It's a good time to be a music fan in Phoenix, particularly those who dig both indie and country. Thanks to our fair city's plum position along Interstate 10, numerous bands bound for Indio, California over the next couple of weeks are swinging through the Valley on their way to and from Coachella. And many will stop over for a night to perform at local venues. The deluge of Coachella-bound bands begins this week with a trickle of acts, including gigs by the similarly named Sleigh Bells and Broken Bells.
Meanwhile, Country Thunder kicks off towards the end of the week down in Florence, meaning your cowboy and cowgirl friends will likely be busy getting ready to make the trek to the annual outdoor festival and massive party.
There's a few other must-see concerts taking place (check out our extensive online concert calendar for proof of such) including those that made our list of the best concerts in Metro Phoenix this week.
Some of the more famous names associated with Arizona music will converge on the Musical Instrument Museum's in-house theatre to provide an evening of tunes for the latest event in the ongoing "I Am AZ Music" performance series. And we weren't kidding when we said they were famous names.
The list of performers includes Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins, longtime local bluesman Hans Olson, Tempe legend Walt Richardson, and Mill Avenue icons Lawrence and Mark Zubia.
Philadelphia's The War on Drugs began as the home-studio project of Adam Granduciel - an unrepentant tinkerer and gearhead whose deeply layered songs put a new spin on classic rock. After the breakthrough success of the expertly crafted Slave Ambient, Granduciel's project became more of a live band, a move that guided the next studio project. For his part, Granduciel turned the years of touring and self-reflection on making music for a living into a batch of more personal, sharply focused songs.
It's both aspects that make Lost In The Dream an early contender for album of the year. Led by the pulsating "Red Eyes" and the swirling, haunting "Eyes to the Wind," the album has garnered rave reviews, including a Best New Music tag from Pitchfork.
"As a songwriter, I wanted to put more of myself into it, to step out a bit more and to write songs and music I felt very connected to and put the way I was feeling down," says Granduciel in a phone interview from a tour stop in Denver. "It wasn't a conscious decision to write about anything in particular, but I was wrestling with some emotions that were new to me and I couldn't escape. I was all consumed with the songs and my relationship to the songs and what I wanted to talk about." -- Eric Swedlund
Combining the former guitar player from hardcore band Poison the Well with a former Nickelodeon star, Sleigh Bells is the most aggressive, poptastic, ear-drum-splitting glamour-thrash band around. On its debut, Treats, released on M.I.A.'s N.E.E.T. Records, Sleigh Bells offered up songs like "Rill Rill" and "Tell Em" that managed to rock the cranium while melting the heart. If you've somehow managed to miss out on the wonder that is Sleigh Bells, take a moment out of your lunch break to view the video for their hopelessly infectious song "Comeback Kid." We guarantee that when it ends, you'll be asking yourself if you have time to watch it again. -- Josiah M. Hesse
Nearly all the publicist-penned treatises about Broken Bells, the collaboration between Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton and James Mercer, insist that Broken Bells is not tied to the invididual members' past successes. "It's the Broken Bells," press releases repeatedly state. Yes, it is, but really, there's no way to separate the two incredible driving forces behind the band -- it couldn't be one without the other. How the pair's innumerable music skills jell here makes Broken Bells' lush, pop-drenched odes to love, eternal wisdom, and outer space work so well. Look, Burton's perhaps the planet's hottest musical entity, part of Gnarls Barkley and the mega-hit "Crazy," while his production acumen lands artists, including the Black Keys, Grammy nominations and awards.
Next in line: U2. Mercer is the indomitable voice of The Shins, a compelling songwriter able to mix melancholy mood swings with glorious uplifting pop swells that tear at the senses. His shape-shifting falsetto voice infectiously captures Squeeze ("After the Disco") and the Bee Gees ("Holding On to Love") -- with the right balance of emotional depth -- while Burton's snake-like grooves amid electronic accentuations, organ swirls, and punchy guitars stick in the brain. Sure, it is Broken Bells. But without acknowledging the past, Broken Bells would be just broken. -- Glenn BurnSilver
If you happen to be a major fan of country music and live anywhere within a 100-mile radius of Florence, it's likely that you'll be making the trek to this four-day outdoor concert festival. It's arguably the biggest country event of the entire year and is essentially a ginormous party in the middle of the great outdoors (that goes doubly so for the event's campground, where non-stop shenanigans take place day and night) featuring some true superstars.
The lineup for this year's Country Thunder -- which kicks off on Thursday, April 10, and runs through Sunday, April 13 -- includes Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Sawyer Brown, Will Hoge, The Band Perry, Chad Brownlee, Charlie Worsham, and Cassadee Pope. Also scheduled to perform will be Colt Ford, Craig Morgan, Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and others.
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Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.