It seems there are only two seasons in the Valley — hot and not hot. And as you're undoubtedly aware, particularly this week, we're firmly in the midst of the latter. However, that only extends to the weather only, because we're also in the midst of one of the hottest stretches of live music and big concerts happening around these parts as fantastic and phenomenally talented bands will all be hitting the Metro Phoenix area during November. (Need proof? Check out our extensive online concert calendar.)
Granted, things will taper off to a degree around Thanksgiving, but the bulk of this month is filled with great shows, including several locally produced festivals. So be sure to bundle up when heading out to any of the 30 shows we're recommending that you check out.
The Icarus Line - Thursday, November 5 - Rhythm Room
In the age of Auto-Tune and American Idol, The Icarus Line’s bluesy, Stooges-y and utterly organic punk rock could earn kudos and cred simply by standing still. But this frenetic, sometimes perverse L.A. sextet is seldom static in its simultaneously raucous and psychedelic creativity. Their latest full-length, last summer’s Slave Vows, crawls and sprawls through burbling, lurking bass lines jarred with sudden garage-guitar interjections and the semi-detached sneers, yelps and yowls of frontdude Joe Cardamone.
Dark-hearted and grubbily decadent, Vows is a wounded outpouring sometimes unsettling to behold, yet it harbors sufficient rhythmic urgency and vocal irreverence to at least imply optimism beneath its many festering layers. The Icarus Line’s famously incendiary and unpredictable live performances mine yet more angles from their deceptively nuanced recorded expressions. PAUL ROGERS
Young Dubliners - Thursday, November 5 - Crescent Ballroom
More than a quarter-century from their fluid-lineup beginnings at Santa Monica’s Irish Rover pub, Young Dubliners are a Celtic rock juggernaut. They tour stateside tirelessly and frequently travel to Europe, including the ultimate genre litmus test: tours of Ireland. A solid quintet since the turn of the millennium, the Dubs’ sound reflects their trans-Atlantic makeup (founding frontman Keith Roberts and bassist Brendan Holmes are Dubliners; their bandmates are American): a steroidal, guitar-based and fiddle-fueled take on nostalgic Celtic sensibilities, with arena-scale hooks, radio-ready production and a wry wink of punky, Pogues-y irreverence. Boasting a swaggering crowd connection that only countless shows can craft, Young Dubliners’ open-minded interpretation of musical tradition has made them a multidecade institution unto themselves. PAUL ROGERS
Youssou N'Dour - Thursday, November 5 - Mesa Arts Center
Youssou N'Dour gives world music a good name. For more the 40 years, the Senegalese musician has been blending traditional sounds and instruments with influences as far-ranging as American jazz, Afro-Cuban dance rhythms and Western pop music, arriving at something infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. Known in his native tongue as Mbalax, N'Dour does what few other purveyors of the oft-maligned world-music genre have managed to do: Through incredibly intelligent songcraft and superb musicianship, he creates music that doesn't need the trimmings and trappings of Western acceptance to create a market and foster enthusiasm. Weaving unfamiliar African rhythms around pop structures and then painting them with the vibrant colors of both traditional African acoustic instrumentation and guitars and keyboards, his arresting tenor — regarded as one of the best voices in the world today — floats weightlessly on top, making for a combination that's excitingly different and entirely organic all at once. NICK HALL
Gloria Trevi - Friday, November 6 - Comerica Theatre
In a career spanning nearly 30 years, Gloria Trevi has reigned as queen of the Mexican pop-rock scene for nearly all of them. From the moment she debuted as a member of the girl group Boquitas Pintadas ("Heartbreak Tango" for you monolingual folks), Trevi has had just a little bit more of that sparkle to set her apart. Her incredible voice and stage presence earned her the attention of megaproducer Sergio Andrade, who became a key player in her nearly 20 million records sold. VH1 once dubbed her the "Supreme diva of Mexican pop," and we have a feeling that it may be a while before Ms. Trevi willingly hands over that crown. ANGELICA LEICHT
of Montreal - Friday, November 6 - Crescent Ballroom
Kevin Barnes' brainchild of Montreal is no stranger to reinvention. Over the course of 13 albums, the Athens, Georgia, collective has experimented — rather successfully — with everything from twee pop to R&B funk to its latest rock-punk hybrid (Aureate Gloom, released earlier this year). The main consistency from release to release is Barnes' tendency toward the TMI: He digs deep, and weirdly, into the darkest corners of his psyche, to profound effect.
