Dig the Kid, Ring in the Dead
Bay Area trio Dig the Kid covers all the basics of high-energy rock 'n' roll: dirty power-pop guitar hooks, bass line grooves, a raspy-voiced male lead singer chanting sex-charged lyrics, and even a cowbell. It's refreshingly straightforward and slightly retro: The power chords and catchy handclaps of "On a Mission" recall late Seventies arena rock, and the ballad "Wasted" uses glam rock guitar and stripped-down vocals to tell the story of a dramatic breakup. It only gets unbearably cheesy on "Showdown," which brings in ska beats, dancehall vocals, and a saxophone à la Nineties-era No Doubt. (self-released)
eric + erica, You Try
eric + erica craft gloomy ambient pop with a slight country bent — similar to Mazzy Star, but with far less distortion. The production on their debut EP wisely highlights Erica Fink's emotionally honest, conversational vocals, which are paired with soft, gauzy guitars; slow piano; and airy beats. If the Oakland duo keeps making music this good, it should be around for a while.
Minnesota and G Jones, Mile High Club
The electronic music subgenre known as trap — the bastard child of Southern hip-hop and crunk, distinguished by rattling hi-hats and snares, wobbling bass, and 808-heavy rap beats — seems here to stay. Case in point: the three songs on Mile High Club, the first collaboration from Santa Cruz producers Minnesota and G Jones. "Hit the Club" nails the classic trap style, looping a clipped vocal sample from Texas rapper Slim Thug's "3 Kings" over a steady chopped-and-screwed beat. "Be Alright" heavily samples Trina's "B R Right," which features Ludacris, and lays the verses over a thick bass line and stuttering glitch beats. The most dubstep-influenced track, an instrumental called "Blast Off," feels a bit unfinished, as its repetitive womp fades out instead of going somewhere. (self-released)