We know what you're thinking: “Oh geez, not another list piece!” Yes, we know—year-end lists are currently flowing like a river of spiked egg-nog. But, if it's any consolation, this list is different. It's a guide to hometown heroes—the San Diego bands that went above and beyond the call of duty in 2007. Not necessarily The Best, musically speaking, in town (though a case could be made for each) but rather a handful of bands that had a big impact both inside and outside our city walls during the past year.
Our method for narrowing the selections was completely unscientific but did include an informal poll of Locals In The Know along with consideration of factors like musicianship, buzz, album sales, tours, media exposure and expectations for an even bigger 2008. Feel free to slander us mercilessly—How could you morons include/exclude [Insert Band Here]?—on your blogs. Now, to the list:
As I Lay Dying
Reason for Selection: National tour, new album, Grammy nomination, not actually laying there and dying.
Not only did AILD tour all over the frickin' place (U.S., Canada, Japan, Europe, etc.), but they also squeezed in a Grammy nomination (“Best Metal Performance” for the song “Nothing Left” from the album An Ocean Between Us) to complement their 2006 Artist of the Year win at the San Diego Music Awards. Sure, their brand of angry, gut-busting, scary-as-the-original-Omen music isn't for everyone, but it is for the gazillion or so people who've visited the band's MySpace page since it opened shop in 2005.
Grand Ole Party
Reason for Selection: Tour with Rilo Kiley, record deal, heavy press/buzz, upcoming album.
Whereas the other Grand Ole Party—they of the gay-fearing, torture-condoning, economy-wrecking variety—had a tough year, this Grand Ole Party had quite the kick-ass 2007. First off, it seemed like everyone was talking about this trio. And not without reason. In addition to their own national touring, GOP got added boosts from supporting Rilo Kiley (a quality indie name-drop if ever there was one) in the U.K. and signing with DH Records. Their debut album (Humanimals) is out now on iTunes and will be released Feb. 8 on disc. Grand Ole Party performs on Monday, Dec. 31, at the Belly Up Tavern.
Reason for Selection: Increased touring, press/buzz, being awesome in general.
The Muslims—what a band name! But it wouldn't be anything without music that's a rocking, shambled, intelligent blast. The band's songs lean more toward the raw, driving, bass-dominated rhythms prevalent in early '80s post-punk rather than too many polished cookie cutters of today's punk and indie rock. But they're still catchy enough to give The Muslims touring muscle beyond San Diego. For a taste of the future, take a listen on the band's MySpace page. While you're there, take a peek at the video for “Extinction” (an excellent song, by the by). Is it just me, or does lead singer Matt Lamkin look like a young Charles Grodin?The Muslims perform on Sunday, Jan. 6, at the Tower Bar.
The Swedish Models
Reason for Selection: Heavy local buzz, regional tours and two drummers on one kit is twice as nice for half the price.
At first glance, the Swedish Models are immensely disappointing considering they're neither Swedes nor models. Luckily, the bitter lie on which the band is based becomes an easy pill to swallow once their music—filled with hooks galore—floods your eardrums. Cultivating grassroots support in 2007 should lead the O.B. rockers to greener national pastures (and a new album) in 2008.
Reason for Selection: U.K. tour, airplay on BBC Radio 1, increased buzz/press, music on MLB: The Show video game and appearance on MTV2's Bands on the Rise.
Transfer's vocalist/guitarist, Matt Molarius, is gigantic. Seriously, the guy is tall enough to steal boards from Yao Ming while his stage presence reaches similar heights. Transfer drummer Michael Cooper, meanwhile, seems, at times, to be possessed by the ghost of Keith Moon, a choice drumming ghost to be possessed by. Brian Karscig from Louis XIV produced the band's first single, “Sinking, Sailing,” with the Sunken Eyes EP on the way. Transfer performs on Friday, Dec. 28, at Beauty Bar.
The Donkeys—Possible “Next Big Thing” status. Dynamite Walls—Played CMJ parties, toured U.S. Greg Laswell—National radio play of “Sing Teresa.” Light of Doom—Top four on Fox's The Next Great American Band. The Locust—Bigger tours, more exposure, continuing to scare the shit out of everyone. Anya Marina—Bunch o' songs on TV shows (like Grey's Anatomy and The Real World). The Material—Top three on MTV2's Dew Circuit Breakout. Pinback/Rob Crow—Another 8,000 albums released. Steve Poltz—Song (“You Remind Me”) used in national Jeep commercial. Slightly Stoopid—National tour/press, impressive amounts of weed smoked. The Stereotypes—“Outside” used worldwide in Coleman TV ad.