Also consistent has been of Montreal's penchant for the theatrical. Years and years of touring has yielded such sights as Barnes, mostly naked, riding a horse onstage; dancers being crucified; and too many wedding-dress costumes to count. Over-the-top has been the name of the game, which has produced some of the strangest — and most fun — show-going experiences of the past decade. But as the band matures musically, its live presence does, too, and of Montreal’s sets as of late are among its tamest in recent memory. Don't worry, there are still theatrics, but the overall production bordered on the safe. Part of that is likely due to the new material. "Bassem Sabry," named after an Egyptian journalist who died, for one, is the most politically charged song on the record. And more straightforward rockers (and a little moshing!) were heard in "Chthonian Dirge for Uruk the Other" and "Like Ashoka's Inferno of Memory," the latter pummeling in a soft-loud dynamic that transfer excellently to the stage. JILL MENZE
Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts - Friday, November 6 - Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
After Stone Temple Pilots collapsed largely because of Scott Weiland's parade of personal issues (arrests, rehab stints, etc.), he landed the frontman spot in Velvet Revolver, the rare supergroup that actually made a commercial mark — at least until 2008, when Weiland split amid a flurry of tabloid headlines and recriminating quotes to rejoin the Pilots. But in 2012, STP replaced Weiland with Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington and the following year, Weiland formed his solo band, The Wildabouts, who dropped their debut album, Blaster, in March on Weiland's Softdrive imprint. The band is also likely to perform some of STP's greatest hits during their set at the Ovations Live Showroom inside Wild Horse Pass in Chandler. MICHAEL ROBERTS
Wax Idols - Saturday, November 7 - The Rebel Lounge
Wax Idols has long been the outlet for songwriter and lead vocalist Hether Fortune, who started the band while she was living in the San Francisco area. Initially, the band was often described as garage rock, but there was always something darker and moodier to Fortune's songwriting that suggested that the project might have more roots in post-punk. By the time of 2013's Discipline and Desire, there was no mistaking Wax Idols as a garage or psychedelic rock band in that sense. Live, the group seemed like an especially ferocious and noisier Siouxsie & The Banshees, with Fortune proving to be a commanding and intimidating figure as the lead singer.
The new Wax Idols album, American Tragic, finds Fortune taking a bold new step in her evolution as an artist by going away from the guitar-driven songwriting of her earlier efforts. Writing the songs mostly on bass and synthesizer has given the music a greater efficiency, allowing the intensely emotional content of the album to build tension. Fortune conceived of the album in a cinematic way that was informed by the aesthetic, according to Fortune of “film noir meets cheesy horror or '80s sci-fi.” In another era, some might consider the music goth, but it is influenced at least as much by the mainstream pop that Fortune makes no bones about loving. TOM MURPHY
MIMFest - Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8 - Musical Instrument Museum
Back for its sophomore year, MIMFest seeks to offer a delicious sampling of the world’s music. It’s a festival with a lineup unlike any other in Phoenix. The organizers have hand-selected a list of groups from all over the world representing dozens of genres. There’s the Recycled Orchestra, a group of Paraguayan youth who play instruments made out of trash found in a landfill. There’s bass player extraordinaire Victor Wooten, who plays a jazz-funk blend. There’s the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, who have roots in West African refugee camps. There’s latin hip-hop/rock act Ozomatli, which is perhaps the best party band on the planet. And there’s Andrew Bird, the violinist and one-man band who is the Sunday headliner. It’s a great way to get exposure to genres and music that you just don’t encounter very often. There also will be a multicultural array of food trucks, representing Italy, India, the United States, Japan, and more, as well as a slew of activities, including henna, facepainting, and aerial dancers. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Miranda Lee Richards - Sunday, November 8 - Crescent Ballroom
Between 1995 and 1999, Miranda Lee Richards played guitar and shared vocals with Anton Newcombe in the Brian Jonestown Massacre. You can hear her ghostly presence on “Reign On” and “You Better Love Me Before I Am Gone.” But after four years, the San Franciscan musician boldly struck out on her own. It wasn’t long before she proved herself as more than just a singer-songwriter, with 2001’s The Herethereafter. Her sleepy, Norah Jones-style of singing has been worked into sparse folk pop (“Right Now”) and slow country ballads (“I Know What It’s Like”), and it also has strayed into neo-psychedelia (“Seven Hours”) and even electronica territory (“Ella”). Her cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Dandelion” stripped the songs of its Beatles-esque harmonies and gave it a Joni Mitchell spin. And if her guest appearances on Joel Gion and the Primary Colours’ “Change My Mind” and Violet Vision’s “Silence of the Birds” are any indication, Richards is an artist who is continuing to reinvent herself. TROY FARAH
Patty Griffin - Sunday, November 8 - Mesa Arts Center
Patty Griffin's voice has a tendency to bring on a churchlike hush over any room the she's singing in (one publication dubbed it the "Patty Griffin effect") which could make for an interesting evening when renowned singer fills the gorgeous Ikeda Theatre at the Mesa Arts Center with her equally beautiful singing.
