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Pictured: The Very

The Very: "Like Three's Company," emails Diana Death, referencing the old TV sitcom. "Two girls and one guy." Phil Inzunza handles guitars, vox, and drum machine sequencing, Lex does keys and vocals, and bassist Death also sings. The cheap comparison is that this punk trio is like the B 52s, but minus the gimmick songs and synthetic hair. Death has her tentacles deep into the local punk scene; Lex is a reformed drummer, and Inzunza is a blowtorch guitarist. This is not a metal band, but it almost sounds like one when he solos.

Tori Roze and the Hot Mess Not what I expected, not by a long shot. Rose has a gorgeous, soul-mama set of pipes. She throws her vocals at a listener, if that is even possible. If I said that she is sultry and emotional and a true heart breaker, I would be understating the case. The Hot Mess are five stanky (her word) jazz-R&B informed players that include her mom. Tori and the band were nominated for Best Blues Album in the 2011 San Diego Music Awards and I can see why they didn't win it. The Hot Mess is not a blues band. Not by a long shot.

Josh White: A jazz pianist, White comes from a part of San Diego not known for producing jazz talent: El Cajon. He learned gospel piano in nearby Encanto. In 2011, he entered the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in Washington D.C., and New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff was there. "It was a sound," he wrote of White's distinctive right hand, "worth returning to." Indeed. This year White formed the Josh White Quintet with Michael Dessen on bone, alto saxist Gavin Templeton, Dave Robaire on bass, and drummer Dan Schnelle.

Hocus: Another trio, but this time with two men and one woman. Fat Lando fronts on guitar, the bassist is Lolita, and the drummer is named after a horned beast: Rhino. Martinez, 41, aka Fat Lando, says the Hocus formula is Ramones with Noel Gallagher. I hear metallic punk you can sing along to. Their music is otherwise of uneven quality and sometimes demo-rough like good punk should be. The band's a couple of years old, having launched at the former O'Connell's late in 2009. Hocus was nominated for Best Rock Band at The San Diego Music Awards 2012. Listen to "Bipolar Girl" and hear why.

Suicide Chords: This band may actually be better than they think they are. Humble to a fault, SC are a tight and sleazy metal band with a smoke-em-if-you-got-em attitude and a totally different spin on the metal genre. They'd like for you to call it Romance Metal -- they do. The Chords are based in Ocean Beach; they've been together since 2009 with Clay Hackett on skins, guitarist Jai Luna, Jay Edwards as singer/front man, and Dylan Wills on bass guitar. The band is in pre-production for a new EP that will follow the pair they released last year: The Wilshire EP and Prelude to 11.

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