Tristeza

With Brian Straw, Blk Tiger, and Arch Villains. Sunday, November 13, at the Grog Shop.

Tristeza
Good band names can be hard to come by. Budding groups have to come up with something catchy and unique that nails their sound exactly. For instance, there's San Diego-based indie group Tristeza, whose moniker sticks in your brainpan and also describes the emotional makeup behind many of its songs. (The word is Spanish for "sadness.")

This all-star quintet has gained quite a following with a number of CDs and 7-inch singles filled with melancholy instrumental melodies that fuse ethereal electronica, groovy guitar, and subtle backbeats. In songs like the eerie and airy "RMS 2000," Stephen Swesey's keyboards are at the forefront, punctuated by the haunting guitar work of Jimmy LaValle (who's also behind the Album Leaf). The resulting mix is moody music fit for a pity party or lovelorn letter-writing. But before you reach for pen and paper, upbeat guitar work on songs like "Golden Hill" and "Are We People" radiates a more energetic and hopeful sound.

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