5. Reel Big Fish (Warehouse Live, July 27) Album: Turn the Radio Off (Uptown/Universal, 1996) Rocks Off was a senior in high school when our friends found this album in the used bin at Half Price Books and started spinning it in the car on the way to school, laughing and car-skanking along to goofy songs like "She Has a Girlfriend Now" and everyone's favorite, the swearing-intensive "Nothin'." Aside from that, the single "Sell Out" even managed to get a little bit of airplay here in Houston, one of approximately three Third-Wave ska songs to do so (the others would be "Here In Your Bedroom" by Goldfinger and "The Impression That I Get" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones). Couple that with the fact that they're touring with The English Beat and our friends all remember "Mirror In the Bathroom" as the song playing while John Cusack and Benny the Dragon kicked the shit out of each other in Grosse Pointe Blank, and we've got ourselves a fine night of skank-worthy nostalgia.
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4. The Dandy Warhols (Warehouse Live, September 7) Album: Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (Capitol, 2000) Let's be honest with ourselves: the Dandy Warhols are a decent band, not a great band. Every single album of theirs has been an entirely mixed bag except for one: the masterful Thirteen Tales. A fresh take on Americana rock, the Warhols somehow managed to cobble together an album where every single track is brilliant, from opening epic "Godless" to the atmospheric one-two punch of "Mohammed" and "Nietzsche", to the dance-floor catchiness of singles "Horse Pills" and "Bohemian Like You". This album got Rocks Off through our first semester at U of H, where we annoyed many a fellow student whistling the trumpet part to "Godless" as we roamed the halls and pathways.
3. Chris Isaak (Verizon Wireless Theater, August 8) Album: Forever Blue (Reprise, 1995) Calm down, calm down. Even though it's not on the album, we would permit Isaak to play "Wicked Game" for his first encore, okay? But we've got to tell you, second encore goes to this album's scorching "Go Walking Down There," and of course he'd better close with "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing", which many of you will remember from the ubiquitous trailers for Stanley Kubrick's posthumous flop Eyes Wide Shut. But we're worrying too much about the end of the show. The rest of his set will be filled with songs of Grade-A torturous heartache like "Graduation Day" and "Shadows In a Mirror." Rocks Off got dumped right before we got into this album, and if Mr. Isaak would promise to play it in its entirety, we'd take every measure within our means to get dumped again by that time simply for the authenticity.
2. and 1. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead/Secret Machines (Warehouse Live, September 12) Albums: Worlds Apart (Interscope, 2005); Ten Silver Drops (Reprise, 2006) We're not going to lie: this show has the potential to be an unforgettable epic. As a long-time Trail of Dead fan, we almost went with their more iconic Source Tags and Codes, but to be honest, that one sags a little bit in the second half. Not so with 2005's vastly underrated Worlds Apart, which does, in fact, sound like the soundtrack of a world coming apart. The blistering title track, whomping blast of "Caterwaul", searing heartbreak of "Let It Dive"... this album remains the badn's pinnacle. This is also true with the Secret Machines' critically lauded Ten Silver Drops, one of the best albums of 2006. Full of menace, melancholy and muscle, it wraps itself around your mind and gets right into your bloodstream. Together, these two acts would host a concert of unbelievable power and fury, not to mention some face-melting solos that have nothing to with metal but are every bit as ballsy. We want this to happen so bad we can taste it. Hell, we're kind of thinking of starting a petition.