San Diego drops diverse musical fruit every month, and Dustin Lothspeich will be picking out some of the best new releases every month that have local DNA somewhere in their genetic code -- Ed.
Dum Dum Girls: Too True (released Jan. 28) The Dum Dum Girls’ third studio album, Too True, finds the band forsaking the lo-fi, '60s garage-pop that Dee Dee Penny & Co. have made a career out of penning. For their newest long-player, the band delves deep into an '80s-inspired sound that's not unlike what you’d find on records by the Smiths, Suede or the Jesus and Mary Chain. There’s a digital sheen across the record we’re not exactly used to hearing from the women: The clocklike drums brightly tick away, usually colored with a reverb that would make Phil Collins proud, while arpeggiated guitar lines wind around choruses like they were played by Johnny Marr himself. But those things are secondary to the way Penny coos her smoky vocals through moody, New Wave throwbacks like "In the Wake of You," "Rimbaud Eyes" and the excellent track that inspired the album’s title, "Too True to be Good." It seems the group’s cover of the Smiths’ classic "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," from 2011’s He Gets Me High EP, was more than a revamped tribute: It was a foreshadow of things to come. Buy It
Trouble in the Wind: Slide Rock (released Jan. 14) This North County quartet sounds like they’ve matured a bit since 2011’s No Work Dancing. Trouble in the Wind still genre-hops with the best of 'em, offering melancholic, countrified ballads; foot-tapping pop jewels; and lazy beach jams, but on their latest, it seems like they’ve harnessed the tongue-in-cheekiness of their debut and resolved to get deep. The band is chockful of impressive musicianship, with Kyle Merrit alone handling accordion, banjo, lap-steel and acoustic/electric guitar throughout. Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Robby Gira steers the songs with his endearingly wounded, breaking voice, which sounds like he spends equal time smoking and reeling from heartbreak. For the music this band makes, his quasi-David Byrne/Joaquin Phoenix-inflected tone couldn’t be more perfect. The best tracks on Slide Rock pay tribute at the altar of Neil Young’s Harvest: "Nights Like These" blooms with Gira’s foray into a wobbly, tender falsetto, and there’s no escaping the gentle sway of "Fall," with its simple refrain of "I wanna fall… with you." It doesn’t look like much on paper, but in headphones, it’s a crushing, chilled-out melody. A lot of the album sounds like these guys recorded it at their house in between benders and surf sessions. It starts off with the guys tuning up cellos, violins and guitars, drums sticks crack-a-lacking and throats being cleared before launching into the Big Star-ish jangle-pop of "Big Escape." After the music settles, Gira steps to the microphone and quietly announces, "There you have it" -- and it couldn’t be better. Buy It
Brothers Weiss: Conversations EP (released Jan. 10) If you wanted to guess the genre of Brothers Weiss based on its members' day jobs (elementary-school chess instructor, PhD chemist and youth symphony director), you'd probably hazard that they're making "nerdy math rock." But once these guys discard the Bunsen burners and finish checkmating all the kiddies, they transform into a massive, alt-rock machine. Bassist/vocalist Miguel Ramirez is an upper-register master, belting out catchy rock choruses -- with a sweetly toned, confessional confidence -- like they’re going out of style. The five songs on Conversations range from the dark moodiness and entangling click-clack rhythms of "The Shortcut" to the complex guitar and bass interplay of "March" -- all with an explosive hard rock element on full, chest-shaking display from the get-go, with the chainsaw guitar, call-and-response gang vocals and lyrics like "I am a bourgeois dream stuck in a blue blood scene/On medication," from the leadoff title track. Some of the more intriguing and intricately written group of songs I’ve heard in a while. Brothers Weiss are a lot more than the sum of their parts. Buy It