ALL OR NOTHING: It’s an age-old tale: Guitar-toting youngster hits hard times, turns to music to ease his pains, and discovers his voice in the process. Lucky for us, the cliché does nothing to dilute the power of Santa Barbara songsmith Erland Wanberg. The Dana Point–raised singer/songwriter honed his chops during a stint teaching guitar lessons, a job he took while caring for his ailing father. Through the process, Wanberg explored all manner of genres and styles, struggling constantly to find the voice that felt right. (The last time I caught him, he was backed by a band called The Family and shredding psychedelic country rock alongside S.B. baroque popsters Little Owl.)
Of course, music is an ever-changing medium, and with a little guidance from a deft set of hands, Wanberg seems to have found his true musical footing. Last year, he headed into the studio with producer-cum-mentor Andrew McMahon (Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate) and emerged with a stunning debut EP titled All I’ve Got. Nowadays, he’s also pulled together a backing band (which goes by the name Erland) to help him realize his sound on the live stage.
Stylistically, the songs on All I’ve Got draw inspiration from folk greats — the harmonica solos on “My Love” immediately call to mind Dylan’s signature setup — but there’s a rock ’n’ roll edge to the approach. Meanwhile, the heartbreak lyrics and falsetto vocals on “Ain’t Worth the Fight” and “All I’ve Got” make a great argument for Wanberg as the next Ryan Adams. Comparisons aside, the EP is easily one of the most promising first attempts I’ve heard in months. It’s replete with the kind of sad, romantic lyricism that demands a meaningful and capable delivery, and Wanberg pulls it off with grace. If this is a taste of what’s to come, then I highly suggest you keep your eyes — and ears — open for this one. I also suggest you catch him before the word gets out. Erland plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) this Thursday, March 8, with openers Haddon Cord, Ghost Tiger, and Walking West. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Call 962-776 or visit sohosb.com.
CHAIN REACTION: Also this week, Gardnerville, Nevada, rattlers Buster Blue return to town for a headlining show at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) on Saturday, March 10. For those who’ve yet to catch these five in action, it’s a show not to be missed. In addition to a stomp-and-fist-pump–worthy mix of folk, rock, and blues, Buster’s crew comes armed with an arsenal of inventive instrumentation, including — but not limited to — an array of chains, accordions, banjos, trumpets, and buckets. (Yes, buckets.) Being from a small town outside of the “Biggest Little City in the World,” it’s no wonder Buster Blue is pulling inspiration from all over the map. That they’re blending it together in such a fun-loving and crowd-rallying way, though — well, that just needs to been seen for yourself. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Call 966-9328 or visit busterblue.com for info.
CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS: This Thursday, March 8, New Noise presents Living Legends alum Eligh and AMP (of Zion I) together onstage at Velvet Jones (423 State St.). The pair is touring in support of their recently released collaboration album, Therapy at 3, which combines trippy electronic beats with Eligh’s signature smart-tongued, fast-flowing lyricism. The show starts at 8 p.m. Visit newnoisesb.com for tickets and info.
Also on deck are desert-dwelling pop folksters Family Thief, who stop by the Biko Co-Op Garage (6612 Sueno Rd.) on Thursday, March 15, as part of their Living Room Tour. Along for the ride are fellow Cali bands Till I Fall, Thy Floor Is Lava, and One Perfect Crime. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. A $5 donation is requested for touring bands. Visit facebook.com/FamilyThief for info.