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Low Volts A cross between Elvis and Evel Knievel: someone else's words, not mine. That said, Low Volts is really just one guy, Tim Lowman, who plays smoldering electrified guitar and wails on a kickdrum and sings like a person with little regard for his own tonsils. Last year, Mr. Lowman took home some San Diego Music Awards gold for Best New Artist and Best Blues Album. But is Low Volts really blues? Yeah - if you could call R.L. Burnside or Alvin Youngblood Hart blues.

The Mattson 2 Pat Metheny meets Dick Dale. They strike up a friendship, have a couple of beers, then head off to jam with a bunch of percussionists. That's what this band sounds like: a multitude of surf-jazz-psych guitars and drums. Jared is the guitarist and via digital loops and such electronic trickery he is able to make his twin-neck do the work of four. His twin Jonathan is the other member of Mattson 2 and is a bona fide mind reader. He must be, because he finds the ever-changing Jared pocket and fleshes out the surf jazz vibe with all manner of stylings, from delicate jazz sketches to alt rock flogging.

Hot Snakes Formed in 1999 in San Diego, the two head Snakes are John Reis and Rick Froberg. Both share a little history; they knew each other from the San Diego band Drive Like Jehu. Later, Reis went on to Rocket From The Crypt while Froberg relocated to New York. Such a commute makes the gigging with the Snakes tough, but somehow they pull it off. But then again, Hot Snakes was essentially a side project that started, stopped, and then started again. The music is a bookmark to post-hardcore. And did I say fun? Anything and everything John (Swami) Reis does is fun.

Black Market III Scottie Blinn's newest band started out as Black Market Baby. The trio's name changed, but the membership did not: Blinn's wife, Roxy is on vox/bass, and a newcomer we profiled in the Reader last year named Haley Allen handles the drumming with a decided John Bonham power thud. Blinn re-invented himself years ago as a grease punk and put out some star-powered records that I reviewed for BluesWax and other national blues mags. But I wouldn't call BMIII a blues band. They are in truth a superior cover band featuring obscure nuggets from Tom Waits, Hank Williams, Leadbelly, Jack White, and more in their set.

The Heavy Guilt Imagine Wilco, but as a band in the foggy-minded '60s and anointed with a little Woodstock mud and you have a rough estimate of what the Heavy Guilt are all about. A six piece with its roots in the remains of Alfred Howard's K23 Orchestra, everything good about the rock and roll of some 40 years ago is alive and well here. They call themselves psychedelic indie stomp, but that implies chaos, does it not? In reality, the guilty ones reveal themselves in tightly crafted songs that, from start to finish, are a tour of a genre we used to call American garage.

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