PLAN A: Jose Gonzalez @ The Casbah. An Argentinean-born, Swedish-bred singer-songwriter, Gonzalez' music is that deadly sort of quiet that feels way more intense than punk. Live, it's a crapshoot. We've seen him get lost amid crowd chatter, and blow away an intent audience. Either way, he's an artist you must hear and see. www.jose-gonzalez.com. PLAN B: Celtic Frost @ House of Blues. If you're not a big-time heavy metal fan, forget it. But true heshians should be drowned in cow's blood for missing this show. Celtic Frost's 1984 album, Morbid Tales, is one of the first that started Europe's dominant death-metal tradition. www.celticfrost.com.
PLAN A: Magnolia Electric Co. w/ Califone. Frontman Jason Molina formed this project after he hung up Songs: Ohia, a one-man thing that sounded like a gorgeous cat dying a slow death, gorgeously. Magnolia is more fleshed-out Americana, and better than anything Molina's done. Califone is just more goodness from Thrill Jockey Records-low-down Appalachian music meets warm, electronic gizmos. www.magnoliaelectric co.com, www.pastrysharp.com. PLAN B: Album Leaf @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown. San Diego's reigning king of ambient electro-pop serves as house orchestra for the city's best monthly art-party. There's also a bar, for those who better appreciate art when inebriated (note arty word for "shitfaced"). www.albumleaf.com.
PLAN A: Man Man @ The Casbah. If you only have the sleep-deprived constitution for one show during the workweek, see this mental ward waiting to happen. The six-piece from Philadelphia pretty much takes Tom Waits' voice and mixes it with a talent show's capacity for toy instruments (kazoos are rad!) plus a jam-band's joi de improv. www.wearemanman.com. PLAN B: Manuok w/ neonthief @ Lestat's. Manuok is Scott Mercado, who plays in San Diego bands Via Satellite and Black Heart Procession. He's got one of the best nuts-in-a-vice voices we've ever heard, and his distorted indie-dirges are catchy little things. Neonthief is a plaintive indie-rock band, the best young outfit we've heard in San Diego in a while. www.manuok.com, www.myspace.com/neon thief. PLAN C: Live @ Viejas. Yes, Mental Jewelry was a pretentious collegiate hippie record. Yes, the rest of their albums were, too. But this band is better than you want to admit. www.friendsoflive.com.
PLAN A: Gov't Mule w/ Donavan Frankenreiter @ Open Air Theatre. If you've heard the live recording of Warren Haynes at last year's Bonnaroo Festival, you know he is one of the greatest talents of our generation (see story on this page). Frankenreiter is a pro surfer (I know... groan) whose laidback soul songs prove he might've missed his calling. Well, that is unless you buy his albums and make him a rock star. www.mule.net, www.donavonf.com. PLAN B: Madeleine Peyroux @ 4th & B. In 1996, the Athens-born jazz vocalist dropped an impeccable album of smoky standards. But apparently the world wasn't quite ready for a Norah Jones-type, and she faded into obscurity. Live, expect some jazz classics, originals and covers of Tom Waits, Dylan and Elliott Smith. www.madeleinepeyroux.com. PLAN C: Asobi Seksu @ The Beauty Bar. A New York band with a vocalist who sings in both English and her native Japanese adds a bit of spectacle to the noise-rock and shoegazer movement. www.asobiseksu.com.
PLAN A: Rancid @ House of Blues. A rare local performance by the band that basically kicked off the neo-punk movement of the 1990s. With a couple hundred tracks to choose from, fans could see all three of their upcoming San Diego shows and not hear a repeat. But bet on the entire venue belting "Ruby Soho" in unison at every gig-plus, a couple of acoustic tunes by the old punks. www.rancidrancid.com. PLAN B: Minmae w/ Arabella Harrison @ Kava Lounge. Minmae is the lo-fi electronic pop puzzle created by former San Diegan Sean Brooks-distorted post-modern ditties that are half Smog and half Flying Saucer Attack. Arabella Harrison is quickly becoming San Diego's version of Lucinda Williams-sturdy Americana music with fantastic vocals that sound perfect for some ill-reputed watering hole. www.minmae.com, www.arabellaharrison.com. PLAN C: The Turbo A.C.'s @ The Casbah. If Minmae confuses you, walk one block over to The Casbah for New York's urban hillbilly punk band, The Turbo A.C.'s. www.turboacs.com. PLAN D: Mosquitos @ HOB's Fifth Avenue Side Stage. NPR loves this band-which means their light, Brazilian indie-pop is arty enough, yet still digestible for 50-something liberals. www.mosquitosnyc.com.
PLAN A: Cold War Kids @ HOB's Fifth Avenue Side Stage. The CWKs were set to open for The Futureheads, but the latter had to cancel their tour due to vocalist-guitarist Barry Hyde's tendonitis. Tickets for that show will be honored for this, and it's worth it-the Kids are one of our favorite new bands. They've got chunky guitar riffs, Nathan Willet's soaring, raw voice (think Buckley meets Wolfmother) and some stomping piano-rock anthems that will be radio hits very soon. www.coldwarkids.com. PLAN B: Dresden Dolls @ Soma. The Dolls originally made a splash because their angry-female piano punk was matched with a visually alluring German cabaret act. Now after two solid albums, they don't even need the face makeup and the bowler caps. www.dresden dolls.com.
PLAN A: The National @ The Casbah. Matt Berninger's late-night vocals and his seedy characters made Alligator one of the best records of 2005 (see story on this page). www.americanmary.com. PLAN B: Mofro @ the Belly Up. Due to complications in the universal order of things, this band is not yet huge. Self-respectin' hippies need to wake up. It's pure Floridian swamp music, with JJ Grey playing the role of white-boy singer with a huge amount of soul, and keyboard and guitar jams that simply ache. www.mofro.net. PLAN C: Kasabian @ House of Blues. We erroneously wrote off these Brits as a band with a better image and graphic-design skills than actual tunes. Their self-titled debut in 2004 has some fantastic, icy post-punk anthems. Their new album, Empire, isn't quite as solid-but these guys are a talent. www.kasabian.co.uk.