Lydia - Saturday, December 13 - The Pressroom
Vocalist and guitarist Leighton Antelman's musical career started in junior high when he and some friends from Gilbert's Greenfield Junior High got together and formed a band called Rolo 15. That group went through some changes, and ultimately it was Antelman and guitarist Steve McGraw who stayed together to create music, eventually going on to form the indie rock band Lydia with drummer Loren Briton and bassist Dustin Forsgren. The band's driving, melodic songs are heavily layered -- at times minimal, at times monumental -- and helped Lydia gain a loyal following.
The group has spread those tunes around through extensive touring and appearances at large-scale events like the Warped Tour and the Bamboozle Festival. Though persevering personnel changes for year, the band went on a pronounced break in 2010, announcing it was calling it quits and that Antelman and McGraw had run their course of working together. That the hiatus didn't last long, as Antelman and crew reunited in 2011, and there have been a couple of new releases and active touring since. -- Amy Young
Art Alexakis - Sunday, December 14 - Musical Instrument Museum
Though the name Art Alexakis may be unfamiliar to some, there was a time when multiple songs written by him and his band Everclear were simultaneously in heavy rotation on radio stations nationwide. Though his personal narrative tends to be eclipsed by years of drug abuse, he managed to get sober as an adult and pen some of the more memorable tunes of the 1990s era of post-grunge pop. Alexakis will likely speak about such experiences, as well as his troubled childhood, fatherless upbringing, and stormy adolescence during "an evening of songs and stories" on December 14 at the MIM's Music Theater. -- Brandon Ferguson
Spoon - Monday, December 15 - Marquee Theatre
Four years might seem like a blip to those of us shuffling toward middle age, but it's enough time to get a college degree or for several musical styles to jockey for a brief moment of prominence atop the indie-rock slush pile. So Spoon's four-year hiatus from the New Release section passed without much clamor (Britt Daniel kept busy with the Divine Fits, among other excursions) but with enough time to make us miss a band that defined smart, well-tailored rock & roll. This fall's They Want My Soul delivered on the promise of its best (but not necessarily most recent) records -- tart-tongued kiss-offs matched with inventive, shape-shifting riffs that are as catchy as they are biting. EMA, the acronym-de-rock of Erika M. Anderson, will open the show and presumably draw from her most recent techno-phobic LP, the Future's Void. -- Christian Schaeffer
Cosmonauts - Monday, December 15 - Trunk Space
Three chords good, two chords better, one chord best -- Spacemen 3's psychonaut Sonic Boom said it, and SoCal's Cosmonauts live it. They'll take the simplest things you can build a band out of -- amps ratcheted up high enough the vacuum tubes start to sizzle, tangled-up melodies that could go on forever -- and ride them to the horizon line, chasing the purity of sound and intent that fans of 13th Floor Elevators liner notes know well. No gimmicks, no tricks, not even any shortcut pedals. "I hate when bands use pedals or other types of equipment as a fallback," says guitarist/vocalist Alex Ahmadi. "So many bands just hit a delay pedal, and boom! It becomes some psych bullshit."
So Cosmonauts eradicate the bullshit. Ahmadi started the band two years ago with fellow guitarist/vocalist Derek Cowart, pursuing a rumor that Cowart liked the Brian Jonestown Massacre. With their only shared musical experience together totaling out to the time Ahmadi saw Cowart play acoustic guitar at a house party, they decided to make a band -- and a pretty loud one at that. Their first show was on Halloween, and they showed up with incomplete costumes. "I was supposed to be a bandito, but I didn't have a sombrero," says Ahmadi. "Derek was a Beatle. Our costumes sucked." Happily, the actual band didn't suck at all. Their 2010 tape on Burger Records (with the elephant on it!) reverberates at the slightest touch, but beneath all the exhilarating clatter is the same sense for a catchy hook the Reid brothers in the Jesus and Mary Chain used so well. That tape's vinyl rerelease on esteemed semi-local label Permanent underscored the point: Cosmonauts are a pop band at heart, but a psychedelic band by sound. -- Chris Ziegler