Yeah, yeah, yeah...we get it Mondays suck (we've read Garfield). But it means the start of a new week, which means a bunch of killer shows in and around Phoenix. And here are a few of the coolest, our top five must-see shows this week.
There's a rustic sense of familiarity listening to Lula, the three-song debut EP by Phoenix indie folk combo Of the Painted Choir. Composed of elements we're well aquatinted with -- a little M. Ward mumble/slapback vocal here, a fuzzy British Invasion guitar lick there -- the collection doesn't sacrifice quality employing such recognizable signifiers.
Instead, Of the Painted Choir, comprising songwriter Frederick Huang, Darren Simoes (The Bled/Dead Western Plains), Phillip Hanna (Tugboat/Kinch), and John Blades (Dorsey) wring out every bit of emotion and joy from the indie pop format. "Lula, My Baby" bounces on a strident, anthemic beat, bolstered by Huang's lilting voice, while "A Spanish Mountain" is more restrained, that is until its ramshackle, ecstatic solo breakdown. Bonus track "Mr. Bumblebee," with its whimsical Donovan/novelty jam vibe, feels unnecessary -- but mostly because the two tracks before it are so much better composed and executed.
The group plays with Up on the Sun favorites Russian Arms and Optics and Los Angeles' Juju, which does the shoegazey/Brit-pop thing serious justice, on Monday, September 10 at Crescent Ballroom. Grab a peek at a rising band, one that's just hinted at its potential. --Jason P. WoodburyTuesday, September 11: Natural Child, Ace High Cutthroats, and North Dakota @ Yucca Tap Room
The good-for-nothing good ol' boys of Natural Child must be stopped. This is a band that titled an earlier record 1971, a year these sprites clearly wished to have experienced, and are now plotting to name the rest of their output after fucking Kevin Costner movies.
Their latest disc of shameless stoner rock, For the Love of the Game, was put out by the enablers at Burger Records, whose entire MO is the dissemination of similarly irresponsible rockers like Jacuzzi Boys and Diarrhea Planet. If you thought that was bad, wait 'til you hear the three heretics from Natural Child refry the classic rock canon. On "8AM Blues," they have the gall to close out their hazy, Stonesy stomp by repeatedly singing the words "like a rolling stone." No lie -- as if they invented that very phrase. "Paradise Heights" approximates a reggae groove through slinky swung bass and big, dumb floor toms, sounding like white boys who know they aren't equipped for the task but are having a lark with it anyway.
If I were living next door to these little shits, I'd probably storm out late on a weeknight in my bedtime Crocs, banging on their windows to nix the damn racket. Problem is, I'd surely feel bad once I got a good listen to their irrepressibly fun jams, and the guys would likely hand me a Natty Light in neighborly repentance after inviting me inside. -- Chase Kamp
Jens Moelle and Ismail Tüfekçi don't simply juggle electronic beats. In fact, the EDM artistry unleashed by the German-born duo Digitalism is more akin to beat alchemy than anything else: They don't just polish up a steady stream of Ableton output, but instead slice, dice, mash, blend, and twist electro fuzz and set it loose amid a four-on-the-floor soundscape filled with dance-punk flourishes, high-energy house, and occasional jags of cyborgian vocals in the style of their heroes (and fellow Europeans) Daft Punk.
No doubt you've already heard this coming through your HDTV's speakers if you've played Saints Row: The Third or Need for Speed: ProStreet, both of which featured Digitalism's 2007 track "Pogo." Such injection of the duo's music into the console gaming world seems only natural, given the raw, throwback warbles of songs such as "Zdarlight" and "Forrest Gump" (the latter of which was co-written by Julian Casablancas of The Strokes), off their newest studio album, 2011's I Love You Dude, which sounds like it was born from a Nintendo. Digitalism's work is also capable of a more complex sound, such as the other tracks off the 10-track album, such as "Antibiotics" and "2 Hearts," which are made even better by Moelle's vocals. --Benjamin Leatherman
Songwriter Brandon Decker is no stranger to the Phoenix music scene, even though he makes his home more than a hundred miles away. Aside from playing Valley shows, he helped organize this June's Oak Creek Music Festival, where bands from Phoenix and Sedona gathered for a free, one-day romp on the red rocks. So it was no surprise that when news of the band's vans rolling broke, it was no surprise that local musicians wanted to give back -- though Decker has been moved by the outpouring of support.
Megyn Neff of Tempe Gypsy rockers Dry River Yacht Club saw the recent success of local music benefits like Hollywood Alley's effort to help owner Ross Wincek with medical bills after he suffered from a stroke earlier this year. She contacted DRYC's local label, 80/20 Records, and together they decided to piece together a benefit for decker.
"When I first started contacting bands after we agreed to do the show, I wasn't sure what kind of response we'd get, since decker. doesn't play regularly in Phoenix and I wasn't sure how many bands had even heard of them," says Jason Shoff, A&R scout for 80/20 Records. "But not only did every band I contact tell me they wanted to play the show, but every band made their schedule work so they could make that date. So just that kind of support and willingness for all these bands to want to help out one of their own is just simply tremendous and touching, and it shows that the Valley definitely has a true music 'scene,' where all the bands care for each other and are willing to help each other out."
In fact, the show of support was so heavy that Echo Cloud Productions' Nicole Parasida was having trouble fitting everyone on the bill, which now includes a host of local heavy hitters like PALMS, The Madera Strand, Japhy's Descent, Banana Gun, Danger Paul, Future Loves Past, Dry River Yacht Club, and more.
"We are all in this together, to have fun, to create amazing music, and help each other out," says Spike Brendle, bassist for locals PALMS and Sister Cities and artist relations rep for Echo Cloud Productions. "This is a time where one of our family needs help, and what better way to help them than doing what we all love -- play music. When it comes down to it, though, Brandon would do the same thing for each and every one of us, and that's why we feel this is necessary." -- Christina Caldwell
Thursday, September 13: Los Amigos Invisibles @ Crescent Ballroom
What happens when you cross acid jazz, disco, funk, and a performance-driven Latin dance troupe from New York by way of Venezuela? The sexy sounds of Latin Grammy winners Los Amigos Invisibles, that's what. The six-piece ensemble left its hometown underground scene long ago, and has spent the last 20 years trotting the globe and tightening up a sound that is infectiously groovy.
Los Amigos capitalized on the success from 2009's terrific turn, Commercial, by compiling eight tracks that didn't make the cut on the award-winning album and releasing them on 2011's Not So Commercial. "It's interesting because we felt that Commercial did really well in Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries, but not so well in the U.S. and in Europe," guitarist Jose Luis Pardo says in an interview with the New Times.
"The opposite was true for Not So Commercial, so with that we learned that we shouldn't under-appreciate any of our tracks." Fresh off of another Grammy nomination, this time for Best Latin Rock, Pop, or Urban album, they're back on the road and bringing their "End Of The World Tour" to the lavish sound system at the Crescent Ballroom later this week.
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If you're in the "get up and dance" business, this is the place to be. - Anthony Sandoval