The Dead Milkmen play the Belly Up on May 31
It’s been around three years since the Dead Milkmen last came to town to play the Belly Up, and their just-announced tour will be heavy on tracks from their first new release since then, last year’s Welcome to the End of the World EP. It seemed for a while that the Philly band would always be remembered as little more than a novelty punk act from the mid ’80s, mostly known for their first college-radio hit “Bitchin’ Camaro” and the MTV staple “Punk Rock Girl,” with few expecting to hear from them again after their mostly unnoticed 1995 split. When bassist Dave Schulthise became the first literally dead Milkman, thanks to an intentionally fatal drug overdose, that seemed to be the final coffin nail. However, they reappeared in 2011 with their first studio album in 16 years, The King in Yellow, an alt-psychedelic gem with nary a bad track that features Dan Stevens (whose old Philly band the Low Budgets included Dead Milkmen singer/guitarist Joe Genaro) replacing the late Schulthise. Stevens will accompany the surviving founding trio on May 31 at the Belly Up.
Joshua Radin: Ellen DeGeneres likes him
Josh Radin would be hard-pressed to deny that he’s still cruising on the fumes of his 2008 breakthrough, Simple Times, as those are the songs that his audience will probably always expect, if not demand, in concert. The big hit, “I’d Rather Be with You,” turned up in TV programs, as did tracks like “You Got Growin’ Up to Do” and “Brand New Day,” especially on hypochondriac-porn shows such as House, Grey’s Anatomy, and even Scrubs, which was already using his music in multiple episodes two years before his debut 2006 album. In fact, he had only taught himself to play guitar around 2002, and it was landing his first composition, “Winter,” on Scrubs that pretty much got him into the studio and putting his muse on tape. In addition to getting his songs into over a hundred movies and TV shows since then, he’s released five albums after Simple Times, with the most recent from last year, The Fall. They may not have set the charts on fire, but cuts like “Beautiful Day,” featuring Sheryl Crow, from 2015’s Onward and Sideways, have become staples of MOR radio and adult-contemporary satellite stations. His many appearances on the daytime TV show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres (who hired him to sing at her wedding) have helped keep his profile high enough that he’s likely to sell out the Music Box on April 7, for a bill that includes Illinois-based “whisper rocker” William Fitzsimmons.
Murder City Devils earned respect with beefy riffs
Murder City Devils didn’t invent horror-punk in the mid-1990s (you can probably thank, or blame, the Dead Boys and the Misfits for that), but the Seattle-based quintet just about perfected what was up until then an inconsistent recipe. Over the course of three albums and one EP, from 1996 through 2001, the five founders earned the respect of hard-rock fans with beefy riffs, as well as courting underground scenesters with clever satirical lyrics, drawing repeat crowds thanks to irresistible setlist staples such as “Dancin’ Shoes” and “Dance Hall Music,” numbers that never fail to get everyone onto their feet. Not that they were ever a “singles” band, although “Every Day I Rise” picked up a surprising amount of airplay and TV exposure in 2011–2012, as well as being heard later in an improbably chipper TV advert for bathroom deodorizer (that single’s flipside would actually have been better suited, “Ball Busters in the Peanut Gallery”). They went away for a few years in the early aughts, with bassist Derek Fudesco forming his own band, Pretty Girls Make Graves, but he and the other four founding players have reunited for a tour set to include Spencer Moody, Dann Gallucci, Nate Manny, and Coady Willis. (Few are likely to miss shortlived keyboardist Leslie Hardy, whose brief latter-day tenure with the band is looked at by fans the same way baby boomers look at Brady Bunch episodes with Cousin Oliver.) They play the Irenic on April 14.
Anvil, 40 years of fingerless gloves
They say that, without Anvil, there never would’ve been a Spinal Tap. These hard-luck hard rockers toiled in obscurity through years of dismal tours of subterranean clubs before a documentary film about their long road to nowhere actually brought them somewhere: rock stardom! Even though few seemed to take the Canadian trio any more seriously than the aforementioned parody band whose schtick borrowed liberally from Anvil’s real-life tales of bad breaks and blunders, two of the three members have been at it non-stop since 1978, with well over a dozen albums to their credit. So you’ve gotta give them at least as much respect as Slayer, if not AC/DC and ZZ Top, for finding a formula that works so well that there’s never been a need to deviate more than a few notes or measures from that tried-and-true equation. The tour that brings them to Brick by Brick on June 1 is in support of their 17th album, Pounding the Pavement, released in January and named for the career choice that has kept them wearing out vanloads of boots, britches, and fingerless gloves for 40 years now.
Dua Lipa, tongue model and promising young talent
If you knew little about British pop singer Dua Lipa and searched her images on Google, you may think at first that she’s some kind of model for dental hygiene, given how often she likes to be photographed sticking her tongue out. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter basically started out in her teens as a model, though she was already posting her homemade covers of songs by others on YouTube at the time, a hobby that exploded into a career when millions of page-views turned into a contract with Warner Brothers Records. Now officially credited as the youngest female solo artist to hit one billion Youtube views (for her single “New Rules”), she’s been blowing up in Britain for a while now, but her recent appearance on the Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Natalie Portman has afforded her the kind of instant U.S. career boost likely to spur brisk ticket sales for her June 29 appearance at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre. She’s also currently heard on the Fifty Shades Freed film soundtrack with “High” (a collaboration with EDM producer Whethan), though there’s certainly no reason to hold that against such a promising young talent.