San Diego garage rockers The Soft Pack travel north and hit Velvet Jones on Thursday, September 8.

LOCALIZE IT: With our Santa Barbara Band Guide looming in the not-so-far distance — and our annual Downtown Sound battle of the bands fast approaching — it seems only fitting to give a proper plug to the bevy of great S.B. music-makers hitting the circuit this week. On Friday, September 2, rising Goth-metalheads Crimson Scarlet take to the Creekside (4444 Hollister Ave.) alongside fellow neighborhood hard rockers The Depths and The Volume. While a buzz has been brewing about Crimson, it wasn’t until a recent sneak peek of the band’s forthcoming 7″ that I truly caught on. The two-track single, slated for a limited, vinyl-only release in the coming months, is a startlingly sinister mix of grinding guitars, crashing, fuzzed-out cymbals, and frontwoman Chelsey Crowley’s big, haunting, and oh so Siouxsie and the Banshees–esque deliveries. Onstage, the band is a force to be dealt with in its own right. (Their last late-night showing at Velvet Jones found them expertly shrouded and shredding in ominous fog-machine vapor and low lights.) Needless to say, it’s a spectacle that’s well worth the paltry $5 admission charge. Consider it a great excuse to score one of those “I saw them when” moments. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and is 21+. Call (805) 964-5118 for info.

Also taking the stage this weekend are Santa Babylon’s resident road warriors Tommy and the High Pilots. After nearly a year of straight touring, the hometown boys (individually, frontman Tommy Cantillon, bassist Steven J. Libby, guitarist Michael Cantillon, and drummer Matt Palermo) are returning to town on Saturday, September 3, at Velvet Jones (423 State St.). To call the Pilots road-tested is no doubt selling these four short — they’ve been plugging away and gigging their way across the nation for years now. For the sonically unfamiliar, theirs is a sound that draws heavily from the world of pop rock — it’s anthemic, heartfelt, and ripe for eyes-closed sing-alongs — but also pulls from folk and classic-rock influences. The band’s most recent release, this year’s Sawhorse Sessions EP, sounds like Travis at some points, Ryan Adams at others, and gives the overall feel of a Cameron Crowe movie: approachable, heartfelt, and subtly sentimental. The show starts at 8 p.m. and is 21+. The Pilots will be joined by fellow Central Coast rockers PK and Naked Walrus. Call 965-8676 or visit for details.

COAST TO COAST: In definitely nonnative news, this week also brings two extremely worthwhile tours into town. On Thursday, September 8, Club Mercy presents San Diego garage rockers The Soft Pack at Velvet Jones. Despite their Cali roots, these four dudes sound less West Coast chill and more New York cool, complete with Strokes-ian guitar hooks and a snotty, punk-tinged ’tude that immediately calls to mind those Atlanta pranksters The Black Lips. In recorded form, they dabble in lo-fi, surf-punk fittings (“Extinction,” “Bright Side”) but are at their best when they’re full-on rocking out. (Check out the fast-rising single “C’mon” for a taste.) Their all-ages stint at Velvet starts at 8 p.m. Visit for tickets and info.

If you’re looking for something slightly mellower in sound, I recommend spending this Wednesday, September 7, down the block a ways at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.). Starting at 8 p.m., the coffee house-cum-venue will host an all-ages triple bill of soothing indie rock featuring New Yorkers The Ladybug Transistor, Oxnard’s Sea Lions, and Red Pony Clock. While Ladybug — touting a new record, Clutching Stems — is the night’s designated headliner, my ears are most definitely stuck on Sea Lions. Dishing up meandering, buoyant, lo-fi ditties in the vein of Real Estate or Surfer Blood, I’m dubbing these kids some of the area’s finest and definitely “ones to watch.” For show info, call (805) 966-9328.


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