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Circuit Des Yeux - Friday, August 14 - Valley Bar
With the release of In Plain Speech, Circuit de Yeux singer Haley Fohr’s fearless forays into cinematic drone have shifted from solo production to collaboration inspired by collective living. Orchestral bursts and sparse string arrangements alike populate this latest work, Fohr — who's based in Indiana with close ties to the Chicago noise scene — wields a dramatic howl like a somehow more androgynous Nico or an avante-garde Cher. Given Fohr’s sensitive treatment of environment on her LP, the likelihood that her free show at Valley will be worth seeing is very high. LINDSEY RHOADES
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Friday, August 14 - Marquee Theatre in Tempe
The Jesus and Mary Chain have come a long way from desperately turning up at venues, claiming to be a supporting act, and then leaving before anyone noticed they weren’t on the bill. Their early sets were filled with gear-smashing, beer-bottle-throwing violence, much of it staged. But their shoegazing and walls of feedback helped pave the way for Nirvana, Ride, and other early-’90s alternative acts. But it took a lot of drugs and violence to get where JAMC is today. The title of the group’s 1993 compilation, Sound of Speed, was to be taken literally (the band often played extremely short sets strung out on amphetamine), while “Just Like Honey” is a song about brothers Jim and William Reid penned about cocaine. Yet, the most addictive aspect was the way the Reids mixed the “raw power” of the Stooges and John Cale-era Velvet Underground with the pop-sensibilities of the Beach Boys and Phil Spector. TROY FARAH
decker. - Friday, August 14 - Rebel Lounge
In the past five years, Sedona-based psychedelic folk outfit decker. has played nearly 600 shows, says frontman Brandon Decker, and the band has played more out-of-town dates than most Arizona-based bands have performed locally in that time. Through four albums, countless shifts in lineup, and the retirement of integral member Kelly Cole, decker. has persisted. Though buoyed by a gung-ho attitude about its music, decker. easily could have folded in 2014. The year did produce Patty, which came out in February, and all the band’s current members agreed at the time that it is “head and shoulders” better than 2012’s Slider. Patty has proved to be a hit for the band, garnering critical acclaim from all over the country. And with a dusty, desert-psych vibe, there’s a lot to like about the album. The band’s show at the Rebel Lounge will kick off a tour that will see the band playing 22 shows all over the country over the next two months. JEFF MOSES
Dierks Bentley - Saturday, August 14 - Ak-Chin Pavilion
Dierks Bentley's Nashville home is for sale. Could this mean a permanent homecoming for the Phoenix-born country superstar? Impossible
to tell a this point, but maybe he'll give us a hint at his concert Saturday night, when the high temperature will be 113.
George Ezra - Saturday, August 15 - Marquee Theatre
James Blake, James Bay, and now, George Ezra — all these English dudes repurpose the tropes of American R&B, country, blues, and soul in their own respective ways, but the British-born Ezra's vein may be the most radio-friendly and pop-centric take to snare Middle America and capitalize on the warmth of a rollicking chord progression since his former tourmate Hozier stormed Top 40 with "Take Me to Church." I know it's crazy hard to believe, but yes: It's completely and totally possible for a scrawny white kid with a cowlick from across the pond to listen to, love, and make music that rips from the more treasured refrains of American soul, blues, and R&B without offending its very existence.
Whether or not he's everyone's cup of PG Tips isn't really the point — he's a fine, approachable, and enjoyable performer, though not a revolutionary one (and a bit dead-eyed), to be sure. Ezra's big single, "Budapest," is a tune that regales the object of his affection with all the ritzy items he'd discard to prove his love for them. (A house in Budapest, treasure chests, grand pianos and such — Ezra's got a vivid imagination, as you'd be hard-pressed to find a 21-year-old with that kind of old-world romantic whimsy and wealth outside of Prince Harry's social circle.) That velvet voice unfurled and wrapped us in a warm embrace, and the uplifting chorus of the tune was downright lovely, rife with shades of the Marc Cohn and Bryan Adams and Mellencamp tapes kicking around Mom's glove compartment for sunny drives. HILARY HUGHES
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Inner Circle - Saturday, August 15 - Club Red
Inner Circle helped invent reggae. Now, 45 years after they started, the group is still on tour — not even a bus crash in Baton Rouge can stop them — and still going strong. And while they're identified most as the creators of the song, “Bad Boys” (famously know to the entire world as “that song from Cops”), Inner Circle's fame extends way beyond that pop cultural footnote. The group formed in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica, in a lush and rolling tropical paradise area at the foot of a mountain. As kids, founding brothers Roger and Ian Lewis would sneak under a fence to see the Skatalites and the Dragonaires. In 1971 they played over 150 shows on the "bandwagon tour" with Bob Marley and The Wailers and others, including Clancy Eccles, who is said to have derived the term reggae from the word "streggae" (roughly, 'easy girl').
In 1974, fiery rasta youth Jacob Miller talked his way into the band after receiving an introduction. He energized crowds with his improvisations, and vocal tricks. He added an echo effect to his singing, and was dubbed "man with the bionic voice." He helped the band become the most in-demand act on the island. After Inner Circle's set, which was caught on film for the movie Heartland Reggae, Peter Tosh performed, and then Bob Marley. Inspired by Miller's bravado and in a friendly act of competitive one-upmanship, Marley invited the leaders of the rival political parties, Edward Seaga and Michael Manley, onto the stage. He got them to lock and raise their hands at the height of his set during the song "Jammin'." This moment is often referred to as one of the more historic in Marley's career. As you can see, Inner Circle's roots run deep. JACOB KATEL
Esperanza Spalding Presents: Emily’s D+Evolution - Saturday, August 15 - Mesa Arts Center in Mesa
Esperanza Spalding first broke into the mainstream consciousness in 2011, when she upended Justin Bieber for the Grammy’s Best New Artist award and provoked the Twitterverse’s wrath. That Bieber guy is now desperately trying to salvage his reputation with underwear ads and karaoke. Spalding, on the other hand, is a jazz bassist, cellist, and singer who continues to thrive in environments where you’d least expect her. The Berklee graduate turns chamber music on its head with her recent incarnation, Emily's D+Evolution. As the character Emily, Spalding performs a set of musical vignettes influenced by surrealist poetry and experimental theater. The stark thematic and aesthetic change is a natural progression for Spalding. She’s traditionally been known for her wide-ranging style, dexterity, clear voice, nimble compositions, and ability to evolve: Her honeyed voice will linger over a phrase before she pivots to scat over a clairvoyant bass line, juxtaposing severity with humor. Spalding has always interpreted classic jazz with the eye of a futurist. Now as Emily, she presents her audience a wildly different world to inhabit, only to reveal that it’s one we’ve been watching for all along. STEPHANIE CHEN