Singer-songwriter duo Monica Sorenson and Rick Walker began collaborating in 2012, going on to form Sometimes Julie, a hard-driving rock band with blues and Americana influences. A self-taught musician on guitar, bass, and keyboards, Walker’s musical career began in the mid-1990s playing in clubs on the north side of Chicago with bands such as Greeley. Sorenson grew up in Denver, where her love of karaoke soon blossomed into career as a vocalist. After their debut Sometimes Julie album Head First won the Akademia Music Award for Best Americana Album, they filled out the group with Berklee-grad Bruce Paul Allen (bass), and local multi-instrumentalist Anthony Sarain (keyboards, sax, flute). This is the lineup heard on an EP called Bright Side of the Line, produced by Jackstones frontman Andy Machin (owner of Escondido’s Bigrock Studios), while a followup EP featuring the same players, Breaking, was engineered by Rolling Stones engineer Alan Sanderson. Both Machin and Sanderson returned to work on a new 12-song Sometimes Julie album that dropped on New Year’s Eve, Where Are You? It marks the debut of the band’s new drummer, Dave Fuller.
Guitarist Scott Mathiasen first developed his chops playing with bands like Mojo Working and blues power trio Infants. The debut Scott Mathiasen & the Shifty Eyed Dogs release, Lost Along the Way, was recorded at Earthling Studios with Mike Kamoo and released on local Blindspot Records. One of its tracks, “Oh! Misery,” appears on the two-disc edition of the compilation series Powerpop Planet Volume 3, from Colorado based label Pop Geek Heaven. Blindspot was also behind the next Shifty Dogs release, a self-titled album produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Scottie Blinn (Black Market III) at Grease Punk Studio. Mathiasen released a solo album in 2018, Boxcar Road, playing guitars, bass, harmonica, and handling vocals. Recorded in L.A., the album was co-produced, mixed, mastered, and recorded by Rene Montes, who also guested on drums. The debut album from his new band S. Mathias & the Honeycombs is streaming now, with plans for a full physical and digital release at the end of January.
Saxophonist Gabriel Sundy has been a member of bands like Nexus, Afrotruko, and the Applebrown Jazz Ensemble. He’s also recorded or played with Bunky, Creedle, Swami John Reis & the Blind Shake, Castanets, Tristeza, and more. He describes his band Invisible Sky People as a “Progressive punk-jazz-noise rock power trio, comprised of baritone saxophone, bass, and drums. The centerpiece of the project is the baritone sax saturated with an array of guitar effects.” A new Invisible Sky People album mixed and mastered by Rafter Roberts just dropped, Human Like an Animal, featuring seven tracks including “Black Metal Beach Party,” “Shapeshiftin’ Shenanigans,” and a five minute experimental composition called “The Rabid Villains of Perverted Piety Feeding the Beast of Apocalyptic Aspirations For the Glorification of the Alt-Crusaders’ Death Cult Dogma.” According to Sundy (who also illustrated the cover), “The album was composed using software instruments along with the addition of a live saxophone. The bass on the album was eventually re-recorded by Mackenzie Leighton.”
Now that singer-songwriter Jefferson Jay’s long-running gig as an O.B. karaoke host is off the schedule, he’s back to releasing topical singles such as “Stupid People (Nuclear War).” “It was written after some top notch Twitter interaction with David Crosby and Padres SuperFan Friar Phil,” he says. “Ol’ Phil asked Dave to write ‘Stupid People,’ about nuclear energy’s profiteers. Figured he might be busy, so I pinch-hit.” In addition to the single, “I’m releasing a five-record set called Spring in 2021. The records will be released one at a time, initially available exclusively through me for donations. One hundred percent goes to our groundbreaking, inclusive, animated series, The Hunt for the Holiday Spirit.” The first of the five titles, Welcome, is available now for pre-order. Each episode of The Hunt for the Holiday Spirit is planned to be a musical cartoon comedy averaging five original songs apiece, starring physically challenged performers in roles that mirror their real-life disabilities. Jay is known for events such as his Operation 365 project, where he writes and records a new song every day for a year, as commemorated on a best-of album available on Spotify and iTunes. He’s also hoping, post-Covid, to stage another San Diego Music Hall of Fame award ceremony.
Famous former neighbor Eddie Vedder is streaming his acoustic cover of the 1973 Bruce Springsteen track “Growin’ Up,” which originally appeared on Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album. The Vedder version is taken from the expanded five-song Christmas Day EP release called Matter Of Time, which features the original two tracks, along with acoustic tracks and covers from this past year. Included are a pair of Vedder songs - “Say Hi” and the title track - as well as recently home-recorded tunes and a performance tune. Three of the songs are originally by Pearl Jam: “Future Days” (an unplugged performance from the 2020 Game Awards), “Just Breathe,” and “Porch.” Vedder also recently released an animated video for “Matter Of Time” following a live performance of the song during the Venture Into Cures virtual event that raised awareness and funds for people living with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). The life-threatening genetic disorder affects approximately 500,000 people worldwide, including children who experience severe pain, open external and internal wounds, and required daily bandaging due to the fragile skin condition.