Bands to Watch from San Francisco

A member of Ty Segall's touring band and an occasional addition to the Moonhearts, Bay Area rocker Mikal Cronin released his second studio album, MCII, for Merge Records this past May. Despite a sound that eschews garage rock, punk and indie-rock influences, his latest album experimented with string instrumentation – a direct result of his academic pursuits. "I think going into that academic music environment opened my mind to thinking about music really critically," he recently said. ."

Mikal Cronin - Change

Emerging from the hyphy hip-hop movement, Roach Gigz released his first independent album, Bugged Out, in 2012. Roachy Balboa, his first major mixtape, received major airplay on Bay Area radio station 106.1, helping to establish him as one of the West Coast's hottest young hip-hop talents. Gigz is decidedly more partial to Oakland than nearby San Francisco. "Once you go to Oakland, you just feel hella more relaxed," he's said. "And I come to SF, it's hella traffic jams and hella this, hella that. And I'm like damn, man. It's cool when you're on the bus, but when you're in a car you start getting hella mad." ."

Roach Gigz - Boss'd Up ft. Marlow

Oakland synth-pop duo James and Evander blur the lines between atmospheric, melodic soundscapes and four-on-the-floor dance pop. Last year's Bummer Pop raised their profile and sonic scope – see the Explosions in the Sky-esque instrumental highlight "Long Distance." And while the band admittedly explores weighty topics on wax, they refute the idea that they're down-in-the-dumps dudes. "We actually are pretty happy people!," they've said. "Just for some reason when we sit down to reflect on things, it comes out a bit on the somber side."

Combining elements of power pop, glam, and garage rock – and calling to mind Jay Reatard, Cheap Trick, and The Nerves – the Oakland four-piece Warm Soda, led by frontman Matthew Melton (formerly of Bare Wires), crush out killer power-pop jams. This March, John Dwyer's local Castle Face Records released their debut album, Someone For You, which they recorded at Melton's Fuzz City Studios.

Warm Soda - Jeanie Loves Pop