Music News & Reviews

4 awesome new albums by SLO County bands

“Gidget’s Revenge” by Hayley and the Crushers was released on cassette tape and 8 track March 25.
“Gidget’s Revenge” by Hayley and the Crushers was released on cassette tape and 8 track March 25.

Putting together a new album can be a challenge for even the most experienced band.

First come countless hours of rehearsals, followed by long days — and even longer nights — stuck in the recording studio trying to perfect each track. Then there’s mixing, mastering, production, distribution … the list goes on and on.

With so much to do, and so much at stake, it’s a wonder that any project sees the light of day.

Here are four new and upcoming releases by bands with Central Coast ties.

“Gidget’s Revenge,” Hayley and the Crushers

If Gidget had picked up a guitar instead of a surfboard, she might have ended up as the frontwoman of Hayley and the Crushers. Led by guitarist and vocalist Hayley Cain, this surf rock trio pumps out a punk-flavored “Beach Blanket Bingo”-meets-“Rock ’n’ Roll High School” sound that’s perfectly suited for a pool party, bonfire or barbecue.

The band, which features bassist Reid Cain and drummer Gabriel Olivarria, burst on the Central Coast music scene this spring with “Gidget’s Revenge,” released March 25. (A different drummer, Max Triplett, played on the four-track EP.)

Hayley Cain, who performs with her husband, Reid Cain, in local punk band Magazine Dirty, encourages listeners to “Dance like no one’s watching.”

You can catch Haley and the Crushers at a Central Coast Roller Derby game in the near future. For more information, visit

How would you describe your band’s sound?

Surfy pop-drenched punk ’n’ roll exploding from your neighbor’s garage. Hey kids, can you keep the noise down?!

What’s the inspiration behind your new album?

’60s beach party meets punk rock dance pit.

What mood or emotion are you channeling?

You went to the beach to get a tan but were rudely interrupted by a gaggle of leather-clad beasts feasting on beer and Ho Hos under the pier. Thankfully, they were kind to you and invited you to a shimmy contest. You won.

What does “Gidget’s Revenge” represent in terms of your musical evolution as a band?

This is our first album and we’re proud to say it makes people dance. And not just “bob your head seriously as you consider the music” dance. We make people sweat.

What is one of your favorite tracks off the new album, and why?

“Jaywalking” is about a wild summer I spent hanging out at my ex-boyfriend’s job, a gas station. It’s about long summer nights with nowhere to go but In N Out, lost dogs you can relate to, your mom’s liquor cabinet, and the feeling that your whole life is going to really take off next Friday night.

What’s the best way to experience this album?

Best enjoyed with ice-cold Slurpees, wearing cheap sunglasses on the floor of your best friend’s bedroom or in the backseat of your car after a heavy makeout sesh. Just don’t leave the cassette in your car. It will melt, y’all.

“Ebb & Flow,” Café Musique

Searching for the soundtrack for your next spring soiree? Check out Café Musique’s new album, released April 1.

According to accordion player Duane Inglish, “Ebb & Flow” represents the full “range of raw emotion, power and beauty that the band has become known for.”

“Leading the way is the siren song of our violinist, Brynn Albanese. She charms, seduces, and delightfully entertains the audience through a whirlwind of musical genres,” Inglish said.

“Our band offers range as well as depth,” he added, “moving from exhilarating tango to the intense folk music of Eastern Europe to the truly lovely songwriting of our guitarist, Craig Nuttycombe.”

You can catch Café Musique in concert at 3 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 311 S. Broadway in Santa Maria. Admission is $20, or $15 for students and $10 for children 12 and under.

For more information, call 748-3569 or visit

How would you describe your band’s sound?

We live up to our name with a musical palette that includes gypsy, swing, tango, folk and our self-defined genre, “wild classical.”

What’s the inspiration behind your new album?

Our stage show had really stepped up a notch with the addition of some powerful arrangements balanced by a number of lovely new songs that Craig Nuttycombe had penned. Add to the mixture the addition of a new band member, string wizard Eric Williams, and you have a whole new dimension to the group’s musical chemistry. The final part of the equation was completed since our bassist, Fred Murray, was available to produce the album.

What mood or emotion are you channeling?

Serious passion to floating serendipity. The album is an emotional roller coaster starting with the explosive first note of “Libertango” and finishing with a very soft landing on the title cut, “Ebb & Flow.”

What does this album represent in terms of your musical evolution?

This album is a statement of who we are at this point in time and focuses on what we do best. To accomplish that, we wanted to capture some of the fun, passion and excitement that our audiences experience during our concerts.

What is one of your favorite tracks off the new album, and why?

The first song on the album is there to give listeners a first impression of what we do. “Libertango” encompasses what we do best — it has dynamics, expression, emotion and power. It gets loud, it gets soft. It’s a roller coaster and is fun to perform!

What’s the best way to experience this album?

This is music to lose yourself in. Indulge yourself with a little adult libation, close your eyes, allow yourself a sly smile and enjoy!

“Shadow of a Drought,” Fialta

For sun-drenched indie pop with a side of social commentary, look no further than Fialta.

“Lyrically, we aim for incisive observation and self-implicating social critique, but we want to deliver all of that with sun-drenched, melodic fervor and a touch of irony,” band member Michael Leibovich said. “In short, we have serious thoughts and ideas, but we don’t take ourselves — or the music we make — too seriously.”

