Power-pop: so glorious when done right, so disappointing when mishandled. Berkeley band Trevor Childs & the Beholders (formerly Everest) lands firmly in the former territory with this debut, which summons the genius of Big Star, the Cars, and Matthew Sweet. Bright production, deceptively simple songwriting, and catchy-as-hell hooks and melodies.
At the Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., San Francisco) on Apr. 11. 9:30 p.m., $7
Remember 1994, when East Bay punk bands ruled the world? Green Day's Dookie dropped in '94, as did Rancid's Let's Go (the more successful ...And Out Come the Wolves followed in '05). "Basket Case" and "When I Come Around;" "Time Bomb" and "Ruby Soho:" Ah, those were the glory days. Who would've thought that fifteen years later, these two pillars of the East Bay punk revival scene would again release new albums in the same summer? Perhaps no one, especially considering Green Day's unlikely blockbuster success with American Idiot and Rancid's internal strife, lineup changes, and brief hiatus in the mid-'00s. But here they are, poised to launch a pair of new records in '09. Green Day's eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown (produced by Butch Vig [Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Sonic Youth]), is due May 15 on Warner Bros. Rancid's seventh album, Let the Dominoes Fall (produced by Brett Gurewitz [Bad Religion]), is due two weeks later on June 2 on Hellcat/Epitaph. Time for another Journey to the End of the East Bay!
If any band's past can be called sordid, perhaps it's the Happy Clams'. Frontman and mastermind Paul Pot has been crafting musical ephemera in the East Bay for decades, including twelve years with the Happy Clams. This long overdue debut features lo-fi Velvet Underground drone, freakish Misfits punk rock, and a romantic ode to a second cousin.
At the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on Apr. 10. 9 p.m., $8
Big news for Green Day fans and theater-goers alike: the Berkeley Repertory Theatre has announced it will present a world-premiere adaptation of Green Day's multi-platinum 2004 punk-rock opera American Idiot beginning on September 4. The play follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a conflicted world, and features both an onstage band (not Green Day, alas) and a cast of nineteen young performers. It features every song from the album, plus a few new ones from Green Day's upcoming release 21st Century Breakdown. All words were written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and all music by the band itself. The book for the production was written by Armstrong and director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening). Now let's see some tats and 'hawks in the Roda Theatre! Preview tickets are now on sale for September 4, 5, 9, 10, and 13, at $32 to $54 each.
Crime in Choir's music plays like a gluttonous film soundtrack or an all-instrumental musical. It's as indulgent as it is disciplined, as dramatic in its own right as it is descriptive of some unseen narrative. The all-star San Francisco band's experimental yet highly listenable fourth album is another winner, at one point pairing Shaft-like funk with Pink Floyd prog.
Harte's fourth record was composed "in the sunset of the Bush era" and offers a vision of a decaying world. Traces of Dave Matthews' troubled optimism surface, but Harte's path is never direct enough to predict. An eclectic California singer-songwriter, he deals in modes and themes as varied as the genres from which he borrows.
At Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco) on Apr. 4. 9 p.m., $12
Adam Ritchie sent us this video of San Francisco band Scissors for Lefty at South by Southwest last week. It opens with a snippet of them performing on Friday and continues with a brief interview. Enjoy.
Young, good-looking male singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars and adult contemporary radio-ready singles are still a solid sell in the music industry, but that's not necessarily a good thing for San Francisco's Eoin Harrington. He's talented and fits the bill, yet offers little to distinguish himself from countless other would-be John Mayers and Jack Johnsons.
At Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco) on Apr. 2. 8 p.m., $12
In a press release sent out Friday, Reprise Records -- a subsidiary of Warner Bros. -- announced it will be releasing Green Day's entire catalog on 12-inch vinyl in chronological order throughout 2009. The first two, 39/Smooth and Kerplunk -- originally released on Berkeley's Lookout Records in 1990 and 1992 -- are available today, March 24. The others, including 1994's Dookie (which will be available on audiophile-grade 180-gram vinyl), 1995's Insomniac, 1997's Nimrod, 2000's Warning, 2001's International Superhits! (greatest hits), 2002's Shenanigans (B-sides, rarities, and covers), 2004's American Idiot (on 180-gram double vinyl), and 2005's Bullet in a Bible (a live album recorded during the American Idiot tour), will be released in sequential order through the year. Green Day also has a new record in the works, the Butch Vig-produced 21st Century Breakdown, which should be out in May.
If you find Xiu Xiu intriguing yet too hard to listen to, Oakland artist Nate Toutjian's Convergence of Robins project may be the answer. Toutjian and his backing musicians paint with pleasingly straightforward and challengingly avant-garde strokes alike inside frames shaped by often experimental and minimalist loops.