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Take the night train 

Double Time, sold-out vamps, and a club load of punk and alt rock

I can’t believe preppie rockers Vampire Weekend sold out Downtown Brew weeks before their show! Seriously, it’s been sold out for weeks, and most of you have probably never heard of them. The NYC band is sort of exploding right now, with shows announced in London, France, Japan, and Australia, not to mention their current West Coast tour that’s taking them to theaters and clubs up and down the coast. Downtown Brew is probably the smallest venue they’ll play in. So, long story short, if you don’t have tickets for their Tuesday, Nov. 10 all- ages, $20, 8 p.m. show, you’re not going. Don’t fret, though, Downtown Brew has a whole lot of other stuff lined up this week.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, the ongoing Central Coast DJ competition continues with DJs Donk and Tony A (10:45 p.m.; 21-and-older; $2 at the door).

Still Time will offer a double-take beginning on Friday, Nov. 6, when the groove rockers play an ’80s party (7:30 p.m.; 21-or –older; $10 presale or $12 at the door) with opening act Strange Vine. They return to the club on Sunday, Nov. 8 to do it all over, except this time it starts at 7 p.m. and is all ages ($10 presale or $12 at the door) with Forest Day opening.

In between, on Saturday, Nov. 7, prepare yourself for some punkish trip-hop when Mickey Avalon is joined by the freakin’ awesome Beardo and Kesha (7:30 p.m.; 18-and-older; $25). These are three amazing underground acts that are just beginning to bubble to the surface. What’s taking so long? It’s hard to categorize their sound. Take Beardo, for instance. Sometimes garage punk, other times Philly back porch music, other times early Beastie Boys-style rap—always weirdly engaging.

Next up, a dose of punk rock so awesome that it simply shouldn’t be missed. In addition to headliner The Lawrence Arms, a gritty but clever Chicago-based trio, there are two others, including a personal fav, Cobra Skulls, which happens to be helmed by Devin Peralta, son of former SLO City Council member Christine Mulholland. He’s just as unabashedly liberal and politically astute as his mother (a former folk singer herself).

Cobra Skulls’ newest CD, American Rubicon, is filled with Devin’s spot-on political observation and take-no-prisoners lyrics, like “There’s A Skeleton in My Military Industrial Closet:” This economy has been taken under siege/ By an industry that’s been dedicated militarily/ Dependent on oil under foreign soil/ Like a locomotive waiting to feel the water boil.

Joining The Lawrence Arms and Cobra Skulls on Monday, Nov. 9 are fellow punks Teenage Bottle Rocket. That’s three awesome punk acts for one low price (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $12).

Hip hop fans will also want to mark their calendar for next Thursday, Nov. 12, when Andre Nickatina returns (7:30 p.m.; 18-and-older; $25).

Last minute add!

Let’s just say you wanted to see The Duhks on Friday, Nov. 6 at Castoro Cellars, but then you called for tickets only to learn the show was sold out. You shook your fist at the sky, cursed yourself for not calling earlier, and resigned yourself to missing them.

Well, the band decided to arrive a bit earlier, and since there’s demand, they’ve scheduled another show for Thursday, Nov. 5 at Castoro at 7:30 p.m. Sweet!

The Duhks (pronounced “ducks”) play folk, rock, Celtic, and bluegrass so darn well they’ve won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) and been nominated for a Grammy (America’s Newtie). Call 238-0725 before this show sells out too. Tickets are $22.

Magic fingers

Holy crap, can Leo Kottke play the guitar. If you close your eyes, I swear it sounds like there’re two or three people up there playing at once. He’s also a funny and frequently poignant guy, whose between-song monologues are worth the price of admission themselves: wry, dry Midwestern wit at its best! I can’t believe it’s been three years since his last visit to the Central Coast, but it has. Thankfully, UpWest Arts in conjunction with KCBX has him coming back.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, guitarist-singer-composer Leo Kottke plays Arroyo Grande’s Clark Center during an 8 p.m. concert (489-9444).

