The Stars Are Aligned

STELLaR’s STELLAR: Imagine, if you will, a British alternative rock band from the early ’90s. Now add layers of delay and reverb to the vocals, effectively smearing neutra-sweet lyrics into a gooey sonic concoction. Feature a bouncy bass line weaving in and out of lush guitars. While you’re at it, forget the band was from England, because they’re from Chicago, and stop thinking of Feeder or Supergrass, because this is HELLEN STELLaR. HELLEN STELLaR, currently unsigned and based in L.A., plays the type of alternative rock that one might listen to while getting washed out to sea. The group plays SOhO, Thursday, May 4, in yet another indie rock show for the venue. (Earlier in the month, most of you missed excellent sets from The Shys and The Colour. And in a couple weeks, prepare for Nine Black Alps, fresh from Coachella.) Opening will be OneRepublic and Franklin for Short.  — Rebecca Riley

NO COKE SNIFFING: Reggae superstar Pato Banton finds his way to Reggae Tuesdays at Cooney’s this coming May 2, and his no-coke-sniffing, only-sinsemilla-smoking style will be backed by none other than Half Pint from Bad Brains and the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, better known as what-happened-to-Sublime-after-Brad Nowell-overdosed. It’s sure to be the best Reggae Tuesday since KJEE’s The Cool Ruler moved his weekly operation to Anacapa Street.  — Matt Kettmann

RUN TO THE HARD TO FIND: Two new-to-the-scene bands will be playing this May 3 at the Hard to Find Showplace in Goleta. Run Run Run, whose debut album is set to release next month, kicks the night off with its distinctive psychedelic style, usually enhanced with trippy lighting. Then comes Le Meu Le Purr, who claim to be for the music listener whose hopes and dreams have been squandered by the soulless years of the ’90s. Show starts at 8 p.m.  — Hudson Hornick

EARL WARREN DILATION: As consistent as Dilated Peoples has been with each of their four albums, no one has quite awarded them the commercial success they might’ve hoped. Their newest opus, 20/20, like the previous three, has some missteps but even more superb executions, adding to their lengthy list of classic hip-hop cuts. But it’s Dilated’s live performances where the group truly shines. Whether it’s DJ Babu’s turntable wizardry or Rakaa and Evidence’s crowd-rocking party raps (delivered so you can understand what they’re saying), this L.A. trio knows how to entertain. If you’re lucky, you might catch some (real) freestyles from a couple of hip-hop’s better emcees who never skipped the fundamentals. It’s hard to imagine that anyone will walk away disappointed from their show at Earl Warren Showgrounds this weekend, on Saturday, April 29.  — Svante Nilson

BLUES TRAVELLER: Talk to any emerging blues exponent about influence and names like Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters are bound to arise. When Tommy Castro picked up the guitar, those were the names that helped pave his musical path. But by bringing his own musical virtuosity to the masses, the Californian native has countless admirers of his own: Carlos Santana invited him onstage and proclaimed, “the blues is in good hands;” John Lee Hooker can be heard on his recordings; and B.B. King insisted Castro open for him on national tours. Not only is his latest riveting recording Soul Shaker a good indication of what some of music’s greats have seen in Tommy Castro, but his appearance at SOhO on April 27 gives us the chance to see him live.  — Brett Leigh Dicks

NOT-CAREFUL ZONE: One of the surprise delights of this year’s musical landscape came last month, with the appearance of Very Be Careful at UCSB’s MultiCultural Center. Infectious energy was delivered, piping hot and unadulterated, via a livewire accordionist, three percussionists, and a bassist. Chalk another one up for the raw, spirit-raising power of indigenous, unplugged traditional music, this from Colombia. The young Los Angeles-based band is a dedicated purveyor of the rustic Vallenato style, a fascinating mix of European, African, and Colombian influences. Check ’em out at SOhO on May 3.  — Josef Woodard

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