The Brooklyn-band hype machine needed something different, a new sound and language to distract from the steady stream of ornate art-pop acts — the TV on the Radios and Dirty Projectors, the Animal Collectives and Grizzly Bears — flowing down the East River from that NY borough. Enter Vivian Girls, three Ramones-inspired ladies with '60s girl-group sass, detuned, overblown guitar swagger, and a s/t collection of inspired, pop-punk numbers about alienation and heartbreak. You had to hit repeat. Their obstinate lo-fi-ness and decided lack of chops has been a hindrance and brought the backlash bitch-slap down hard on the Vivians, whose sophomore set, Everything Goes Wrong, “falls flat for its sameness.” Sameness? What does Ramones-inspired mean? The Vivians are more “Brooklyn” than any of them. Get to their Space for a taste (try “Where Do You Run To?” off the debut or their new single — a Chantels cover — “He’s Gone”) and check out this gig to get to tonight at Casbah, where the she-punks will be joined by like-minded Los Angelinos Best Coast and Pearl Harbor.... Miss the door in Middletown, Bar Pink will host a benefit for Haiti, featuring garage-rockers The Old In Out and Grand Tarantula.
“Michicago”-based instrumental sextet NOMO will bring their Afro-beat post-rock jazz chops to Casbah Friday night. They are out to tout their latest Ubiquity Records release Invisible Cities. Sounds like a very horn-y Tortoise. Engaging stuff, if you can forgive the occasional new-age refrain. With Mutant Space Boy, these’ll be some heady sets.... Down the street at Anthology, it’ll be Mark Hummel’s Harmonica Blowout, featuring Fabulous Thunderbird Kim Wilson and Riverside Rod Piazza blowing a night of West Coast swing for all you harp addicts.... A couple of good ones uptown, too, with electro-jam dance bands the Attack! and Achachay (Austin) taking the stage at Ruby Room.... Radio Room dials in Texan Scott H. Biram and ex–Legendary Shack Shakers the Dirt Daubers for a night of Austin punkabilly and Paducah bluegrass.
Rumble San Diego will ring the bell at Bar Pink Saturday night, when ex–Blood Brothers Jaguar Love takes on Mario Rubalcaba’s (RFTC, Hot Snakes, Earthless) new sonic assault Spider Fever at the NoPark hot spot. Drum-and-bass duo the Dabbers will be there to mop up.... Out at the Ken Club, it’ll be North County stray cats the Embalmers with beach-punks Chango Rey and NYC garage-rock gang the Choke for what promises to be one greezy triple decker.... Metal Blade Records artist Lizzy Borden plays 4th&B. The L.A. heavy-metal act has been on and off for nearly 30 years, regrouping behind constant lead singer Lizzy Borden for 2007’s conceptual song cycle Appointment with Death. Negative Void and Vascene are also on the bill.... The Mosh Lives Tour continues — this one’s actually billed as Mosh Lives II — spinning a pit at Soma with Emmure (NYC) and Terror (L.A.) and a whole bunch of other heart-racing hardcores.
So, it’s Saints v. Colts in Super Bowl number whatever. Celebrate (or annihilate) the outcome by heading up to Solana Beach for one of the gigs to get to this week, as the Thermals take the stage at Belly Up behind Thao with the Get Down Stay Down and Boomsnake. The Thermals are a three-piece pop-punk act from Portland that hit the world stage behind 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine, an inspired song cycle that “tells the story of a young couple who must flee a United States governed by fascist faux-Christians.” Whatever. The hook-heavy record holds water and is one hell of a peak to re-reach for head Thermal Hutch Harris, who looks and acts as if he could be Malkmus’s kid brother. Last year’s follow-up, Now We Can See, followed Thermals formula in cadence and timbre but missed the mark in the songwriting. Still and all an engaging disc that creeps up on you with repeated listens. Their fifth, Personal Life, is due out on Kill Rock Stars later this year.
Langhorne, PA’s Langhorne Slim will play Casbah’s Anti-Monday with April Smith and the Great Picture Show. Slim’s a folk-pop singer-songwriter who’s made a commercial breakthrough in commercials. Get to his Space page, bend an ear to raw-sugar cut “Worries,” and see if you can place the ad.... Bedroom chanteuse Christina Tsui calls her solo acoustic act A Book About Elephants. Slowcoustic.com says of her debut EP, “a DIY masterpiece with its simple strumming, honest lyrics, and great melodies.” Check it out here: myspace.com/abookaboutelephants. And pick one up when the San Gabriel girl plays Espresso Roma in the Price Center at UCSD at 8p.... Uke virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro plays Belly Up behind his “world-music” recording Live. FYI: the Beatles, Zeppelin, and Michael Jackson are all part of young Jake’s world.
Son of folk-rock hero Steve Earle, Justin Townes Earle, will visit the Loft at UCSD. Justin’s a 28-year-old Nashville native currently making inroads for his Midnight at the Movies disc. In '09, the singer-songwriter won an AMA for Emerging Artist of the Year and is unapologetically likened to his namesake, country-folk artist Townes Van Zandt, as well as the legendary Hank Williams.... Odd-pop peeps Kenseth Thibideau (Sleeping People) and Rafter have appointments at the Beauty Bar with Chama, NM, big band Ohioan, a cinematic country act that blows woozy, rattles strings, and sings backwoods goth tales that recall our own Castanets and a little bit of the old Oldham Palace music.... Acourse, all the indie kidz will be at House of Blues, which has British alt-pop act the Editors. The Birmingham band is out to woo the world with its third effort, In This Light and on This Evening. Brooklyn trio the Antlers, which scored an indie-crit hit with last year’s dramatic-pop concept album Hospice, and emerging L.A. act Princeton will set the downtown stage.
Clap Your Hands front man Alec Ounsworth will check in at Casbah Wednesday behind his first solo disc, Mo Beauty, a critical curiosity that was inspired by the artist’s tenure in New Orleans. Anyone else who’s heard this get the feeling that this guy’s on a long, slow slide back to earth? I’m still rooting for him.... Annie Clark is St. Vincent, a singer-songwriter who’s worked with Sufjan Stevens and Polyphonic Spree and this year broke Billboard’s top 100 with her sophomore set Actor. Wildbirds and Peacedrums set the Solana Beach stage.... Else: an '80s goth-pop act revisited, Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel, plays Bar Pink...and multi-instrumentalist Grammy nominee (ten times!) and all-around soul sister Meshell Ndegeocello “presents the Best of Bitter & More” at Little It. supper club Anthology.
— Barnaby Monk