By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
THURSDAY, DEC. 14
Two heads—Portis, Radio—better than one for Coto Normal, who make a kind of electro-jazz that would be total limousine chow except for lyrics that massage up the smartness/starkness instead of the beepness/deepness in Coto's spacey sound. Lots of effects is like lots of anything else—some people just can't help choking on it. But Coto is comfortable at high-pressure dub depths and makes music for people who want Harmonia to slow doooowwwn. At least in the studio. But they look confident live at Detroit.
PLUS: You're all worthless and weak for Twisted Sister at HOB!
Cadillac Tramps regroup from weekly exercise in this-or-that cover band for the real thing at the Galaxy: next-gen OC punk from guys with the seniority and experience to make it work. Guitar blues for tattooed dudes who paid their dues and . . . something-something born to lose. And also the Throwrag/Hunns band Charley Horse.
Cold War Kids back from tour (and signing with starship label V2, home of every band your friends ask you about a year after the record came out) for homecoming at Detroit, the very first venue to slot them a residency. How far we've come since the days of eschatological ska and sub-Sunset-Strip frat rock—archaeologically, it's about one little level, but that is progress enough in geologic time—and I never thought the day would come when a hometown band could do good without a horn section or a power chord. The thing about OC's lack-of-anything is that no one here has any responsibility to specific history so we get license to copy anything we want and try and make it slightly better. That's how the Beatles lived and died so don't knock it—I know you all can get any kind of music that ever existed off the Internet so I expect Aliso Viejo's Amon Duul II by first fiscal quarter next year.
PLUS: Dub/roots from underrated Jah Fellowship, who have been inching a record produced by Scientist toward perfection and release: this is Future Pigeon's little brother, and far be it from me to suggest that Squeeze OC missed a horsey hunk of local reggae—far be it from me to suggest that Squeeze OC even exists in any substantive fashion beyond mumbled promises to Register advertisers—but Jah Fellowship does some honest work. At Alex's.
Hello, it's me again: Todd Rundgren got the nod from Ric Ocasek to pop the potato out of the tailpipe and restart the old cars as the New Cars, and benediction de signeure plus enough original guys (keys and guitar from Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton) tip the statistics toward dignity or at least adequate acceptability or actually kind of a fun way to shine up what could be a pretty goofy county-fair cover band (not that the people at the with-it OC Fair would touch anything but the most credible of cover bands) with a pretty legitimate line-up. Rundgren is one of the leading rock nerds (behind Eno, ahead of Dolby) and his discography averaged out actually tops Ocasek, and although the New Cars have a tiny tinge of the mercenary (Rundgren jokes about paying his bills) you can't torpedo a package deal like this. Lemme bait you with a little hyperbole: Would you go see the Kinks if they got back together but mostly just played Beatles songs? What if Cheap Trick switched over and just started doing Kiss songs? What if Neil Diamond did a Johnny Cash tour? What if Gnarls Barkley did Buck Owens? Somehow that's completely good enough. The song, not the singer at the HOB.
Gits and gonnas.
Bleeding Through is adolescent insanity in piranha-tank froth: "I don't give a fuckkkkkkkkkk!" your dude growls through glottal clog, and trust me that you can hear every plosive 'k' pelt your cringing face. Metalcore is a bit cheesy but so is life, and these guys have life nailed to a plank somewhere so they can dissect it at their leisure. Better than a fistful of antidepressants (clinically found to make kids at this age more suicidal, so fuck the pharmas of course) because of the guaranteed demographic camaraderie. I find this band extremely uplifiting. TV shouldn't raise latchkey kids; Bleeding Through should. At the HOB.
Teenage Reid baby brothers Pop Noir have that transatlantic lag that comes from too much astral travel between Manchester and New York City in the year 1979 (on Trans World Astral, probably) but from afar I have watched them hustle and learn to not rip off Joy Division so much. Now they are in the dance-punk DMZ—we've all lost friends there—but if they nudge in any direction except cool/fool/school haircut pop this is gonna work out admirably. Get into Artery, guys. At JC Fandango with Los Abandoned and Go Betty Go.
THURSDAY, DEC. 21
We all like cute things—dinosaur eating a donut; baby in a bathyscaphe; candy-cane kittens and cottonball clouds—and Little Ones is cute to the pointiest detail; "indie pop" is like the nonspecific sinus infection of genre tags but Little Ones are just excellent. They go all the way back to the Embarrassment (lyrics that are words, not fingerpaint) and all the way up to like French Kicks or what-got-you and if the day ever comes that I smile at a stranger I can credit nothing but this band. Ellen says "swoon!" at OCMA.
For venue information, visit blogs.ocweekly.com/music.