With sophomore album “Shadow of a Drought” due out Aug. 5, the quartet — which includes Leibovich’s wife, Beth Clements, and another married couple, Sarah Shotwell and David Provenzano — turns its attention to the drought that has devastated Southern California.

The band is in the middle of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to finance “Shadow of a Drought” and is planning a West Coast tour in mid-July to coincide with the album’s release. Visit for more information.

How would you describe your band’s sound?

Synth-laced, harmony-driven indie pop.

What’s the inspiration behind your new album?

“Shadow of a Drought” is a hooky, wry, pop meditation on life in the 21st century. The album title was pulled from a line from our forthcoming single, “Do the Best We Can,” a big, soaring, harmonic, millennial anthem inspired by the dangerous drought conditions faced by San Luis Obispo County and greater California.

The rest of the album follows suit thematically, wrestling with the implications of drought of all kinds: environmental, spiritual, creative and relational.

What mood or emotion are you channeling?

Our purpose with “Shadow of a Drought” is to take on some bigger, more complex emotions, like tensions between drought and plenty, apathy and desire, youth and aging, hope and anxiety — all emotions that our peers are wrestling with right now. But we want to take on these themes in the way Fialta does best: with irony, energy, and sun-drenched melodies. The mix of the two aesthetics feels bittersweet, joyful, yearning, hesitant.

What does “Shadow of a Drought” represent in terms of your musical evolution?

“Shadow of a Drought” is a stretch for us into new production territory, exploring broader organic and synth instrumental arrangements. …

We’ve all become really enamored with the synth revolution taking place in pop music these past few years, and in “Shadow of a Drought” you can hear some of the old tones and sensibilities of the last record coming through — hints of ukulele and glockenspiel, male/female harmonies and atmospheric, island-esque moments — but in each song, we pushed ourselves hard to experiment and try new things.

In many ways, this album is bigger, more anthemic, more dance-worthy and more grown-up.

What is one of your favorite tracks off the new album, and why?

“Turn Your Head” is one of our favorite tracks off the new album because it serves as a perfect bridge from our last album to this new one.

Sarah and David wrote it while on a creative retreat out in Montana. Sarah is very afraid of heights and had an intense and frightening experience on a mountain road in Glacier National Park. That experience became the emblematic inspiration for “Turn Your Head,” which is really, for all its cheery melodies, a song about wasting time, facing mortality, and summoning the courage to live.

What’s the best way to experience this album?

We hope this will become your favorite summer road-trip record. Grab a friend and head to the beach, or the mountains, or the desert, or maybe up a precarious mountain pass! … Each song takes the listener on a little journey to somewhere new. The other best way to listen (which we have tested ourselves) is to invite friends over and dance around the living room while drinking Central Coast pinot.

“As the Sun Reclaims the Sky,” Jody Mulgrew

After a sojourn in Nashville, Morro Bay native Jody Mulgrew is back in California playing the kind of indie folk rock that made him a Central Coast favorite.

Mulgrew celebrated the release of his latest album, “As the Sun Reclaims the Sky,” with a sold-out concert in February at Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo.

“This album is equal parts Everly Brothers and The Magnetic Fields,” he said, describing it as “a DIY take on some classic pop songwriting.”

Mulgrew, who currently lives in San Diego, has plenty of local gigs lined up. He performs May 19 at Nichol’s Pizza in Los Osos and joins Sebastian Luna in concert May 24 at Gino’s Pizza in San Luis Obispo.

For more information, visit

How would you describe your band’s sound?

I use each record to both further define my sound as an artist, and to experiment with the ideas and processes that are on my mind at the time.

What’s the inspiration behind your new album?

I was living in Nashville and working night-shifts at a fancy restaurant. I was spending what little money I had left over at the end of the month studying with a remarkable voice coach there, and paying for drinks at writers rounds and open mics. About half way through the greyest, coldest winter of my charmed life, I started putting ideas down on a $200 four-track, in the bathroom of the house where I was living (it had the best acoustics). I figured that I could make a record with the tools and resources that were immediately available, and was inspired to keep the songs at the center of things.

What mood or emotion are you channeling?

In comparison to my previous album (2014’s “Let Them Talk”) which had a certain edge and angst, I wanted to imbue this album with a more gentle, hopeful spirit. I think it’s one of my more optimistic sounding efforts, though the first radio programmer I had listen to it commented that it was “a little dark and sad” for his station’s taste. Oh, well. Maybe I listened to a little too much Cure in my formative years. Still, I think there’s a fun factor to this record that I’m proud of.

How does this album compare to previous releases?

I think the writing is more succinct and the arrangements are more focused. When you’re counting out change for bus fares and inventing new ways to cook potatoes and ramen, you acquire a certain efficiency in all your actions.

What is one of your favorite tracks off the new album, and why?

I like “Ghosts of Our Happiest Times”. It’s cinematic for me, in the lyric and the beachy bonfire-esque arrangement. The voices are a little spooky, a little sweet, and a little sad. Also, since it was recorded to four-track, I have this memory of cutting the shaker and snare drum and background vocals at one time, in one take. That was intense.

What’s the best way to experience this album?

I think this is a driving album. Put it on, and cruise for a half hour or so. Sing along with the windows down.