Singer Stan Devereaux has been playing R&B and soul in Arizona since the 1960s, growing up in Tucson before exploring the Phoenix soul scene after college, then departing for Europe, South America, and Georgia. His journey led him back to Phoenix, and ever since he settled into a groove here in town with the Funky Suns, he's noticed something about his crowds. They're young. "These are all new people, just getting in touch with me now," he says with a chuckle. "It's a younger crowd, and they're starting to get hip. They're getting hipper. [Younger people are] getting into the Otis Redding-type stuff — stuff they need to get into." Indeed, Devereaux's sound, with hints of jazz, country, and "chitlin' circuit" R&B, is easy for new fans to latch on to. The guitars blaze, the drums bounce, and Devereaux himself is a dynamite frontman. He doesn't mind sharing the stage with indie rock bands because, though he's humble about it, he knows he can keep up with just about any of them. He's on a mission, too, to share his soul sounds. "I think the emotion of it [connects with audiences], I really do believe," he says. "The emotion — the sounds also, of course — but the emotion that the singers sing with, I don't hear sometimes nowadays from the singers." — Jason P. WoodburyHanni El Khatib
Hanni El Khatib and The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach met in a Paris nightclub where both were spinning records at an after-hours party. "We were vibing off of each other's records and instantly hit it off," El Khatib says via e-mail. The pair soon joined forces again, this time at Auerbach's Nashville recording studio to lay the groundwork for Khatib's forthcoming album, Head in the Dirt, due April 30. The former skate punk is still "playing the world's worst guitar" (but "Guitar Hero is helping out," he jokes) and still dabbling in garage, psychedelia, bubbly rhythm and blues, reggae, and punk, only now his songs are tighter, more realized. They're still menacing in places but never filled with the raw, reckless abandon that marked such all-out thrashers as "Fuck It, You Win," "Build Destroy Rebuild," and "Roach Cock" from Will the Guns Come Out. Instead, that tension now gives these songs a pulsating edge. Auerbach is, of course, all over the album, playing on every track and filling in the holes with cool sounds and shapes. "Can't Win 'Em All," the fuzzy blues rocker that debuted during Audi's controversial Super Bowl "Prom" commercial with a signature Auerbach riff, should give the album — and El Khatib's career — a nice jump start. — Glenn BurnSilverTyler Broderick
Tyler Broderick of Phoenix pop combo Diners is charmingly self-deprecating when discussing the band's new work, an as-of-yet untitled LP followup to 2011's stellar Throw Me a Ten. "I'd say it's not too different from the old stuff," he says. "Having a longer album lets us put more variety, as far as slow songs, instrumentals, fast songs, goofy, serious, and whatever. Inspirations from this album are: The Zombies, Fleetwood Mac, Mac Demarco, and, of course, The Beach Boys. So . . . nothing too radical." Maybe not radical, but certainly something pleasurable. The band will show off new songs at Crescent Ballroom. "This is my favorite batch of songs I've ever had. I feel like the new songs are the best songs I've ever written," Broderick says. "But that's kinda what everybody says about their new work. All I know is that it's so hard not to play only new songs at our shows." — Jason P. Woodbury
Carnaval Eléctrico is scheduled to take place Friday, March 8, at Crescent Ballroom.
It's no coincidence that local rockers Mergence have been likened to California's Cold War Kids. Not only is the Phoenix band a foursome, but it also has a knack for crafting bluesy, soul-inspired opuses — kinda like those other guys. So it seems only natural that Mergence would get the nod to rep. Although they're also known for dabbling in funk and jazz, anchored by some righteous rock riffs, Mergence's newest material sees them stepping outside a bit, producing sounds that are bound to surprise even the staunchest fan. "There's one track that we're calling a surf-samba that I think is going to surprise people," drummer Jason Roedl says. "There are one or two tracks that most people are going to hear and say, 'Man, I didn't think I would hear that come out of Mergence.' We really took our time this time around during recording." Much to fans' delight, Mergence will unveil some of those new tracks at the March 8 show. "When they contacted us to do this I was just like, 'Oh, hell yeah, man,'" Roedl says. "This is going to be a real good time." — Anthony SandovalWooden Indian
When he was young, Wally Boudway of psych/folk/art-pop band Wooden Indian saw mythic Tucson guitarist Rainer perform. It left a definitive mark on the songwriter, one that can be heard coursing beneath the fluctuating psychedelic textures and fluttering guitar trills of Wooden Indian's 2011 LP, Color Is Work. It would be tempting for a band with a notable blues and funk influence (listen to the strutting "Finally Older") to play up the blooze rawk angle (after all, The Black Keys did just take home a bunch of Grammys), but Wooden Indian takes a different path, instead incorporating elements of a wide record collection — Afrobeat, Latin twitches, symphonic indie rock, jazz — into its well-blended sound. It makes the band harder to define but provides a richer listen, especially on the gorgeously restrained "St. Jeffrey" and the taut "Harem in My Pocket." — Jason P. Woodbury