Joe Jackson – Spreckles Theater, San Diego – June 18, 2016

Like many others there are certain bands, and songs that draw me back to very specific memories.  I was 19 when Joe Jackson‘s first album, Look Sharp!, arrived in the spring of 1979.  I was just finishing my freshman year at UCSB and music was undergoing an upheaval.  I arrived at my dorm the previous fall listening to bands like Rush, Queen, UFO and Blue Oyster Cult.  I was aware of punk rock and new wave but just hadn’t really been exposed to it.  But as that first year in college went along there were a lot of different sounds blasting out of the dorm-room doorways.  Blondie, The Boomtown Rats, Elvis Costello, The Records, The Beat (Paul Collins‘ version), The B-52’s were competing with the classic and hard-rock records I grew up with.  And this record by Joe Jackson just seemed to cement it all together, sending me down a power-pop/new wave rabbit hole that I didn’t emerge from for a few years. Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 5 – Mittens – June 4, 2016

The last stop on my Art Around Adams tour was to see Mittens back at the library stage.  I had seen the band play about a month ago at The Kava Lounge so I already knew how much fun they were.  Mittens play a style of indie-pop that looks back but still has a modern feel to it.  Their band bio mentions being inspired by groups like Rilo Kiley, The Cranberries and The Cardigans – and I can certainly hear the influence of those bands in their sound – but there’s also no mistaking their love of early ’60s girl groups like The Ronettes, The Shirelles and Martha & the Vandellas.  Throw in some surf-rock licks and well-timed blistering guitar solos, to go along with their 3-part harmonies and big hooks, and you have Mittens!  Continue reading

The Who Hits 50! + Slydigs – San Diego – May 27, 2016

The Who has been one of my favorite groups since I can remember knowing about rock ‘n’ roll.  I can recall the first time I heard Quadrophenia in junior high and it has been in my main listening rotation ever since.  In high school “Baba O’Reilly”, from Who’s Next, was still played regularly at school dances and when I got to college my roommate had a GIANT promo picture of the cover art from Who Are You hanging in our dorm room.  I’ve seen The Who several times, including a trip to The Forum in the mid-’70s and the Quadrophenia tour just a few years ago.  Including this last show, if I close my eyes and just take in the music I don’t feel that the passage of time has diminished their power and musicality at all.  Sure, it’s not the same without Keith Moon and The Ox, but with Zak Starkey  on drums and Pino Palladino on bass the creative duo of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey have found very capable substitutes.

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Caveman – Belly Up Tavern, San Diego – May 21, 2016

Opening for Frightened Rabbit at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, was Caveman, an indie rock band from Brooklyn. Like a lot of Brooklyn bands that have emerged recently, their song-craft is superb, with interesting vocal and instrumental melodies, vocal harmonies and creative drum patterns.  I was reminded of a couple of “chill-wave” bands, also from Brooklyn, that I saw at The Casbah a couple of years ago: Small Black and Snowmine and thought that they would fit well on a bill together.  Really though, I would go further back to describe Caveman’s sound.  With their strong melodies and infectious hooks, the band reminded me of an updated Hall & Oates – but only if Daryl and John could also stretch out and really rock a la My Morning Jacket.

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Frightened Rabbit – The Belly Up – May 21,2016

Frightened Rabbit, the ten-year-old indie rock band from Glasgow, writes big, melodic songs tackling complex and often uncomfortable topics. They’re touring in support of their outstanding new LP, Painting of a Panic Attack, whose songs explore dark territory, yet are delivered with energy, passion and hooks layered upon hooks.

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Neil Young & Promise of the Real – Rimac Arena UCSD – Oct. 13,2015

I got home around 1:30am after just leaving a 3:20 long Neil Young show and I wanted to learn a little more about his new backing band, Promise of the Real. I found a great article that went into detail about their relationship with Neil, how the tour came together, and what they did to prepare for it.  Then at the bottom I read some of the comments and the one on the top read:

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