Betrayal, loss, and alcoholism; Vena Cava, one of San Diego’s long-running secrets, continue to improve on their heart-felt, cathartic music that’s a unique splicing of Jawbox (subtle angularities, guitars being tweaked but not wanked) and X (brother and sister duet vocals that really do sound desperate, instead of striking a convenient pose). These are two of my favorite songs by them. Sick Sick Birds: I’ve been waiting years to say this: The Thumbs’ Mike and Bobby are back playing music together. Trading in the frenetic, tight-wound signatures for mid-paced, melody-balanced tunes, Sick Sick Birds reflect aging well. Imagine the Thumbs listening to a lot of mid-period Superchunk, a little Joy Division, and saying, “Let’s start all over again,” without discarding or betraying what they once learned… Great stuff.