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Tuesday, July 23
Papa The Constellation Room Los Angeles duo Papa are feeling the love from audiences on their current tour through the US, as we're feeling the warmth from their catchy body of work. Light piano and synthesizer flourishes adorn the eclectic mix of instruments, which altogether create the enormous anthemic sound of Americana pop. If you're wondering about the name, Darren Weiss (who was also the drummer for California low-fi pop group Girls) named the group after his freewheeling hustler grandfather, who spun yarns of interesting stories during Weiss' childhood. Weiss' vocals also project a deep, unique voice usually unheard of, but amidst the accompanying vocal harmonies and instrumental barrage, hey- it's amazingly good. Tonight they play the Constellation Room with Wardell. (Aimee Murillo)
Wednesday, July 24
Hockey Detroit Bar Hockey have been through a lot. In the four years since their debut, Mind Chaos, they've been cut down to a duo, left major label Capitol, and even changed names--singer Ben Grubin is now Ben Wyeth, in honor of the long and noble labor that produced their newest album, Wyeth Is. Naturally, this doesn't sound like the old Hockey. The best tracks on Wyeth Is ("Calling Back" and "Wild Style," likely named for the epochal graffiti/hip-hop documentary) add in a certain NYC '79 feel, sourced from equal parts Sugar Hill Records and Ze Records. And of course there's a direct line to the Talking Heads, whose Jerry Harrison almost produced an earlier Hockey LP. At heart, however, this is a pop record that can't hide its melancholy. Then again, they kinda earned that. (Chris Ziegler)
Jonny Lang The Coach House Former child prodigy and current guitar Jedi Jonny Lang knows that although his career shot skyward at the age of just 16, a truly good thing takes plenty of time. That's why his new record, Fight for My Soul, has a U.S. release date of Sept. 17--a long seven years to the day after his last studio album. In the works for three years, this collection of songs came together with the help of producer Tommy Sims (co-writer of Eric Clapton's "Change the World") and features a tight, well-edited list of 11 tracks. The new album reaches past his signature gospel blues sound and touches on several different genres. "Much of what I've experienced through music and life in general is in these songs," Lang says. "I really like reaching out and connecting with people." Fortunately for blues fans, that includes a rare stop in Orange County this week. (Erin DeWitt)
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Thursday, July 25
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Pacific Amphitheatre Rock & roll just wouldn't be the same without Joan Jett. After more than 30 years of crushing gender-specific stereotypes, the "Bad Reputation" singer continues to push forward in the music industry, with scores of Top 40 hits and platinum and gold albums. In addition to her commercial success, the raspy-voiced front woman earned a spot in rock history in 1980 when she became the first female artist to own and operate a record label, Blackheart Records. Now on tour, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts once again stop by the Pacific Amphitheatre, where hundreds of buzzed, loyal fans can gleefully sing along to "I Hate Myself for Loving You." (Heidi Darby)
Modest Mouse Huntington Beach Pier What would the "world's largest youth-culture and action-sports festival" be without a multiday musical extravaganza featuring hipster national acts and local bands, all for free? Pretty lame, that's what. Each year, in addition to the surfing competitions and bikini-watching, the U.S. Open of Surfing hosts splashy concerts for sand-blasted beach-goers. Hitting the House of Vans stage (get it?) tonight is dreamy post-rock band Modest Mouse, with an opening set from OC's Matt Costa. The event's annual music stage has been called one of the most anticipated summer concerts (maybe because it's free, and we're all broke), not to mention the largest--but anyone who has ever tried driving down PCH during the U.S. Open could guess that. So save those Coachella bucks and hit the beach for your live-music fix. (Erin DeWitt)