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.
Life can be tricky for metalheads who turn to heavy music to galvanize their conscience. If that sounds like a stereotype, plenty of metal bands play into the meathead/douchebag/sociopath thing and do it with pride. Gojira isn't one of those bands.
But Gojira doesn't simply spew pointed political sloganeering, either. Instead, the band gets into heady territory and puts its own peculiar, even esoteric, twists on environmentalism and spirituality. For a band to do it within the context of progressive death metal and not be obvious about it should come as nothing short of a revelation to genre aficionados hungering for more than the usual stuff about rotting cadavers.
Don't get the wrong idea: Gojira has bodily obsessions and a preoccupation with mortality too -- and does indulge them on albums like 2008's The Way of All Flesh. But the French quartet elevates its scope far above and beyond the usual treatment offered by their peers. On The Way of All Flesh, Gojira seems to explore death as a way of getting to the life force that runs through everything. Heady -- and heavy -- indeed. -- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
It's hard to know where to start with The Residents. The band's press release claims that they neither exist nor play any instruments, and yet they have released more than 60 albums, a smattering of videos, DVDs, and short films, and produced a handful of theater productions as well. It's a conundrum that confounds both would-be music scribes and music salesmen but has generated a legendary cult following almost from the day the group's car broke down in 1966 in San Mateo, California. It is there that this band of artistic misfits -- barely musicians, any of them -- began their assault on musical sensibilities and convention in a fashion similar to, though uniquely different from, The Fugs, Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart.
It wasn't until 1971, however, that the band actually came up with a name, previously content on plying their craft anonymously. After the first demo album was turned down by Warner Brothers, the rejection slip was mailed to "The Residents" since no name was listed on the return address. It stuck.
But a band name does not mean its members will follow suit. Unidentified and frequently performing shadowed or with masks, the musicians guarded their privacy -- while simultaneously building intrigue.
"They felt that if they got any level of fame or notoriety, they wouldn't be able to keep any separation between their private life and public life," says longtime Residents co-manager, artistic director, and media liaison Homer Flynn. Plus, "there was a huge mystery and mystique around people like Sun Ra -- he said he was from outer space -- and I think they were intrigued by the idea of creating mystery and mythology for themselves in the same regard." -- Glenn BurnSilver
Almost every full-time musician can tell of a serendipitous series of events that led him or her down the path of becoming a professional. Maybe Mom and Dad had some old records that sparked an interest, or tuba spots in the school band were all taken up, so they had to play drums instead.
Michael Deni of Geographer was walking along one day and just happened to find a synthesizer out in the street. Seriously, he found a functioning synthesizer. Then he learned to play it. The gods might as well have had him trip over it, then look at it curiously with a giant question mark floating over his head. The synthesizer inspired Innocent Ghosts, Geographer's debut release, which is packed with moody synth, catchy hooks, and eerie vocals.
Since then, the band has been the focus of media attention -- Spin called it "one of the three undiscovered bands you need to hear now" -- and supported bands like Foster the People, Freelance Whales, Atlas Sound, Local Natives, Surfer Blood, Sea Wolf, and more on tour. -- Christina Caldwell
Jake Goldsmith is one funny dude. Whenever we get to speak with the 30-year-old selector and member of the Rebel Disco collective, he tends to be quick with quips or some sort of wittiness that always makes for a lively interview. Such was the case when Up on the Sun had a chat with Goldsmith recently for this week's DJ Dossier, which -- as you'll read -- is filled with plenty of wisecracks about his lack of dancing skills and a secret crush on Ryan Gosling.
This same spirit of fun tends to flow through both his sets and those of every member of Rebel Disco during their Wednesday night Push Push affair at Bar Smith, where he'll host ultra-hyped DJ Jacques Renault this week. We spoke with Goldsmith about Renault's influence.
Are you a huge fan of Renault?
I'm a huge fan of feel-good tunes. His name happens to be attached to a lot of those as of late. He's a friend, though, and a talented dude.
Is this the first time he's performed in Phoenix?
Why do you keep bringing him back?
Good question. He was relatively unknown here the first time round and the turnout was underwhelming. So we are hoping the third time will be the charm. We've also invited his NYC pal and DFA stalwart Justin Miller along this time. What does Renault do better than other DJs?
His collection is noteworthy, his remixes are class, and he pushes the latest sounds. He's got his finger on the pulse, if you will.
Does he have anything special planned for his set on January 30 at Bar Smith?
Actually, I'm sure he's got something off his new label Goodnight Moon that he'll play. And he, Justin and I will be tagging -- playing together record for record -- from 11:30 on. Gonna be a gas.
Are special guests such as Renault how events like Push Push stands out from other club nights?
Yes, but also the night itself. What we do and what we play isn't being done/played anywhere else in the valley. It means you can dance and sing with a group of DJ's that don't take things too seriously, we try to have fun. Playing fun music for fun times. No aggro nonsense. -- Benjamin Leatherman
After a five-year break, Pinback is back and is better than ever. Not that this San Diego math rock-meets subdued pop band really went anywhere -- the group has been good about consistent touring since the release of 2007's Autumn of the Seraphs.
It's just that duo Rob Crow and Zach Smith took a break from recording Pinback songs to focus on raising kids, releasing solo albums, and the reunion of Smith's first band, Three Mile Pilot. Revived, musicians headed back to the studio last year for Information Retrieved, which fits perfectly into Pinback's canon of muddled songs about fish and random numbers.
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Over the course of their 15-year career, the duo has favored a revolving door approach, but have settled into a groove as a compact three-piece to translate Information Retrieved for the stage. The shows have felt great to Crow. "Everybody seems to like it more now," he says. "Everybody agrees these are the best shows that we've ever played," -- Melissa Fossum