Gabriella Cohen's new album could easily pass as Liz Phair as covered by Lana Del Rey.
Matthew Logan Vasquez — famous former neighbor
- Thursday, August 9, 2018, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
After a decade spent in the frontman slot of mainstream rock bands like the mostly-local Delta Spirit, as well as Middle Brother (featuring members of Dawes and Deer Tick), famous former neighbor Matthew Logan Vasquez pretty much became a solo acoustic artist after he relocated to Austin, Texas in 2015 and recorded his Austin EP. It was somewhat of a switch from the co-op radio rock of previous efforts, which mostly tried way too hard to find a democratic place somewhere in the middle of the musical road. His first full album, Solicitor Returns, featured Vasquez playing all the instruments other than a couple of guitar and drum passages. As a rock singer’s solo debut, it broke the usual mold, offering a bit more introspection and acoustic harmonics, with arrangements allowed to breathe, pause, and flow, as opposed to always slaving to a rock and roll beat. The title of his newest album, Does What He Wants, seems to sum up how much he appreciates being freed from the bandleader pedestal, with autobiographical songs that also serve as an aural diary covering the past few years of upheavals, successes, regrets, and missed opportunities. The support tour arriving at Soda Bar August 9 includes XTC-inspired pop musician Dustin Lovelis, whose lack of lyrical depth is more than compensated for by lush psychedelic backing tracks that tend to marinate in their own gloss.
Thrice — 20th anniversary blowup
- Friday, September 21, 2018, 6 p.m.
House of Blues,
1055 Fifth Avenue,
$32.50 - $60
Post-hardcore heroes Thrice celebrated 20 eardrum-busting years a few weeks ago by signing with bigtime Epitaph Records, who almost immediately put out a new single called “The Grey.” Though mostly inactive from 2012 through 2015, founding Orange County duo Dustin Kensrue and Teppei Teranishi reunited in 2016 for To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, an uncharacteristically slick album many consider to be the most accessible of all their releases (which collectively have sold over 30 million copies). Thanks in large part to Kensrue’s adaptive vocal fluidity, it’s a far leap from their punk-centered 2000 debut Identity Crisis, and “The Grey” seems to continue their willingness to take on some of the sunny side of pop and even the excesses of prog, sporting a complexity more reminiscent of Metallica’s so-called Black Album than fellow post-hardcore stuck-in-the-muds like Saosin and Circa Survive. Their September 21 appearance at House of Blues will be preceded by L.A. hardcore punk rockers the Bronx, touring in support of their fifth studio album, V.
King Khan — sonically psychotic
- Monday, October 15, 2018, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$16 - $18
If Willy Wonka gained 50 pounds, dressed like a Bollywood deity in drag, and formed a band with members of Funkadelic and Oingo Boingo instead of a chocolate factory, you’d have something akin to cult party monsters King Khan & the Shrines. While taking a break from producing an upcoming country album by the Black Lips, Khan and his sonically psychotic cohorts will lay siege to the Belly Up on October 15, where they’re sure to succeed in their ongoing mission to leave everyone under the same roof, from the drum tech in the back to the doorman out front, deafened and drenched and newly converted to the voodoo gospel according to Khan. Many, if not most, of their latter day devotees were gained over the past few years of back-to-back festival appearances, including Coachella, SXSW, Sasquatch, ATP, Pitchfork, and Australia’s Vivid Festival, where they were invited at the personal behest of superfans Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Speaking of Australia, the bill also features Aussie guitar pop star Gabriella Cohen, whose new album, Pink is the Unconditional Colour of Love, is a collection of mildly ambient folk tracks that could easily pass as Liz Phair as covered by Lana Del Rey.
Dawes — new as kittens to certain ears
The first few albums from throwback troubadours Dawes sounded like Jackson Browne singing lyrics group-written by every NPR commentator who ever sighed into a tiny desk mic, with singer Taylor Goldsmith rendering each line as portentous as prophecy and serious as a sermon. Their sixth album, Passwords, drops next week, and so far it looks like his penchant for topical folkie anthems has moved into more of a Sweet Baby James phase, continuing to take cues from 70s soulmates like James Taylor and Al Stewart, but with an emphasis on the period in which those artists mellowed into hyper-produced, 24-track FM groovitude. Two advance singles have appeared, “Crack the Case” and “Living in the Future,” the latter arriving with a video that kicks right in with a Mountain-ish guitar crunch, mostly unfolding as a studio performance interspersed with tricked out monochrome clips of the players melting into the same electronic fuzz as the tune itself. It may sound like the same old classic rock to aged ears, but it’s all new as kittens to a generation totally cool with the guy from Gigli playing Batman. After Dawes is done opening for Jeff Lynne’s first North American tour with Electric Light Orchestra in over 30 years, they’ll hit Observatory North Park on October 29 to perform two full sets, with no opening act.
Dermot Kennedy — Irish hip-hop?
- Monday, November 12, 2018, 7 p.m.
1337 India Street,
$20 - $22
Not a lot of hip-hop comes flavored with an Irish accent, nor do lazy acoustic guitars usually mix comfortably with fast-paced urban poetry, but Dublin singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy seems up to the task of convincing us that, not only can it be done, it can also be sold. Enlisting collaborators like Kanye West producer Mike Dean has proven canny in extending his reach, but it’s the warmth and conversational tone of Kennedy’s singing that has earned over 40 million streams of his 2016 single “After Rain,” and enabled his follow-up EP, Doves & Ravens, to top several of the more notable Best Of 2017 lists. A newly released video for his track “Glory” shows fans watching in rapt admiration as he barrels through a hometown performance of the emotional number that leads to several tear-stained audience close-ups, a scene likely to be repeated in at least a few Music Box seats when his first major U.S. headline tour brings him to our hometown on November 12.