THE ENGLISH BEAT, THE DEPOT, Friday, Nov. 16, 9 p.m., $20 advance, $25 day of show
This has been a big year for the English Beat, which is saying something considering the group hasn't put out any new music in decades. In fact, what we see coming through town on town as the English Beat is really just singer/guitarist Dave Wakeling and a fine batch of hired guns taking the place of Wakeling's original peers in the New Wave/ska band that formed in England in 1978. And that's just fine, because unlike so many aging rockers, Wakeling's voice still sounds great, delivering classic songs like "Best Friend," "Hands Off, She's Mine" and "Ranking Full Stop" with east, and a lot of good humor. So what made 2012 a big year for the group? The release of The Complete Beat, a five-disc box set that contains remastered versions of the band's three proper albums, as well as two discs of remixes and live performances that are exciting new finds for longtime fans like myself. As with past visits by Wakeling's English Beat, expect a full night of great songs, and expect to work up a sweat dancing to some of the '80s best songs. Local ska kings Insatiable opens the show.
JAPANDROIDS, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Saturday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m., $15
Vancouver-based Japandroids were on the verge of splitting up just four years ago. In fact, the guitar/drums duo of Brian King and David Prowse had decided to break up and head in different musical directions shortly after recording their debut album, Post-Nothing. Then that album managed to get the duo the kind of positive buzz that convinces a band on the brink to stay together. We're all the better for it, because the band's new album, Celebration Rock, is one of the best of 2012--it's a raucous set of straightforward rock of a sort that's become all too rare in indie-rock circles. Celebration Rock rewards repeated listens, at increasing volumes, and one can only assume seeing the duo deliver its songs live will be even better than spinning the album. Swearin' open the show.
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, THE DEPOT, Saturday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m., $20
It's always fun to see a band strike a nerve and grow in popularity at a rapid-fire pace, and that certainly seems to be what's happening with The Devil Makes Three, a roots-music crew with punk attitude and energy to burn on stage. After a couple of packed shows at the 300-capacity State Room, the Santa Cruz crew are stepping up to the 1,200-capacity Depot this time around. Word from their rep is that the same type of thing is happening across the country. Clearly, the drummerless group that delves into folk, country, bluegrass and blues in its songwriting is building quite the reputation as a live band to see. I've seen 'em, and that reputation is well-deserved. Johnny Fritz Corndawg opens the show.