Ho-ho-holy crap there are a lot of shows going on this Christmas week. There's plenty of local action going on, so be sure to strap on those sweet new socks your grandma got you and go see some live music.
Here's our top five must-see shows this week.
Can you believe some folks actually wait until Christmas Eve to get their shopping done?
For those who got their stuff done responsibly, treat tonight's performance like a last-minute gift. Folky band The Dirty Rascals will be joined by blues rockers 31 Cents & a Dream, and Some Magical Animal, who have a song called "Beast Fuck," which is pretty much the coolest sounding thing ever. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Chances are, by the time evening rolls around, you're going to be all yuled up and sick of your family. So skip out on the milk and cookies on Christmas night and catch a trio of Phoenix's best indie rock acts. Snake! Snake! Snakes! will be doing their anthemic rock thing, PALMS will be showing off the beachy indie pop that earning the band more and more fans each show, and knotty rippers St. Ranger will be bringing the sounds of Life Coach to life. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Just as fortunetellers have their little fishing expeditions to crack a sucker's psyche, so, too, rock writers have their shortcuts on deconstructing a band's sound without using the dreaded catch-all phrase "eclectic" (which, in truth, we've already exhausted in this article's headline). Here's the laziest methodology: Just ask the band members how they describe their sound to their prospective employers, club owners, and go from there. A fair question for Banana Gun, a quintet who's stopped for an afternoon drink at the Swizzle Inn before trucking to play an untried venue in Sedona, land of crystals, clairvoyants, clairsentients, and clairaudients. How did they sell Banana Gun to that club owner?
"I told them we're a zydeco/funk/ambient psychedelic jam band," laughs singer/guitarist Kevin Loyd. "Naw, I just tell them we're rock 'n' roll band -- that's probably the easiest explanation. That covers a lot of ground."
Yes, rock 'n' roll, that vague catch-all phrase bands shied away from for years, a phrase meaning anything from Slayer to Leo Sayer. Perhaps the much-abused term has fallen far enough into disuse to be operable again. If so, Banana Gun fits the bill. They cover enough musical terrain on their first full-length, The Elephant in the Room, to give a typical A&R man pause for concern. -- Serene Dominic Wednesday, December 26: Former Friends of Young Americans, & Hard Luck Kid, La La Lust, Pinner, Sunset Rider and the Skeleton Army @ Yucca Tap Room
Former Friends of Young Americans get a lot of attention for statements made by songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Toby Fatzinger (who can forget notable squabbles with Hooves and the whole "Phoenix vs. Tempe" goof-fest?), but the truth about Former Friends of Young Americans is that the band's noise-pop perfection is the real reason you should be paying attention.
The band's latest, the gorgeous Estas Diluculo, is a spinning collection of guazy guitar sounds and subtle pop influence, casting a fishing line into the same cool pools as Sonic Youth and The Cure, and dreamy songs like "Botero" and "Emoticon Paradigm" draw to mind that one great ...And You Will Know Us By the Trial of Dead joint. Hiding surefire melodies under layers of fuzz and buzzing distortion, the band's name should be on the tongue of any Phoenician with a yen for intelligent indie rock.
The band recently launched an Indie Gogo campaign to buy a van to take their sound on the road. Read more about that here. -- Jason P. WoodburyThursday, December 27: Iji, Dogbreth, Diners, and Younger Shoulder @ Trunk Space
Seattle-based poppers iji return to the land of their birth (singer/songwriter Zach Burba originally hails from Phoenix), and they're joined by like-minded locals Diners (whose excellent power pop has held up all year long), Dogbreth (whose 2012 releases are among the best of the Phoenix guitar rock pack) and Younger Shoulder. -- Jason P. Woodbury