Few (if any) “alt-rock” bands over the past three decades have held their mettle like NYC art-punk perennials Sonic Youth. Some expert wrote that the band’s a “living glue,” bonding ‘70s post-punk to ‘80s alternative to ‘90s DIY to the Oughts’ net-age indie cultcha. I’ll buy that. Last year, SY signed to Matador after 20 years as Geffen’s vanguard and this year released their first for the indie stalwart, their 16th proper, The Eternal. It’s a variety pack of SY-isms, with Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo’s raw-sugar pop-rock cuts over (often manic) dual-guitar, to Kim Gordon’s rhythm-driven she-punk manifestos. (For better or worse, The Eternal lists to Gordon’s side of the ship.) For the uninitiated, there’s a mix-tape sorta thing that was put out by — gasp, they didn’t — Starbucks last year, Hits Are for Squares, which makes for a comfortable entry into the band’s postmodern pad. With San Francisco’s psychedelic noise-pop trio Sic Alps, this House of Blues bill stages the two sets to get to tonight. Digression alert: SY tour bassist Mark Ibold’s recently reconvened Pavement just added Sic Alps to its ATP line-up. Shut up. That’s apropos.... Miss the door downtown (or even after the show), haul it up to Soda Bar, where L.A. quirk-punx Abe Vigoda and beach-blanket throwbacks Best Coast (big-ell Love their Connie-Francis-fronting-the-Vivians vibe) join Sconnie electronica kitty cat Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus, for one trippy-good triple bill.... Else: Belly Up books blues-guitar guru Robben Ford’s traveling revue Trial by Fire, featuring Michael Landau, Jimmy Haslip, Gary Novak, and Grass Heat...and Casbah curates a Visual Underground event — “film, rock, and art to drink to.” The rock’ll be brought by poppy scenesters Crash Encore and Republic of Letters.
If country-fried swing’s your thing, there will be lots to hoot and howl about when the Southland’s big bopper Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys make their appearance at Casbah’s month of 21-year-anniversary gigs Friday night. The rockabilly revivalists have been a Casbah staple for almost as long and will headline sets that include that double-neck devil T.K. Smith and his Smith’s Ranch Boys and like-minded locals Brawley.... Latin-jazz maestro Pete Escovedo brings his family band to Anthology. The Pete Escovedo Orchestra includes his percussionist kids Juan, Peter Michael, and Sheila E. Suggest you stretch your hips, kids, that’s a lot of B.P.S.... Reggae rolls into Belly Up when U.K. toaster Pato Banton takes the Solana Beach stage. FYI: Banton is a “spiritually enlightened Urantian” now, touring to spread the word off of his latest, Destination Paradise. Now Generation (feat. Colin Giles) will set the stage.... Uptown Friday night: soul-jazz jam band Pocket’ll turn it inside out at Bar Pink...Radio Room dials up L.A.’s “spaghetti western wizard rockers” Bella Novela and locals the Fascination and Vinyl Film...while Ruby Room hosts a CD-release thing for Itai Faierman and his Beatles-inspired trio the Mashtis, with Lessons from Zeke, Golden Red, and Simeon Flick.
Tex-Mex Grammy winners Los Lobos lope into Belly Up Saturday night behind their fresh-off-the-press family-friendly disc Los Lobos Goes Disney. ¡Ay yi yi! L.A. alt-rock act Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds opens (not to be confused with Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, which, BTW, if emotive instrumentals are your thing, I got to recommend Cave and Ellis’s White Lunar music-for-movies disc if yer still sitting on a gift card).... Also up thataway, Ché Café stages a fun one with party-rockers Apes of Wrath and hook-heavy indie kids Da Bears, who are supposedly going to drop us a new disc this year — paws crossed.... It’ll be “nardcore” punks Ill Repute with like-minded locals Critical Me and Pass the Axe digging the pit at Brick by Brick in Bay Park. Oxnard quartet Ill Repute has been thrashing since 1981 and this year hit the road to deliver Nardcore — 30 Years Later.... Brian Karscig’s new joint the Nervous Wreckords will split a bill with Charlie Ware’s Midnight Rivals at Casbah. Black Hondo’s up first. Have you listened to the Wreckords? Sounds as if Brian’s got the beat.... And uptown there’s a trio of solid indie-rock bills, as Soda Bar draws Nautical Disaster, Napoleon Complex, Death on Mars, and Behind the Wagon...Ruby Room shines its light on NYC act That Time of the Month and locals Dirty Legs, Mermaid, and the ever-effervescent Wendy Bailey...and odd-pop peeps Hargo and Marcelo Radulovich coif at Beauty Bar.
The pride of Montclair, New Jersey, Duncan Sheik will play the Old Globe Monday night. Tell you why: the singer-songwriter crossed over into Broadway show tunes with the award-winning Spring Awakening. Expect this thee-a-tah set’ll be heavy with that.... Brooklyn’s ambient experimentalists Lymbyc Systym and Portland tourmates Helios bring the chill to the Ché. Drew Andrews and the Spectral Cities open the show.... And the funky fun Styletones will kick out another Bar Pink Monday-nighter...while the Casbah’s Anti-Monday team tags the folk-rocking NYC band Alberta Cross and San Antone’s Hacienda.
It’s hoedown Tuesday ‘round town as Cowboy Mouth’s Rock and Roll Mardi Gras reaches Belly Up. That one’s got trad country wailer Junior Brown on the bill.... And cowpunk acts the Screamin’ Yeehaws, Flexx Bronco, and Pushin Rope ride into O.B. rock spot Winstons.
The Weezer thing was canceled at RIMAC, if that earth-shattering news missed you, but — BUT — Stan Ridgway’s here to make good on his September 22 Belly Up postponement. Yes, you can use those old tickets to get in, and yes, Sara Petite’s still setting the stage. Don’t roll your eyes at me, Weezer fan, Stan’s the atomic bomb.... Casbah’s hosting a dual CD release Wednesday, as Drew Andrews digitally drops his solo shot Playing Birthday Games, and Boomsnake delivers their re/visions EP. Writer will open on the main stage. Pop-rock duo Metrofique plays the Atari.... Prog and fusion freaks, Brick by Brick will stack up solid studio dudes Allan Holdsworth (Level 42), Terry Bozzio (Missing Persons, Zappa), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), and Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, XTC). Openers Science Fiction will give a jazzy post-rock primer before the real head trip hits.
— Barnaby Monk