Everyone's a Critic

Sleater-Kinney's No Cities to Love

The band that kept the heart of the riot-grrrl movement pumping is back, in a wicked way. Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love burns bright and flames out on cue, blazing a trail for other punk ...

Make a wish with Mariachi El Bronx

Casbah's 26th birthday a sellout blowout

One year removed from its month-long 25th birthday party, the Casbah celebrated the big two-six by inviting mariachi-punk band Mariachi El Bronx and a sold-out crowd. But the iconic club wasn’t the only one who’d ...

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, by Belle & Sebastian

There hasn’t been a new Belle & Sebastian record in five years. The Scottish pop group made good use of that time to develop fresh ideas for Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. Sonically, the ...

Harp attack!

Big Jon's Harmonica Blues Blast tore it up at Proud Mary's

Never let it be said that San Diego isn’t a blues town. To start the year off with a bang, Big Jon Atkinson brought some of his friends together for a winter blast of blues ...

Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems

“Slow” opens and sets the tone — not, oddly enough, a tone of “slow” but a statement of intense personal vision, with humor, with openness, but only partial openness. This is how I’m doing things, ...

Nocturnal meditations in the key of jazz

Eighteen-member Night People ensemble interprets tunes of Joe Garrison

San Diego composer Joe Garrison has reemerged into the local jazz scene in the past few years, and his concert at the Loft in La Jolla made waves with the full-house assembled to witness the ...

Dick Dale surfs into Solana Beach

King of Surf Guitar shreds it at Belly Up

Dick Dale returned to San Diego for a holiday show at the Belly Up Tavern. The “King of Surf Guitar” seemed fit and healthy, engaging with the audience and showing some camaraderie with the rhythm ...

In the Lonely Hour, by Sam Smith

Arguably 2014’s best (and most talked about) new artist, Sam Smith proves on his debut album that the hype is justified. While many first discovered the British singer’s now-trademark falsetto on Disclosure’s house hit “Latch,” ...

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 ...

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