Formed in Liverpool in 1978 by singer/guitarist Ian McCulloch and guitarist/programmer Will Sergeant, Echo & the Bunnymen list toward the darker end of the new-wave spectrum. Their signature track, “Killing Moon,” off of 1984’s Ocean Rain, captures the essence of their sound — shimmering guitars and McCulloch’s dark poetry sung in a deep-throated croon. No singer’s done more with such limited range except probably Jim Morrison of the Doors, a band the Bunnymen have covered, producing pop-crossover takes to Doors classics “People Are Strange” and “Soul Kitchen,” both of which saw some commercial success and have become live staples. McCulloch and Sergeant may be losing their pin-up looks, but if 2014’s comeback platter Meteorites is any indication, the goth-pop chops are still there. They play Humphreys by the Bay on Sunday.... Best of the rest on Sunday: rock-roll Canada band Dirty Nil brings Higher Power to Soda Bar...touring in support of their well-received Holy Ghost album, emo sluggers Modern Baseball step up to the plate at the Irenic...and from Chapel Hill, Yep Roc’s nu-grass folk duo Mandolin Orange plays Casbah behind this year’s Blindfaller.
According to Reader writer Dave Good in this week’s Of Note, Orange County surf-y garage-pop quartet the Cosmonauts is “so tied in to pop music’s past that they sound like many eras and genres all at once.” How they stand apart is by perforating the hooks with feedback and playing it ear-bleed loud. Touring in support of this year’s A-OK!, Cosmonauts will play the Hideout on Monday. Likeminded locals Tropical Popsicle and Spooky Cigarette set it up.... Grammy-winning ’80s new wave artist Cyndi Lauper, popular for the hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” goes country on this year’s Detour, an album that’s been applauded for its eccentric take on traditional country tunes (“Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces”). It reached number 4 on Billboard’s country charts. Reader contributor Andrew Hamlin has a chat with Ms. Lauper about her jump to country in this week's "Cyndi always sang" Blurt in advance of Monday’s show at Humphreys by the Bay, where she will be joined by blues-harp master Charlie Musselwhite.
Everyone's favorite bubblegum-punk band from Japan, Shonen Knife, will headline sets at Casbah by our own Rosalyns and Bloody Death Skull on Tuesday night. Shonen Knife is touring in support of their latest (and something like their 20th studio set since starting up in 1981), Adventure. Got it going right now, and after 35 years, the trio’s still got the snap, the crackle, and the pop.... Sacramento-based singer/songwriter Margaret Glaspy plays Soda Bar behind her new indie-crit hit, Emotions and Math, a “grunge-pop” disc that Pitchfork says “recalls Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell.” Hanni el Khatib’s old drummer, the L.A.-based singer/songer Nico Yaryan opens the show.... Rock Hall of Fame Texas trio ZZ Top sold out their Humphreys show...but if it’s grizzled country-rock you need, Kris Kristofferson’s at the Balboa Theatre downtown.
I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed watching (more than once) the video of Sia’s set at this year’s Coachella. That voice. Those bizarro wigs. And the strange stage troupe. Mesmerizing. As soon as I finish typing I’m going to watch it again. The Australian singer/songwriter — she’s penned hits for Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Flo Rida, Rihanna — graces the stage at Viejas Arena at SDSU Wednesday night after Miguel and Aluna George...while Buffalo band Cute Is What We Aim For takes aim from the Casbah stage. They are touring on the ten-year anniversary of their pop-punk debut, The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch.