AFTER THE RAIN: As with most things, the music world tends to take a few weeks to wake up after the holiday season. Now that we’re 15 days into 2015, though, all hell seems to be breaking loose — and I mean that in a good way. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting idly for new tunes since early December. This week, we get an earful, thanks to excellent new albums from Panda Bear and Santa Barbara’s own Ghost Tiger. And in the next few weeks, the goods just keep on coming. For starters, Sleater-Kinney’s great, long-awaited return to the fold, No Cities to Love, drops on January 20. (For all my fellow impatient riot grrrls, the album is also streaming online now. Go get it there.) Before the month lets out, we’ll also see new releases from indie staples Belle and Sebastian and The Decemberists, promising fresh faces Viet Cong and Natalie Prass, and L.A.’s über-prolific Ty Segall, who puts out a new EP and a new live disc this month because, well, he can.
On the live music front, both New York City’s Governors Ball and Indio’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival released — and sold out — their 2015 lineups last week. But if you’re not the camping/drugging/dealing-with-100,000-other-people type, don’t worry! There’s a crazy amount of music coming to Santa Barbara in the next two months, too, including rock goddess Patti Smith (Jan. 27 at the Granada Theatre), EDM giant RL Grime (Feb. 5 at Velvet Jones), New Orleans pop duo Generationals (Feb. 7 at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club), folk heavyweights Avett Brothers (Feb. 10 at the Arlington Theatre), synth-pop act Milo Greene (Feb. 10 at SOhO), and dance music mega-get Giraffage (Feb. 27 at EOS). So, if you’ve yet to buy yourself a 2015 calendar, now is the time.
NOW NOW NOW: Planning ahead is all fine and dandy, but say you’re looking for something to do this week. Well, there’s no shortage of stuff there either. On Sunday, January 18, rockers can take their pick of two separate but equally excellent shows going down on State Street. At Velvet Jones, Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass returns to town with his band in tow. He’ll be supported by one of my personal favorite S.B. musicians, Jacob Cole. The former Saint Anne’s Place frontman will be premiering his new project, King Cole, and if you’re a fan of beautifully arranged, strongly delivered folk, soul, and Americana, he’s an absolute must-see.
Up the street a few blocks, SOhO continues its fundraising efforts with a show so big it’s almost inconceivable. The bill is being shared by locs and legends Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald — yes, that Kenny Loggins and that Michael McDonald — who will both be onstage in SOhO’s fewer-than-400-person-capacity room. Not surprisingly, tickets for this super-intimate blockbuster are long sold-out, but if you’re a fan of either artist, I’d start that Google search now.
On Tuesday, January 20, Nickel Creek cofounder Sean Watkins and his trio take to the stage at SOhO in support of his new album, All I Do Is Lie. He’ll be supported by fellow folk powerhouse Lauren Shera. And speaking of powerhouses, on Wednesday, January 21, Portland mega-collective the MarchFourth Marching Band returns to town for a show at SOhO. The ever-changing, always-massive MarchFourth lineup features more horn players, drummers, and dancers than I think can even fit on SOhO’s stage, and their potently weirdo mix of vaudeville, jazz, gypsy, and rock is guaranteed to be a heady — and LOUD — musical cocktail. In short, come ready to get your stomp on.