Bullets & Octane: Back to sleeping in vans on the indie DIY circuit
Heavily tattooed rockers Bullets & Octane will visit Brick by Brick on July 14, mainly to promote their new single and video for “Bad Motherfucker,” the first track from their yet-to-be-scheduled eighth album, Waking Up Dead. It’s been nearly two decades and over a dozen lineup changes since the St. Louis-turned-Hollywood quartet launched their earsplitting brand of topical gut-punchers, with years of opening slots for inspirations such as Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Avenged Sevenfold, and even local Celtic rockers Flogging Molly. They graduated to headliner status with an RCA record deal, though that proved short-lived, and now they’re back to sleeping in vans on the indie DIY circuit. The bill includes local acts Bossfight, whose new full-length Daze of Gray was produced by P.O.D.’s Marcos Curiel, and the Infidelz, fronted by former OC punk Kelly English.
Zola Jesus: akin to Daft Punk as if fronted by Kate Bush
Zola Jesus, the blog-bait aka of producer and songwriter Nicole Hummel, began concocting her unlikely meld of goth, classical, and electronica around ten years ago, resulting in something akin to Daft Punk as if fronted by Kate Bush. Even though she’s from Wisconsin by way of Arizona, the 28-year-old’s stylized stage persona comes across as pure European disco drag diva, a mystique she maintains in interviews where she has at various times claimed German, Russian, Ukrainian, and Slovenian descent (she goes back and forth between platinum-blonde and vampire-black hair). She appears September 21 at the Casbah, just a few days after the release of her new full-length Okovi (said to be a Slavic word for “shackles”). “This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature,” she says in a press release. “To bring it to life, I decided to enlist the help of Alex DeGroot, who has been the only constant in my live band.” DeGroot will remain constant throughout the tour, with this date opened by electronic collage designer and video producer John Wiese.
Andrew Belle: "a very scary moment where you expose yourself"
Chicago-based singer, songwriter, and engineer Andrew Belle wants to let people know about his soft rockin’ third full-length, Dive Deep, currently previewed online with a single for “Down.” As evidenced by the autobiographical track, which deals with the decision he and his wife made to conceive their first child, the album is by far his most personal and reflective release to date. “When I wrote Dive Deep, I was thinking about my wife and our early relationship,” says Belle. “I was thinking about the early days, having nostalgia for that initial time spent together where it was all very new and exciting and unknown. Specifically, I was remembering that moment where you go from ‘I’m not totally sure about this person’ to ‘Well, I’m kind of all in now. This is the person I want to be with.’ It’s a very scary moment where you expose yourself and put yourself out there vulnerably.” Belle will expose himself at the Space Bar in City Heights on September 21.
Mutemath: archaic old synths, vintage guitars, ancient amps, and even the occasional harmonium or keytar solo
Grammy-nominated electro-experimental rock band Mutemath is touring in support of their fifth album, Play Dead, with its lead single “Hit Parade” now available. The New Orleans natives are slated for an October 12 appearance at House of Blues, where they may surprise longtime followers with new music that shows even more psychedelic soul influences than previous releases, as well as far broader lyrical content somewhat removed from the simple paint-by-numbers tracks that marked their initial discography. Don’t worry, though, they’ll still roll into town with their usual collection of archaic old synths, vintage guitars, ancient amps, and even the occasional harmonium or keytar solo. However, longtime (since 2006) bassist/guitarist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas quit the band last month and will likely be replaced onstage by Jonathan Allen (Club of the Sons), who has already guested several times with the group, collectively and individually, both live and in the recording studio.
Carla Morrison: raised in Tecate on Patsy Cline and José Alfredo Jiménez
Tickets go on sale June 30 for Latin alt-pop singer Carla Morrison at Humphrey’s by the Bay on October 22. Raised in Tecate on musical forbearers like Patsy Cline and José Alfredo Jiménez, the three-time Latin Grammy-winning songwriter paid her dues and scored her tattoos while fronting numerous rock en español bands, including an oft-booked project she called Babaluca, before striking out on her own in 2009 with a self-produced debut EP, Aprendiendo a Aprender. After various songs from the EP began turning up on Hispanic TV shows, famed Mexican singer and composer Natalia Lafourcade was so impressed that she invited Morrison to open a major album-release concert and produced her second EP, Mientras Tú Dormías. Morrison’s true counterculture coronation occurred while accepting the Best Alternative Album award for her debut full-length Déjenme Llorar at the 2012 Latin Grammy Awards, where the she accidentally cursed (in Spanish) on live television. All appears to be forgiven, however. Her 2016 release, Amor Supremo, was nominated Best Alternative Music Album, with its single “Vez Primera” taking home the trophy for Best Alternative Song.
Iron & Wine's principal songwriter Sam Beam sports mountain-man beard
Iron & Wine principal songwriter Sam Beam will try out songs from his first new album in over four years, Beast Epic (due August 25), at the Balboa Theatre on October 28. Written and produced by Beam and reminiscent of vintage vinyl from ‘70s solo singer-songwriters Jim Croce and James Taylor, the lead single, “Call It Dreaming,” debuted this week at number 11 on the iTunes U.S. Alternative Songs Top 40 chart. An accompanying road-trip video starring the singer and directed by J. Austin Wilson is highlighted by Beam’s epic mountain-man beard waving in the wind as he cruises the foothills of the headlands in the back of a battered pickup truck, accompanied by his equally hirsute dog friend. The Balboa bill also features Oklahoma troubadour John Moreland.
Deer Tick is inviting standup comedians to open all dates on this tour
Deer Tick will perform two sets during their Twice Is Nice Tour stop at the Belly Up on November 10, with the first a stripped-down acoustic performance followed by an intermission and a full-on electric set. This feels like a big year for the Rhode Island folk-punk rockers, with two new self-titled albums due in September (Volume 1 and 2) and a string of recent concert sellouts, including multiple Newport Folk Festival after-parties. Best to score your seats ASAP, as they’ve been getting picked off in most cities quicker than, well, deer ticks. For some reason, the band is inviting standup comedians to open all dates on this tour. Which is just mean. Everyone knows that telling jokes to fans waiting for their favorite rock band is pretty much like being the parsley garnish on a T-bone steak. There’s no way you’re gonna end up anywhere but the trash.