A snapshot of San Diego's music scene
Reviewed May 2007
More travel marketing tool than artistic creation, the two-disc San Diego Convention & Visitors Burea "San Diego Soundscape" is nevertheless a pretty neat snapshot of San Diego's music scene circa 2007.
Divided into an "Amplified" and "Unplugged" discs, the compilation presents 19 San Diego-area bands, ranging from well-established acts like Rookie Card, the Shambles and bill to up-and-comers still getting their names out there. (Three of the bands are represented on both discs: Rookie Card, Rule of 3rds and bill.)
As a project of San Diego ConVis, the purpose of this collection is more commercial than artistic the CD is being sent to radio stations around the country to promote San Diego as a music tourism destination, a town like Austin, Minneapolis/St. Paul or Seattle that fans of contemporary rock and pop music should want to visit to hear the next big thing. Selected by Michael Catanzaro of Insomnia Radio San Diego, the 22 tracks here aren't necessarily representative of the totality of the current music scene, but instead are some of the more radio-friendly, commercially viable bands, those most likely to appeal to the broadest cross-section of potential tourists.
The opening track on the first disc, "Radar" by The Transit War, sets a good tone for the project with its melodic alt-rock approach and immediate accessibility. "When the Week Died" by A Weeks Worth also has an alt-rock vibe, but also a very distinctive sound. The Shambles remain true to their mod roots, Rookie Card's two tracks are both decadent bits of power pop, and both theMATERIAL and Corporate Circus bring a harder edge. On the unplugged disc (which is mellower than the first, but not really an acoustic set), Chad Farran's "Damned" has a kind of Steve Poltz humor-meets-pathos sense of fun to it (and a great melodic hook to boot). But there really aren't any bad or even flat tracks on either disc. It's a solid, entertaining listen, top to bottom and a nice, affordable overview of a large slice of the region's music scene.
"San Diego Soundscape" is available as a free digital download (MP3s) from the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site or for $10 at the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau International Visitor Information Center at Harbor Drive and Broadway in downtown San Diego.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).