Tomorrow night feels like it’s posed to ignite a serious case of déjà vu. Back in the olden part of this year’s April, CSS was all set to perform at the Venue of Scottsdale, and then due to mysterious reasons (perhaps a little too much fun at Coachella?) the show was postponed until this Tuesday. But maybe it was a blessing in disguise? This week they bring with them the rambunctious group of JD Samson’s MEN. With a lovely synth pop consistency reminiscent of an ‘80s themed spandex night but complete with poignant lyrics for accompaniment, this is sure to be an entertaining performance. Spawning from the magnificence of Le Tigre’s brainchild, this group’s noble ideals about being yourself shine through their musical disposition. Gaining some more credibility with their most recent release “Talk About Body” in early part of this year, they are touring to promote their eclectic delivery and exposition of music. Not to mention that it will be taking place in the brand spanking new Crescent Ballroom downtown. New place with a new band to perform alongside? Yes, whatever CSS reasons might have been for cancelling, they have returned to the valley with a vengeance. In my overt excitement for both bands performance, I figure since I already raised my CSS flag in April; it was time for MEN to take their comeuppance.
October 10, 2011 at 12:01 am
In honor of my birthday being yesterday, I decided to compile a list of some of the more engaging birthday songs out there. Through my long and arduous journey through countless songs, I was able to ascertain that most birthday songs are either about sex or getting your heart broken. Cheerful sentiments, I say! Regardless of the genre, birthdays always seemed to invoke that bittersweet nostalgia of the year that has gone past so quickly, and those pensive thoughts of what the future will hold. For me this year was not as bittersweet, rather it left me with a great feeling of accomplishment for the new experiences, new friends, and new accomplishments I’ve endured these twelve months. That being said, I tried to keep happier songs on the list, though there are a few classics you just cannot escape.
Birthday by The Beatles, The White Album (1968)
This remains a classic birthday song in my book. Never gets old when great music and upbeat tempos scream about your birthday!
October 6, 2011 at 12:01 am
A beautiful lake and beautiful music, what more could you ask for? Well taking place this upcoming weekend, Oct. 7-9, is Arizona’s own Apache Lake Music Festival. With over 30 local acts and camping galore, this is shaping up to be one hell of a weekend getaway from the city. For only 30 dollars you can sit back and relax and enjoy both the scenery and sounds as you get a delightful helping of the hearty music scene that AZ has to offer. Bands including Snakes!Snakes!Snakes! (a richly structured indie pop rock outfit that makes some simply wonderful music), Dry River Yacht Club (see my previous Live and Otherwise post), Mergence (who have tones reminiscent of The Black Keys, but have their own special brand of soul that cannot be confused or misappropriated) and over 28 other bands trying to get there name out there and have a good time.
Located at the Apache Lake and Marina, camping is included with the ticket. It’s a low budget way to broaden your horizons this weekend and catch some great acts primed for national exposure. So solidify your street cred while at the same time escaping the troubles and toils of city life. Who knows it might just change your life… Or at least make the next week more enjoyable as you relive every nitty gritty musically blissed event. Here’s some tunes from some of the participating bands to percolate those ear buds and prime them for the weekend’s festivities:
October 3, 2011 at 12:01 am
For years the one thing on my mind was getting out of Arizona. I detested everything about it — the heat, the desert landscape, the public transportation etc. Then one day, I realized how much it had grown on me — the climate, the different places the valley offered for entertainment, and even some of the great food places that can’t be found elsewhere. The valley had become my home; it had integrated itself into my daily life. So naturally in the celebration of my home state, I wanted to showcase some of the best musicians the valley has to offer. There are tons of them! But for the blog’s sake here are three artists that are definitely worth a listen:
What Laura Says
This indie quartet of Folk/Funky/and whimsical proportions has slowly been gathering a solid local following. With their smooth transitions and rhythms to pull you through their music, listening to this band is like getting a fresh whiff of musicianship. One of the best things they have to offer is their strong vocal harmonization. Once at a train station, these guys were singing acapella with an acoustic guitar to promote Valley Metro’s public transportation system. These great sounds caught my attention. As I was late for school, I had to go on a mad Google search later on to figure out who they were. Definitely worth the detective work.
