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Made in the Shade 

The Jade Shader gives San Diego's washed-up scene its moment in the sun

Wednesday, Apr 19 2006
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When major-label A&Rs started swarming San Diego's dives in the mid-'90s, everyone was saying the city was primed to be the next Seattle. Local bands like Drive Like Jehu and Three Mile Pilot were gonna be SoCal's longboard-riding, fish taco-scarfing answer to Nirvana and Soundgarden.

Nice concept. Too bad it never happened. Bands like Tanner, Fishwife, No Knife, and Boilermaker, beloved on the college circuit, never really broke out, though their names still bring a wistful glimmer to the eyes of old-schoolers.

But with San Diego-bred Pinback charming the pants off the Pitchfork crowd, the city — and the indie rock sound — is getting its comeuppance. To open its West Coast tour, Pinback tapped hometown homeboys the Jade Shader, which boasts No Knife/Tanner drummer Chris Prescott on guitar and keys and Boilermaker's Terrin Durfey on vox. (Prescott, who spent time behind the kit with punkabilly legends Rocket From the Crypt, also doubles as Pinback's tour drummer.)

Released last fall, the Jade Shader's seven-track debut EP, The Curse of the Tuatara, initially delivers the expected blend of No Knife-style angular guitars and straining vocals recognizable from Boilermaker's better days. But jazzy rhythms subtly woven throughout the disc create an unexpectedly sexy lounge vibe — an influence likely brought by Prescott, who majored in jazz studies at UCSD.

Cribbing its name from a 19th-century boat that crashed off the coast of Vancouver, the Jade Shader's obsession with all things nautical extends to its lyrics (as on the mutiny-themed "Scallywags") and its music. "Tuatara" is full of woozy, dramatic, minor-key soundscapes awash in layered guitars and propulsive, crashing percussion — the musical manifestation of a shipwreck or a high-seas revolt. It's a weird combination, but it works. And it just might be enough to get tongues wagging about San Diego's next-big-scene status all over again.

About The Author

Maya Kroth

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