When people ask what kind of music I like, I'm tempted to say, "Good music." I understand the need for musical terminology, but there's really too much good stuff to limit what you listen to. It's a lesson Zero Zero teaches well. Nicole Laurenne and Michael Johnny Walker have the garage rock thing locked down with The Love Me Nots, but the itch to experiment was too itchy to ignore, resulting in the sleeker, suaver, synth-ier Zero Zero. The band performs twice this weekend: at Crescent Ballroom and the Sail Inn, where they'll take part in decker.'s massive (mini-festival-like) CD release show. decker. could have found other like-minded indie folks acts to share the stage, but instead there's a packed and diverse lineup: The rocking Vagabond Gods, the psychedelic pop of Future Loves Past (and much more). It's that embrace-it-all attitude that makes decker.'s new LP, Slider, such a good listen. Embrace eclecticism with our Top Five Must-See Shows This Weekend list. -- Jason P. Woodbury
It took a successful Kickstarter campaign, numerous fundraising shows, and generous outpouring from the local music community, but Sedona's decker. has successfully completed its fourth album, Slider (no relation to the T.Rex record of the same name), and was able to replace the instruments damaged in a near-fatal rollover. Now, the band is gearing up for a South by Southwest tour with Palms, The Wiley One, and others, as well as prepping for their album-release show at The Sail Inn in Tempe, on Friday, March 1.
Up on the Sun: First, I want to say congratulations on the new album.
Brandon Decker:Thank you, buddy.
So how is Sedona?
Sedona is Sedona. It's kinda warm. It's nice. It's pretty. We're actually heading to Phoenix. We're picking up [bassist] Bryant [Vazquez] and heading down to shows there and doing a little promotion for the March 1 show. I don't hear a lot about what's going on up in Sedona. Any bands up there you'd consider your contemporaries?
That's a challenging question to answer. I think we just try to stay focused on what we're doing musically and professionally. We try to be around bands from all over the place that are like-minded, that we respect and admire.
Do you feel Sedona is a spiritual place?
There's definitely something remarkably special there, you know? I know I've changed [since being there]. The way I've viewed myself, and I guess my spirit has changed, and I attribute at least some aspect of that to living in Sedona, so I guess so. -- Troy Farah
Sounds like a Yoda quote, but it ain't: "Party We Will Throw Now!" is a 2012 single by Warren G, featuring the dearly departed Nate Dogg and The Game, and it starts with these lines: "As I travel / This lonely gangsta road / Just me and my Negroes / We still got bomb hydro."
It's silly, yeah, but over the same kind of plush G-funk, the trio sounds passable, and occasionally -- during Game's verse -- pretty heavy. It's a necessary reminder of why the dude's vital -- it was sort of easy to forget how smooth and potent "Regulate" was, as Warren has spent the past couple of years peddling male enhancement pills and slimming down on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. But just hit play on "Regulate," with that velvety sample of Michael McDonald's deep groove "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)."
It's a mission statement as much as it's a hit, a sort of national album for the soulful, funky hip-hop style that "Party We Will Throw Now!" strives for. "Big girls put on small clothes," Warren sings. "A party we will throw." If his upcoming release nears the heights of the single, it might even be a party with showing up for. -- Jason P. Woodbury
For all the snarky comments Vampire Weekend gets about biting Paul Simon's style, maybe it'd be worth looking back even further? Sure, Simon was the one who released the landmark Graceland in 1986, incorporating African polyrhythmic sounds and vocals. But, uh, actual African musicians who'd already made those kinds of sounds had to be recruited by Simon, right?
Enter Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the vocal group that received national attention by backing Simon on that album. Founder and leader Joseph Shabalala put together his band in the early '60s to perform two styles of South African a cappella tunes -- the more forceful mbube and the more harmonious isicathamiya. The group's tunes became so omnipresent in the '80s and '90s that they appeared anywhere from "Sesame Street" to Eddie Murphy comedies to anything that evoked African themes.
Haunting, evocative, stirring, and joyful, the sound of voices woven together is a pretty damn primal thing, and the Ladysmith guys know how to move a crowd. The 71-year-old Shabalala still leads the group, a nine-piece made up mostly of brothers, cousins, and sons. Ladysmith's most recent studio album is 2012's Songs from a Zulu Farm, and a new live album is called Singing for Peace Around the World. -- Chris Hassiotis
While we're sure our friends in Austin enjoy the marauding hordes of indie, folk, rock, and jam bands that flood their fair city each South by Southwest, we're apt to keep things slightly more low key here in Phoenix.
The two-day South by South Roosevelt festival on Roosevelt Row -- featuring Cock Posse, The Madera Strand, The Alchemy Heart, Doctor Bones, Some Magical Animal, Danger Paul, Rough Tough Dynamite, Of the Painted Choir, Snake! Snake! Snakes! and a whole bunch more -- is more our speed. It's not quite as bananas as the "South By" clusterbone, but it's pretty damned good, showing off the remarkably diverse sounds of Phoenix and Arizona, without (at this point, anyway) the overwhelming corporate presence. -- Jason P. Woodbury
The love affair began over a fuzzy guitar lick topped with a greasy organ swirl. Keyboardist Nicole Laurenne and guitarist Michael Johnny Walker were in a band rehearsal when the other musicians stepped out for a smoke. Walker noticed a fuzz pedal that hadn't been used during the session. So, he stepped on it.
"And she put a Farfisa patch on the keyboard," Walker recalls, huddling around a flaming heater outside a Central Avenue watering hole. "That night, we heard those two sounds together and we were grinning like idiots."
The couple went home and dug through their vinyl collection, spinning underground '60s scene shakers like The Animals, The Seeds, The Sonics, and The Ventures.
"The two of us walked away from the rest of what was going on and said we're going to do this the way we want it," Walker adds.
Thus began the foundation for The Love Me Nots, a vintage-sounding garage rock band with a passion for rough edges, raw vocals, swirling organs, and that "dirty Kinks guitar sound," Laurenne says. The Love Me Nots broke worldwide almost from the start: In 2006, they posted a song on MySpace and it quickly garnered radio rotation in England.
"It's trashy garage rock," Laurenne says. "It's not quite garage; it's not quite as pristine as [radio] rock. It's kind of a vicious, tear-your-head-off lo-fi sound."
Festivals, world tours, and a handful of albums followed in rapid succession, but in early 2012, a change was needed, something to challenge the musical senses while putting the brakes on the speeding train that is The Love Me Nots. Enter Zero Zero, an "electro-fuzz" trio, with drummer Nick Ramirez, that mixes modern beats and dance-pop grooves flavored with those same retro sounds The Love Me Nots are built upon.
"After seven years together, we needed some time off," Walker says.
"We just took this little break so we could write something new and revamp, work on fresh ideas, and not kill each other," Laurenne adds matter-of-factly. "There are lots of songs we write where we think, 'That's just not a good Love Me Nots song. It's just not going to carry in that form.' I think that's part of the reason why Zero Zero evolved, because I had these other songs in my head I was dying to try out. They have poppier lines, thumpier kick drums, lots more electronica, and stuff like that."
Where The Love Me Nots thrashed, Zero Zero glides. Where The Love Me Nots swirled, Zero Zero bubbles. Laurenne's vocals are breathy, airy, and clean -- though that throaty edge sneaks out occasionally. Syncopated backing tracks push the beat and add atmosphere. -- Glenn BurnSilver Read the entire Zero Zero feature.