Wednesday, Aug. 5
I received a download of Bowerbirds' second album, Upper Air, from the people at Jagjaguwar awhile back, and it wasn't exactly the kind of thing I expected to like. But it's crept up on me, with deceptively simple boy / girl folk songs that are nakedly honest. Imagine Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago if it weren't recorded by a lonely, weird-beard elk hunter at a cabin in the middle of nowhere during a Wisconsin winter, and you're close. It's infinitely warmer, and if the interplay between vocalists Phil Moore and Beth Tacular sounds intimate, it's probably because they've been a couple for years. Get it on! Fellow North Carolina-based folkies and CSN&Y disciples Megafaun open, as does local renaissance man Joel P. West. At The Casbah ($8).
Thursday, Aug. 6
Naming your band after a children's program might not be the best idea if you're trying to look tough, but that's obviously not a concern for amateur Philadelphia two-piece Reading Rainbow. The group sounds like they're living in a perpetual childhood—sugar-sweet melodies are cooed over strained pawn-shop guitars and budget drums, with not a cymbal to be found. And while children can be incredibly kind and innocent, that naïvety can also lead to a harsh temper, which is where L.A. duo Old Blood offer a perfect counterpoint. Dark, thrashy and armed with tunes recorded as loudly as possible on a very limited budget, I'm guessing the band may have wanted to save money so they could go buy knives, fireworks, alcohol and Gun Club albums. It's another show presented by Mario Orduno at Soda Bar, part of his punk / noise / whatever night, Expressway to Yr Skull. Crocodiles' Brandon Welchez even spins a few records, too.
Friday, Aug. 7
Even though their first concert wasn't more than six months ago, it already feels like Beaters have become San Diego's most impressive young band. OK, so there's probably some residual excitement left over following the dissolution of great garage-punk hopes The Sess (of which three Beaters were members), but now there's a recorded document for us to fawn over. That's right, this is a release party for Beaters' debut 7-inch, “Fishage,” and, holy shit, is it good. It doesn't hurt that every other band playing this show is varying shades of awesome, from L.A. punks Le Face to Austin's bugged-out Mutating Meltdown and, of course, the ubiquitous Christmas Island. Appropriately, Vancouver's The Wicked Awesomes will perform, as well. Did I mention this show will be awesome? At Soda Bar ($8).
Saturday, Aug. 8
Currently in the middle of a U.S. tour, local foursome Lanterns specialize in melodic punk with a saccharine touch, somewhere in the realm of early Sunny Day Real Estate. It's emo without all the accompanying bullshit, and they're a pretty good bridge between the radio-ready anthems of Against Me! and the angular energy of Les Savy Fav. Best of all, the pop hearts of tunes like “Creation Myth” and “Midnight Psalms (Alright!)” serve as welcome escapism from the self-consciously cool underground, and the earnest noise of fellow San Diegans Weatherbox is no different. If you're a teenage rock fan, these bands should be dominating your life right now. Local bands Drug Wars, afterschoolspecial and Superunloader play sets at this show in conjunction with the North Park Music Thing, as do L.A.'s Local Natives. At Radio Room.
Sunday, Aug. 9
San Diego's pre-eminent rock 'n' roll entertainers The Night Marchers headline a massive bill at the North Park Music Thing's Sunday Street Fest, their last show before heading out on a six-date jaunt with Modest Mouse in late August. The Marchers and doom-and-gloom cabaret band The Black Heart Procession are probably the two biggest draws here, and they're conveniently playing back-to-back on the Bar Pink stage. Other performers include El Vez, Presidents of the United States of America and Steve Poltz & The Rugburns ($20).
Monday, Aug. 10
Jay-Z once claimed in a verse, “If skills sold, truth be told, lyrically I'd be Talib Kweli.” Considering Jay's status at the time—and the overinflated egos that come with the territory of being a hip-hop star—that was a compliment of the highest order. But while his album with Mos Def (as Black Star) and subsequent release with DJ Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal) are recognized as classics, truth is that Kweli hasn't released a good album in almost 10 years. Sure, he's had good songs, and all of his work has been listenable, but too much neo-soul doesn't do a rapper good (ask Common). But Kweli and Hi-Tek are back together, set to release their first front-to-back collaboration since the late-'90s glory days. Hard to tell if the as-yet-unreleased album will do them justice, but at least they're getting back to basics. Nas and DJ Premier should take note. Rap veterans Slum Village, Slaughterhouse, Supernatural and the host, legendary beatmaker Pete Rock, also appear at Belly Up Tavern ($33).