LUCKY CHARMER: It’s rare for an artist to come along whose music entices from the very beginning. But from the moment Derren Raser‘s harmonious acoustic guitar strumming and charmingly friendly lyrics hit your eardrums, you’ll be sucked in. With a blend of indie rock and folk pop, Raser pleases the ear with catchy tunes like “Letter Never Sent” and “Crazy Crazy.” Although he isn’t signed with a formal label, Raser’s album, King of I’ll Tell You Next Week, is an instant addiction. Check him out at Rocks on Thursday, June 7, at 9 p.m. You won’t regret it. -Arabella Waters
WISHES COME TRUE: It’s easy to label college femme folk as drab and acoustic, but folk rock fatale Jonatha Brooke has managed to etch out a unique and innovative sound with her seventh solo release, Careful What You Wish For. Despite its battered and edgy exterior-as this is truly folk music with a skinned knee-Brooke illustrates a maturity seasoned by experience and sweetened by sentimentality. Her Chrissie Hynde-esque soulfulness is enhanced by a youthful optimism, which makes for an endearing live performance. Catch Brooke with Michelle Mangione and a special guest at SOhO on Friday, June 8 at 8 p.m. –Jessica Hilo
DEATH METAL, ANYONE? A substance stronger than glue is needed to hold a young metal band together these days. This is an impressive testament to Waking the Destroyer, a metal band formed three years ago in Santa Barbara. Despite a brief separation after being just a few months old and some deviations from their original lineup, Destroyer reformed in May 2005 to beat the odds and create a tighter, more brutally melodic death metal sound. They will be showcasing this sound on Thursday, June 7 at Velvet Jones and hope to release a new album by the end of summer. –Stephanie Flint
FORGET THE ALAMO: The one thing to come out of San Antonio that’s worth remembering is the punk-pop trio, Girl in a Coma Their brazen attitude and lead singer Nina Diaz‘s amazing vocal range sucker-punch listeners on Girl’s debut album, Both Before I’m Gone. That steady talent lives up to Girl in a Coma’s Smiths shout-out. (Hint: Smiths song “Girlfriend in a Coma”). Still not sold? Just ask Joan Jett, who has the ladies signed to her Blackhearts label. If you can’t get in touch with Jett, check out Girl in a Coma at Muddy Waters on Tuesday, June 12. And heads up: Don’t forget to rock. -Bianca Calhoun
BOOT STOMPING: As if the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort-which boasts a killer golf course, a couples cowboy boot camp, and all the luxuries of a romantic getaway-needed any more reasons to coerce you up to Solvang, they’ve just added another amenity to their facility. The ranch now hosts the twice-monthly Summer Concert Series, held at the River Grill. Playing Friday, June 8 is alt-rock band The Fossils, who take the stage at 7 p.m. And with a ticket price of just $30 bucks, including a meal prepared by Executive Chef Pascal Gode, there’s no reason not to love it. -Sarah Hammill
SOhO SHAKEDOWN: For entertainment a little closer to home, SOhO serves up a week of fine finger-picking. Things kick off with the rootsy jazz outfit The Nate LaPointe Band and easy groovers Slackstring tonight, June 7. Samba, chorro, and bossa music are the genres de jour on Saturday, June 9 at a show by Pyata & Bruno. And on Tuesday, June 12, SOhO welcomes Billboard magazine’s two-time new age artist of the year award-winner and world-renowned flamenco master Ottmar Liebert. -SH
This column features writers participating in the Almost Independent contest. To read more of their entries and to vote for your favorite, visit independent.com and click on the Almost Independent button.