City Times releases monthly local music playlist for December – City Times


We’re back with our second monthly local music playlist and it’s jam-packed with tunes from across the musical biosphere.

From the haunting psychedelic twists and turns of Calcutta Kid to the horny cumbia of Mitchum Yacoub to the searing hardcore punk of Negative Blast, there is something for everyone. As the holiday season begins to reign supreme, ring it in with this holiday-inspired playlist.

As always, if you’re a local musician interested in being included on the playlist, send us your tips at [email protected] And please let us know if you are a San Diego City College alumnus!

Aloe Vera – “Retrospective”

Apple Music – Spotify – Youtube

Aloe Vera, the solo project of songwriter Orion Brody, winds between vaporwave electronic funk, sentimental guitar ballads and fragile dream pop. It’s an eclectic and seemingly ever-changing mix.

“Hindsight,” released in November, tells the story of a failed relationship, albeit musical. Artistic collaboration isn’t always easy, and like all relationships, many musical relationships end up ending. And that can really suck.

Emotionally, the track oscillates between downcast frustration, bittersweet nostalgia and blissful liberation. It weaves a bouncy bassline with effervescent synths and crisp acoustic guitars with Brody’s muffled vocals to create a pretty dynamic pop song.

– Jakob McWhinney

Calcutta Kid – “Peace (clouds scratch the sunroof)”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube

Calcutta Kid is the musical nickname for Jessmeet “Jesse” Gulati, “the architect of sound” behind psychedelic San Diego rock band The Donkeys. Gulati, an Indo-American and City College alumnus, grew up between the musical worlds of spiritual Bollywood and Sikh songs of the 80s, American experimental and underground music, and the influences that manifest in his work.

“The Natural Frequency”, Gulati’s first official release under the Calcutta Kid name, is a haunting collection of haunting psychedelic meanders. Colorful, transporting and calming, Gulati creates a rich sonic palette, using everything from sitar to tabla to modular synths.

The whole album is a treat, but I included “Peace (Clouds Scrape the Sunroof)” because of how good it felt. Comprised of three minutes of serene acoustic guitar and cinematic synths that sometimes blossom and sometimes fade, it’s dreamlike and meditative in a refreshingly organic way. I could almost feel the stress pouring out of me. So close your eyes, lean back and float away.

– Jakob McWhinney

Kate Delos Santos – “Dime a dozen”

Apple Music – Spotify – Youtube

Singer and producer Kate Delos Santos has been releasing catchy, ethereal R&B tracks since 2019. Her new single, “Dime a Dozen”, is a hazy and enchanting pop song. Drenched in reverb, delay flourishes and punchy bass, Santos’ voice cuts through the composition with haunting confidence.

But Santos is not afraid of experimentation. Towards the end, the track begins to play with structure, turning elements off and on again like a DJ playing with samples. Ultimately it slows down and goes out of tune, giving the whole thing a dizzying, telescoping feel. Keep an eye out for a new EP that Delos Santos is hinting at Instagram will be released in January.

– Jakob McWhinney

Lein – “Hollywood”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify

In recent years, the term “chamber pop” has largely taken the path of “independent rock”, which once referred to a group without the backing of a major record company and is now only a genre descriptor. But Annie Lein, who has been making lo-fi, casiotone, and theremin music similar to the debut of Elvis Depressedly since 2013, does real pop bedroom.

It’s intimate, raw, emotional, and has the kind of muffled intensity that I absolutely love about this style of production. What really sets Lein apart is the incredibly visual, yet painfully confessional, lyrical content. “Hollywood,” on which she divulges, “So I heard you were dead and I think it could be okay,” is a perfect encapsulation of this heady mix.

Despite the clearly melancholy tones (Lein actually quotes the sad genre on Bandcamp), it’s actually quite a stimulating listening. Like someone who comes out of darkness rather than being plunged into it.

– Jakob McWhinney

Mitchum yacoub “Cumbia Divina”, “Bansuri”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube

These two new pieces by Egyptian-American multi-instrumentalist Mitchum Yacoub meet on an imaginary beach like the two sides of a coin that suddenly saw each other and always knew they were linked to couture.

“Cumbia Divina” transforms into a classic horn-laden cumbia with just enough grain to trigger the inner sway. The voices of Divina Jasso, the roommate who became Yacoub’s collaborator, are posed and blend into the soundscape. It’s like meeting a new cumbia that you swear you’ve met before, and then you keep dancing, and it’s all nice and hot, and there’s probably a war going on somewhere but right now, it doesn’t matter. ‘importance, and who cares borders anyway.

“Bansuri” melts you and your other genres in the same way. Except now you have one foot in Afro-beat and the other in India – the tone of the classic Hindustani flute draws the memory whether it’s yours or not – the sound is nostalgic and unmistakable. This track sweetly evokes the sounds of the world and yet it doesn’t feel dusty or stuck in the past, but instead chooses to happily walk around with sounds that can rock you.

See Mitchum Yacoub play with Divina Jasso at Music box on December 17.

– Philippe Salata

Negative explosion – “FLASH”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube

Musically, I’m generally more of a softie, but within seconds of “SHARDS”, Negative Blasts’ EP “DEMO 02”, I was hooked. It’s sizzling hardcore punk, with meaty and upbeat guitars, metronomic drums and snarling vocals.

At just under two minutes, it’s an adrenaline rush in your chest that wakes you up in shock and makes your teeth shake. The kind of song that makes you realize why people love to play this music so loud.

Catch them live at Up to two January 22.

– Jakob McWhinney

PLOSIVS – “Hit The breaks”

Apple Music – Spotify – Youtube

Local heavyweights John Reis (Rocket from the Crypt) and Rob Crob (Pinback) have joined forces to create a new group called PLOSIVS. The group also includes former Crypt Rocket drummer Atom Willard (The Offspring, Angels and Airwaves) and Jordan Clark, bassist of local garage rock pillars Mrs. Magician.

“Hit The Breaks”, the first single from their full debut album due in early 2022, is an angular and frenetic punk song. He is not reinventing the wheel, but it is not necessary.

– Jakob McWhinney

Smile – “lighthouse”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube

Smiling, the brainchild of Denver-born musician Annie Shaw released her debut album “Devour” in August. It’s a powerful and sprawling mix of post-punk, indie, and psych that feels both retro and forward-looking. The band goes from the frenzied punk of the title track “Devour” to the starry nightly psyche of “Take Your Time”, but Shaw’s hazy, siren voice hovers like a layer of mystical fog above it all.

The album’s first single, “Lighthouse,” is a prime example of the band’s penchant for finding something new in the familiar. It’s a simpler track than others on “Devour”, but its slender guitars, catchy bass and booming drums are mesmerizing. It also highlights Sourire’s ability to conjure up roaring walls of sound that accelerate pulsations.

– Jakob McWhinney

Sure Fire Soul Ensemble – “Sep Down”

Apple Music – Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube

It’s yellow outside, and you’re wearing yellow glasses anyway, and you haven’t heard what a Prius is yet. When you’re driving fast, you’re going 55 miles an hour. You can feel the texture under your thick rubber tires. Funk. Horns. Soul. Salon. Vinyl. 35 mm buckles.

The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble’s “Step Down” track could be the soundtrack to a vintage movie, yet he’s sufficiently aware of his sense of the quote not to be ironic. This nine-piece instrumental group turned the heads of contemporary jazz freaks with their latest album “Build Bridges”, and now continues a similar vibe with this new single.

– Philippe Salata

UPDATE: This article has been updated to recognize that Calcutta Kid’s Jessmeet Gulati is a City College alumnus.