Wednesday, Aug. 19
A chance encounter with young, local three-piece Volts at Soda Bar a few weeks back left a typically aloof Sunday-night audience with a big fat grin on its collective face. Why? It was hard not to get caught up in frontman Sal Quintanilla's enthusiasm as he pounced around the stage, sweating through his Mexican-flag bandanna and pounding away on bar chords and short leads. This band comes with “party” built into its DNA, and Quintanilla is a good conduit—whereas it may have come off as trite and/or nerdy in lesser hands, they're all about letting loose and providing some real entertainment. Let's hope Lanterns, Nobody Wave and Pretend also do the same at Radio Room.Like the terrorist organization from which their name is cribbed, public knowledge about L.A. ambient trio al Qaeda is scarce. Entrenched in a strictly word-of-mouth tape-trading underground, this is music designed for—and played by—eternal outsiders. It just so happens they've bonded with likeminded misfits in high(er) places, namely Minutemen / fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt, Pinback's Rob Crow and drummer Gabe Serbian of The Locust, all of whom collaborate with the group at this show. From this information, we can deduce that al Qaeda are not a threat, but, rather, pretty damn inviting. Noise-grenades courtesy of Droughter, the darkwave-gone-dub of Alien Soundtracks and Diamond Sleeper's subterranean static provide ample support at Che Café.
Thursday, Aug. 20
Punk-rock man-child Jay Reatard is touring the West Coast's best record stores, forgoing traditional venues in the process. And while I'm recommending the show itself, the concept is, well, kinda stupid (borderline crazy, even), especially considering the size of tour stops like M-Theory Records in Mission Hills. This is a guy who played to a packed Casbah crowd several months ago, and any whiff of his live show is guaranteed to lure more punks and hipsters within a 60-mile radius than a Suicide Girls convention. I can't imagine M-Theory being able to fit more than 50 people inside, which might leave another 100 or so in the dust. Even if you get inside, you'll have to voluntarily thrust yourself into a sauna generated by male body heat in order to soak up Reatard's aggressive pop-punk nuggets. That is, unless they can manage to set him up behind the store. Just keep in mind that he'll be back again by October.Who remembers Cody ChestnuTT? Anybody? Well, you should, because his home-recorded 2002 album, The Headphone Masterpiece, stands next to Prince's Sign O' the Times as a monument of cross-genre pollination, mixing R&B with hip-hop, blues, funk, rock 'n' roll and just about every other style under the sun. he's since receded from the public eye, mostly recognized for singing in The Roots' incredible version of his song “The Seed” and during scattered live appearances (see: Dave Chappelle's Block Party). He's had a new album on the backburner for awhile now, so, hopefully, this is a sign it'll finally see the light of day. Fellow neo-soul practitioner Martin Luther and the Steph Johnson Band also play sets at Belly Up Tavern ($16).
Friday, Aug. 21
I've spent a lot of time with Pinback albums, and it's hard to tell if the band will ever be able to top their self-titled debut. I chalk that up to sentimentality (plus their use of a Minutemen loop and the subtly gorgeous melodies of “Loro,” “Tripoli” and “Crutch”), because if anything, Rob Crow and Zach Smith have become even better craftsmen over the years. There's a reason they're the most successful indie band to ever come from the San Diego area—there's no mistaking a Pinback song for the work of anyone else. The band performs for the third consecutive year at the Del Mar Racetrack's Summer Concert Series following the final post. Free with track admission.
Sunday, Aug. 23
Imagine The Gories spending their formative years listening to more Wire and less Sonics, and they might've sounded something like Vancouver's Defektors. It's definitely garage rock, but mutated into foreign shapes, with bass lines and guitar stabs informed by stark post-punk. And British Columbian compatriots Sex Church aren't exactly all that far off, with a name that could be the title of a lost Christian Death b-side and tunes that recall all sorts of goodies, from 13th Floor Elevators to Magazine to Richard Hell. Both bands make it abundantly clear that good taste goes a long way. Following that logic, local punks Beaters and garage kids Anasazis also perform at Soda Bar.
Tuesday, Aug. 25
If there's any one person who could claim to being pivotal in the formation of this “New Weird America” thing, Ben Chasny might be the guy. Between playing guitar for Comets on Fire and releasing more than 10 albums under the Six Organs of Admittance banner, he's presaged approximately a third of the underground music trends of the past decade, from blown-out, supremely fried space-rock to home-recorded psychedelic folk. Six Organs' latest album, Luminous Night, might be his most fully orchestrated to date, and with tracks like the Tones on Tail-gone-drone of “Bar-Nasha” and the Blue Oyster Cult-esque “Ursa Minor,” it comes across beautifully. The provocatively named (and legitimately frightening) psych-noise collective Master Musicians of Bukkake opens at The Casbah ($10).