is fronted by singer-guitarist Riley Hawk, formerly of Petyr and perpetually the son of skateboard star Tony Hawk. Since their debut self-titled EP dropped in early 2019 on RidingEasy Records, they’ve gone on to release several singles and videos, as well as touring with San Francisco stoner rockers Acid King, who helped introduce them to the outdoor party circuit with events like Portland’s Hesh Fest and Austin’s Levitation Fest. In advance of their upcoming 13-song album Next To Pay (due April 30 via RidingEasy), a new Warish video is streaming online for its first single, “Say To Please.” According to Hawk, “Next To Pay is about a sense of imminent doom, everyone is going to die. It’s not the happiest record, I guess. This album is more of an evolution, it’s a little more punk-heavy.” Original drummer Nick (Broose) McDonnell plays on about half of the album, while new drummer Justin de la Vega appears on the more recent tracks. The record also features new bassist Alex Bassaj, who joined after the debut album, and includes a cover of Gray Matter’s punk anthem “Burn No Bridges.”
“My sound is like a modern day June Carter,” says folky bluegrass singer-songwriter Sara Petite, who was born and raised in the countryside of Sumner, Washington, before relocating to San Diego. She won Best Americana or Country Artist at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards and Best Americana at the 2012 SDMAs, a trophy she won again in 2013. Her album Doghouse Rose debuted at number 33 on the Top 40 Americana Album Chart. A new country rock full-length, Rare Bird, will be released February 26 on JTM Music, preceded so far by a music video for its first single “The Misfits.” The album was recorded with collaborators like fiddle legend Bobby Furgo (Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra) and guitarist Mike Butler (Billy Bob Thorton’s Boxmasters). Rare Bird also marks the final work from Grammy-winning producer David Bianco (Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan), who began recording with Petite before passing away during the early stages. Petite teamed up with local co-producer and engineer Ben Moore to finish the record, taking a principal role in the songs’ creation and their arrangements. A Belly Up virtual release party is planned for February 26, and the album has been added to the Sirius XM Outlaw Radio playlist.
Born in San Jose and raised in New York, Chuck Schiele arrived in San Diego at the end of the 1970s to take art classes at SDSU. He came to local attention as guitarist/singer/songwriter for the Grams, who won a 2006 San Diego Music Award as Best Americana Group and a 2007 trophy for Best Americana or Country. The guitarist for Gandhi Method and Bad Science Fiction has also been an integral part of bands such as Modern Peasants and Chuck Schiele & the Mysterious Ways. He runs Studio B, a full-service recording facility, and has produced projects including Podunk Nowhere and Johnny Different. Schiele has a new solo EP, Love Letters, with a music video streaming online for its first single “Justice.” According to Schiele, “I’m tired of the perpetuation of things and ideas that are anti-love. It really bothers me that our supposedly superior species keeps encouraging ideas of hate and violence. This four-song EP is basically four letters that acknowledge the situation of today, offer ideas, a lot of hope, and a practical first step plan. Tough love.”