Australian trio Chase Atlantic would at first seem to be just another dark alt-pop band slung against an increasingly worn-out and shrinking wall by the frequently clueless dinosaurs at Warner Brothers, in the hope that something will stick. But brothers Mitchel and Clinton Cave, and bandmate Christian Anthony, have already been priming the pump for their upcoming self-titled debut full-length, with a half dozen excellent singles that show why their biggest cheerleaders include Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden (who signed them to their media firm MDDN) and Sleeping with Sirens, with whom Chase Atlantic just toured. Those singles, all slated for their album, landed them over 30 million global streams, with 900,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, where their track “Friends” is at around 8 million plays, at least according to the hype machine touting their October 25 appearance at the Space. Sporting a big, anthemic electro-tribal pop sound akin to 5 Seconds of Summer and the 1975, “Friends” is probably the best track to sample if you’re unfamiliar and considering attendance, with top-shelf pop-radio rapping from K Camp and iLoveMakonnen that all but guaranteed trending across social media. Songs like “Keep It Up” take a turn toward acid jazz, saturated in the sounds of sax, and “Church” nearly goes grunge, co-written with green-haired L.A. rapper Lil Aaron.
Believe it or not, alt-pop rockers the Gin Blossoms have been around for 30 years, minus five off to lick various war wounds, though that’s not the anniversary they’re celebrating at the Belly Up on November 18. Instead, they’ll showcase their breakthrough 1992 album New Miserable Experience, which included one of only two or three songs likely to be remembered by most readers, “Hey Jealousy,” a top-25 Billboard hit. Founding songwriter Doug Hopkins wrote that single as well as the followup, “Found Out About You” (which also hit number 25), although his reported drinking caused label A&M to withhold royalties in an attempt to oust him from the band, with Hopkins committing suicide in December 1993. His absence from the group’s 1996 album, Congratulations I’m Sorry, didn’t keep them from scoring one top-ten Billboard hit, “Follow You Down,” a title that proved prophetic as they ended up taking increasingly bunk gigs, like appearing at Waynestock in Wayne’s World 2 and jamming onstage with members of Kiss. They broke up in 1997 and then regrouped in 2002, releasing new albums in 2006 and 2010 with another due soon, though you’d never know it from the lack of attention and reviews online. Seriously, there are more current search results for Right Said Fred than these guys. Regarding pedigree, the Blossoms are still fronted by singer Robin Wilson, now 52, who replaced one of the band’s early guitarists in 1988 before switching places with singer-turned-guitarist Jesse Valenzuela, one of two remaining co-founders alongside bassist Bill Leen. Guitarist Scott Johnson was brought in to replace Hopkins on tours, becoming a permanent member after Hopkins’s 1993 death, and current drummer Scott Hessel has been Blossoming since 2012.
She grew up in Alaska, lived out of her van in San Diego, got her start with local open mics at Innerchange and Java Joe’s, co-wrote her 1996 hit “You Were Meant for Me” with occasional Rugburn Steve Poltz, blah blah blah, you’ve heard the same narrative in just about every article ever written about Jewel. But did you know that her initial scholarship for Interlochen Arts Academy was to study operatic voice? Or that the original video for that 1996 tune was directed by her onetime boyfriend, actor Sean Penn? And who knew that she and her dad attended a Mormon church until she was in second grade? Her father, Atz Kilcher, also known from the Discovery TV show Alaska: The Last Frontier, will accompany his daughter onstage for Jewel’s Handmade Holiday Tour, which rolls into San Diego Civic Theatre on December 4. Described as a “charitable and interactive” event, the family affair also features her brothers, Atz Lee and Nikos Kilcher, performing holiday classics and originals and songs from Jewel’s extensive catalog. In advance press, the singer promises “an instructional craft fair prior to the show where you can come to make gifts for loved ones… I decided to start this annual Handmade Holiday Tour to create an antidote to the stress and overwhelm I am seeing in culture, and to help us focus on the simple pleasures that make us feel satisfied and truly happy.” The craft fair is “designed to provide experiences that friends and families alike can use to connect and make meaningful gifts and, most importantly, memories to share for a lifetime.” The tour will offer vouchers to 25 individuals per show who are in need, to attend the gift-making workshop and ensure they have a handmade gift for the holidays, and each date will feature collaborations with local animal shelters to sponsor pet adoptions.
The exhibition Floating Strings: The Remarkable Story of the Harp Guitar in America runs October through April at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, featuring over 40 instruments from the 1860s through contemporary creations. Several concerts will be staged in conjunction with the exhibit, including events headlined by koto harp guitarist Hirokatsu Takai, multi-instrumentalist John Schneiderman, harp guitarist Stephen Bennett, and 2014 Ernie Ball Acoustic Prodigy award winner Travis Bowman. The February 1, 2018, concert features fingerstyle and harp guitarist Muriel Anderson, the first woman to win the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship and an accomplished road and recording vet who has worked with everyone from Les Paul and Chet Atkins to Victor Wooten and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.
With something like 50 million albums sold since they formed 40 years ago, having been active for 30 of those years, and with over a dozen full-lengths to their name, a case could be made that synth-pop pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is actually the biggest band ever to emerge from Liverpool. At least they didn’t call it quits after less than a decade like their mop-topped forefathers, though that is about the length of the hiatus they took from the mid-’90s through their 2005 reunion. Of the current lineup, only bassist-keyboardist-singer Andy McCluskey has been along for the entire ride since 1978, though co-founder Paul Humphreys (keys, vocals) has ridden nearly as long, other than taking off for a while in the late ’80s with other OMD members to form the Listening Pool. Keyboardist and sax player Martin Cooper was a member from 1980 through 1989 before leaving for the Listening Pool, and joined again from the reunion until now. Stuart Kershaw of Atomic Kitten first hopped aboard for a brief stint in 1993, returning in 2015 to become their permanent drummer (and occasional pianist). The quartet appears at House of Blues on March 31, 2018, to promote their just-released 13th studio album, The Punishment of Luxury.