Pictured: The author.

Look, from an artist's perspective, I get why y'all don't come up here all the time. Having grown up here, I'll admit that Sonoma County is pretty much just wine and expensive road bikes. And weed. Like, tons of weed. BUT. There are also musicians up here doing cool stuff! I swear. Check it — here's a bunch of cool musicians in no particular order whatsoever who dropped hot records in 2019.

Eki Shola, Drift

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Did you know Eki Shola used to be a doctor? Makes perfect sense, since her songs and voice tap directly into the most powerful healing properties of music. The last few years have been traumatic for the North Bay Area. Drift delivers medical-grade catharsis.

Ceremony, In The Spirit World Now

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I know half the members don't live here anymore, but Ceremony will always be a North Bay band. They have an album called Rohnert Park, for gosh sake. For their new record, Ceremony took the new wave sound they were only winking at in their past efforts and cranked the saturation levels to 11. Haters will say they're not hardcore anymore, but catch me in 2019 listening to  In The Spirit World Now having the time of my life.

Acrylics, Sinking In

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Wine country punks: why. Why are you like this. The long-awaited debut LP from Santa Rosa post-punk outfit Acrylics record sounds like Ministry and DEVO had a baby, then that baby stuck a fork into an electrical outlet.

Kayatta

Kayatta(photo: Jasmine Young)

While she didn't put out a record in 2019 proper, Kayatta served up, IMHO, the best performance at the Railroad Square Music Fest in downtown Santa Rosa this summer. She also was voted best Hip-Hop Artist in the North Bay Bohemian and putting the touches on her LP, due out early next year, so that counts. Kayatta hosts "The Precipice," a monthly hip-hop showcase she formed with Sebastopol's DJ Dyops. Check it out here.

 

State Faults, Clairvoyant 

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Cesar A. Cruz said that "art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." I think about that every time I hear State Faults vocalist/guitarist Jonny Calvert-Andrew's scream. This album is like an avalanche: huge, destructive, unstoppable, and afterwards, no one can find me for days.

Rainbow Girls, Give the People What They Want

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You like Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Mary Ford, and other chill artists? So do Rainbow Girls. So they made a cover album. It's serene, quirky, and pretty haunting. Just like West Sonoma County. It's a vibe. Catch it.

Bracket, Too Old To Die Young

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As of writing this, the dull pain in my forearm from a recently diagnosed golfer's elbow (wine country, yo!) is a constant reminder that I am indeed in my 30s and that life is now an unrelenting and inescapable deterioration from here on out. The invincibility of youth is painfully fleeting. And all of us will eventually be crushed under ever-turning wheel of time. From dust we are created and to dust we shall return.

Anyway. Bracket is a cool pop-punk band from Forestville; a town that is exactly what it sounds like. You probably wouldn't look around it and think to yourself, "Dude! I bet a rad pop-punk band is from here." Seriously, Bracket is cool. Their new album is refreshingly stripped down and light on its feet. It's nostalgic in the most inspiring and least pandering way possible. Remember this song from the Tony Hawk Underground Soundtrack? Well, I do.

So yeah, happy holidays everyone! I hope you're all chilling with friends and family, playing Nintendo, and wearing dope sweaters.

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