Over the course of his four-decade-long career, he’s single-handedly invented a new language for 6- and 12-string guitar. With a sound that bridges folk, jazz, classical, country, and blues, his is a sound at once familiar yet always surprising.

Rock in the classic way

Carole Belmore has one of those fine lovely lilting voices, a sound so pure and sweet listeners might be forgiven for calling it angelic. She and her hubby Terry recently released under the name The Belmores a new album of original material, Here and Now, which they plan to release to the public on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Clubhouse at 7 p.m.

 “We are The Belmores,” said Terry. “My wife and I are a professional local music duo. Carole plays bass and sings. I play guitar and sing. We’ve played in this area for years as a duo and in bands. Among local musicians such as Louie Ortega, Richard Green, Chet and Tommy Nunez, Carole is well known for her outstanding voice and ability to harmonize. We’ve played every month at the Clubhouse on Foothill since the day Andy re-opened it. Now we’re having our first CD release party. We rock in the classic way.”

The duo’s been collecting accolades from a few locals in the know: “Hey, Belmores,” said Richard Green, “I started listening today and I’m really enjoying your new CD. What a pleasant surprise to find well-written songs (especially ‘Otherside of Love’) with tasty and sparse arrangements and great vocals! What more do you want? And a great combination of styles and sounds. As a songwriter I appreciate good craft and you got it in spades. Well done!”

 “The Belmores are fine storytellers,” enthused Rob Kimball of KCBX Radio. “Just listen to ‘October Moon.’ Beautifully crafted. It stopped me dead in my tracks.”

Check ’em!

More music…

The Golden Child, starring Eddie Murphy, is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, so I have a soft spot in my heart for monks. On Thursday, Nov. 5, experience the Mystical Arts of Tibet, featuring the famed multi-phonic singers of Drepung Loseling Monastery, who will perform a 7 p.m. concert in the Performing Arts Center’s Christopher Cohan Center. Student and adult tickets range from $20 to $38. Call 756-2787 to reserve yours. A free pre-show lecture will be presented by a Drepung Loseling spokesperson at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Gallery Level Lobby. The monks have also created a mandala sand painting in the University Union. Produced in conjunction with Richard Gere Productions and endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, these touring events “are a means of promoting world peace and healing through sacred performing art.”

City Nights Jazz presents vocalist Karin Carson, performing with the Mike Raynor Group at the Inn at Morro Bay on Friday, Nov. 6, from 7 to 10 p.m. Carson was recently nominated for “Best Jazz” at the San Diego Music Awards. She also founded the San Diego Jazz Musicians Guild, a nonprofit organization.

It’s “reggae Friday” at Frog and Peach on Friday, Nov. 6, so old favs Babylon Saints are rolling through town to deliver some authentic, passionate, soulful, positive reggae starting at 10 p.m. “We’ve been making SLO our home-away-from-home, but need your help to keep up the positive momentum in SLO,” said Matt from the band.

Sea Pines Golf Resort’s Indian Summer Concert Series continues on Saturday, Nov. 7 with The JD Project (1 to 3 p.m.) followed by Truth About Seafood (3 to 5 p.m.). These shows are free!

Classical, swing, gypsy, folk, and tango will explode—seriously explode!—out of Café Musique on Saturday, Nov. 7 when they appear in concert in the acoustically wonderful St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Los Osos during the next Red Barn Community Music Series concert (7 p.m.; $10; come to a 6 p.m. potluck if you dare). Featuring some of our best local musicians performing material that will surprise and charm, this concert will transport you to an Eastern European Gypsy camp, where you’ll be robbed blind and possibly have your kidneys removed and sold on the black market (just kidding!).

San Jose’s Sidesaddle & Co. is celebrating their 30th anniversary of blowing crowds away with their captivating acoustic sound comprised of traditional bluegrass music seasoned with vintage country, Irish, Cajun, cowboy western, gospel, folk, novelty, and comedy. If you like vocal harmonies, virtuoso musicianship, and plenty of high energy shenanigans, head to Coalesce Bookstore on Saturday, Nov. 7 for a 7 p.m. show ($15; call 772-2880).

