Thursday, June 25
It's hard not to be happy for The Donkeys. Signed to the Dead Oceans label (a sub-imprint of the impeccable Jagjaguwar), the four San Diegans are headed out in July for their second national tour since releasing Living on the Other Side last year. It's mellow music made for spending time in the sunshine, but depending on which night you catch 'em, this lot is liable to rock out, even if you wouldn't get that impression from their overall Workingman's Dead-meets-Flying Burrito Brothers vibe. And don't tell anybody, but opener Derek Papa might be San Diego's best-kept secret, a multitalented folkie whose scarcely heard I Will Get to You was among the better releases to spring from our fertile soil last year. Papa has apparently been on the sidelines for awhile in order to raise his newborn child, but he and los burros are set to emerge together at the Ken Club.
Much beloved by longtime local scenesters, The Zeros are generally acknowledged as the area's first punk band, even if they played their earliest shows in Rosarito and L.A. Aside from those footnotes, San Diego has embraced them as the city's biggest contribution to first-wave punk rock, and after a long hiatus from performing, they're back to receive due praise at Bar Pink. It doesn't get much more credible than this—the Hispanic rockers shared the bill with The Germs for the legendary L.A. band's first concert—and with all four original members committed to playing, it's guaranteed to be less a reunion cash-in than a raucous trip down memory lane.
Friday, June 26
How much Jesus & Mary Chain is too much? Judging by the singles Austin's Woven Bones have released up until this point, they just can't get enough of the Scottish band's earliest incarnation, all the way down to the stand-up drummer. If the boys were to bring some more variety (like a kick drum and some cymbals) to their show at Soda Bar, it would probably do them some good, but otherwise, this stuff fits squarely in the “If it ain't broke” category. Support comes from new(ish) local band Sunday Times, who sound a bit like early Wedding Present, but with slightly less wit and slightly more brawn.
Saturday, June 27
The nonprofit Dublab collective has been crucial in reinvigorating L.A.'s beat-driven underground during the past few years, by way of its diverse webcasts and consistently impressive event planning. Among the innovators of this loosely defined “scene” is Alfred Darlington, otherwise known as Daedelus. Merging elements of virtually every musical genre in history with modern electronics, Darlington is as progressive in a live setting as he is at home behind a laptop. Positioning his monome device toward the audience, he wildly taps away at its flashing lights while the club kids dance along in unison. Coupled with his flamboyant Victorian costumes, watching Darlington is like reimagining Sherlock Holmes as a computer programmer—incredibly nerdy, but in the best possible way. Soak up the weirdness at Kava Lounge.
Sunday, June 28
I would assume that most people who got into punk rock at any point in their lives went through a Dischord Records phase. You know, the label that put out records by Minor Threat, Fugazi, Lungfish and Nation of Ulysses? Well, by the sound of it, there's no reason Dischord shouldn't be releasing albums by Baltimore three-piece Double Dagger, whose throwback approach to sinewy punk bears all the hallmarks of the label in its heyday. Not to say they don't fit well on the diverse roster at Chicago's similarly revered Thrill Jockey—who recently released the band's sophomore LP, More—but their muscular drum-bass-vocal approach is more reminiscent of D.C. hardcore than say, The Sea and Cake. Expect to get knifed at Soda Bar.
Tuesday, June 30
On its own merit, the rustic, finger-picked blues of The Tallest Man on Earth sounds pretty damn authentic, aside from the perfectly articulated lyrics that wouldn't be too out of place on your garden-variety emo album. Until you find out that the “Tallest Man” is actually named Kristian Matsson, who hails from Dalarna, Sweden. On the one hand, it shouldn't be surprising that Matsson seems to speak better English than nearly everyone you know. They have a decent educational system over there. On the other, it's absolutely miraculous that a young white man from Scandinavia with model-good looks plays this style better than almost anyone you've ever heard. Go for the instrumental display if not for the vocals. Matsson opens for indie maverick and future adult-alternative star John Vanderslice at The Casbah.