Maria Maria

Oxnard’s most out-there ensemble (now a three-piece), has launched its own label, YAY!, which their press release claims “is here to bring the fun back in pop!”  Hey, any band that uses amplified vacuum cleaners as instruments and smashes cinder blocks as part of their live show definitely knows what fun is all about. The imprint’s first four releases are all seven inches — as in records — and include the debut from dreampoppy newbies Catwalk and two efforts from Maria themselves, as well as a fanzine that comes packaged with an old-school flexidisc. The full YAY! Roster — all two groups — brings fun back to Grady’s Record Refuge on May 27, in celebration of the release of Maria’s latest vinyl offering. Yay!

The Business

Oi! Throwing open the casket that was slowly closing on punk in the year 1979, South Londoners the Business restored the dying music’s working class, blue collar, bloodstained ideals as it slowly diluted into the more palatable new wave form. Harder and more gutter-level than their occasionally artsy and scholarly predecessors, the band ushered in a new era of underground rebellion with a brutal-but-anthemic sound, perfect for rioting after a soccer match. In fact, the group’s biggest hit, “England 5 – Germany 1,” became a rallying cry for British football fans across the country. Still alive and kicking (and stomping), the legendary Biz performs at Alpine on May 29.

Sean Smith

A guitarist in the tradition of late legend John Fahey, Berkeley-based songwriter Sean Smith says he gave up playing rock’n’roll a long time ago to focus on working as a solo artist, and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do so: Indie folkies such as Devendra Banhart are currently ruling the fringes of the music universe. Smith, though admittedly just beginning (he put out his first record last year and is working on a second), has already started the early stages of carving out his own niche in that scene, having toured the coasts extensively, appeared at the South By Southwest Music Conference and shared bills with such luminaries as Six Organs of Admittance and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. And now, he’s giving a free concert at Buffalo Records on May 25.




Oh, you remember the Aquabats, don’t you? Better question: How could you forget them? Back in the halcyon days of the late 1990s, during that eye-blink moment when ska captured the nation’s imagination to such a degree it required Carson Daly to host an MTV special about it, the ‘Bats — a quintet that fancy themselves to be superheroes in the mold of the campy old Batman live action series — lodged the unlikeliest of hit singles with the tune “Super Rad.” It featured all of the group’s calling cards: upbeat horns, hyperactive vocals and lyrics about … well, the things a group of self-styled cartoon characters would sing about. Of course, America’s interest in ska faded away as quickly as it came, but a nation of Aquabat-a-Maniacs — sporting spandex bodysuits and foam masks — remain. Don’t believe it? Marvel for yourself when the legions show up to see the Aquabats at Alpine on May 20.


That’s P.O.D., as in, Payable on Death. When the dreadlock-sporting San Diego quartet emerged at the height of the nu-metal boom period, they instantly stood out from the mooks in the crowd by perfecting a hard-hitting mix of heartfelt rock with reggae and Latin underpinnings that didn’t give in to the usual suburban self-pity that marked the genre at the time. Instead, the band had a message dipped in thinly-veiled Christian spirituality (hence the name) that somehow managed to be uplifting in a general sense rather than narrow and self-righteous. Maybe that’s why they’re still around and Creed is not. Or Korn, for that matter. P.O.D. prove they’re still so alive at the Ventura Theatre on May 24.

UCSB Extravaganza

It’s the premiere free concert for miles, and one of the annual signals that summer is right around the corner. UCSB’s Extravaganza has been offering up solid lineups for no charge for well over a decade. Past performers include Sublime, Jane’s Addiction, NOFX, Run DMC, Busta Rhymes and a whole host of others. This year’s event is topped by legendary Bay Area rapper E-40, who is in the midst of a national renaissance thanks to his inescapable hit “Tell Me When To Go.” Ska-rock fratboys Pepper, alt-hip-hop icons the Pharcyde, the breezily jam-tastic Animal Liberation Orchestra and local reggae ensemble Rebelution fill out the lineup coming to the university’s Harder Stadium on May 21.




Sounds like a sugary breakfast cereal, huh? Well, it’s not, although the members of the Horrorpops do look as though they sprang out of a box of Count Chocula. The tattoo-adorned, pompadour-sporting Danish sextet formed in 1996 to play campy, revved-up, B-movie psychobilly — something guitarist Ken Nekroman was already doing in his group, Nekromantix. What set HorrorPops apart from his main project was the presence of singer-bassist-zombie greaser pin-up Patricia Day, adding a dose of strong femininity to a hyper-masculine genre. And they also have a pair of go-go dancers who join them on stage. If that doesn’t scream “must-see live show,” nothing will. HorrorPops perform at the Alpine on May 12, with the Briefs and Left Alone.

