PLAN A: The Growlers, Little Deadman, Writer, Jamuel Saxon (DJ set) @ The Casbah. The Growlers hail from Long Beach, but their absorbing country-surf-pop hybrid conjures images of ghost pirates singing sea shanties aboard the Flying Dutchman. Don't miss brother duo Writer, whose fiery new single “Miss Mermaid” bodes well for their forthcoming album, Brotherface. PLAN B: In Motion Trio 2 @ Lestat's. An instrumental combo that merges steamy Afro-beat grooves with rainy-day jazz vibes, In Motion Trio (plus a saxophonist / flutist and a guitarist / keyboardist) will celebrate the release of their intriguing new album, The Barefoot Race. BACKUP PLAN: Mighty Mo Rodgers @ Anthology.
Thursday, Dec. 30
PLAN A: Kurtis Blow, L.P.S.D., Future Shock, DJs Charlie Rock, Jaba One @ Boar Cross'n. Hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to get signed to a major label, the first to have a gold-certified single (1980's “The Breaks”) and the first to sign an endorsement deal. Now, he's the primary reason somebody should make their first trip to this Carlsbad club. PLAN B: Inspired Flight, Jamuel Saxon, Griefshare @ The Casbah. As I write in my feature on this page, Jamuel Saxon's Landmines & Chandeliers was my third favorite local release of the year. But I'm also in awe of Inspired Flight's superb trip-hop, which is as chill as it is sophisticated. PLAN C: The Dresden Dolls, Jason Webley @ House of Blues. I'm not counting on it, but let's hope this show has the same breathtaking intimacy that Dresden Dolls pianist Amanda Palmer brought to her hung-over rendition of “Creep” from her recent Radiohead covers EP. BACKUP PLAN: Mystery Cave, Italic Indian, Joint Chief, T. Putnam Hill @ Tin Can Ale House.
Friday, Dec. 31
PLAN A: Transfer, Rafter, Shapes of Future Frames, Low Volts @ The Casbah. There will be some seriously good juju in the air at this New Year's Eve blowout. Local alt-rock heavyweights Transfer had a great 2010—they toured the U.K. with Brandon Flowers of The Killers and just got back from a successful East Coast tour—and I get the impression that they'll have an even better 2011. As for Rafter, check out my feature on this page to see why his latest record, Animal Feelings, served as the perfect antidote to the recession grind. PLAN B: The Zeros, New Mexico, The Dabbers, Gun Runner @ Eleven. Chula Vista punk legends The Zeros are still going strong more than 30 years into their career, but it's New Mexico you should keep an eye on in 2011 (again, see my feature on this page). PLAN C: Lights On, Dudes, D/Wolves, The New Kinetics, DJ Ryan Hand @ Tin Can Ale House. If you don't have any money (join the club), drop by this working-class-themed party: There's no cover, a free champagne toast and a solid lineup. PLAN D: Crocodiles, Heavy Hawaii, Raw Moans, Mrs. Magician @ Soda Bar. A song like Crocodiles' “I Wanna Kill” doesn't exactly make the ideal soundtrack for a New Year's Eve party, but Heavy Hawaii and Raw Moans are great new bands.
Saturday, Jan. 1
PLAN A: Pato Banton, Now Generation feat. Kelly Love Jones, Cootdog, I-Levi, April “Harmony” Waller, Professor Einstein, Empress Akua @ Belly Up. Work off that New Year's Eve hangover with some rootsy reggae from British reggae star Pato Banton, who doesn't sniff coke but definitely tokes. PLAN B: Andy Clockwise @ Soda Bar. If you're in the mood for something a little livelier, check out Australian-born, Los Angeles-based pop-rocker Andy Clockwise, whose wide-ranging tunes (which might include acoustic guitar, orchestral arrangements, synthesizers, etc.) brim with hooks. BACKUP PLAN: Bobby Pena and the Stowaways, The Heart Beat Trail, The Cetaceans @ Tin Can Ale House.
Sunday, Jan. 2
PLAN A: Todd Day Wait and The Golden Hills Blues Band @ Soda Bar. A Missouri folkie who prowls the highway in an airport shuttle bus powered by vegetable oil, Todd Day Wait plays homespun blues and scrappy R&B tunes on guitar, mandolin, banjo and Fender Rhodes, sounding like he stepped out of a time capsule from another era. Residents of the 23rd Street haunt known as the “Space House” will also perform solo sets. BACKUP PLAN: Solovox @ Kava Lounge.
Monday, Jan. 3
PLAN A: Miss Erika Davies @ Riviera Supper Club. Don't let jazz songstress Miss Erika Davies fall off your radar—she's currently working on a new album, and I expect it'll be a doozy. BACKUP PLAN: The Last Years, Shiva Trash, Coastal Gris, Electric Healing Sound @ Soda Bar.
Tuesday, Jan. 4
PLAN A: Passengers, Moyindau, Slumgum @ Kava Lounge. In what's easily the most intriguing show of the week, Michigan quartet Moyindau will cross Central Asian folk with contemporary classical in skewed, atonal improvisations that bridge the gap between music and noise. PLAN B: Kinch, The Midwinters, The Goomies @ Soda Bar. Phoenix's Kinch, kicking off a month-long Tuesday residency, play good old-fashioned pop-rock with bright melodies, memorable hooks and subtle shifts that keep you interested. BACKUP PLAN: Sisters, Nothingful @ Tin Can Ale House.