María y José: Tijuana's Tony Gallardo, aka María y José, launched the city's ruidosón scene with his 2010 debut album, Espíritu Invisible. Now, he's back with his second effort, Club Negro, a mesmerizing piece of electropop that builds on his trademark sound (murmured vocals, colorful synths, hypnotic folk rhythms) and toys with unsettling narcoviolence imagery. Clearly, Gallardo is settling into his role as a provocative, lo-fi pop star.
Addiquit: No rapper in San Diego has a flow like Addiquit's— she's confident and composed, and words melt off her tongue. And while many of her forward-thinking tunes will get the kids dancing, they work just as well through headphones. On her new album, Tragedy, she teams up with North Carolina-born, Berlin-based producer Machinedrum, whose soulful beats have robotic textures and take gorgeous detours.
Tenshun: Any aficionado of local hip-hop would know this ferocious DJ / producer. With his vicious scratching skills and sick break-beats, he draws feeling and soul out of the rawest, noisiest sounds. He's best known for playing with Skrapez and Stuntdouble & Tenshun (read more about the latter on Page 25), but his self-released solo 7-inches and tapes are just as potent.
The Frights: Like many local bands before them, these three youngsters (two of whom are just out of high school) mix groovy Dick Dale- and Ventures-esque licks with the snarling chaos of punk. Their songs are sloppy, noisy and entirely devoid of polish. They're also fun as hell.
Cuckoo Chaos: I'd be remiss not to tip my hat one last time to my favorite local band. Masters of the tropical-tinged, triple-guitar groove, they've been laboring away for what seems like forever on a new album, and soon they'll be shopping it around to labels. Here's hoping they can break through; they've certainly got the mettle and the talent to hold it down nationally.
Peter Holslin's Goodbye Playlist