Back when Chris Ward, aka MC Chris, was still voicing Cartoon Network characters like hip-hop diaper-man MC Pee Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, he seemed perfectly happy to be considered part of the nerdcore rap movement, even appearing in the 2008 film Nerdcore for Life. Around the time he started rapping with the Lee Majors, though, he began to bristle at the label, saying positively rude things in the press about the comic book and pop culture aficionados whose allowances he nonetheless covets. The 41-year-old comedian seemed to mellow that stance last year, apologizing in interviews while promoting his tenth album MC Chris Is Dreaming on the same spandex ‘n’ sci-fi circuit as Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno, and any number of former Power Rangers and X-People. Sell off a couple of those old Star Wars action figures this week, and you should be able to afford tickets to see MC Chris at the Music Box on July 20.
San Diego would be able to call the increasingly successful family band Daring Greatly hometown heroes if it weren’t for Donald Trump’s unpredictable immigration policies. Formerly based in Canada, the father-and-sons folk rockers relocated to our town in 2015, just as their popularity began to explode with an avalanche of positive press and opening slots for everyone from the Doobie Brothers to Bon Jovi. However, Dail Croome and his two sons, Patrick and Liam, were unable to renew their visas and remain in town, at least as residents, opting instead for a conditional-visa life on the road. After a year of gigging from coast to coast on both sides of both borders, as well as backing up local guitarist Greg Douglass in a tribute to his former Steve Miller Band called the Pompatous of Love, they’ll return to their adopted/abandoned hometown on August 23 at the Belly Up.
Guitarist Marty Friedman might have ended up a local as well, at least part-time, had he accepted the 2014 invitation of frequent Fallbrook resident Dave Mustaine to rejoin Megadeth, the band Friedman quit in 1999. Instead of hooking up with Mustaine at his North County recording studio, Friedman chose to remain in Tokyo, where he moved in 2003 to become a staple as both performer and composer in a multitude of Japanese TV shows, cartoons, and films. He’ll be showcasing his 13th solo album, Wall of Sound, when he plays the final date of his U.S. tour at Brick by Brick on August 28, though recent setlists indicate he’s also doing tracks from throughout his career, including the occasional cut from his pre-Megadeth band Cacophony.
What do you get when you cross Shakira with Lady Gaga? If you’re up-and-coming pop diva Kali Uchis, you hope it’s you. The 22-year-old Colombian-American aspires to do it all, from songwriting to singing and producing her own songs, directing videos, and designing fashions. It’s hard to tell from her debut mixtapes (2012’s Drunken Babble and 2015’s Por Vida) if she has what it takes to back up her expansive ambitions, with little different to offer from the same cookie-cutter electronic-tinged pop R&B already churned out by the Gaga/Grande/Gomez hit machine. She certainly got my attention with a couple of cameos on Gorillaz’s album Humanz, but there’s only one preview track available for her upcoming still-unscheduled debut album, a number called “Tyrant” featuring young British singer Jorja Smith that sounds for all the world like someone from 1995 Avenida Revolución remixed Lana Del Rey. That may or may not make you want to go see her September 30 at Observatory North Park.
It all started as the soundtrack of a commercial for Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s PacSun clothing line, before it evolved into a one-off YouTube lark and ended up a hit record. Electronic duo XYLØ made quite a splash in early 2015 with their self-released debut single “America,” a track spun so often and written about at such length that its video earned over a million YouTube streams by that summer. The dark-pop hit also made the top ten on the Hype Machine chart, with radio airplay beginning on KCRW and followed up by several more successful indie singles, all debuted and promoted online. Such cascading viral love resulted in the brother-sister act landing a record deal with Sony, with a 2016 EP also named America that continued their penchant for dreamy, if mildly depressing, pop earworms. Their most recent single “Fool’s Paradise” finds them moving into even darker themes of politics and oppression, with lyrics that openly berate the current administration’s proposed Mexican border wall. If you’re not one of the pro-Trump trolls ripping XYLØ a new one on Facebook, feel free to show them your support at the Casbah on October 12.
Originally known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., indie pop duo JR JR hasn’t been heard from much since their 2015 self-titled Warner Brothers album, at least not with EPs or full-lengths. Instead, Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott have been doing soundtrack snippets for TV shows such as I Am Cait, Grandfathered, iZombie, and HBO’s Togetherness, as well as crafting music for Showtime trailers and previews for films like Sausage Party. It’s unclear whether they have an upcoming full-length to plug at the Irenic on October 20, but there’s plenty of fun indie alternative hip-hop electronica on their three available albums to make it worth dropping by the all-ages show.
Son Little, aka soulful Philadelphia singer-songwriter Aaron Livingston, melds blues, R&B, and rock on songs such as “Loser Blues” and “About a Flood” in a way that brings to mind broken but still hopeful troubadours like latter-day Tom Waits and early-day Nick Cave. Characterized by the same Americana-leaning affectations heard in his earlier collaborations with the Roots, Hezekiah, and RJD2, the son of a preacher man has also backed up talents like Mavis Staples, so he’s no stranger to the stage. His new solo career as Son Little, launched in 2014 with his EP Things I Forgot, feels poised for big things around the time that his tour pulls into the Soda Bar on November 4. He’s about to drop his New Magic album, with a lead single, “Blue Magic,” that sports gospel-style backup singers, hollow echo-heavy vocals, and offbeat instrumentation not often heard in contemporary singles, like a glockenspiel.