DEPRESSION GREAT AND OTHERWISE
Go ahead. Call Richard Swift "Dick." Did it feel okay? He likes it. It gives this 27-year-old Fullerton singer/songwriter the excuse to act like a crotchety old man, making obscure music for cranky people. And this act should become reality on his double-EP set The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1(out now on Leftwing Records) because it's packed with pop music unaware of radio post-1976. It's Beach Boys, vaudeville and Burt Bacharach-esque pop thrown a curveball when Swift laces his songs with a grab bag of bizarre psychedelic sounds that give his music a mysterious grace. And even if that were all Swift offered, you could dismiss him as an interesting eccentric—not such a bad fate, maybe, but Swift is more important than that. He puts his music in the service of something everybody needs: the mending of broken hearts. Walking Without Effort, the first EP in the collection, has songs like "Half Lit," perfect pop with a message that all crimes against romance can be forgiven. Yeah, the gentle guitar and '60s horns are something we've heard before. But Swift does it with such genuine warmth and melancholy that this time it must be true. The second disc, The Novelist, is the story of an artist finding himself the king of bad luck in Depression-era New York City; not a perfect match to the first, but the Tin Pan Alley sound has a bittersweet feel that does depression—great and otherwise—delicious justice. (Andrew Asch)
Richard Swift WITH Lassie Foundation at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St. Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600. Mon., 10:30 P.M. Free. 21+.
STAYING HOME IS A VACATION
Is dope smoking legal in international waters? How 'bout the Bahamas? Those questions were on the minds of more than a few passengers aboard last week's Jam Cruise 3, officially billed as "the world's only fully chartered jam-band music festival at sea." But for Virginia-bred songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams, there were more pressing needs—like his baby girl, Ella. "I get on the boat [in Jacksonville, Florida] at 3 a.m., and I'm flying back from Freeport by 9 the next morning," he says, speaking a few hours prior to departing. "I'd feel guilty for staying. Hot sun, partying, great—but my wife is back home with a three-month-old." By the sound of it, Williams isn't exactly wearing the perma-grin gracing the covers of his albums Laugh and Dance as well as his new live CD, Stage. That simply isn't the case, though. "We're planning a bus trip—15 shows in 19 days. And I'm bringing the wife and kid along, too," he says. For Williams, who got his break after playing in bars near Colorado ski slopes, adjusting to family life's just another new adventure. This jam-band-circuit veteran once spent two whole years on the road with his wife and dog. He's also shared the spotlight with the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, bass phenom Victor Wooten, and friends/fellow ski bums String Cheese Incident, all of whom have had an obvious impact on Williams' style. So he's been around for a while and like most of his jammy peers, he plays out a lot. "Being at home, for me, is a vacation," he says. "When you have a family, it's just different." Translated: see this guy soon, before he trades in his guitar for a minivan. (Mark Sanders)
KELLER WILLIAMS AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600. SUN., 8 P.M. $17.50-$20.
As in a marriage that remains steady over the decades, the glue that has bound New York hardcore band Agnostic Front these past 23 years is a hard thing to identify. Front man Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma have certainly been through a lot together: What other musical act can claim the pre-rap Beastie Boys for label mates, weathered vilification by Phil Donohue himself and won a starring role in Matthew Barney's "Cremaster 3" performance-art installation at the Guggenheim museum? And then there's Miret's time in prison, a three-record fling with Epitaph and the occasional indignity of playing second fiddle to their own protgs. Their 10th LP, Another Voice (Nuclear Blast), is, at the very least, an homage to stability; Miret's heaving grunts sound pretty much as they did four presidents ago. Having experimented with metal crossover in the late '80s and "street punk" crossover in the late '90s, Agnostic Front appear to be making another of their periodic pilgrimages toward that hazy default known as their "hardcore roots." If the results are even one-10th as ludicrously ferocious as the band's 1983 United Blood seven-inch, this can only be a good thing. And—unlike the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall or Katz's Deli—the New York institution that is Vinnie Stigma can be viewed by us Californians without the fuss of a plane ticket. (Sam McPheeters)
AGNOSTIC FRONT ON THE HEAVYWEIGHTS OF HARDCORE TOUR WITH HATEBREED, CROWBAR, THE AUTUMN OFFERING, DIECAST AND LOVE IS RED AT HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-2583. MON., 7:30 P.M. $16. ALL AGES.
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