Look, T. Swift landed a top spot on plenty of Spotify Wrapped round-ups around our office. But sometimes it’s fun to feel like one of the first to discover the next big thing… and San Diego’s got plenty of contenders.
Check out these young, up-and-coming local musicians. From an 11-piece jam band turning Katy Perry songs soulful to a trio adding a sunny, SoCal twist to emo music, these San Diego bands are bound for sell-out tours and Saturday Night Live performances (and you’ll get all the bragging rights that come with being an original fan).
Blair Gun was born between the concrete walls of San Diego State’s 8-by-10-foot dorm rooms. Confined to their bunk beds, Alland Mendivil (bassist), Jack Richter (drums), Zach Cavor (guitar), and Joedin Morelock (guitar and vocals) gravitated toward each other with music as their common denominator.
Working their way from parking garages to backyards to main stages, the quartet has found their sound: high-energy power pop music—stuff you can dance to. The quartet opens for Mondo Cozmo on on Dec. 1 at The Casbah.
With 11 members coming together to create the band’s distinctive funky soul, Supercool!‘s shows resemble an improvisational jam sesh. Their jazzy cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” layers perfect harmonies over soulful brass—but what is the most compelling about watching them perform is the passion and playfulness with which they lay down every beat.
All 11 musicians sing along at the end of the innovative cover, crafting a spellbinding, multi-octave, church-choir sound. Check out Monarch St. Records on YouTube for full clips of Supercool!’s covers and listen to their original song “Therapy” on any music platform.
Kocean is San Diego State’s legendary dirt-pop band, booking every backyard in College Area. Lead singer and guitarist Kaitlyn Thomas has addictively booming vocals similar to Hayley Williams from Paramore, giving their sound the edginess of an early 2000s punk-rock band. The majority of the energetic pop band met in an SDSU club called Aztec Music Group, and they’ve been dropping singles since 2021.
Four of their catchy tunes are available on Spotify and Apple Music. My personal favorite is “I’ll Try”—the build-up to the bridge has an old-school synthesizer sound that will transport you to the days of scratchy radio.
This is a beachy alternative band with a jazzy twang. Lead singer Brandon Chun and a few friends from high school founded a band called Dombermen Mosh as kids. But, as they grew up, most of the members got sick of the constant nagging from their families and chose a more stable career path.
Just when Chun thought his music dreams were kaput, guitarist/drummer Luke McLaughlin entered the picture. After poaching Luke Whitehead (drummer/bassist) and David Devora (bassist/guitarist) from another band, the group now known as SunShower was complete. These modern-day Beach Boys are dropping their new single “Punchbuggy” this month, embodying sunny SoCal in every note.
This non-traditional garage punk band is gearing up for the release of their second album. Their music, as described by the lead singer and guitarist Owen Nagel, “is fast enough to mosh to but sweet enough to listen to when you’re stoned.” Perfect for any California-sober punk lover, the tunes transport you to the mid-’70s rock scene. Nagel met fellow guitarist John Ruckley through their mutual guitar teacher, who went on to help produce some of Migraine’s earlier stuff. Currently, the band is promoting their new single “Fish.”
This is a six-member indie alternative rock band, not to be confused with the interstate or the area code. The 805 originated as a high school band called Twelve Blocks Apart, but the members chose their current moniker as the band grew.
The raspy vocals of Patrick Crowne meet the powerful, luscious lead resonance of Morse Cabrera in the group’s single “He Said She Said.” They’re in the midst of writing an album and will perform locally in January. Follow The 805 on Instagram to get the full scoop on when they’re dropping new stuff.
SANDS began with two high school best friends. Brandon Browning (singer & guitarist) and Basil Bielawski (bassist) bonded at punk house parties and underground raves. Their passion for listening prompted them to start crafting sunshiny garage fuzz punk, a sandy, San Diego twist on the music they love.
After the duo dropped their first single, Michael Hanley (drummer) and Carley Fischer (guitarist) joined the scene—and the rest is history. Earlier this year, they dropped their popular single “NO FÜN,” a high-energy rock song that makes you want to move.
Two Headed Girl
SANDS’ Carley Fischer might be one of the SD scene’s most hard-working songsters—the musician plays double duty, heading Two Headed Girl as lead singer alongside Tommy English and Daisy Lang. The band combines punk, indie, rock, and emo to create a signature sound they’ve defined their music as “sunshine emo.”
As a self-proclaimed DIY band, they handle everything themselves, writing, rocking, and mixing in musty garages and on the floors of their bedrooms. Earlier this year, they dropped their first album You Are Here.
With a nostalgic flare, this is a melodic alternative/indie rock band that first united under the stars at a backyard show. Surfers Julian Salberg, Ashton Thomas, Wayne Mcclellan, and Judson Smith became Blue Hour within the first hour of playing together. This summer, they released their EP Aimless Nights, which includes their breakout single “July.” Anytime you’re driving west on the 8, throw on Blue Hour’s warm and bluesy tunes to brighten up your mood through the traffic.
The Microblades are an angsty, all-women trio harmonizing to angelic rock. Members Giulietta Randell, Imogen Collis, and Lauren Deerinck draw from a variety of vintage rock influences, from the early punk of the ’60s and ’70s to the rebirthed rock of the early 2000s.
Earlier this year, they dropped “Cowboy,” a swingy, operatic single. Look out for their new music projects hitting all platforms around early March. But if you need to scratch the The Microblades itch now, check out their performance at SOMA on Dec. 15. Sunshower, Kocean, and five other epic bands will be jamming the same night, so nab your $10 ticket before it sells out.