Bon Iver

SONGS FOR THE NEW BREED: As a cultural commenter, there’s nothing more inspiring than the work of a devoted artist who removes himself from conventional society to focus on his craft. Hemingway did it in Idaho, though not for long; and when the Beatles did it, the world went Hare Krishna. So the romantic, snow-laden image of indie folk songster Justin Vernon traipsing through a Jack London forest, hauling chopped spruce to his remote Wisconsin cabin, and pausing in artistic reverence at the sight of a deer’s carcass is almost too much projection to bear. Still, this was the setting for Vernon-whose stage name, Bon Iver, is a clever misspelling of “Good Winter” in French-when penning his disarming and accessible debut, For Emma, Forever Ago. His subdued falsetto, melodic simplicity, and introspective lyrics shuck the hardened shell of emotional devastation, and what remains are the world-weary juices of rumination. Club Mercy presents Bon Iver this Friday, March 21, at Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.) He’ll be joined by Phosphorescent, who at times sounds like Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Visit for more information. -Jessica Hilo

OSO SUE ME: Genres are a tricky thing-one man’s alternative indie is another man’s progressive rock. So what, in the great incomprehensible world of music criticism, will it take to dump our penchant for classification and just get along? Enter titan of the bluntly indefinable, Santa Barbara’s own Oso. The band labels its sound with tags like “afro-beat,” “ghetto-tech,” and “incendiary melodic superstructures.” But for those who require further explanation, their sound is a collage of skillfully arranged, symphonically inspired rock melodies. (They’ve got classical instruments punctuated by an explosive and celebratory inner rhythm.) Our genre-challenged heroes will play Thursday Night Live! at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) on Thursday, March 20. Visit for more info.-JH

BREAK ON THROUGH: After being a part of the close-knit Ventura music scene for years, 23-year-old Lee Koch (pronounced “Cook”) has finally made his way up to Santa Barbara, where he hopes to wow crowds anew with his high-energy, soulful sound. Koch, who has lived in S.B. for about two months now, grew up in a family of music enthusiasts but didn’t begin his musical career until he picked up the harmonica in high school, later expanding his folksy blues sound with the addition of a guitar. And with a debut demo slated to drop sometime soon, Koch is well on his way to breaking into our little music scene. Check him out when he shares the SOhO stage (1221 State St.) with King Coral and Todd Hannigan on Wednesday, March 26. Call 962-7776 or visit for details.-Chris Meagher

OUT CAME THE SUN: Heavily influenced by a Southern California mudslide that invaded the band’s studio during the recording of their third album, Kinky-a five-piece band from Monterrey, Mexico-isn’t scared of a little SoCal springtime, promising to play, rain or shine, this Saturday, March 22, at SOhO (1221 State St.), thanks in part to the booking masterminds at Club Mercy. And with the recent release of Reina (Spanish for “Queen”) the band has plenty to celebrate; not only did the band’s recording studio, instruments, and creative will survive a muddy avalanche, the finished product marks the first of Kinky’s albums to be produced and released on the band’s new label, Kin-Kon Records. Touting the same brand of rocktronica-en-Espa±ol as Kinky’s previous albums, Reina even includes a cover of Wall of Voodoo’s ’90s hit “Mexican Radio.” For additional information, including ticket prices, visit or call 962-7776.-Lisa Engelbrektson


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