5 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Week
Jessica Lea Mayfield
Courtesy of the artist
It's Monday, and you're probably ready for the weekend. We get it. Until you get there, here are our concert picks for this week's school nights. For many more options, check out our comprehensive concert calendar.
It's really a pity that Murder by Death never soundtracked the HBO cult gem Deadwood, because the moody quintet would have been perfect for the job -- and not just because their songs sound like bar ballads co-written by Jesse James and Snidely Whiplash. Throughout the Indiana group's 15-year, seven-album history, Murder by Death have crafted a theatrical career out of singer Adam Turla's Wild West bark, an insightful lyrical bite and the bittersweet aftertaste of their dark, orchestral melodies. Both sinners and saints come to life in the band's full-bodied, sing-along stories, and recurring topics like alcohol, betrayal, the devil inside and the actual horns-and-hell devil himself have grown more evocative as the band matures. If their 2012 album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, is any indication, Murder by Death's good-versus-evil battles long ago transcended black-and-white simplicity, instead delving headfirst into the murky intrigue that exists in the gray area. KELSEY WHIPPLE
Don't let the name fool you. Or the bluegrass pedigree developed playing in the traveling band that was her family. No, Jessica Lea Mayfield is an out and out rocker, owing as much to the Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots as she does Bill Monroe. While her first two albums, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt and Tell Me -- produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach -- admittedly had a slight county flair, her latest, Make My Head Sing... channels '90s alternative rock. Full of fat chords and powerful riffs, atmospheric vocals and dreamy layers, sonic overload and stripped down acoustics, the album is both brash and soft at the same time. It fits Mayfield's persona perfectly. Despite the brooding look and heavy make-up of her publicity photos, she's also pretty giggly, too. GLENN BURNSILVER
Awe is a powerful word.
Upon first listen, 1986's Age of Quarrel by the Cro-Mags was (and still is) capable of rendering mere mortals to a state of awe. For fans of the band and the genre it helped create, awe is both a fitting and fascinating term, especially for those of us west of the Mississippi who have had limited chances to see the New York City band perform in concert.
Twenty-nine years is a long time for a punk rock record to remain relevant, but Age of Quarrel does just that, and the thrill of being able to see the band play these songs in a small Scottsdale venue is more than palpable; it's freaking awesome. For those of you who enjoy energy, put on your dancing shoes (and maybe full-body armor) and get ready to have some fun when one of NYC's best-ever hardcore bands comes to town. TOM REARDON
The Growlers' dedication to handmade weirdness is a big part of why they've gotten where they are--in a blur of festivals, tours, album sales, TV appearances and hard-partying fans around the world. It's also why it has taken them so long to get there.
They were never interested in the route of the conventional band. Elements of surf beat, reggae, dub and country provide a backdrop for their cross-dressing freakiness, insane house parties, and lyrics about death and vice. But for the past several years, their DIY-ness has run parallel to Fullerton's garage-pop wunderkinds at Burger Records, both chosen to break big and update the world on the hipness of Orange County music. Their songs capture the forgotten underbelly of our beach cities--golden shores that produced the Hippie Mafia, sordid prostitution rings and world-class barbiturates. NATE JACKSON
RL Grime is no stranger to bangers, but he's also got a soft side.
The 23-year-old L.A. native says he's always wanted to produce songs that are more mellow, which is what he's done on Void -- his first full-length album, released last year on L.A. label WeDidIt.
"I think this album was the first time that I had to reflect on how I wanted to be seen and the kind of music that I wanted to make for myself," says the musician, whose real name is Henry Steinway. "It was really the first time that I discovered stuff about what I like. That's been really great -- to just go in levelheaded and not distracted by what people would think." MARY GRACE CERNI
122 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004