The Casbah is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, and the festivities are already underway. But many of the best shows on the calendar have yet to come, so I've compiled a listening companion of essential albums and singles to spin in preparation for the events. Queue these up and get ready to rock (the dates of each band's shows are in parentheses):

No Knife, Riot for Romance: An incredible swan song from one of the best bands ever to come out of San Diego, Riot for Romance swirled all of No Knife's strengths—complex guitar interplay, unshakable hooks, punk energy—into one spectacular whole. (Jan. 8 and 9)

X, Los Angeles: OK, you should have this album already. It's only the greatest L.A. punk album of all time. Yeah, yeah—Black Flag's Damaged is up there, but there's no topping X in my book. (Jan. 16)

The Penetrators, "Untamed Youth": Copies of this original 7-inch by San Diego's O.G. punks tend to fetch a pretty penny, but there are, of course, other methods of tracking down this three-chord anthem. The Penetrators made noise in San Diego earlier than pretty much every other band playing this month, so school yourself on how it's done with this two-minute ripper. (Jan. 17)

Ilya, Poise is the Greater Architect: Seeing Ilya live again last fall reminded me of how much I enjoyed their debut, a dark and hazy trip-hop / dream-pop hybrid with more than a trace of Blonde Redhead. (Jan. 22)

Creedle, Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars: One among a long list of bands that once featured Rob Crow, Creedle carved out a blistering post-hardcore sound with experimental flourishes. Their second album is a real gem, blending Drive Like Jehu-style punk math-robatics with Captain Beefheart-ian abstraction. (Jan. 24)

Chune, Big Hat No Cattle: It's really worth reiterating that the 1990s provided a treasure trove of abrasive post-hardcore and punk in San Diego. Chune is one such band that churned out their own melodic brand of emo with a twist of Unwound-style dissonance. Think a more progressive Hum or a more rhythmically complex Sunny Day Real Estate. (Jan. 24)

Smile, Maquee: The first track on this Orange County band's debut is titled "Rock Anthem for the Retarded Teenage Hipster Population," which gives you some idea of the smart-ass indie rock this group made in its heyday. It also happens to be super-catchy, mega-distorted music, so if some good old-fashioned power-chord riffs are what you seek, give it a spin. (Jan. 25)

Rocket from the Crypt, Circa: Now: Another one that should already be in your collection, it's the first of several Rocket albums that sounded like greatest-hits collections. The riffs, hooks and choruses are just that unforgettable. (Jan. 31)

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