Since arriving with arresting 1996 debut Living With Ghosts, an actual demo that A&M Records released untouched, the Maine-born Griffin has released several albums that freely mingle rock, pop, folk and gospel (that's 2010's Downtown Church). In 2013, she greeted fans with both American Kid, inspired by her father's life, and Silver Bell, a 2000 recording that had been sidelined by record-company consolidations until two years, but that contains two songs that gave Griffin plenty of mailbox money when covered by the Dixie Chicks on 2002's Home. CHRIS GRAY
The Dandy Warhols - Sunday, November 8 - Crescent Ballroom
Dandys rule, okay? They have never not ruled, they still rule, and I suspect they always will. Turning 20 years old, Portland's premier rock band, the Dandy Warhols, can claim one of its generation's most eccentric careers, making the quartet one of the last great rock 'n' roll acts in existence. You can label the Warhols "neo-psychedelia," just a rehash of that iconic 1960s clatter, but the truth is that vibe never died. In the first place, nobody "discovered" whatever sound or genre was mainstream 55 years ago — it was always there in some form, just waiting to be seized. And it never went away, even if it may have lost some widespread appeal over the years.
Noted for their tongue-in-cheek egotism and unhinged party vibes, the Dandys channel that familiar "retro" wave with modern definition, a unique fervor that bounces across ear-pleasing, soul-soothing landscapes the group's adopted with complete, magnificent poise. In other words, the band is an octahedral peg that doesn't fit into any square holes. The Warhols — fronted by singer/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor, guitarist Peter Peter Holmström, keyboardist Zia McCabe, and Taylor-Taylor's cousin Brent DeBoer, who replaced drummer Eric Hedford in 1998 — are best known for their hit "Bohemian Like You" from Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. TROY FARAH
Ride - Monday, November 9 - Crescent Ballroom
Few bands could ever hope to have a debut as influential as Ride’s Nowhere, even if most people these days can’t trace the ripples of that wave-covered album. There’s a reason The Dandy Warhols wrote a love song to the Oxford, England, band — Ride created almost as much splash in the realm of shoegaze as My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive. But the more Ride pushed against that label, the more strain appeared in the band, which dissolved in 1996. It’s no coincidence that Ride reunited after a decade-plus hiatus the same time Beady Eye broke up. Andy Bell, Ride’s guitarist, spent the ’00s in Oasis and then graduated to Beady Eye when the Gallagher brothers couldn’t hammer out their differences. Bell watched two bands ripped from him in a short period, and perhaps that’s why he returned to his roots so eagerly. Whatever his reasoning, hopefully he’s found a more comfortable ride. TROY FARAH
Lagwagon - Tuesday, November 10 - Pub Rock
How can you not love Lagwagon? The California-based band has been around for 25 years now, releasing a veritable crapload of material, including eight LPs on Fat Wreck Chords (it’s unheard of in this day and age to put out that many releases on the same label). Lagwagon is fun, keeps it real — spurning major label attention during the mid-’90s rush to grab the next Green Day certainly scores cool points — and truly seems to do what it does for the right reasons. If anything, the band truly appreciates its fans, going the extra mile to play for young and older punks in the Phoenix area many times over the years, including a memorable show when singer Joey Cape was so sick he had members of the audience come up and sing for him. Most recently, the band released Hang in 2014, the first record with new(ish) bassist Joe Raposo, formerly of Rich Kids on LSD, who also knew a thing or two about killer, melodic punk rock. “Our shows are always good [in Phoenix], and I have nothing but praise for the crowds,” Cape says. TOM REARDON
Mayhem and Watain - Thursday, November 12 - Club Red
