Are you aware just how big a deal Barenaked Ladies' first album was in Canada? Wikipedia tells me it "topped the Canadian charts for eight consecutive weeks" and that 80,000 copies of Gordon were sold in the first 24 hours.
We didn't include them in the Top Five Must-See Phoenix Shows this week -- half because if you're the kind of person who wants to go see BNL, you didn't need me to remind you, half because we're still heartbroken that Steven Page left the band -- but meditate, while you read on, on the idea of the Barenaked Ladies being a country's biggest pop superstars at any moment in human history. (View our complete concert calendar here.)
Yellow Minute, Wooden Indian - MIM Music Theatre - Monday, August 19
After a while, it gets weirdly easy to begin associating bands with the venues they play, and the reaction you get from being inside said venues. Whatever you associate with Yellow Minute and Wooden Indian right now, it probably isn't driving to the far north edge of Phoenix and sitting down in a very expensive, exceptionally climate-controlled auditorium at the Musical Instrument Museum.
I like standing up in a crowded bar and wondering what it is that's making me feel sticky as much as the next guy, but it could be a nice change of pace. It's part of the MIM's "I Am AZ Music" series, which most recently brought a wide swath of local blues musicians through. This week's theme is "Pop Genre Benders," which is certainly an accurate tag for both of these bands. Wooden Indian does it with a calmness that borders on the unnerving, while Yellow Minute -- which became a full band after starting off as a low-fi solo project a few years back -- has retained its loopy, echoey character even as its grown the requisite band limbs.
It's a concert series worth supporting, and it's one of your few chances to see these bands at the kind of venue you'd take your parents, if that's the kind of thing that maybe appeals to you.
Charles Bradley - Crescent Ballroom - Tuesday, August 20
Charles Bradley, his voice dripping with raw emotion, sings as though his life depends on it.
It's a voice that, in essence, gave Bradley a new start in life at 61, when his debut album, No Time for Dreaming, at long last found its way into the world, via Daptone Records.
As the howling outsider finally found his audience and saw his long-held dream fulfilled, Bradley also found his voice as an artist. Pouring his life experience into another batch of songs, Bradley turned out his follow-up record barely two years later, gathering even more praise for Victim of Love, which peaked at number two on Billboard's Heatseekers albums chart.
"I go out there because I feel the genuine quality of human beings who love what I'm doing. I connect with an audience. They have dreams and things they want to be," Bradley says. "When I go on stage, I just open my heart. When I open my heart to them, my love is raw. I give them the truth of my soul. That's why I like being an entertainer." --Eric Swedlund
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - Wednesday, August 21
Yeah Yeah Yeahs were among the earliest members of their particular indie cohort to earn mainstream fame, but they wore it well -- aside from the unavoidable song-fatigue side-effects of appearing in a version ofRock Band
, "Maps" seems to have avoided every possible pitfall on its way to the decade's canon of influential singles. That was 10 years ago, somehow.
Three albums later -- released at clockwork intervals -- the band has yet to match that first flush of fame, but they haven't crashed and burned, either. Instead, Karen O and company have just proved remarkably solid. On 2013's Mosquito they continue to experiment around their ultimately recognizable sound, willfully avoiding the urge to produce another song in which their weird rhythms and echoes and wheedling guitar tones come together as perfectly as "Maps." It might not be what you're looking for, if you're looking for Rock Band-level coherence, but it's another consistent record from a band that still threatens, every couple of minutes, to put together a crossover hit by accident.
Lemuria - Trunk Space - Wednesday, August 21
Remember that dog.? They might be best known today for the very idiosyncratically punctuated royalty checks fun. pays them, but at their best--with the bizarre harmonies ofTotally Crushed Out
and crossover near-hit "Never Say Never," among other things -- they carved out a really exciting, novel place in the fuzzy-guitar-rock boom of the '90s.
Lemuria might not be influenced by that dog. directly, but they were the first band that came to mind the first time I heard Lemuria on tracks like "Pleaser" and "Pants." The impression is of a really beautiful pop-rock record played on a turntable that can't quite stay at the right speed, and it's just as exciting when they do it as it was the first time I heard "He's Kissing Christian."
Billy Joe Shaver - Rhythm Room - Wednesday, August 21
It's best not to confuse Billy Joe Shaver with Billy Ray Cyrus. It's unlikely Shaver would ever sing anything as maudlin as "Achy Breaky Heart," for one thing. He probably won't sing anything as popular, either; Shaver falls in with that long line of acclaimed but underappreciated West Texas outlaw country artists. In many ways, he's much like Kris Kristofferson (who has recorded Shaver's songs): He's respected for his songwriting abilities and the masterful manner in which he weaves a tale, but his road-worn voice won't ever find a parking spot on the radio.
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Now just a week beyond his 74th birthday, Shaver started out as a Nashville songwriter. Waylon Jennings' Honky Tonk Heroes was filled with Shaver originals, and after the King, Elvis Presley, recorded one of his songs, Shaver got his own record deal. His first release, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, remains a classic outlaw country album. And though he mostly lived the hard life of a country outlaw, it only enhanced what he could write about -- and added emotion when he performed it. He won't sing "Achy Breaky Heart," but he just may have one. -- Glenn BurnSilver