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Stories by Dryw Keltz

Betty turns 21

Helmet to play album in its entirety on tour

In 1992, New York–based alt-metal band Helmet released its major-label debut, Meantime, which featured the single “Unsung.” The song’s video was in heavy rotation on MTV. The following year, Helmet released Betty, an album that ...

Your chance to end up on the Drive-By Truckers’ next record

Acoustic drive-by

In 2008, the Athens, Georgia–based alt-country act Drive-By Truckers took a different musical trip. They toured with acoustic guitars, sat down for the performances, and road-tested material that would end up on 2008’s Brighter Than ...

Bouncer-friendly Punch Brothers tuck 'em in at the Observatory

Here’s a phrase that’s probably never been uttered by man: “the banjo player with mystique.” That’s Noam Pikelny in a nutshell. Decked out in a white suit, Pikelny’s deep voice and deadpan banter served as ...

Creeker punches it up

To say Chris Thile is interested in music would be akin to saying that boxing is reliant on punching. The guy is obsessed. He was born in Oceanside in 1981, and he told the Reader ...

Swervedriver — sneaky good

British shoegaze greats kick off their tour at Casbah

Swervedriver arrived in San Diego for the first date of a tour in support of their new album, I Wasn't Born To Lose You. Absent when they hit the stage was long-time bassist Steve George, ...

Wired for sound

Music venues as a metaphor for The Wire

Last year was a bloodbath for local music venues. So before we start our rundown of venues rocking 2015, we would like to pay homage to our fallen comrades of 2014, the clubs that won’t ...

Bands to watch

Anyone who has flipped through the music section of the Reader has seen the names of countless local acts listed under the banners of countless venues. In fact, there are so many bands in this ...

Nasty, beautiful, Swervedrivery

The 1990s shoegaze band Swervedriver may have reformed in 2008, but it took them seven years to pull together a record. “I think it was Jimmy [Hartridge, guitarist] and Steve [George, bass player] that initially ...

Khatib the killer

Garage-rock done right on this three-band night

Fans of rock via the garage were treated to a night of the genre done right with this triple-header at Casbah. First up was one of the local bands of the moment, Shady Francos. The ...

There’s gonna be a resolution

New year, new resolutions. Whereas “normal humans” resolve to accomplish goals such as losing weight, swearing less, and cutting back on alcohol, musicians come from a different mindset. They’re “cut from a different cloth,” as ...

All you want for Christmas

Wages are stagnant, album sales miserable, and download revenues a joke. In this harsh, wintry economic climate, musicians are more dependent than ever on Santa Claus to deliver the goods. Circa 2014, it seems as ...

Bacon, lettuce, and tornado

Looking for an off-the-wall gift for your white-elephant holiday party? Get to Lou’s Records in Encinitas and pick up one of their random mystery boxes. Each box costs $5 and contains around 30 compact discs. ...

Rocking the half-pipe

Cass McCombs is a road dog. On tour, he has witnessed a mix of cultures across the U.S. and often travels solely for the sake of learning about a new regional music scene. Though he ...

Need a good face-melting?

Purling Hiss was spawned in an incestuous Philadelphia music scene. It was just another band in the stew. Whereas other scenes would fall apart with too many cooks, the City of Brotherly Love apparently embraces ...

More punch to the gut

Ben Johnson holds the unique position of watching rock shows for a living and occasionally gracing the same stage. He has walked through the door at the Casbah hundreds of times to clock in for ...

Chad “Guitar Dork” Meatbody

After honing his chops as a touring guitarist and bassist for the likes of Mikal Cronin and FUZZ, Chad Ubovich decided to throw together some songs of his own. The first unit out of the ...

Not quiet on the set

Millions worldwide are utilizing smartphones to capture concert footage these days, but few are producing anything worth watching. These clips often capture truncated versions of songs, and the video quality is shaky at best with ...

Derailed by dentistry

It’s tough to believe that the New Pornographers have been chugging along for 15 years now. During this tenure, bandleader Carl Newman and company have delivered their infectious blend of sugary indie rock to the ...

Blitzen Trapper’s evil plan

Blitzen Trapper released VII about a year ago on their new home, Vagrant Records. The songs on the album blend the band’s country-rock standards with a dose of funk. So, how did these Portland boys ...

For Temples it’s venues

“Our hometown feels like it’s as far away from a city, or any place of culture, really, as far as you can go. It gives you that space away from everything. If we were based ...

The Baseball Project swings through town

Veteran-rocker supergroup slides into Soda Bar

The Baseball Project squeezed in a San Diego show before the end of the regular 2014 MLB season. The lineup for this evening featured the usual gunslingers, Scott McCaughey and Steve Wynn, alternating lead guitar ...

Everything comes back to the game

In 2007, members of REM, the Dream Syndicate, and the Young Fresh Fellows united for a common cause — to write songs about baseball. “We wanted to do an ice-hockey band but had been beaten ...

Worst. Headache. Ever.

Ben Bartel is the 29-year-old singer/guitarist for local acoustic-rockers Mayfield, a group whose sound Bartel equates to “a guy and a girl arguing with each other musically.” The argument almost came to a crashing halt ...

The Hold Steady hold up

...despite the missing piano man

Cheap Girls got the crowd warmed up for the Hold Steady. The trio from Lansing, Michigan, fueled by Ian Graham’s crooning vocals, was a throwback to ’90s alternative rock, most notably the Smoking Popes — ...

