China room

Contrary to popular belief, the 1960s wasn’t all incense and peppermints and yellow dandelions blowing in the winds of peace and harmony. Beneath the indelibly gorgeous melodies of artists like the Beach Boys and the Beatles flowed an undercurrent of dread and tumult and, of course, revolt. LA-based quartet China Room attempts to embody that subliminal uneasiness in the modern age, with a sound that is at once stirring and dark. Invoking the feeling of the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd’s mad genius Syd Barrett, the band also tosses in more contemporary influences such as Radiohead and Joy Division for a hybrid style driven by a strong sense of melody. The band celebrates the release of its debut album, Put on a Smile, They’re Coming Your Way, at the Livery Theater on April 30.

Dilated Peoples

Few groups in the hip-hop underground have managed to find as much success by standing by their principles for as long as L.A. stalwarts Dilated Peoples. Starting in 1992, the duo of Rakaa Iriscience and Evidence began churning out intelligent records packed with witty and sometimes confrontational wordplay, too cerebral for the mass market but too undeniable to stay strictly beneath the surface. Propelled by the rough and funky beats of DJ Babu, the group rose above their submerged state with the grimy and guttural “Work the Angles,” then followed with a succession of moderate hits that have been met with the approval of hardcore heads and mainstream cats alike. Along the way, they’ve never lost sight of their ethics — their third-eye symbol has yet to need contacts. The trio works the angles at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara on April 29 with guests O.M.D., Ohno, DJ Romes, Med and Roc C. Earl Warren Showgrounds 3400 Calle Real St., Santa Barbara, 687-0766

The Upbeat

Seven or eight years ago, back when ska was sweeping the alternative nation, Carpinteria’s Upbeat seemed destined to become the breakout stars of the region. Perfecting a fast, infectious, horn-based sound that recalled the English two-tone style of the early ‘80s, the large ensemble set dance floors on fire throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Their inclusion on the Hellcat Records compilation Give ‘Em the Boot brought them a spark of national exposure that may have ignited an inferno had the ska explosion not burned itself out as suddenly as it began. With a backlash settling in, the Upbeat returned to local cult status, but no matter: The band was playing ska years before it saturated radio, and have continued their dedication to the music long after it disappeared, as their appearance at the Drink’s weekly Roots Revolution party on April 27, will certainly prove




Don’t be fooled by all those kid movies he’s been in recently: When he gets on the mic, Ice Cube is still the most dangerous man in America. And nevermind the fact that the former O’Shea Jackson came from a family where both parents worked at UCLA and that he has a degree in architectural drafting from a college in Arizona. His tales of hard living in the inner city were rough, vivid and emblazoned with an authenticity that even a true-life hustler like Eazy E couldn’t match. Splitting from seminal studio gangstas N.W.A., the dude with the permanent scowl proved he was the true brains behind the project, dropping one fiery, politically motivated and scarily intense atomic bomb after another. He was mad, hateful, misogynist, racist, homophobic and somehow brilliant all at the same time. Next to Public Enemy, there was no one else at the time who could rattle so many feathers in such a gripping way as Ice Cube. He may be known as the star of Are We There Yet? today, but there’ll be no stopping him when he steps on stage at the Ventura Theater on Saturday, April 22 along with fellow West Coast rap legends that Dogg Pound.


One of the more unlikely groups to score a hit single in the wake of the “new New Wave” explosion of 2005 was San Diego’s Pinback, a band known for its light, delicate pop. With the catchy and subtly groovy “Fortress,” the outfit—which is primarily the brainchild of Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Robert Rulon Crow Jr.—gained national exposure on the radio. Not that it really needed it: Pinback have been one of the more popular indie cult acts on the circuit since their formation in 1998. They may never achieve that coup again, but they’ll still have a large fan base, which will likely be out en masse when the group swings through UCSB on Thursday, April 20. Call the Associated Students Program Board at 893-2833 for more information.

Nathan McEuen

McEuens whose names begin with the letter J aren’t the only ones making a place for themselves in the music world. Nathan, brother of Jonathan and son of John—of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame—is working to carve out his own niche in the music world. Instead of directly plying the Americana of his family trade, Nathan prefers to dabble in what he describes as “future retro folk rock,” an eclectic blend of pop, surf and traditional folk. His latest album Grand Design deftly fuses together those influences on a record that’s about fighting to maintain dignity in the often soul-crushing world of the music business. Not that he isn’t prepared to take those difficulties head-on. After all, he is a McEuen. Nathan performs at Zoey’s on Friday, April 21.



