Earthless @ The Casbah. This is music that slowly drives in your direction, slowly runs you over until all the squishy stuff spills out, and then slowly backs up, slowly puts the car back in drive, and slowly runs over you again. Earthless is a hypothesis about the power of the rock jam. Can a band play a 30-minute set of thudding, bluesy psych-rock, not stopping once, and keep you from agitatedly rubbing your ears and exiting for a smoke? They can, and they have. Primarily because of the players: drum-wonder Mario Rubalcaba (ex-Rocket from the Crypt, Clikitat Ikatowi), Isaiah Mitchell, the guitarist who made Nebula sound so druggy, and bassist Mike Eginton, formerly of Electric Nazarene.
North Mississippi Allstars @ The Belly Up. Cody and Luther Dickinson would have to have some chromosomes removed in order to make bad music. They grew up with a papa who produced records for The Replacements, and they didn't have to drive far down the streets of Mississippi to catch Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside in the flesh. Then one of 'em got into hip-hop, and what you get is the NMAs-a fusion of then and now. Of dirty old juke-joint juice and alt-rock's knack for taking a nail file to pretty things. Of long jams that are just missing Greg Allmann's sideburns and a few beats worthy of a lowered El Camino.
The Bloody Hollies @ Blind Melons. I upload every CD sent to CityBeat into my iPod. Each morning, I shit, shave and hit “shuffle.” I listen until a song just reaches out of the player, grabs my nuts and screams, “I am gloriousness!” Then I look down, see what it is and give it a four- or five-star rating. Most bands in these pages start as a rating on an iPod. Sadly modern, but true. So, a few months back, we did a story on a New York band relocating to San Diego. They were signed to iconic garage-rock label Alive/Disaster, which put out the first Black Keys records. Blah, blah, blah... I uploaded their record. I hit “shuffle.” A few hours later, I thought I heard The White Stripes and Jack was extraordinarily pissed off. My iPod read “Bloody Hollies.” Another hour, another song kicks me in the shins. “Bloody Hollies.” Wow, I thought. So I sat down and listened to their whole new album, If Footmen Tire You. It sets things on fire. Their bassist still lives in New York, so they're my favorite new semi-kinda-local band. And I'll bet my shuffle function that they'll grab your nuts, too.
Cindy Lee Berryhill @ Dizzy's. Has it really been seven years since Cindy Lee released an album (and that was a live disc recorded on her tour of fans' homes)? Yes, it has. But the consciously outsider folk singer is starting to scratch her seven-year itch. Her new song “When Did Jesus Become a Republican?” (“Instead of sharin' with the lepers/sellin' shares of Haliburton”) got a boost onto Sirius radio by her old pal, Mojo Nixon, and she's in the studio recording her new album, with cameos by the Truckee Brothers and John Doe of X. Cindy's a genuine talent who followed her quirky muse too far for commercial viability (white girl talking blues can only go so far), but sounds like she's back into what us common folk call “songs.” A minor renaissance worth hearing.
Peter Hook (DJ set) @ The Casbah. Basically, this is nothing more than a geek-fest for people who once had geometric haircuts-albeit a geek-fest with a founding member of Joy Division and the bassist for New Order (See him, touch him! Quiz him about the bass line on “Love Will Tear Us Apart!”). At similar gigs last year, he spun his favorite records old and new, plus New Order tracks very few humans have heard. He's apparently very approachable, too, viewing it as his chance to get to talk to fans. So call it “Blue Sunday” and geek out.
The Briefs @ The Kensington Club. The Briefs give their fans headaches. The Seattle punks are one of the best live bands on the planet but can't seem to nail their brand of two-minute fury on record. Floored by their stage prowess, Interscope Records even signed 'em for a brief second but backed out. That's good for you, because pogo-ing to classic shout-punk songs that last as long as teenage sex is better in a small club like this.
The Wanda Jackson & Rosie Flores Show @ The Belly Up. Rosie Flores must giggle every time she sees a poster for this show. Flores, San Diego's most famous rockabilly gal, was a huge Wanda Jackson fan growing up. Jackson was one of America's first rockabilly stars, sharing the stage with Elvis and churning out top-10 hits like “Right or Wrong” and “In the Middle of a Heartache.” But she and her hubby found God in the '80s. Nothing wrong with the big J.C., but it meant Jackson all but ditched nightclub life. Looking to change that, Flores invited her to sing on her 1995 album, Rockabilly Filly. Then the two started touring together, and Jackson finally released another rockabilly record-2001's Heart Trouble. It was awesome, especially on duets with Elvis Costello and Flores. Now they're mutual fans, friends and collaborators.