"School's out for summer," sang one of Phoenix's proudest sons, Alice Cooper.
But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that per-capita celebrations of summer are lower here than most places in the country. As Arizona State University students go back from whence they came and the snow birds migrate to cooler climes, the rest of us are readying our air conditions for another four, five months of unfiltered desert reality. Still, if you feel like celebrating, there's plenty to do.
Check out these five concerts this week.
Whether it's through his digital design work or his post-rock music outfit, A Cloud for Climbing (AC4C), Brock Lefferts has one goal in mind: "organically distorting what is perfect." In AC4C, Lefferts flies solo, using audio software Ableton Live to manufacture loops and beats for him to play alongside on acoustic or electric guitar. Crafting layered instrumental ascensions in the same vein as Tycho or Four Tet, the 26-year-old musician builds progressive soundscapes as crisp as they are delicate.
Also performing at the show will be New Young Pony Club and Bogan Via. --Troy Farah Kishi Bashi - Crescent Ballroom - Tuesday, May 13
How do you figure a song called "I Am the Antichrist to You" should turn out? Awfully metal, right? Well, in the hands of Kaoru Ishibashi (who records and tours as Kishi Bashi), the track materializes as a fleet-footed, cloud-soft slice of folky chamber-pop -- practically the mathematical opposite of what its subversive title hints. Ishibashi specializes in creating distorted, fantastical tunes -- the kind that would flawlessly soundtrack an indie-friendly adaptation of Alice in Wonderland -- through an unusual cluster of tricks.
When he's not putting some three decades of training as a classical violinist to use (as he does most of the time), he's singing English lyrics in a distinctive falsetto -- weaving in passages sung in Japanese -- beatboxing, utilizing synths and guitars, or pulling some other trick out of nowhere. Ishibashi slipped "Antichrist" into 2012's 151a (a title connected to a Japanese phrase meaning "one time, one place"), the debut record from the Seattle-born, Norfolk, Virginia-based musician and former Regina Spektor and Of Montreal collaborator. If the one-man band trope ever needed to remind the world of its rare magic -- just how does a single person do so much so well? -- Kishi Bashi serves as a fine delegate. --Reyan Ali The Eels - Crescent Ballroom - Wednesday, May 14
As founder of genre-spanning songwriter project Eels, Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E, knows what it's like to reinvent himself. Since the band's formation in 1995, he's bounced among genres while never fearing wearing his heart on his sleeve. With The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, Eels' most recent release, E strips his trademark emotive material down to its most basic form. "I decided I wanted to try to be brave enough to just make it as hard-hitting and stark as possible," he says. "I took off anything that might have sounded like anything that would be typically a [radio] single candidate." It's a nontraditional route, but the record's theme is that of personal responsibility after all. Phoenix is the first stop on Eels' upcoming tour and will mark the live debut of songs from Cautionary Tales. How they'll translate to the stage has yet to be determined, even by E himself. "I'm thinking it's hopefully going to be a really interesting musical night, but you never know -- it could be a complete train wreck," he says. "I think either way you'll get your money's worth. Let's face it: Train wrecks are entertaining." --KC Libman Nikki Hill - Rhythm Room - Wednesday, May 14
The fast-rising, hard-charging, 20-something, North Carolina born-and-bred singer Nikki Hill has more than earned her evocative "Southern Fireball" moniker. This African-American rock & roll sister trades in resolutely old-school soul and R&B, and she does so with stunning measures of heat, grace and impressively flawless vocal technique.
Hill's vivid atmospherics, innate dynamicism and declarative delivery make for some thrillingly memorable song stylings. No mere fetishistic '50s throwback, she's facing an uphill battle out of the brain-dead ducktail-and-fat-cuff rockabilly ghetto. But Hill definitely has the pipes and the power to transcend that hell and reach Olympian heights. Just try to keep up with her. --Jonny Whiteside Blessthefall - Nile Theatre - Thursday, May 15
Blessthefall has made quite the name for themselves as an Arizona Christian metalcore band. With four albums under their belt, this band leans more towards hardcore and screamo for sure, but they've definitely helped bring attention to the Arizona music scene. Hell, they have almost two million likes on their Facebook. --Lauren Wise
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