Call it pan-global metal: Los Angeles-based quintet Healer mix Eastern melodies with Western crunch to create a sound that’s equally beautiful and brutalizing. Started by ex-White Zombie drummer Ivan de Prume, the band came together in the summer of 2003 with an appropriately unique lineup: singer-guitarist Scott von Heldt and bassist Ash Galloway flank de Prume on the rock side of the mix, while Martin St. Pierre and Phil Dippold add exotic flavorings with violin and yailly tambur and percussion, respectively. The group’s stated goal is to introduce more “tribal energy” to the American music scene by fusing two distinctly different sonic worlds together, and to that degree, they’ve already succeeded. Healer plays the Alpine in Ventura on April 15, along with Gary 84, Awol Star, Driven Out, Jewel in the Lotus, Head Peace, and Dippold and Galloway’s other project Baron Von Sloth.


Los Angeles was once the neglected middle child of the international punk scene. Too glitzy for London and not arty enough for New York, the bands that stalked the Sunset Strip in the late 1970s were forced to wallow in obscurity. Little changed when X released their debut, titled after the city that inspired it, in 1980. But for the first time, L.A. punk had a definitive document, like Nevermind the Bollocks for London and the first Ramones album for New York, that couldn’t have been anywhere else but the streets of Hollywood. Driven by the rough harmonizing of uber-cool power-couple Exene Cervenka and John Doe and anchored by the muscular roots-punk fusion of guitar hero Billy Zoom and drummer DJ Bonebrake, X gave the city’s underbelly a forceful soundtrack. The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, where they’ll perform on April 15, might be 45 minutes away from L.A., but the group — older, wiser, but just as intense — still drags the spirit of the city with them wherever they go.

Roby Duron

Squint while watching Roby Duron play guitar, and you’ll swear he’s somebody far more famous than he actually is. That’s partly because he looks like a quintessential rock star: long hair, jeans just a tad bit too tight, great pained expressions rippling across his face while ripping a solo. But it’s also because he shreds in the most dude-tastic sense of the word. Just ask the guys at the bar strumming the air to his roaring version of Cream’s take on “Crossroads.” Duron and his power trio’s eyebrow-singing runs through classics like the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” are powerful enough to make you wonder, once you un-squint your eyes, why he’s not playing places bigger than Wine Lovers, where he’ll be on April 19. Well, it’s probably best not to ask questions, especially when you get to see someone burn up a six-string that great up close.


G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE Garrett Dutton — better known to college students as G. Love — is truly a jack of all trades. But if you’ve ever heard the music he makes with his band, Special Sauce, that would be obvious. He sings (in a voice like a mash-up of Dave Matthews and Dr. John), raps (well, kinda), plays guitar and harmonica, and mixes together everything from rock and blues to R&B and hip-hop to funk and psychedelia. His hybrid style and rigorous touring has earned him a devoted following mainly amongst fans of Jack Johnson (who released 2004’s Hustle on his Brushfire Records imprint), Ben Harper and, yes, Dave Matthews Band. But the extent of his appeal is far wider than that. If you’re into music at all, you’ll find something to enjoy when G. Love & Special Sauce perform at the Ventura Theatre on April 6.

BLUE OYSTER CULT It isn’t often that a band achieves immortality through a Saturday Night Live sketch, but Blue Oyster Cult did just that, with the help of Will Ferrell as a bearded, over-enthusiastic cowbell player bashing his way through the group’s 1976 hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Long before being affectionately lampooned on NBC, Blue Oyster Cult carved out a niche for itself in the world of rock, playing melodic, heavy and intelligent proto-metal anthems. Maybe not surprising given their literary bent, the band members were mostly critics who formed on the campus of Stony Brook College in Long Island in the late ‘60s. While they never matched the success of “Reaper” and never reached the commercial stratosphere of some of their peers, BOC remains a vital riff-monster to this day, thanks to stamp of approval from their modern metal descendents, such as Metallica. And, of course, because of the cowbell. Got a fever? Cure it at the Canyon Club on April 7.

PLUMB In the tradition of strong, enigmatic female singers such as Suzanne Vega and Shirley Manson comes Plumb. Born Tiffany Arbuckle Lee in Indianapolis, the Atlanta-raised singer-songwriter tackles a wide range of issues on her new album, Chaotic Resolve, from child abuse to sexual abuse to loves both big and small. But the enormity of such topics can’t compare to the size of her voice, a miraculous instrument that has been noted as an influence by Amy Lee of Evanescence and provided backup for numerous vocalist. Her songs have been featured on a number of movie soundtracks and television shows. But where she truly shines is live. She appears at Alpine on April 8.








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