Wednesday, Jan. 25
PLAN A: The Wood Brothers, Sarah and Christian Dugas @ Belly Up. Chris Wood is best known as a founding member of jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood, but for years he's also played in The Wood Brothers with his bro, Oliver. A perfect pair, they offer up hearty folk with striking vocal harmonies, jazzy bass and subdued guitar. BACKUP PLAN: Megalodon, Corey Biggs, Austin Speed, Gum-B, Tryxx @ El Dorado.
Thursday, Jan. 26
PLAN A: Zodiac Death Valley, Shapes of Future Frames, The Short Eyes, Chango Rey & His Broken Heart Beat @ Soda Bar. The guys in Zodiac Death Valley aren't your everyday folk-rock wusses. With their raw-throated vocals, battered-sounding instruments and fevered psychedelic breakdowns, they find beauty in even the grimiest corners of a needle-strewn alleyway. PLAN B: Nico Vega, Deap Vally, The Filthy Violets @ The Casbah. L.A. rockers Nico Vega have gotten plenty of buzz, but don't miss Deap Vally, a blues-rock outfit featuring two badass Valley girls. With their torn-up Daisy Dukes, crude riffs and feral vocals, they're a sight to see onstage. BACKUP PLAN: Secret Fun Club, Le Mutant, The Mo Odds @ Eleven.
Friday, Jan. 27
PLAN A: Wolves in the Throne Room, Griever, Ten Thousand Leagues @ Ché Café. Residing on an organic farm just outside Olympia, Wash., black-metal luminaries Wolves in the Throne Room merge their eco-spiritual philosophies with the harsh pagan views of the genre's Norwegian forebears to craft an epic sound that's beautifully symphonic yet frighteningly dark. Last year's excellent Celestial Lineage was one of the best metal releases of 2011, garnering props from the likes of Pitchfork and NPR. PLAN B: Total Eclipse, Charlie Rock, Grandmasta Rats, Question @ El Dorado. A member of The X-Ecutioners, a legendary New York DJ crew, Total Eclipse helped pioneer the art of hip-hop turntablism back in the '90s. These days, he's still juggling beats, laying down funky tracks and collaborating with heavyweights like Rob Swift. BACKUP PLAN: The Howls feat. Sara Watkins, Jesse LaMonaca and the Dime Novels, Family Wagon, Old Tiger @ The Casbah.
Saturday, Jan. 28
PLAN A: Nada Surf, The Soft Pack, Republic of Letters, Cuckoo Chaos @ 4th & B. Nada Surf have yet to shed the yoke that is “Popular,” the novelty hit that briefly put the New York trio on the map back in 1996 and has hung on them ever since. But they've proven they're no one-hit wonders with several albums of sweet, hard-charging rock, and they're as endearing as ever on their new one. PLAN B: New Mexico, Chairs Missing, Tropical Popsicle, Cathedral X @ Soda Bar. They're baaack! After taking a long break from playing live shows—too long, if you ask me—local indie-rockers New Mexico have honed a new sound, giving their infectious riffs a Cure-style sheen with glossy reverb and hypnotic synths. BACKUP PLAN: The Muffs, Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver, Widows @ The Casbah.
Sunday, Jan. 29
PLAN A: Dengue Fever, Secret Chiefs 3, Dark Thirty @ The Casbah. Led by former Mr. Bungle member Trey Spruance, Secret Chiefs 3 incorporate everything from Indian pop to deathmetal into their easterntinged instrumentals. It's weird and unpredictable, sure, but that only makes it even gnarlier. PLAN B: The Adicts, The World/ Inferno Friendship Society, F.O.A. @ House of Blues. Thirty-seven years is a long time to be in a punk band, but English mainstays The Adicts are still going strong with their Droog outfits and awesome live shows, as YouTube videos attest. BACKUP PLAN: Chasing Kings, Future You, Tactical Ffever @ Soda Bar.
Monday, Jan. 30
PLAN A: American Royalty @ The Loft at UCSD. It never occurred to me that classic-rock and electronic dance music would sound good together, but L.A.'s American Royalty prove that it does with their nightclub-ready beats, swaggering vocals and vintage licks. BACKUP PLAN: Dancing Strangers, Shiva Trash, San Pedro el Cortez @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, Jan. 31
PLAN A: Fujiya & Miyagi, Pal&Drome @ The Casbah. As you'll read in our feature, English rockers Fujiya & Miyagi take inspiration from Kraftwerk and Neu!'s motorik grooves, but they place less focus on mechanical precision than quirky pop hooks and impish antics. BACKUP PLAN: VHS or Beta, Hyena, Adam Salter, Gabe Vega @ Hard Rock Hotel.