September 29, 2011 at 12:01 am
This week seems to be packed with great shows for any music lover. No matter what genre gets you wired, there’s a vibrant variety being served this fine week. First up, tonight’s a road trip night. Start the week with a little neon. Maybe throw an Indian into the mix. Or just check out the wonderful blissed out bedroom synth pop that is Neon Indian. With is luscious beats and rhythms, Neon Indian’s Alan Palermo delights listeners far and wide. Having literally just dropped an album (came out September 13th) his musical confection makes its way on over to Tucson’s Club Congress this fine evening. Definitely worth the hour and some change drive, with tickets at only $14 and an early showtime, it will get the week off to a bright start. My pick from him:
For all you hip hop fiends, the magical Murs brings his verbal conceptual design to Tempe’s The Clubhouse. Never boring, Murs’ own experimental brand of hip hop always makes for an interesting show. Having first seen Murs as a part of his former group (Felt, with Atmosphere’s Sean Daley) at Rock The Bells in California a few years back, his musical performance is a great experience of the independent hip hop regime. So this Tuesday, Sept. 27th mosey on over to the Clubhouse, and for a mere $15 get a glimpse of great hip hop that can’t be found on mainstream radio. Here’s a pick to get your mind right:
September 26, 2011 at 12:01 am
The performance of a live music ensemble requires more than just the raw talent of the performers. The venue plays a large and distinct role in the way a show will play out. Even if the musician has a rich and invigorating sound, bad acoustics or technical difficulties can wear thin on a concert goer’s conscience. A recent show at the Venue of Scottsdale definitely taught me that a badly placed tiled column can put a downer on your evening’s festivities. So what are some of the best venues in the valley that usually encourage enjoyable concerts?
The venue can sometime make the show. Photos by Gabby Marshall.
Well, the first that comes to mind is Phoenix’s Rhythm Room. Located off of 7th Street and Indian School Road, the concerts I have attended here have been top notch. Though one of the smaller venues, the bar is situated at the back coupled with the easy separation of 21/under 21, manifest a chill atmosphere to enjoy any show. From Miniature Tigers to Small Leaks Sink Ships, the indie acts that have played here have made a big impression via the auspicious venue. With seating and standing areas, and no barricades to obstruct your view, the up close and personal experience of this acclaimed blues club makes it a favorite to come back to time and time again. Several times I have been able to talk to the musicians without having gords of rude security around, or a bunch of fans so squished together they can hardly form coherent sentences.
Next, The Clubhouse. Situated in the heart of some random suburban mall strip off Broadway and Dorsey in Tempe, is this gem of a venue. Though rough around the edges, their ability to expel hometown charm won me over. Matt & Kim’s October 2010 performance is one that comes to mind. There were no barricades, which invited Kim to walk on the outstretched hands of the crowd and pop it in the middle of a few hundred eager listeners. Definitely the arena for an exciting show, plus a nice security staff (that helped me earnestly search for a lost necklace once upon a time). A bar is also at the back with a coherent set up for age brackets, and the low ceiling provides an instant gratification of sound. The infectious excitement of the show is easily spread in the layout of this building.
September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am
Guitars for charity. More specifically guitar art for charity.
These guitars are musically and artistically genius. Photos by Gabby Marshall.
That’s essentially what was at the heart of the new exhibit found at Mesa Contemporary Arts at the Mesa Arts Center. Six-String Masterpieces was the name of the exhibit, and it truly delivered. As I strolled into the free showcase (donations gladly accepted), I was greeted with a huge poster describing the efforts of the original charity auction. This charity has garnered almost $200,000 in support of music education for young people.
From there the exhibit proved to be an insightful array of creatively designed guitars from both famous musicians and renowned tattoo artists. The fresh mix of local and national stars gave the entire exhibit a relatable yet intriguing feel. Dean Guitars was the willing sponsor for the exhibit and the showcase features over forty guitars to marvel and awe inspire. With structurally complex ones (as in one shaped like a snake) to just modern art at its most introspective (like Aaron Cain’s engraved copper mixed media guitar), there was plenty of variety in the showcase. Artists contributing to the exhibit include everyone from Kelly Clarkson (who’s guitar was a delicate flower encrusted jewel) to the Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Crogan (who’s was a serious confection of white crosses).
