The SoundDiego Record Club features some of the best new musical releases from around the county. Read on and listen in. As always, be sure to support our local artists and purchase their music -- and if you can, go see them at a show.
Birdy Bardot, releases July 3
What do you do when you’ve reached the top tier of the San Diego music scene? Well, you start over, apparently. Birdy Bardot may be a new face in the crowd, but the players that make up the group on their debut album (and local label Redwoods Music) are all-too familiar: Jake Najor (of Taurus Authority and formerly the Styletones) mans the drumkit like a surgeon; Matt Molarius (Transfer and the Midnight Pine) and Daniel Cervantes (Mrs. Henry and Creature & the Woods) play acoustic/electric guitar; Al Howard, Josh Rice and Jason Littlefield (all of the Heavy Guilt and Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact) add their honed-in brand of respective percussion, keyboard and bass playing; while the band’s vocalist -- Emily Reilly -- steps out of the New Kinetics’ stage-wrecking spotlight and into her own. OK, so now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way (that was a mouthful), let’s dive into what these cats are all about. They’ve billed themselves as “California Soul,” and it’s hard to argue with it. The self-titled record sways from one raw groove to another, straddling a retro-soul area occupied in today’s music by the Mayer Hawthornes, Black Keys and Mark Ronsons of the world. Here, instruments, vocals and percussion alike often get drenched in hefty amounts of spring reverb, creating a distant-sounding bed of flowing grandiosity not altogether dissimilar to what we’ve heard previously on the Heavy Guilt’s sprawling experimental-rock jams. Of course, there’s bound to be some musical overlap with this record and its members’ other projects, but it’s hard to approach that with any severe criticism when it’s this good. Reilly’s vocals in particular are a welcome departure from what we’ve heard with her other squad -- the unbridled energy we’ve come to love from her is replaced here overwhelmingly by a restrained, measured and rather sultry performance we once heard (and loved) on the New Kinetics’ song "Reverie." Perhaps the best thing about this record is the vibe it ushers in from note one: Go ahead and put this on directly after, say, Dusty Springfield’s 1969 classic "Dusty in Memphis" during a lazy, sun-blanketed Sunday morning -- and lose yourself in the hazy notes, technicolor hues and resounding goodness. [Visit Birdy Bardot online here. Buy the album at the band’s Casbah record release show on July 3.]
"Smoke Your Youth" EP
Jimmy Ruelas, released April 25, 2015
Not too long ago, Jimmy Ruelas was a railroad-track troubadour character -- a steel-guitar wielding showman intent on carrying protest folk from the '60s into the current San Diego music scene consciousness. Visions of Pete Seeger and a young Bob Dylan came easily when Ruelas took various stages across town -- he’d play some place like the Atari Lounge at the Casbah, only to march out of the back patio, through the smoking courtyard and into the main room while burning through tried-and-true folk/blues singalong standards. Nowadays though, he’s a man armed with a Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall amplifier. The days of Ruelas going (not really so) quietly into that good night are gone: He’s turned on and turned up. Perhaps lacking the fanfare of Dylan going electric at Newport, Ruelas nonetheless throws his fans for a loop and tackles the glam-rock genre head on with a fiery blues energy. On "Smoke Your Youth," it sounds like T. Rex's Marc Bolan sat down for tea with Howlin' Wolf and compared notes. Whatever passion Ruelas previously poured into his awe-inspiring vocal performances also gets dialed into his electric-guitar playing here, and it’s delightful to hear him backed by a powerful band to boot on heavy rock stomps like "DT Blues" and "Saint" (on which he tears through French and English lyrics with equal aplomb). Lest we get content hearing the singer-songwriter’s newfound direction, he throws a curveball with the EP’s closing track, "Tell Me True," which sashays along with an experimental pop lean amid saloon piano and rumbling drums. It might just be the closest thing to a ballad he’ll ever do, but if we have any luck at all, he’ll give us some more. [Get it here. See him live at the Casbah on June 24.]