House of Wolves, the newly minted band of former Coral Sea frontman Rey Villalobos.
Lauren Farmer

EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS: It may only be the first week of the New Year, but it seems we’ve already got plenty to look forward to in 2011. (Think crazy electro-pop parties, big-deal band unveilings, and more stellar shows in the works than even I can name.) Part one in this week’s trilogy of awesomeness is undoubtedly Friday’s show at the Biko Co-Op Garage (6612 Sueno Rd.), featuring Bubblegum Octopus. Balancing a furious mix of 8-bit electronics, psych-inspired soundscapes, high-pitched sing-song, and metal-esque guttural deliveries is no easy feat, but this Jersey-based batch manages to make it work. The result is a seemingly haphazard foray into electro-pop experimentation that’s nearly impossible to compare to any one group; think Black Moth Super Rainbow’s weirdness meets Slayer’s primal fury. If you ask frontman/mastermind Matthew “M@ the C@” Morden, he’d call the project a mix of “spazzpop” and “tweegrind.” I simply like to think of it as a nonsensically effective mix of ’70s and ’80s nostalgia: Nintendo noise, spacey samples, thrashing scream-rock, and enough child-like whimsy to bring out the kid in all of us. The all-ages show starts at 8:30 p.m. with Phoenix’s Treasure MammaL, Los Angelinos Monomate), and Isla Vista’s own Coach McGirt and The Chouger .Visit for info.

A FAMILY AFFAIR: This Friday also brings with it a killer downtown show of the regional variety. Starting at 8 p.m., Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) plays host to S.B. newcomers Little Owl and Ventura County staples The Spires. But the real story of the night will no doubt be House of Wolves, the newly minted band of former Coral Sea frontman Rey Villalobos. Consisting of longtime Villalobos collaborators Eric Ahlgren and Duncan Wright (and a slew of other players who will swap in and out throughout the band’s tour), House is essentially a filled-out version of Villalobos’s recent solo creations. While charmingly eerie in their stripped-down, acoustic form, Villalobos’s new tunes are able to really shine under the hands of the Wolves collective (think electric piano, rich, warm guitar tones, and soaring brass flourishes). With a fresh collection of recordings in the works (and Portland producing genius John Askew in their corner), I’ve got no doubt that this is just the beginning for this recently hatched lineup.

In addition, show-goers will get an out-of-town treat, courtesy of San Francisco’s Jake Mann and the Upper Hand. As the night’s headliner, Mann and his musician friends are sure to dazzle. Mixing a straightforward pop-rock approach with Mann’s signature and super dynamic wordplay, the Upper Hand crew arrives at a sound that’s part sweet bluesiness, part shoegaze and distortion, and part Ted Leo-style speak-sing. No matter what form, though, the band knows how to capitalize on Mann’s lyrical prowess and allows his messages and crafty structures to stand front and center. For show tickets and information, call 966-9328 or visit

ON THE HORIZON: And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be spending part of this week getting your rock ’n’ roll organized for the New Year. So, with pens handy and calendars (paper and electronic) open, I present to you my not-so-short, but super sweet rundown of 2011’s already announced can’t-miss shows. On Wednesday, January 19, SBDIY brings Moldy Peach Kimya Dawson back to Isla Vista for an all-ages show at 777 Camino Pescadero, while SOhO hosts baroque popsters Ra Ra Riot. On Friday, January 21, Glassnote Records signees Royal Bangs bring their buoyant mix of synthesized noise beats and infectious dance rock to Muddy Waters Café. And come Friday, February 4, New York post-punks Interpol make a stop at UCSB’s Event Center with fellow indie heavyweights (and some of 2010’s breakthrough stars) School of Seven Bells. In other words, start saving your pennies now.


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