It’s been a few years since Caifanes headlined in San Diego, which is strange since this would seem a tailor-made audience for their prog-leaning, British-inspired, Latin-branded rock en español. They first emerged in the late ‘80s near the forefront of the Spanish-language rock scene, which at the time was picking up enough steam to nearly qualify as a movement. Their eccentric, slightly bent approach was honed while working with King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, who produced their 1992 album El Silencio. Here in San Diego, their videos were staples on late-night TV music shows, anchoring early programming blocks for MTV en Español during its debut year (1993–1994) in the same way that the Buggles and Duran Duran dominated early MTV. However, members were already splintering off before their Mexico City gig opening for the Rolling Stones in 1994, and they split the following year, remaining estranged until a 2011 reunion tour. The lineup playing Observatory North Park on November 5 features four founding members, though only two have been along for the entire project; singer/guitarist Saul Hernandez and drummer Alfonso Andre, who together waged a legal battle for the Caifanes name, but instead called their next band Jaguares (which also ended up playing for Maná-sized stadium crowds). The other two (bassist Sabo Romo and keyboardist Diego Herrera) bailed a couple of years before the 1995 split, but all four have remained united since regrouping.
Whoever told Oklahoma-based space-pop rockers Sports that theirs was a band name that would enable them to stand out in a field of countless competing band-namers around the world is a bigger liar than whoever told Pharrell that he looks great wearing Smokey the Bear’s hat. Not to be confused with same-named bands in Ohio, New York, Florida, Texas, Las Vegas, Boston, or Philadelphia (despite the latter’s Facebook url proclaiming them “therealsports”), nor the Australian pop band, the Sports arriving at the Soda Bar on December 2 is the pseudo-psychedelic throwback pop act with two full-lengths to their name, Naked All the Time and their recent follow-up, People Can’t Stop Chillin’. The video for “You Are the Right One” is as fuzzed out and trippy as the tune itself, replete with LSD trails, color shifts, and spinning kaleidoscope lenses, set to a dreamy Quaalude-drenched backdrop that, if you came across while spinning the radio dial, you might mistake for Lana Del Rey played a third slower. I spun several more of their tracks and found it all to be very Tears For Fears/World Party/the Church/XTC/etc.; i.e., liquid radio pop with a lava-lamp groove. Expect to see a lot of the local paisley underground scenesters, as well as far more corduroy, fringes and weirdly customized eyewear than can normally be found in San Diego that far from Newport Avenue.
It’s a punch in the gut to realize that the one and only studio album by Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, L.A.M.F., came out 40 years ago. A touchstone for punk and DIY hard rock, the LP came about after the New York City band found themselves stranded in England, having been invited on a Sex Pistols tour that was cancelled almost as soon as they arrived. Signed to a UK label impressed by their live act, the Heartbreakers recorded L.A.M.F. at two studios, creating a set of tapes that has been rereleased, remixed, restored, remastered, remade, reconstituted, revisited, and reviewed more than just about any punk album in history. There are so many variations out there that one can even find isolated backing tracks that have sourced countless fan-made remixes as well, almost all of them superior to the original vinyl release, which had such a thudding, muddy mix that it frequently sounded like listening to music from inside an aquarium tank. Crappy sound notwithstanding, the songs of L.A.M.F. remain landmarks of rock, and they’ll be performed in sequence for the 40th-anniversary tribute show at the Belly Up on December 3 featuring original Heartbreaker Walter Lure. The A-list tribute band includes Social Distortion main man Mike Ness as well as Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and Clem Burke of Blondie, with advance press also promising “special guests.” On occasions last year when Lure and Burke performed the album, guest players included Wayne Kramer (MC5) and Tommy Stinson (the Replacements).
It’s getting hard to find a fest that doesn’t have the Randy Rogers Band somewhere on the bill, with their 100-plus dates so far this year including mainstage appearances at Stagecoach, Windy City, Watershed, Faster Horses, and a two-night stand opening for Miranda Lambert at Red Rocks. The final gig of their lengthiest tour to date takes place at House of Blues on January 26, where hopefully Rogers won’t be too worn out to maintain the average two-hour marathons he’s been staging elsewhere. Aside from their recent top-five single “Meet Me Tonight,” they’ve been peppering sets with crowd pleasers such as “One More Sad Song” (their first Billboard Top 40 hit), “Fuzzy,” “One Woman,” and “Kiss Me in the Dark,” as well as previewing new tracks from an upcoming still-untitled album, due early next year, being recorded with Nashville producer Dave Cobb (Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson).
Nearly 20 years after forming as Hybryd in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, British alt-metal rockers Enter Shikari just dropped their fifth album, The Spark, preceded by a single for “Live Outside” that continues their penchant for mixing punk, hardcore, and experimental alternative rock. The last half dozen times they played San Diego, including this past March, was at the all-ages Soma, but this time around the globe they’re hitting the Irenic in North Park, for a February 25 shindig that features the same foursome that first named their band after a boat owned by the uncle of singer Rou Reynolds in 2003. The bill includes British grunge-punk quartet Milk Teeth, which’ll be plugging an EP titled Go Away, due in November via Roadrunner Records.