See Young Thug before he gets any older!
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J. Cole — curiously self-aware

J. Cole and Young Thug

  • Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
  • Viejas Arena, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, San Diego
  • $39 - $99

J. Cole’s KOD Tour pulls into Viejas Arena on August 22, promoting a same-named full-length released in April with a title said to either stand for Kill Our Demons, Kids on Drugs, or King Overdosed, ‘pending which subtitle you choose to identify with. The album, his fifth number one-seller in the U.S., covers all those topics, with a title track that basically broke Spotify when it was streamed over four million times on the day it debuted. It’s a curiously self-aware record for the 33 year-old born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, eschewing the usual hip-hop tropes to instead examine that culture’s tendency toward glorifying drug use, guns, and elevating the pursuit of cash to near religious obsession. The two music videos released so far lighten up the tone somewhat, harkening back to classic MTV with flashy low-attention-span cutting for “ATM” (co-directed by Cole), and with “Kevin’s Heart” featuring a guest turn from – who else? – comedian Kevin Hart. Opening act Young Thug will hopefully avoid jail long enough to last out the tour, in order to pay the lawyers representing him over his most recent arrest last September, on multiple drug charges and possession of a firearm.

Omar Apollo — surprisingly adept

Omar Apollo

  • Saturday, August 25, 2018, 7 p.m.
  • House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $12 - $14

20-year-old Omar Apollo is a first generation Mexican-American singer from Indiana who first began writing and recording his own mix of jazz, R&B, funk, alternative, soul, and pop music on dropping out of college in 2015, just two weeks after starting classes. Like many young performers of the two-thousand-teens, he learned guitar from watching YouTube videos, releasing his initial songs on SoundCloud and amassing a growing fan base by sharing both his music and his muse, as in the short film Omar Apollo: Figuring It Out, wherein he talks about his struggles as a musician dealing with ADHD. Even his manager was hired via Twitter. The tunes are easy enough to preview online, where most music seems to live nowadays, though he’s apparently reworking his recordings (originally done with just bass and guitar) for an upcoming release due sometime around when he appears at House of Blues on August 25. His debut EP, Stereo, features lyrics sung in both English and Spanish, along with surprisingly adept and even innovative guitar solos that belie his youth and lack of direct training. He’s a performer with enough chops and diverse interests to potentially be the next Prince, or even a contender for the DIY pop throne first usurped by young Beck. Check back with this column in a few years to see if we’re singing similar praise for some up-and-comer as The Next Omar Apollo.

Jade Bird — uniformly glowing press

Jade Bird

  • Saturday, September 8, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $14 - $16

British singer-songwriter Jade Bird first crossed most people’s radar last year while she was touring with country star Brent Cobb, or when she earned brief but uniformly glowing press over her SXSW performance. A debut EP called Something American was released last summer via Glassnote Records, demonstrating the 21 year-old’s gritty vocal style, somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Lorde, with a slight tendency toward rock and roll. The video for “Lottery” was filmed on a single bare set, in one lone shot, with the only camera moves being a spin and a rotation, thus lasering all the focus on her soulful vocals as she sings “You used to tell me that love was a lottery, but you got your numbers and you’re betting on me.” Any YouTube search reveals a sidebar full of intriguing concert covers that may be in consideration for her September 8 set at the Casbah, including a version of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” with her on piano that sounds for all the world like a Tori Amos tribute, a dream mashup for fans of both pop-prog princesses. She’s also been known to cover Johnny Cash (“I’ve Been Everywhere”), Dua Lipa (“New Rules”), and even the Pixies (“Where Is My Mind”), hinting at a genre-hopping future akin to each of those influential progenitors.

Timbiriche — constantly shifting lineup

Timbiriche

  • Thursday, October 4, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
  • Viejas Arena, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, San Diego
  • $39 - $129

Timbiriche began in the early ‘80s as a Mexican pop group made up of, and intended for, kids. They were kind of an entry-level Menudo, eventually evolving (like that band) into an adult ensemble with a constantly shifting lineup of next generations. They split multiple times, first in the early ‘90s, though their momentum continued with sales of compilation albums and reissues of greatest hits like “Princesa Tibetana,” “Tu y Yo Somos Uno Mismo,” “Juntos,” “Y la Fiesta Comenzó,” “Corro Vuelo Me Acelero,” and “Somos Amigos.” The version of Timbiriche formulated over the course of a poorly received TV reality show fell apart in 2009, somewhat tarnishing the group’s otherwise sterling legacy with longtime fans, but last year’s 35th anniversary tour featured enough returning members from their various classic lineups to please devotees, with founders Sasha Sokol, Benny Ibarra, Alix Bauer, and Mariana Garza joined by longtime bandmates Erik Rubin and Diego Schoening. Photos released for their upcoming tour indicate the same lineup will grace Viejas Arena at SDSU on October 4.

Flatliners — not overly polite

The Flatliners and Decent Criminal

  • Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15 - $18

The phrase “Canadian punk” sounds to not-quite-as-North American ears like a contradiction akin to a quiet shout, since the perception of our overhead neighbors as overly polite and not easily angered is perpetuated by references in TV shows, movies, and standup comedy routines. Truth be told, the Canadian hardcore scene dates back at least as far as its U.S. counterparts, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, thanks to prototypal acts like Teenage Head (who surely never liked, but benefitted from, being oft-referred to as Canada’s Ramones) and the Skulls, which included future members of Subhumans and DOA. From this fabled lineage came the Flatliners in the early 2000s, whose steady series of EPs and albums have increased their profile to the point where they earned a nomination at the 2014 Juno Awards (aka the Canadian Grammys), for Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year. When they play Brick by Brick on October 4, the bill includes Santa Rosa pop-punk rockers Decent Criminal, whose own momentum was somewhat jumpstarted when their songs were accidentally pressed onto the flipside of a vinyl Kendrick Lamar album. Local openers Western Settings is a melodic-punk band featuring Caskitt vocalist/bassist Ricky Schmidt and drummer Adam Kissell (both from Man Eats Man), alongside guitarists Dylan Walters (Deadhorse) and Will Castro (Threefoot), who also owns La Escalera Records.

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Comments

claraalbert June 4, 2018 @ 11:55 p.m.

The quilt of the project suggests a colorful drawing of a king carrying a crown and gown; below the gown, we see Do My Homework For Me numerous skeletons and children. The children are visible snorting cocaine, taking pills, smoking and sipping Lean a.k.a. “purple drank,” a mixture of cough syrup and soda or fruit juice. The lower back cowl of the album capabilities children riding on a spaceship or rocket of some sort made of a bag of cannabis, cigarettes, a prescription drug bottle and different illicit substances.

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