Curious about what's going on around town this weekend? Need some suggestions where to rock, dance, or krump in the Valley of the Sun?
Don't fret: These are our Five Shows to See This Weekend.
The first step is always the hardest, and while the members of Phoenix's Zero Zero have been busy the past four months -- writing songs to fill an album, generating international indie radio airplay, and making a video -- the "electro fuzz" trio has yet to step on a stage. That changes Friday with an album-release party.
Singer Nicole Laurenne and guitarist Michael Johnny Walker formed Zero Zero while on hiatus from the Love Me Nots, adding drummer Nick Ramirez. Experimenting with "synth-ier ideas," garage-rock guitars, minimalist drumming, electro-pop elements, hip-hop, floaty vocals, and "whatever grabbed us" entered the mix. "We basically poured our instincts onto the tracks and tried not to second-guess ourselves too much," Laurenne says.
While the single "Drug" offers a raw edge in a pop-infused melody over Laurenne's breathy femme fatale vocals, "Tear It Up" is a starker, gritty experience of fuzz and fur and sinister undertone like a soundtrack for a '60s cop show. "Zero Zero's overall sound is pretty modern, but it also has a lot of elements that come directly from retro influences," Laureene says. "It's a product of being here in the 21st century, listening to what's going on now, but remembering how we got here." -- Glenn BurnSilverFriday, October 5: Hood Internet @ Bar Smith
Nothing in this world is certain except death, taxes, and the Internet's boner for mash-ups. Hit YouTube this instant and you'll find remixes involving Lana Del Rey and The Notorious B.I.G., Willow Smith and Devo, Tupac and dialogue from The Dark Knight. But in the post-Grey Album climate, where anyone can threaten to make a mash-up, there's a whole lot of chaff to go with the wheat.
This is why it's nice to have the judicious The Hood Internet around. Since first mapping a mix between Clipse and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the duo has released hundreds of free mp3s teaming rappers with indie-rock bands. Raekwon chills with Twin Sister, Usher and Sleigh Bells get the party riled up, and Mos Def and Battles experiment with sparse rhythms.
Occasionally, the taco-loving Chicagoans play outside their template, but they're always good about maintaining a sharp ear for patterns and not going batshit crazy when colliding worlds. -- Reyan AliSaturday, October 6: Sea Wolf @ Crescent Ballroom
Sea Wolf is another one of those bands that just got too big for the bedroom, or the living room in the case of Alex Brown Church, who started writing these songs while a member of LA's Irving but ended up going solo--or lone wolf?--with an EP on Dangerbird in 2007.
Since then, Sea Wolf has become a full band all its own, putting power and depth into Church's songs about his life and his loves. True, they were on the Twilight soundtrack--and he'd obviously prefer to be a werewolf, Church told Vanity Fair--but this is music for a much more classic kind of angsty teenager. --Chris ZieglerSaturday, October 6: Mac Miller @ Mesa Amphitheatre
Following in the footsteps of fellow Pittsburgh native and Taylor Allderdice graduate Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller is well known for making feel-good music. His breakout mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin' Incredibly Dope Shit), an homage to the notably dark Larry Clark film, and followup Best Day Ever were beloved by casual and hard-core hip-hop fans alike for their fleeting yet satisfying jams about being young; Miller's greatest strength and the chief reason for his success has always been that he raps about what he knows.
His first studio album, Blue Slide Park, debuted at number one but received mixed reviews. On his newest mixtape, Macadelic, Miller delves into darker material; he's been praised for being more daring than on previous efforts. Whether he continues on this new path or sticks to what has proven successful for him remains to be seen. What is certain: The future is bright for this twenty-year-old phenom. -- Noah HubbleSunday, October 7: Bettye LaVette @ MIM
People always told 66-year-old soul songstress Bettye LaVette she should write a book. Fifty years in show business should make for more than a few good tales, right?
"I'd say, 'Yeah, well, I'm sure I won't be famous enough to sell a book before I die,'" LaVette says, her brassy voice made as clear through her vibrant laugh as it is by her songs. "After I die, they can tell the story full-out, because I won't be there to blush or whatever.'"
But LaVette's manager thought the idea had legs -- and one night he sent author David Ritz to her dressing room to get started on the thing.
"I really did not prepare for it at all," LaVette says of the resulting book, A Woman Like Me, released last week.
"These are stories that I've told. I've always said, 'Everyone who's black in Detroit, over 50 and done anything -- I've seen them broke, drunk, or naked, or all three.' If I had known how confessional it was going to be, maybe I wouldn't have done it," she says, laughing.
The book hit stores just a week after a new record, Thankful N' Thoughtful. The 15-track record finds LaVette doing what she does best: wrapping her voice around a carefully selected collection of songs. She adds a menacing groove to Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" ("I'm older and crazier," she says), a righteous fury to Bob Dylan's cranky rant "Everything is Broken," and brings a raw touch to The Black Keys' "I'm Not the One."
The record's finest moment comes near the end, with a slow version of The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town," recast by LaVette as a "funeral dirge" for her beloved Detroit. It's the second version of the song on the record, coming after an ambling, uptempo take.
"Well, the record company liked one, and I liked the other," she says. "Neither of us was willing to give. Have you seen the commercial with the peanut butter and the chocolate? [I said,] 'Let's do both.'"
With its military drums and minimal piano line, LaVette's preferred cut certainly gets her point across.
"I'm watching my city die before my eyes," she says. "Everyone else was able to think a little more commercially [regarding the faster take]. You know, I could see their point; it just isn't the way I wanted to tell that story. But I liked them both, I liked the other one as well, but for me, it was like singing 'Happy Birthday' at a funeral. They were gracious enough to let me have my version, too."
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But while the song's mournful lyrics, penned by Shane MacGowan, certainly speaks to the less-than-shining state of modern-day Detroit, they also tell of the city's fierce determination. "They tried to chop me down, like an old dead tree," LaVette sings, adding with a slight chuckle, "but they couldn't."
"Less than 30 years ago, I was doing a play in Atlanta, and you could have shot off a cannon and not hit anybody in the whole downtown. You know? So that gives me hope," LaVette says of that city's comeback. "I look at Toledo, which is right there next to Detroit, and now looks better than Detroit. I know where it came from; that gives me hope. I look at the cities that have not come back, like Buffalo. Everybody is doing a little something-something in every town . . . I'm so very glad that the president [worked to] keep the plants there, keeping some of them open. One thing that's encouraging when I go home, everybody is trying to do something. Some of it, I can tell when they're telling me about it that it's futile -- that's not going to work, but that everybody is trying to do something is a positive thing." -- Jason P. Woodbury