Contrary to popular belief, the 1960s wasn’t all incense and peppermints and yellow dandelions blowing in the winds of peace and harmony. Beneath the indelibly gorgeous melodies of artists like the Beach Boys and the Beatles flowed an undercurrent of dread and tumult and, of course, revolt. LA-based quartet China Room attempts to embody that subliminal uneasiness in the modern age, with a sound that is at once stirring and dark. Invoking the feeling of the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd’s mad genius Syd Barrett, the band also tosses in more contemporary influences such as Radiohead and Joy Division for a hybrid style driven by a strong sense of melody. The band celebrates the release of its debut album, Put on a Smile, They’re Coming Your Way, at the Livery Theater on April 30.
Few groups in the hip-hop underground have managed to find as much success by standing by their principles for as long as L.A. stalwarts Dilated Peoples. Starting in 1992, the duo of Rakaa Iriscience and Evidence began churning out intelligent records packed with witty and sometimes confrontational wordplay, too cerebral for the mass market but too undeniable to stay strictly beneath the surface. Propelled by the rough and funky beats of DJ Babu, the group rose above their submerged state with the grimy and guttural “Work the Angles,” then followed with a succession of moderate hits that have been met with the approval of hardcore heads and mainstream cats alike. Along the way, they’ve never lost sight of their ethics — their third-eye symbol has yet to need contacts. The trio works the angles at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara on April 29 with guests O.M.D., Ohno, DJ Romes, Med and Roc C. Earl Warren Showgrounds 3400 Calle Real St., Santa Barbara, 687-0766
Seven or eight years ago, back when ska was sweeping the alternative nation, Carpinteria’s Upbeat seemed destined to become the breakout stars of the region. Perfecting a fast, infectious, horn-based sound that recalled the English two-tone style of the early ‘80s, the large ensemble set dance floors on fire throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Their inclusion on the Hellcat Records compilation Give ‘Em the Boot brought them a spark of national exposure that may have ignited an inferno had the ska explosion not burned itself out as suddenly as it began. With a backlash settling in, the Upbeat returned to local cult status, but no matter: The band was playing ska years before it saturated radio, and have continued their dedication to the music long after it disappeared, as their appearance at the Drink’s weekly Roots Revolution party on April 27, will certainly prove