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Stories by Michael Caldwell

What is the name of this funk-bound train? Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings!

Soul revue did indeed Give the People What They Want at House of Blues

A soul revue of eight airtight musicians travels through groovy songs showcasing two strutting backup singers. If the crowd is already gyrating with joy and anticipation when the lead singer arrives, her hands held high ...

An evening with Rush has few equals

Bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee struggled to hit the high notes on the opener, keyboard-centric “Subdivisions,” which was no surprise considering the studio versions helium-high voice. However, Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart were so ...

Japandroids yell like hell to the heavens

Like a juvenile Neil Young, guitarist/vocalist Brian King cast electrified chords to the night sky over UCSD’s (partially open-air) Porter’s Pub. As the last blast drifted on the wind, the ample crowd applauded. King beamed, ...

De Vermis Mysteriis, by High on Fire

Woe to you of earth and sea, for this time the devil sends the beast from Oakland with mitigated wraith! And the problem is Jesus’ twin, who perished at birth, is reincarnated into a time ...

"Let Me See Your Hands!" Rubblebucket Testifies at Casbah

Less than six months since their inaugural visit to San Diego, Rubblebucket returned as seasoned road warriors with a new album, Live in Chicago, and accompanying DVD. Appearing relaxed and joyous, the septet shredded the ...

Hotpants and Tequila! Rubblebucket at Soda Bar

Brooklyn-based dance band Rubblebucket hit the Soda Bar stage with "Worker" from their album Omega La La. The band's bad-ass brass front line punched horn blasts over a dreamy and funky rhythm section. On "Breatherz ...

Rubblebucket's Omega La la

Just in time to thwart the summertime blues comes the auditory salve of Rubblebucket's sophomore full-length, a collection of prog-pop glory that often sounds like an indulgence-free Yes. Kalmia Traver provides captivating, ethereal vocals for ...

Why Aren't You Singing?

Cool blue lighting bathes the stage as sultry guitar tones initiate "The Sea" from Morcheeba's 1998 debut Big Calm. Opening with what is arguably their most recognized song, the group sets the bar high for ...

Pixies Deliver Doolittle to Rimac Arena

Perhaps reluctant to reveal their advanced age and weight, indie-rock icons the Pixies took to a darkened Rimac stage and opened with the obscure "Dance the Manta Ray." Like an insecure lover, the group kept ...

We Are Born, by Sia

Songstress of sulk Sia Furler gained prominence via Six Feet Under's use of her sublime "Breathe Me." Remember? "Help, I have done it again/I have been here many times before/Hurt myself again today/And the worst ...

Stone Temple Pilots

When grunge was king, Stone Temple Pilots was the Rodney Dangerfield of the genre. Critics gave them little respect, deriding the group as bandwagoners trying to sound like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, [insert ...

Sea of Cowards

The Dead Weather is the latest group to feature Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs). The band includes vocalist Alison Mosshart (the Kills), bassist Jack Lawrence (the Raconteurs), and guitarist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone ...

Fire Away

L.A. septet Ozomatli delivers such engaging, energetic shows that their studio work can be anti-climatic in comparison. Their fifth disc opens on a Latin house party spilling into the street. “Are You Ready?” is an ...

Nobody's Daughter

After 12-years, Hole returns with an 11-song collection produced by Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Ozzy, Chili Peppers). Despite the heaviness in Beinhorn and Hole’s respective pasts, most of the tracks here are singer-songwriterly, where acoustics provide ...

I Learned the Hard Way

Big brass heralds the triumphant return of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on opener "The Game Gets Old." The sultry, soulful Jones laments, "So many times I've played the game of love/ But it ...

Devilution

The Casbah was the epicenter of seismic activity as Archons, Abrupt, Bison B.C., and Black Cobra conspired to collapse the Midtown venue. The night's most cataclysmic activity, however, came from Oakland’s trio of doom High ...

Absolute Zero

On their debut prog-y concept album, Louisiana-based metal quartet Tetrafusion dare to depict the life of the universe -- sans vocals! Not only are they up to the task, they have created a tour de ...

Snakes for the Divine

High on Fire's fifth studio album is a satisfying platter of high intensity, low frequency rumblings from one of metal’s most honest, hard-working, and ferocious bands. Producer Greg Fidelman (Metallica, Slayer) ensures the trio's roar ...

Ain't No Grave

Posthumous release American VI: Ain't No Grave is the last of the albums Johnny Cash created with Rick Rubin. Producer Rubin collected songs from various writers, eras, and genres; stripped the arrangements, ditching drums and ...

World Painted Blood

With World Painted Blood, Cali thrash-metal band Slayer continues to push buttons. However, they don't push the musical envelope. Here, the quartet has plagiarized their own work, but they were wise enough to choose their ...

Metal on Metal

Anvil frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow addressed the audience early in the set: "I just want to thank each and every one of you for being here and making our dreams come true." With a kind ...

This Is Thirteen

On their 18th release, Canadian metal veterans Anvil live up to their name. Title track “This Is Thirteen” is a chunky, iron block on which to lay your head for a steady, heavy-handed pummeling. The ...

In the Unlikely Event

A funk-infused, wah-drenched guitar riff surrenders to a prog-rock progression as lead vocalist/guitarist Thomas Erak screams, "I f*ing hate myself." With unmitigated audacity, the power trio of Erak, drummer Andrew Forsman, and bassist Frank Ene, ...

6lbs. of Sound

Feel free to judge Taintstick's debut 6lbs. of Sound by its track list. Much like Spinal Tap and Tenacious D before them, the quartet line up the clichés of rock, slip them a Mickey, and ...

Make It a Double

Few could accuse San Diego metal-core stalwarts Mower of playing it safe. Half of their latest album, Make It a Double, is performed as Slower, the group's lounge-inspired alter-ego. "Road Rage" -- a punishing blast ...

Gods of the Earth

The Sword doesn't tinker with the formula they borrow from Black Sabbath, the formula first used to create their debut Age of Winters. Instead of trying to reinvent the metal wheel, the Austin-based quartet focus ...

Family Time

Hundreds of kids had their parents in tow for an acoustic concert by Ziggy Marley, who was supporting his new children's album Family Time. Without pausing to address the sold out crowd, Marley took the ...

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