BOUNCING BACK: With big explosions come big fallouts. Just ask The Wombats. The Liverpool trio bounded onto the scene in 2007 with their debut record, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation. In addition to launching a career, the now-platinum album spawned hit singles (“Kill the Director,” “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”), huge festival showings (Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, South by Southwest), and international success for bandmates Matthew Murphy, Dan Haggis, and Tord Øverland-Knudsen. But when it came time to make album number two, the trio hit more than a few roadblocks. (Think drug addiction, near-fatalities, and the what-does-it-all-mean quandaries that come with spending two straight years on the road.)
Luckily for fans, The Wombats eventually bounced back, and this year’s long-awaited second record, This Modern Glitch, is a joyous return to form. While holding tight to the band’s signature mix of catchy melodies and punk-rock bravado, Glitch also subtly moves The Wombats out of the garage and onto the dance floor. “Some of the songs on the record were written back in 2003,” explained Øverland-Knudsen recently via phone, “so to make it interesting and exciting and challenging, we decided to bring in the synths. It was our way of not getting bored and just kind of evolving the band from what it used to be.”
In fact, it’s that very mix of excitement and challenge that propels most of the songs on Glitch. “We struggled a lot on this record,” said Øverland-Knudsen. “A lot of the songs bring up feelings of that struggle, of banging our heads against the wall, but also of eventually getting it right. There are those moments where you feel like you’ve really achieved something, and this record is definitely that moment for us.”
The Wombats play Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Saturday, October 6, at 8 p.m. with opener Beware of Darkness. For tickets and info, call 965-8676 or visit clubmercy.com.
BRIGHTEN UP: Also this week, Denver folkies The Lumineers make their very big Santa Barbara debut at the Lobero Theatre. The band is currently touring in support of their breakout self-titled album and riding the kind of high that simply doesn’t come along that often. For the unacquainted, The Lumineers specialize in crafting big, stomping ballads that call to mind the soaring orchestrations of bands like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. While the acoustic guitars and pianos factor in prominently, it’s frontman Wesley Schultz who shines brightest on The Lumineers. With an emphatic delivery style and subtle twang, Schultz immediately reminds of a countrified version of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, capable of going high and holding a note with conviction and power. It’s enough to dazzle on record, and surely a wonder to catch live. That is, if you can score tickets. The Lumineers play the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Friday, October 5, at 8 p.m. Call 963-0761 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets and info.
BATTLE BORN: Next Thursday, October 11, marks the beginning of the end for eight talented S.B. music acts. Starting at 8 p.m. at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, we’ll be teaming up with New Noise Santa Barbara to host the first of two semifinals showcases for our Downtown Sound Battle of the Bands. On Thursday, that means four live sets from semifinalists Broken Machine, Revival State, The Mutineers, and False Puppet. All audience members will get a chance to vote for their favorite band, a panel of judges will weigh in, and by the end of the night, two acts will move on to the Downtown Sound finals (alongside the two winners from the second semifinals show), which will be held at SOhO on Thursday, October 18. Want to get in on the action? We highly advise you buy your tickets early at newnoisesb.org. This one’s gonna be a crowded house.