 “Can a protest song be a love song? Can it call for change and still respect tradition? Can you go home to a place you’ve never been? These are the questions we’re asking,” said Adam of Common Rotation, which plays on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Steynberg Gallery (7:30 p.m.; call 547-0278 for tickets). Common Rotation will be joined by Liz Clark with Tessa Perry, and each act delivers harmony vocals and multi-instrumentation backing their original folk pop. Plus, they’ll collaborate en total!

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull made the flute cool. You know how hard it is to make the flute look cool in rock’n’roll music? It’s harder than Chinese algebra! Harder than a diamond! Harder than squeezing a rich man through the proverbial needle! On classic albums like Thick as a Brick and Aqualung, Anderson put the flute front and center—heavy metal flute! On Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center’s Cohan Center, Cal Poly Arts presents “Ian Anderson Plays the Acoustic Jethro Tull,” during which he’ll perform on “ethnic flutes and whistles, together with acoustic guitar and the mandolin family of instruments.” Student and adult tickets range from $35 to $56 (756-2787).

Three Martini Lunch wrote to say, “Hey there, Cats and Kittens, join us on Sunday, Nov. 8 at Laetitia Winery for the SLO Vintners Harvest Celebration. We start singin’ and swingin’ at 12:30 p.m. See ya there, pallies.”

Also on Sunday, Nov. 8, the Hamlet’s Famous Jazz Artist Series continues with a couple of locally famous performers, college jazz professors Paul Rinzler of Cal Poly (piano) and Ron McCarly of Cuesta (saxophonist). They will be accompanied by other members of their college staff at one 4 p.m. performance ($15 general admission or $10 for students; call 927-0567).

Glen Starkey is joining the Republicans because he loves an underdog. Send free ammo, pro-life brochures, and any spare pointy white hats to gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 

 

 CD REVIEWS

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Flaming Lips—Embryonic

            Fans of the Flaming Lips’ early years—where acid-rock freak-outs were their calling card—had to adjust as the Lips controlled their squelchy tendencies for lush, rounded-edged symphonic pop. Since 1999’s Soft Bulletin, they’ve slowly risen to festival-headlining heights and gained the notoriety that simply a noise-rock band would probably never achieve. Thus, with some delight, Embryonic is a partial return to the loose, rollicking energy of their unconstrained beginnings. “Aquarius Sabotage” jumps out with over-amplified drums splattered with distorted, echoey guitar and bass stabs, decorated with pixie-dusted synths. It’s immediately arresting and a cathartic release. But this unbridled power isn’t album-wide. “Evil” has the gentle, atmospheric beauty of a robotic space walk, while “Impulse” sounds like a subtle cyborg slow jam. The album plays out more as a palette of ideas than the cohesive, thematic albums they curated on their last few outings. But for fans, the Lips continue to be an intriguing, fascinating listen, and you’ll be excited to hear these mock-upped conceptions now before they’re birthed into full-fledged albums later. 

 

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Nouvelle Vague—NV3

            On its third release, Nouvelle Vague continues to rework choice ’80s new wave tracks for a chic French cocktail lounge. Floating atop the sunny accent of Bossa Nova-strummed guitars and impishly delivered vocals, some songs will seem unrecognizable. Listen to the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen:” It’s stripped of its punk venom as Melaine Pain’s pixieish pronunciation of “no future” transforms its angered ending to tranquil melancholy. Likewise, Echo & the Bunnymen’s “All My Colours” is defanged of its haunting bite, yet retains its languid dreaminess. For creating their new book of modern standards, Nouvelle Vague again chooses wisely between big hits (Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere” and Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun”) alongside college-radio underdogs (Magazine’s “Parade” and Gary Numan’s “Metal”). Hearing “Master and Servant” lose its noir S&M implications to pouty-lipped come hithers, you realize Nouvelle Vague has found a niche that honors the original material as it transforms it.

 

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and mikovision.blogspot.com, where you’ll find archived reviews and soundclips.

 

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