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Lee Bains III is a white, Christian Southerner, and yes, he knows exactly how that reads. Over the course of the 10 tracks on Dereconstructed, his sophomore album with his band the Glory Fires, he chews on and wrestles with the idea of Southern identity, reflecting on a place where segregation festered while Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals musically broke down the barriers between black and white. "We were raised on ancient truths, and ugly old lies," Bains sings on the title track, twang thick in his voice. Cut live in a friend's basement by punk iconoclast Tim Kerr and pressed to wax by venerable indie label Sub Pop, it's a greasy and amplified record, Southern rock by geographical definitions and sound. Tangled in kudzu and conflicted, Bains attempts to explore a complicated South, trying to make sense of culture, religion, justice, and race in America. Bains doesn't pretend to speak for anyone other than himself, but he forcefully challenges the idea that the American South is any one thing. "[Any time] a culture establishes a sort of singular identity or narrative, or takes on one, it can be really destructive and very misleading," Bains says. With Deconstructed, Bains attempts to reconcile faith, history, and tradition the best way he knows how: he cranks up the guitars and howls. -Jason P. Woodbury
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale were veteran songwriters before they got began collaborating on what would become the duo's first album, Prologue. Fourteen solo albums between them, to be exact. But when they started writing songs, they stripped the sound from their previous projects and began writing melancholy, earnest songs on just a pair of 1950s Martin acoustic guitars. The result was The Milk Carton Kids, and since Prologue, the duo has released another album, The Ash & Clay, toured across the country, including primo official sets at South By Southwest, and gained a fiercely loyal following. Their live show is unexpectedly great, as well. Ryan and Pattengale perform in their Sunday best and break the somber tone of their songs with playful - nay, delightful - stage banter. The duo's silky, effortless harmonies recall Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Pattengale shreds the occasional solo like an acoustic Hendrix. The overall package is irresistible. --David Accomazzo
Take "brotherhood" with a grain of salt here; Chris Robinson's Black Crowes co-founder and actual brother Rich Robinson is nowhere in sight. Instead, his five-piece Brotherhood aims for a third-eye-friendly "New Cosmic California" sound that still allows for plenty of CCR-style choogle. Together barely two years, the Brotherhood has already released three albums, Big Moon Ritual, The Magic Door, and this year's Phosphorescent Harvest. They may be hippies, but you can't call 'em slackers. -- Chris Gray
Before he got involved in the U.K.'s acid-house scene during the late '80s and early '90s, George Evelyn was a hard-core hip-hop fan. He joined a breakdancing group in 1988 with Kevin Harper, and the two formed Nightmares on Wax. Mixing beat-making with turntablism and live music with electronic production, their 1991 debut, A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter, was a pioneering example of what would come to be called trip-hop. But in his DJ sets under the Nightmares moniker, Evelyn has been exploring a lifelong interest in soul and R&B music. The resulting shows are a modern-day exploration of the jazz-inflected funk that was the soundtrack to his childhood. -- Tom Murphy
Look for the Marquee Theatre turn up the treble and dial down the bass Wednesday, June 25, when Ingrid Michaelson, graces the Tempe venue.
Beginning with MySpace, then on to various other digital platforms, Michaelson has been recording and releasing her own brand of indie-pop music, with a mysterious artsy flare, for more than a decade. In April of this year, she released her latest studio album, Lights Out, which has climbed to No. 1 on the Indie charts, and, shocking as it may be, No. 2 on the Rock charts.
"Rock" music may be a stretch when classifying Michaelson's sonic brand, but nonetheless, the achievement showcases the power and draw she has steadily garnered since her inception into the realm of bubbly pop and feel-good melodic tunes that touch on life afflicting topics from death to love.
Lights Out is also Michaelson's first attempt at co-writing and producing her music through multiple outlets. It's safe to assume that her sharing of creative control was in good hands, however, considering the help she received came from people like Katy Perry and P!nk. And the first takeaway after hearing Michaelson's soft angelic voice contrasted against the grainy vocals of say Mat Kearney on tracks like "One Night Town," is whatever the formula for Lights Out, it seems to work. --Caleb Haley
Even in the alcohol-free Underground, this Santa Cruz, California, quintet will be the aural equivalent of a spiked drink: a disconcertingly psychedelic, ADHD mash-up of a decade's worth of extreme metal substrains delivered with mortifying bile.
Relentless gunship kick drums and supersaturated swarms of down-tuned guitars somehow couple with trippy synth subplots on their fifth full-length, Listen to the Color, but it's the utterly committed, multipersonality performance of returned vocalist Remi Rodberg (AGATG has had at least 19 members in its nine years) that seals the self-released effort as such a restless, irreverent joy. With proggy, experimental expressions for (and by) an ultra-impatient smartphone generation, Arsonists Get All the Girls distill every contemporary metal tour that will come through Phoenix this year into a single set. -- Paul Rogers
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