There is no "I" in band, and there is no me either. No matter how stellar one member of a band may be, they still don't get anywhere without surrounding themselves with equally talented players. That usually means having to mesh two or more big personalities into one cohesive unit.
Sometimes that explodes in the band's face, and sometimes it works out just fine. But other times, two big personalities can mix beautifully together to make for a solid one-two punch of music and performance.
Whether coming at it from the lead role in the band, or as a solid team player, these are the best one-two punches in Phoenix.
Mitsy Melville and Marc Oxborrow - Shivereens One of the greatest tragedies of the Phoenix music scene is that The Haymarket Squares side project The Shivereens don't play more. They are absolutely stunning on stage playing their self defined "murder mystery rockabilly." For this project Oxborrow leaves the bass playing to Jess Pruitt so he is free to dance on stage alongside Melville, and all that is great. But where they really shine is in the vocal harmonies department. Their voices go together so well and are just so perfect for the obscure genre of music they play. They play together so little that it's always a treat to catch them, but they do have two shows coming up on Feb. 7 and March 26, which is awesome.
Brad B and Mic Cause - Drunken Immortals Brad B and Mic Cause are both talented emcee's separately, but together they are simply spectacular. Brad B is louder and a rougher around the edges, while Mic Cause is smoother and more laid back. Together they lay the groundwork of the entire aesthetic of the band. They are known to do shows without the live instruments, but when they get in front of their five-piece band the energy is just undeniable. They play with some of the most talented musicians in town and their showmanship and chemistry elevate the entire performance. Drunken Immortals is easily one of the five best hip-hop acts in the Valley.
Jackie Cruz and Marc Berry - Man Hands I happen to know for a fact that before Jackie Cruz went out a few weekends ago she posted a dare/threat to any man with the testicular fortitude to hit on her, and I like that in a lead singer. Her attitude mixed with Marc Berry's unique voice are two of the most noticeable things about Man Hands, and they can both really wail on guitar. Berry and Cruz usually switch off song to song on who sings lead, and I've personally encountered more than one intense debate over which one is the better lead. I don't think it really matters because as long as Man Hands sticks together we all get to see them both belt out those great surf-punk tunes.
Cori Rios and Chaz Fertal - The Hourglass Cats The Hourglass Cats have a full and lush rock 'n' roll sound that they accentuate with reggae and some latin rhythms on drums, but that wasn't always the case. There were days years ago when they would come out to shows with naught but Cori Rios on guitar and vocals, Chaz Fertal on saxophone, backing vocals, and auxiliary percussion, and "Hot" Karl Maier on the drums. Those days however are gone as Maier left the band, replaced by Johnny Groove, and trombone player Lisa Lizanec and bass player Jason Sessler became full-ledged members. But even as their sound has filled out more with the addition of new members Fertal and Rios's on stage chemistry shines even through even brighter.
Boo Boo La Fume and Stank Girl - Mooseknuckle Sandwich Going to a Mooseknuckle Sandwich show is a little intimidating. It's scary being in a room with two ferocious angry women who are so punk they don't even need a guitar. Stank Girl's favorite drummer is Phoenix local Matt Spastic, and they come at punk with the same sort attitude that he does. "How many people can we scare out of the room tonight" the only things is, just Spastic sees very often, people are responding and enjoying the hell out of one of the most entertaining acts Phoenix has to offer. Mooseknuckle sandwich music is raw and loud, and two members of the group play off each other extraordinarily to always make it a great show.
Isaac Parker and Zach Parker Wolvves, Jerusafunk, The Wavelegnths, and Pro Teens are the four bands that feature the Parker brothers Zach and Isaac, and it's no coincidence that all four of these bands are amazing. The Parkers are not really the focal point of any of the bands they play in together but that doesn't mean their contributions aren't completely necessary. Jerusafunk is one of the most fun bands in town but they wouldn't be getting funky the way they do without Isaac laying down the bass lines, and Zach on guitar. They may not be the shining stars in the bands they play in but they are the type of musicians who force bands to play up to their level of musicianship.
Travis James and Mark Sunman - Travis James and the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists Travis James thinks very highly of himself and even he would admit that TJAAA is as much Mark Sunman's band as it is his. The two of them have been together through many lineup shifts, and countless Travis James retirement announcements. But through it all they've continued to make fun and engaging music, the best part of which is they rock even harder acoustic than they do plugged in. Travis is a tremendous singer, a creative lyricist, and strong songwriter, but even he knows he isn't the world's best musician. Sunman is an extremely polished musician with a degree in music theory, and that is the least of where these two musicians foil each other.
Travis Ryder and Martin Sugg - Japhy's Descent Martin Sugg and Travis Ryder of Japhy's Descent are a truly classic pairing of a great front man and great lead guitarist. Ryder is the over the top personality and Sugg is the 'cooler than the other side of the pillow" musician. They're chemistry during live performances is akin to the likes of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, or Bruce Springsteen and Little Stevie. They're just two players look good, sound good, and mesh well together, and it's a really good thing their bandmates James Sharpe and Brian Neil can keep up.
Ryan Avery and Andrew Jemsek - Drunk & Horny, Fathers Day Basically, the way I feel is that if you spend the money to put out a seven-inch vinyl that is entirely about poop you probably deserve some recognition, even if that recognition comes from a psychologist. Jemsek and Avery go well together because they push each other to go farther, and to be more offensive. They strive to out out-do each other in realm of tasteless jokes and juvenile humor, while we all get to watch the gloriously entertaining outcomes.
Dustin Yares and Brent Blair - Fatal Malady When Fatal Malady front man Clinton Rackley gets on stage he is flanked by two guitar wielding demons from hell in the form of his lead and rhythm guitarists Dustin Yares, and Brent Blair. For a metal act the dark and mysterious aesthetic is almost as important as the actual talent of the musicians and these two hellacious guitarists have both. They flank Rackley on either side like a pair of demonic bodyguards shielding their front man from attack with raucous blasts from their distorted guitars. The ungodly men dressed all in black with their signature facepaint, its a scary sight to behold, but at the same time you can't look away
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