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Stories by Donovan Roche

Heartache at 100bpm

“We try to honor traditional styles, but I’m not from the 1920s — I grew up playing punk rock and skateboarding.”

With roots music on the rise, it’s a prime time for Wish & the Well to be prepping their debut album for release. The Oceanside-based five-piece fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Corey Leal is finishing up mixing ...

Fourth-wave surf rock

Jason Lee isn't a kid anymore, so who's taking the next surf-rock set?

Local surf rocker Jason Lee and his bandmates are putting the finishing touches on their sophomore release, Monsters and Mai Tais, due out in Spring, 2017. Featuring members from both of his bands — the ...

Was Guns 'N Roses worth the wait?

After 23 years, a packed Qualcomm stadium screamed to think so

“Do you know where the fuck you are? You’re in the jungle, San Diego!” Axl Rose screamed as he and his Guns N’ Roses bandmates launched into “Welcome to the Jungle” at Qualcomm Stadium, the ...

The uncontrollable Dani Bell

Ms. Bell talks tarantism and being part of the Redwoods collective

Tarantism is “a psychological illness characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th Century, and widely believed at the time to have been caused by the ...

George Clinton on the logistics of funk and the fight to get paid

One bootie ain't enough

Funk music pioneer George Clinton, who is bringing his 22-piece Parliament-Funkadelic band back to the Belly Up on June 23, says the small Solana Beach club is often considered a yardstick for other venues. “We’ve ...

Takin' It to the Fair with Michael McDonald

Doobie Brother infuses jazz and his husky voice into classic rock favorites

“Nothing says rock ’n’ roll like whipping up the crowd with a bingo game,” quipped Michael McDonald, referring to the pre-show entertainment at his San Diego County Fair appearance. Actually, one might argue that the ...

Bad branding aside, the 1975 deserve to be heard

I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It reviewed

The 1975 aren’t going to win any best band name contests. And the lengthy title of their sophomore release — I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of ...

Silly Rabbit

"I just played the keyboard player in the new Cyndi Lauper video 'Funnel of Love.'”

Try as you might, describing Jesika von Rabbit’s music/performance is not an easy task. She’s been referred to as everything from a “postmodern, intergalactic pop provocateur” to “part pop princess parody, part desert gypsy.” When ...

Gary Clark Jr.'s guitar speaks volumes

The blues-rock artist returns to play Coachella, Humphrey's in August

Austin-based guitarist Gary Clark Jr. is a man of few words. Rather than waste time with between-song banter, he lets his music do the talking for him, and on this night at House of Blues, ...

Down the rabbit hole with Birdy Bardot

Birdy has three bands in hand...

Emily Reilly. It’s a name you might not naturally associate with San Diego’s music scene. And yet, she’s one of the busiest in the biz, lending her vocals to no less than three bands: Birdy ...

HITnRUN or HITSnMISSES

Our funky hero Prince stumbles on his latest

As a Prince devotee, I hold the diminutive artist up to colossal standards. While never losing respect for his creativity or willingness to take risks and push boundaries with each new album, I also recognize ...

Are you a Belieber?

Pop star Justin Bieber makes his apology record with Purpose

He’s the bad boy you love to hate. Well, when Chris Brown isn’t around, anyway. And most of the time Justin Bieber easily earns that reputation. With Purpose, his fourth album, he wants to change ...

Nothing Cheap about these Rock and Roll Hall of Famers

Cheap Trick kicks down the hits and fistfuls of guitar picks at Belly Up

Two days before learning they would join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2016, Cheap Trick brought their classic power pop to the Belly Up. The band opened the show with the ...

There would be no Nervous Wreckords without the Killers

Rent-a-Killer

It’s been a busy three months for Brian Karscig and his brainchild, the Nervous Wreckords. In that short time span, his band performed at the KAABOO festival, he joined friends the Killers at their North ...

Van Halen and Crazy Dave

"...acting like a possessed matador one minute and a martial arts master the next"

“Halloween is around the corner. How many of you are going as me?” David Lee Roth asked the crowd at Van Halen’s Sleep Train Amphitheatre show. While the singer’s quip yielded the biggest chuckle of ...

"Wildheart" Miguel funks up the Observatory

...with a two hour set of electrifying funk-rock and sexy slow jams

One of the best concert experiences is when you catch an artist at that pivotal moment when your gut tells you he or she is on the cusp of going Big Time. That’s how I ...

Miguel's provocative Wildheart might make you blush

The Grammy-winning R&B artist takes the stage at the Observatory on Tuesday, September 1

Warning: listening to Miguel’s Wildheart in mixed company might make you blush. On his third album, the R&B raconteur advances from 2012’s sultry, Grammy-winning “Adorn” to “the valley,” a triple-X homage to SoCal’s porn capital. ...

Gregg Allman rambles to the County Fair

Timeless tunes bring our reviewer back to childhood

Thanks to my older brothers, I developed an early appreciation for the Allman Brothers Band’s Southern rock as a child in the 1970s. Some 40-odd years later, hearing “Statesboro Blues” or “Ramblin’ Man” brings me ...

John Legend makes the ladies squeal

Neo-soul singer launches his European tour from Copley Symphony Hall

There’s nothing as entertaining as seeing an artist at the top of his game in an intimate venue. Such was the case when nine-time Grammy-winner John Legend made a stop in San Diego prior to ...

Mark Ronson's Uptown Special

Super-producer can't keep up with that lead single

Rocketed to the top of the charts by the Bruno Mars–piloted hit “Uptown Funk” — with its Princely synths, Towering horns, and sly James Brown-isms (“gotta kiss myself so pretty”) — Mark Ronson’s latest is ...

Hozier by Hozier

With a chorus reminiscent of classic Elton John and viral video amassing more than 100 million YouTube views, “Take Me to Church” quickly placed Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne (aka Hozier) on America’s musical pulpit. While ...

Strut, by Lenny Kravitz

As the first song on Lenny Kravitz’s latest suggests, Strut is unabashedly about “Sex.” The funky album-opener’s driving beat and jangly guitar is a full-throttle introduction that awakens the senses. Two songs later, the carnal ...

In the Lonely Hour, by Sam Smith

Arguably 2014’s best (and most talked about) new artist, Sam Smith proves on his debut album that the hype is justified. While many first discovered the British singer’s now-trademark falsetto on Disclosure’s house hit “Latch,” ...

Capital Cities' spirited retro sound

Electro-pop act packs House of Blues and gets everyone moving

I got my introduction to the L.A.-based electro-pop band Capital Cities — beyond the megahit “Safe & Sound” — at Coachella this year. There I discovered their penchant for lazy hooks and lofty horns, which ...

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