Everyone's a Critic

We pay up to $25 for CD reviews and up to $100 for concert reviews published in our print edition. Web-only publication pays $10 for CD reviews; $20 for concerts (+$5 for photo).

Heaven & Earth, by Yes

“Wimps,” Robert Christgau sneered, comparing them to Talking Heads — who were wimps, he proclaimed, without “vagueness or cheap romanticism.” But that was ’77; the Heads (whom I love) left us; and four Englishmen, fronted ...

Jump, jive, and Ho ho ho!

Brian Setzer blasts through Temecula with a holiday showcase and a little rockabilly for your stocking

Though he has made music for decades, Brian Setzer’s own influences extend to the early 20th century. Which is why it only makes sense that one of his guitars now hangs in the Smithsonian Museum ...

Stevie Nicks's 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

The too-expensive deluxe version, which this isn’t, adds two of the most righteous songs, including one about a rendezvous with God; neither version omits the weakest cut, “Cathouse Blues,” an arched cat back before the ...

America, meet your new heartthrob

Aussie artist Vance Joy wows 'em with simple sounds

When Taylor Swift announced she was taking Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy on her 2015 World Tour, I was surprised. His hit “Riptide” is catchy and charming, but the acoustic vibe of his debut album doesn’t ...

Capital Cities' spirited retro sound

Electro-pop act packs House of Blues and gets everyone moving

I got my introduction to the L.A.-based electro-pop band Capital Cities — beyond the megahit “Safe & Sound” — at Coachella this year. There I discovered their penchant for lazy hooks and lofty horns, which ...

Black Star Elephant, by Nico & Vinz

Nico & Vinz have crafted a pure, primal debut album that rejoices in the band’s chosen path while applauding others’ individuality. The reach of this singer/songwriter duo from Oslo, Norway, had touched several continents with ...

Dessert followed by veggies

San Diego Symphony ends the concert with the vegetable dish.

Sometimes we’ve gotta eat our veggies after we have dessert. I’ve never tried it, but it’s basically what happened during the last half of the San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday night. The first half ...

Lucinda Williams's Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams is an acquired taste. If you have it, Christmas came early this year with the release of her new double-disc Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. The set collects 19 new ...

Trip the Light Fantastic

Joy Division/New Order founding member Peter Hook has the floor

Erstwhile New Order member Peter Hook let his Light show shine in San Diego for the first time. It must have been a bitter pill when the band he cofounded reformed without him or his ...

Redeemer of Souls, by Judas Priest

A wonderful friend of mine, gay, wants to know what the new Judas Priest album is all about (lyrically). I tell him that (lyrically) it’s about blood, glory, bloody glory, steel blades, fighting and dying ...

Primus rocks the Chocolate Factory

Claypool and crew put on "kind of a play" at Cal Center for the Arts Escondido

“I know we’re Primus and we suck,” said frontman Les Claypool, to cheers from the packed California Center for the Arts in Escondido. “But if you want to yell and scream, get it out of ...

Run the Jewels put a beat on Porter's Pub

El-P and Killer Mike make for a weaponized rap attack

“This place is ratchet as f##k!" exclaimed a damp El-P to the Porter's Pub crowd, summoning cheers from the dank pit of restless angst. The recently formed duo Run the Jewels, an amalgam of former ...

We Are Nots, by Nots

Slow songs are overrated

Any band that says they’re punk but then tries to sneak in a slow song — imposters. If you’re looking for authentic, brazen punk, the four women in Nots have it. There’s a bold intensity ...

Johnny Marr's Playland

Since the demise of the Smiths, Johnny Marr has worked on collaborations with feverish intensity, so it was no surprise that it took so long for his debut solo record to happen, but it is ...

JW-Jones has got your blues right here!

Canada band heats it up at Tio Leo's

If you haven’t heard about Canadian bluesman JW-Jones, you’ve got to get out more. The Ottawa guitarist picked San Diego as the last stop on a ten-day West Coast romp and he made it perfectly ...

Skies clear as Switchfoot lights up Open Air

Alt-rock hits wind-down tour as they wind-up a hometown crowd

With a only a few stops left on their tour in support of this year’s Fading West record, alternative-rock band Switchfoot was embraced by their hometown crowd at SDSU’s Cal Coast Open Air Theatre. Not ...

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