Looking for a memorable show to see over the next few nights? Consider any of the following seven options in our list of concert picks for this week, which include such stellar acts as The Internet, Immortal Technique, Daniel Martin Moore, Four Tet, and Drab Majesty.
As always, if you're looking for even more live music in and around the Valley, be sure to check out our comprehensive Phoenix concert calendar for even more choices for your concert-going dollar.
Soul singer Bettye LaVette’s genius lies in her uncanny ability to wring emotional depth from even the most innocuous of pop songs. Her plaintive rasp exposes the lovestruck vulnerability at the heart of “Maybe I’m Amazed,” plumbs the spookiest depths of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and fills Elton John’s barroom confessional “Talking Old Soldiers” with almost unbearable world-weariness. An R&B ingenue in the 1960s, LaVette’s career never really took off until a boutique French label released her debut album in 2000 — 28 years after she recorded it for Atlantic/Atco Records, which for mysterious reasons chose not to release it. Since then, she’s sung “A Change Is Gonna Come” at Obama’s first inaugural celebration, stolen the show at the Kennedy Center Honors with a rendition of “Love, Reign O’er Me” that reduced Pete Townshend to tears, and generally disproved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s old saw that American lives have no second act. ANDY HERMANN
Immortal Technique — Monday, May 9 — Club Red
At his battle-winning best, Immortal Technique’s wordplay gymnastics are rivaled only by heyday Eminem and The Streets. On Revolutionary Vol. 1 (2001) and Vol. 2 (2003), this brilliantly belligerent Harlemite spews revelatory conspiracy theories (“Peruvian Cocaine”), point-making humor (“Beef & Broccoli,” “Obnoxious”) and megalomaniacal chest-beating (lines like, “When God said ‘Let there be light,’ I turned it the fuck off!” from “Creation & Destruction”) with breathtaking eloquence and irreverence atop inventive beats and samples. Vol. 1’s “The Poverty of Philosophy” alone distills economic imperialism into six minutes as no professor ever will. The quality drooped on 2008’s The Third World, but Tech’s relentless activism has not. PAUL ROGERS
How can a listener recognize the line that separates musical fetishists from true sonic archaeologists? What sounds, coming from headphones pressed tightly to ears, can serve as indicators, distinguishing between Americana “retro” balladeers, playing dress up with boots and vests and quickly learned tropes, and singers actually exhuming songs from the past, carefully brushing off their dust, aiming to preserve them for future listeners, and examining what these old things tell us about our new fears and weirdnesses? Perhaps Kentucky singer/songwriter/folk interpreter Daniel Martin Moore can proffer some suggestions.
Moore’s been kicking around for a few years, working with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, cellist Ben Sollee, and songwriter Joan Shelley. His latest album, Archives Vol. II: Old Stepstone, collects ancient songs like “Pretty Fair Miss,” which was first popularized in the early 1800s, and even older material, like the 17th-century folk ballad “One Morning In May.” Moore presents the material mostly unadorned, recording them in his Hardin County home. More than simply mining these old songs for source material to carve into more fashionable offerings, Moore reveals little more than their bones, the barest elements of what would eventually become folk music, popular music in the purest sense. JASON P. WOODBURY
As a genre, ska has become one of the most beloved-turned-maligned styles in history since disco. At its core, ska is unpretentious, buoyant, and just plain goofy. But it has deep soul and jazz attached to its calypso roots, a fact that hasn't been forgotten by the Slackers. Formed nearly 25 years ago in New York City — then a hotbed for retrofitted ska — the horn-packing sextet eventually signed to Epitaph Records (and, later, Rancid's Hellcat imprint), releasing a string of discs featuring singer Glen Pines's impassioned rasp that paid homage to the traditional ska and rocksteady eras of the Skatalites and the Paragons. JASON HELLER
Four Tet — Wednesday, May 11 — Monarch Theatre
Duke Ellington’s controversial covers of Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” were considered offensive to some Norwegians, which seems absurd now to a modern world familiar with Four Tet’s jazzy mixtures of classical swells. Kieran Hebden, as he’s known to his mother, first rose to attention when Warp Records released a Four Tet remix of “Cliffs” by Aphex Twin. The London-born producer went on to work with Burial and Thom Yorke, meanwhile pushing the limits of what laptop orchestrating can achieve.
Silky beats, angelic harp, and tranquil bedroom acoustics lifted from some incredibly obscure samples — this is not the hyperactive clatter entirely sample-based music like Avalanches or Girl Talk is generally known for. The title of Four Tet’s debut album, Dialogue, also demonstrates what his music does best: his gentle, music box melodies speak to each other. It’s a rhythmic conversational technique — one not easily mastered — Four Tet inherited from Boards of Canada and Squarepusher, but his topics of discussion are in a language entirely his own. TROY FARAH
Given Syd the Kid’s status as the Odd Future Collective’s resident engineer and producer, you’d think her obtusely named band The Internet would reflect similar hip-hop sensibilities. Instead, The Internet ranges far more broadly into realms of jazz and R&B than anything Tyler, The Creator ever rapped over. Over three albums, the band’s sound has steadily evolved. In the band’s early days, listeners got some progressive, futuristic-sounding R&B. The group’s second album plunged into even more experimental territory. Syd’s hooks and verses were at times amelodic and complex, and her challenging, obtuse lyrics were light years away from Odd Future.
The band came back to earth with its 2015 album, Ego Death. As would be expected from an album with features from Janelle Monae, Vic Mensa, and Odd Future cohort Tyler, The Creator, it’s a much more mainstream effort than the albums preceding it. You could see some of these jams lighting up a lounge somewhere, or maybe providing the soundtrack for studying college students at a hip coffee shop like Lux. It’s a catchy, hook-filled album that doesn’t sacrifice jazzy undertones for mainstream appeal. And ultimately, that’s very satisfying. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
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At six feet, four inches, LA native Andrew Clinco, better known as Deb Demure, towers over most people. As Drab Majesty, his on-stage persona, he looks like a more glamorous version of Forsberg's Christ the Clown. It's part of his gender-bending appearance, which "is not typical drag," he says. "It's a hybrid performance state designed to rid the audience's expectations of what it means to be a male or female performer." In a sense, he's the musical equivalent of a magician, hypnotizing his audience to look beyond his gender and become mesmerized by his brooding songcraft.
Drab Majesty's debut EP, Unarian Dances, originally released in 2012 and now available on cassette, is a monolithic recording of five tracks that oscillate between hazy Slowdive shoegaze and danceable New Order pop. Emma Ruth Rundle of the Nocturnes provides harmonies on "In a Hotel (Somewhere)" and "Wrecking Ball," but other than that, it's just Demure, his various instruments, and a space-age pastiche of everything from Ziggy Stardust to Genesis P-Orridge. ART TAVANA