In need of a final exams study playlist? Or jams to rock out to on the long drive to Los Angeles for winter break? Or just an alternative to the holiday music that will be playing everywhere over the next month?

This is what the City on a Hill Press Art & Entertainment desk is listening to this break — from funky percussion beats by UC Santa Cruz alumni to surf punk by UCSC students.

All songs are available on SoundCloud or Bandcamp.

Shoobies, “Down”

Two UCSC students, Alex Vareljian and Jacob Ellzey, and one Cabrillo student, Evan Hildebrand, formed Shoobies after Ellzey posted on the UCSC music department’s bulletin board in January in search of band members. “Down,” their latest track on SoundCloud, has softer rock ’ߴn’ roll, Buddy Holly-like vocals with bass guitar and drums matching the intensity of The Runaways. Listen to set the mood for some moshing and watch out for their upcoming shows at the Catalyst’s Atrium the beginning of next quarter. They previously played The Crêpe Place, Bocci’s Cellar and Rock ’ߴn’ Roll on the Knoll.

Tmboy, “Say I”

Move over Odesza, Tmboy’s percussion takes electronic pop to the next level. UCSC alumnus Will McIntyre, who goes by Will Shore, makes up half of the New York-based duo, Tmboy. Vocalist Sarah Aument sings with soft pop vocals, similar to Megan James from Purity Ring, along with experimental electronic percussions. The lyrics are gender inclusive, “I like to keep all of the pronouns [in our lyrics] neutral (you, they) because I don’t like limiting the characters to one identity,” Aument said to BuzzFeed. Tmboy’s track, “Say I” has powerful lyrics about exploring romantic feelings, but the alternating bass and drum beats make it no sappy love song. Tmboy’s SoundCloud playlist is a great alternative to holiday music at your kickback this break.

WaterGate Sandals,

“Ways Away”

UCSC alumni Tony Assi, Izzy Kaufman, Jesse Nestler and Zane Shattuck’s latest EP, self-described as scooter punk, reminds us of the early years of The Black Keys. “Ways Away,” among other songs released in May, contains those classic electric guitar riffs, but the lyrics are sang with surf-rock influence. The Santa Cruz music scene is tight knit and unique due to the popularity of house shows, the duo said to City on a Hill Press in 2016. The band is not currently active, but its EPs are still available, and all proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.


“What I’m Looking For”

Nilu Madadi’s soulful vocals set an intense but relaxing tone, perfect for studying to or winding down after the finals grind. This LA-based musician graduated from UCSC in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis on piano composition, and has since recorded her debut album with Grammy-nominated artist Randy Jackson. Her music reflects her strong vocal range, with melodic, indie compositions. Most of her music bravely combines the elements of several instruments such as classical piano and slow, blaring drums. “What I am Looking For” is one of her few acoustic tracks.

Them Are Us Too,


Kennedy Ashlyn and Cash Askew bonded over their feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist perspectives while students at UCSC. Beginning with shows at local spots like SubRosa in 2013, the band signed a record deal with Dais Records in 2015. Dais described the band’s debut album “Remains” as “goth-pop anthems,” with ’80s-era percussion. The duo emphasized the importance of connecting with other femme queer musicians. Askew died just one year into her professional music career in the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire, but her transcendent music will play on.