Mr. Kilgour’s SoCal holiday

When you think New Zealand, quality rock isn’t usually what comes to mind. Back in the early ’80s, though, a small label called Flying Nun Records began churning out stimulating releases by bands such as ...

Hold Steady Deathtrap

After a four-year hiatus, Brooklyn-based alt-rock band the Hold Steady is back on the road supporting a new disc, Teeth Dreams. They’ll be at Belly Up Thursday night, July 31. The band toured relentlessly during ...

Muff for life

Kim Shattuck pummel you, too?

“It would be weird having my grating, aggravating-sounding voice on ‘Here Comes Your Man.’ It would be really awkward.”

Guided by Voices is back on beat

Indie stalwarts deliver rock-and-roll salvation to Belly Up

There is an old saying in the music biz that a band is only as good as its drummer. On this evening, Kevin March proved that theory. March recently replaced another Kevin (Fennell) on the ...

More punk than the punks

Devo in the Southland

The intergalactic anomaly known as Devo is due to land at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Monday, June 30. It won’t be the first time the band has stormed the shores of ...

Where punk rock and comedy commingle

Black Fag and Meatmen split a bill at Soda Bar

While watching the “absolutely fabulous” Black Flag tribute band “Black Fag” at the Soda Bar, the major flaw with the current touring version of Black Flag finally dawned on me. There is no joy in ...

El Camino breakdown

Last year, Camper Van Beethoven released the first of a pair of California concept albums. La Costa Perdida set its sights on Northern California and is, overall, the brighter collection of songs. In a twist ...

Blistering band, bleeding ears

Girls and boys, the Men!

Over their last three albums, Brooklyn band the Men have evolved from their punk roots to more traditional rock. In fact, their most recent effort, Tomorrow's Hits, feels like a classic-rock album covered by a ...

Wasted Years, by OFF!

The second official LP by the blessedly angry OFF! is a hell of a ride. The group is taking the foot off the gas every once in a while, and the newfound dynamics pay dividends. ...

Local cops have a soft spot for pop-punk?

San Diego may never get the national recognition of being a trendy musical hotbed alongside the likes of Seattle, Austin, and Brooklyn, but for the adventurous fan seeking quality indie and garage rock, the city ...

Wiggin' out at Casbah...

...with Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

Similar to Stephen Malkmus’s old band, Pavement, there is a Replacements-like quality to the Jicks’ live sets. They can be the best band in the world on one night, and they can be the worst ...

True band love

For fans of ’90s indie-rock, Speedy Ortiz sounds like more than a throwback. They come across as an authentic representative of that musical era. The tangled guitar lines, which always seem to find their way ...

Jim’s got Jimbo’s number

When Jim Heath adopted the name “Reverend Horton Heat” in the ’80s, he didn’t have high hopes for his particular brand of “rock and roll influenced by mid-century American music, especially rockabilly.” “When you’re in ...

Sun Kil Moon's Benji

Recording as Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek’s new album, Benji, walks a fine line between tear-jerk confessionals and R. Kelly–style stream-of-consciousness stories. The everyday recollections of “Ben’s My Friend” feel kind of like Kozelek’s own ...

What goes around...and around

Return of the cassette tape.

Just when you thought it was safe to throw out that old cassette deck, it appears as if magnetic tape is making a comeback. Nestled in a nook in the southwest corner of M-Theory Music ...

Broken Bells' After the Disco

Wondertwins James Mercer (the Shins) and Danger Mouse (recent producer of every band in the universe) have once again transformed into Broken Bells to deliver full-length number two to their eager listeners. Unfortunately, this one ...

Hypnotic Califone

Califone's show at the Soda Bar fell on a Sunday night, five days after New Year's Eve. The event was a mellow "last hurrah" for the holiday season. A subtle transition into the standard workweeks ...

Don't think Parquet Courts is a silly band

Donuts only

Andrew Savage says his band Parquet Courts is no joke, but they like to joke around. He says he never thought Light Up Gold would be reissued and they’d be touring it.

Dear Santa...

San Diego musicians are asked what they want for Christmas. Among desires: guitar pickups, Pabst Blue Ribbon, skateboard, Harley-Davidson, a four-week Tahitian vacation…

Bad Religion's Christmas Songs

If you want to put a little skip into Santa's step this holiday season, throw on Bad Religion's new album, Christmas Songs, to greet him as he slides down your chimney. You read correctly, Bad ...

File under “Genuine”

How did the band X come to establish an annual holiday show in San Diego? This year they play the Belly Up on December 8.

Pearl Jamming Viejas, intimately

You know a band is gigantic when they refer to a concert at Viejas Arena as being “intimate.” When Eddie Vedder announced this to an audience of 12,000 fans, he was not joking. Circa 2013, ...

Meat Puppets: Just a band

Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the Meat Puppets were originally a hardcore band when they formed in 1980. From the start they mixed a little country weirdness into their sets, and, soon enough, this weirdness became ...

One less bad rock band

Primary influences are cited as being “hard times, shitty jobs, and crappy girlfriends.” Add to this concoction the dynamic duo of Merle Haggard and the Replacements and you have the basic formula for El Monte Slim.

Worship rock

Hailing the Lord and rock and roll at the same time.

Musicians Bill Maeda, Kenrick Buchanan, and Anthony West play in bands at San Diego churches. It is believed that worship rock is here to stay, due to the youthful congregants’ interest in music.

Quadra-guitar party jam at Soda Bar

Whereas the early ’90s were all about 20-somethings drowning in a sea of grunge, the onset of this decade seems to find its youngsters awash in a sea of folk and indie-pop. So it was ...

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