Suga Free

Los Angeles-bred emcee Suga Free possesses one of the most bizarrely entertaining flows in the world of West Coast hip-hop, a nasally, spitball-fire attack with a rhythm that seems to splatter against the beat rather than ride it. Although he’s mostly known for guest appearances on records by Xzibit, Snoop Dogg and frequent collaborator DJ Quik, Free has consistently made enough of an impression on rap fans to gain a following of his own. The charismatic G-funk star pimp-walks into Salzer’s Records for a free in-store on May 12, and performs at Nicholby’s later that night, in support of his latest release, Just Add Water.

Los Olvidados

Alex Jones, singer-guitarist and main songwriter for Moorpark foursome Los Olvidados, derives inspiration from a number of sources: Wilco, Neil Young,director Gus Van Sant, and, naturally, Alex P. Keaton, the quintessential Young Republican from the classic ‘80s sitcom Family Ties. The latter has played such an influential role in Jones’ life that when he decided to create his own label, he named it the Keaton Collective, a tribute to Michael J. Fox’s second-most enduring character (next to Teen Wolf, of course). Obviously, Jones cannot be accused of taking himself too seriously. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t serious about his songcraft. He spent his teenage years doing time in “crappy, high school sorta-punk bands” before graduating to the indie-leaning, college-age-appropriate Spencer in 2001. After that group ran its course, Jones still had a bunch of songs that were patently different (read: mellower) than what he was writing before. But he refused to go the coffee shop open mic route. So in late 2005, he re-enlisted ex-bandmates Rey Corpuz and Adam Taniguchi (later adding bassist Josh Williams), and suddenly Spencer was resurrected as Los Olvidados. With his latest venture, Jones manages to combine his love of alt-country, power-pop and, oddly, Wu Tang Clan, in a mixture that’s melodic and mature without being ponderous — or pretentious. The band plays Billy O’s on May 16.




In hindsight, dissing Fred Durst was probably the best career move nu-metalers Taproot could’ve made. Back in 1998, when the group’s brand of relentless, pummeling metal was ruling the world and Limp Bizkit were inexplicably standing on top of it all, the Michigan quartet sent a demo to Mr. Nookie himself, who personally called the band back and said he was going to escort them to fame and fortune. Naturally, Durst never made good on his promise, and when Taproot signed to another label, he made it a point to slam them in the press. Of course, ol’ Fred is a laughing stalk now, and Taproot has maintained a solid fan base long after the nu-metal craze faded away. Last year’s Blue-Sky Research was their most mature work yet, allowing melody to filter through the bludgeoning murk, and attracting the attention of a far more respectable alt-rock demigod, Billy Corgan, who co-wrote a few tunes. But if their career has proven anything so far, it’s that Taproot don’t need any assistance when it comes to kicking some sonic ass. And that they will do at the Ventura Theatre on May 6.


Striking a pose like Roxy Music but doing so in an era where it was slightly more acceptable, Sheffield, England’s ABC became a prominent force on MTV back when both were fledgling institutions in the early 1980s. Singer Martin Fry’s suave demeanor and self-consciously campy sensibility won the group a large following at the dawn of an age where looking good mattered. (Just to show how visually inclined they were, the band added two members in 1984 who didn’t do anything other than stand around onstage and preen.) Luckily, they also had the tunes to back up their image: blue-eyed soul synthesized through a new wave prism that yield multiple Top Ten hits. Their run naturally ended at the beginning of the ‘90s, but by 1997, the ‘80s were experiencing a revival, so back ABC came — and they’re still around today, and playing at the Canyon on May 6.

The Fucking Wrath

Ventura: prepare for war. Why? Because the Fucking Wrath is playing Alpine. The band, featuring ex-members of local favorites like Missing 23rd, Fakermark and Ox vs. Thunderbird, play heavy-as-bricks, fast-as-lightning stoner punk from the deepest depths of hell. Joining them on May 4, are the equally wicked Crom, El Barbaro, Rhino Charge and Doomsday 1999, fronted by the singer of hometown legends Phooey. Bring a flak jacket: Anything within 10 feet stands to be incinerated.

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