From sea to shining sea, Americans are soon to celebrate the Fourth of July in some form or another. It’s safe to guess that not all parties will be rosy, or proud, as our alabaster cities seem to gleam with the stain of children’s tears. But for now, freedom of speech and independence of thought may still find a safe haven in our songs and sounds. This summer, two longtime regional greats are back to remind us that we can rebel in our own way, and music’s often the best way to do it.
First, the Mad Caddies from Solvang debuted their new reggae covers album, Punk Rocksteady, on June 15. Featuring reggae renditions of songs by acts such as Bad Religion, The Misfits, Descendents, and Against Me!, the group naturally pairs punk propulsion and ska spirit, inflecting some of your favorite back-in-the-day punk bangers with that infectious Mad Caddies lift and 805 groove. NOFX’s Fat Mike hand-selected the tunes, and the collaboration was a dream come true. Many have declared punk dead more or less since its inception, but the irrepressible Caddies and Fat Mike together remind us of that other declaration: Punk rock will never die.
Neither, either, will reggae itself, being of course a soundtrack itself to rising up and rising again. S.B.’s Rebelution, famously, has planted those reggae roots to worldwide success and adoration, growing them in Santa Barbara soil and seeing what blooms. Free Rein, the band’s new album, also released on June 15, pops with positivity, per usual for the peacemaking music mavens. But this time the joy runs deeper, tempered with growth. Saxophonist Mike Eyia tragically passed away in February of this year, and lead single “Celebrate” commemorates his life through a celebration of life itself. In dark times, sometimes the best rebellion is a defiant positivity: claiming that sun that strikes your skin and shakes you awake from the fog. With its new album, Rebelution aims to do just that. The band plays at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 9 with special guests Stephen Marley, Common Kings, and Zion I, so watch these pages for future coverage.
ARTISTS OF INDEPENDENCE: The start of summer also sees solo efforts from Santa Barbarans, including Kyle Nicolai. Rock fans may remember Nicolai as the leader of Beware of Darkness, who scored a top-10 rock hit, appeared on Conan, and toured with bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Cage the Elephant, and Soundgarden. Now, Nicolai is putting forth his solo voice in the form of “American Hymns,” an exciting development for the area singer/songwriter. Consider it for your Fourth of July playlist.
FOLLOWING THE FOURTH: But wait, there’s shows! Over at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.), reggae fans will be pleased to hear that Soul Majestic is back at it on Friday, July 6, at 9 p.m. The following day at SOhO, funksters Killer Kaya open for Sugar Candy Mountain, who plays at 9 p.m. Fans of Tame Impala will enjoy Sugar Candy Mountain’s tropicalia psychedelia. KCSB presents the show, so come on and out and support local art, local radio, and local love.
Over at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.), Lauren Barth and Matt Nice and the Derls play at 9 p.m., also that Saturday. Barth’s music resides in the hazy glow of American neon, a dreamily poppy kind of Americana, while Matt Nice and the Derls are a six-piece sonic exploration into psyche-Derl-ic territory. The Mercury Lounge’s resident tastemaker Mariah Moon predicts this will be the sort of show you’ll one day feel lucky to have attended, when both acts are bigger and you recall the cozy Merc setting. Catch them while you can.