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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  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28