September 19, 2011 at 12:01 am
You’re out on a date with an amazing person. They’re funny, charming, and all around impossible to dislike. You’re pretty sure this person ranks in the top ten of your past history of dating.
FTP had a pumped-up crowd. Photos by Gabby Marshall.
There’s just one slight hitch. The restaurant needs desperate lessons in culinary hygiene, there’s a very uproarious drunk couple at the table next to you who make it difficult to decipher what methodical tidbit your dream date is trying to share, and as the waiter approaches your table to place the very “sophisticated” glass of wine you ordered on the table, they promptly spill it on the blouse you spent two tortured hours trying to pick out.
So did this suddenly turn into a humorous dating blog destined for Cosmo greatness? No not at all, just a rather extended metaphor to fully divulge my experiences at the Foster The People concert Tuesday night. Considering it was a sold out show, I was rather excited that my neurotic tendency to buy concert tickets ridiculously early had actually paid off. Foster The People has been on everyone’s radar lately, and their infamous “Pumped Up Kicks” has become one of the most popular songs in the Top 40.
September 15, 2011 at 12:01 am
Au Gratis. A beautiful Latin phrase that expresses a sentiment that makes my heart sing with a deep-seated happiness. Who ever thought diamonds were supposed to be the greatest treasure clearly never had the simple joy of getting something for free. The elation intermingled with an enormous self satisfaction. It’s the best. So what does this have to do with a music blog? Well it turns out there are many legal ways to discover new music for those too financially challenged for iTunes or Amazon mp3. These websites are great archives of new music, and an awesome way to listen to new releases from your favorite artists.
Photo illustration by Gabby Marshall.
First on my list is the website Daytrotter. Filled with luscious live recordings from hundreds of artists, these unique recordings are offered as free downloads to the willing listener. Each unique recording session, which take place in Rock Island, IL, is stripped down to the bare minimum of what the artist in question had with them when they stopped by. In addition to each musical side note, each recording is accompanied by a detailed and whimsical description of the artist playing. Definitely a great place to discern new groups, or to geek out on old favorites.
Next up is the multimedia engine that is Stereogum. Packed with breaking news concerning every artist from Kanye West to Neon Indian and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, they’ve got the entire spectrum covered spanning from indie to ridiculously mainstream. Offering free streams of entire albums before they’re even released, and having numerous free mp3’s and visual accompaniment of official videos to boot, this makes Stereogum a goldmine for the music-lover entrepreneur in all of us.
September 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm
I usually enjoy being surprised. Whether it’s in a movie theater perched at the edge of my seat due to a respectably thrilling horror flick, or being pleasantly surprised that the bus has arrived on time, it’s quite the splendid web of emotion. As long as there’s no negative aftertaste to the catalyst of my surprise, I am generally a very happy camper.
The same comes for music. When a musician crafts a finished product that contains fresh rhythms or style, my attention is piqued. Furthermore, when a DJ is able to do this, it generally makes me conduct an auditory double take. I feel like lately I’ve contracted an electronic fever induced euphoria that ceaselessly drives me to look out for interesting electronic musicians. Bassnectar is one such musician. Saturated with the ingredients that syncopated dub step dreams are made of, Bassnectar’s timely execution of back beats weave into unexpected echoes of sound. Be it remixed or his own creative concoction, something’s bound to get through to you. This unexpected affluence of sound makes it quite compelling to keep his album in a cherished playlist or on repeat. Originating from good old California, Bassnectar has brought his own special brand of dub step dance adoration to many a sold out show around the country. This week, the Arizonan population will get hands on dance experience with the Bass. Playing tonight at the Marquee Theater, it’s sure to be a gigantic dance off for every soul that attends. So soon after dancing the night away at Deadmau5, your tired muscles have not yet recovered, you say? Dance through the pain my friends, dance through the pain. It’s all mental anyway.
My Bassnectar picks:
September 8, 2011 at 9:09 am