Mayhem's early years are the stuff of legend. The literally gory details are outlined in the excellent 1998 book Lords of Chaos, as well as in the 2008 documentaries Until the Light Takes Us and Pure Fucking Mayhem. While the story is a fascinating one of subculture and youth in conflict with mainstream society and itself, what often gets lost is that Mayhem is simply a great band. Its debut EP, 1987's Deathcrush, is distilled desperation expressed with headlong intensity and a lofi brutality worthy of early death metal and hardcore. Although Mayhem's lineup has evolved, the band has never lost its dark mystique or reputation as an unforgettable live act. Current frontman Attila Csihar is one of the most gifted (and unsettling) vocalists in all of metal. The group's most recent album, 2014's Esoteric Warfare, is also its most musically diverse, but it retains Mayhem's legendary fury. TOM MURPHY
Steve Aoki - Thursday, November 12 - Livewire
As you might have heard recently, Steve Aoki has cut back on the cake. More specifically, the electronic dance music icon eased back on his trademark stunt of throwing sheet cake at audience members during shows, at least at big EDM festivals where he's a support act. The good news is that the Dim Mak czar and attention-grabbing DJ/producer will still be flinging frosted baked goods (which is known as, "caking up") at events where he's the headliner or at his club shows, including his upcoming gig at Livewire in Scottsdale.
Good thing, too, since its one of Aoki's signature bits (along with spraying champagne on his audience or crowd-surfing in an inflatable boat) and is something that any hardcore EDM fan or club kid should experience at least once. Needless to say, the 37-year-old artist is big on the performance aspect at his shows and is credited with helping to amp up theatrics in the dance music world, which is a byproduct of his love of punk and history in the hardcore scene. Aoki, a former hardcore kid and member of such bands as This Machine Kills and The Fire Next Time, also drew inspiration for his music from the world mosh pits and three-chord thunder. "I went from writing guitar lines to writing in a computer and my first [EDM] records were very aggressive and I was sampling guitars and learning how to use distortion in my music," Aoki says. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Youth Lagoon - Friday, November 13 - Crescent Ballroom
With the release of Savage Hills Ballroom, the third LP from Boise-based dream-pop purveyor Youth Lagoon, the enigmatic singer-songwriter Trevor Powers seeks to reinvent himself and succeeds at every turn. The formerly floppy-haired and bespectacled kid first gained attention with anthemic, reverb-drenched ruminations on fireworks and fear of dying with The Year of Hibernation in 2011, following that up with more gauzy meditations on the metaphysical on 2013's Wondrous Bughouse.
Like the fictional venue for which his newest is named, Ballroom is an ornate structure in that tumultuous landscape. Trading distorted vocals and hazy organ for a slicker sound and more precise production, Ballroom is more pop-forward, with some forays into dubstep, sampled sound effects, and horn arrangements here and there. In promotional photos for the tour, which hits the Crescent on November 13, Powers's lips and eyes are lined with gold makeup, as if he's gotten a makeover from Prince. Similarly, his fierce lyrics now shine, as does his unique falsetto, front and center for the first time since he started making music in his bedroom. LINDSEY RHOADES
Mesa Music Festival - Friday, November 13, to Sunday, November 15 - Downtown Mesa
The inaugural edition of this weekend-long live music extravaganza is nothing if not aspiring. First off, it’s being held in the normally sleepy East Valley suburb, which last time we checked, isn’t exactly a local epicenter for live music (the encouraging efforts by the folks at the Nile Theatre and Club Red nonwithstanding). That perception may change after this grand undertaking, which will feature upwards of 200 different musicians and bands from across Arizona and throughout North America performing on any of a dozen different stages at businesses and venues around downtown Mesa over the course of two days and nights.
Homegrown punk legends Authority Zero will ostensibly serve as the festival’s headliner but if the Mesa natives aren’t your things, there will be a vastly diverse selection of live music to choose from, ranging from hard rock and hardcore to indie, folk, Americana, and a slew of other genres. Onetime MTV personality and 120 Minutes host Matt Pinfield will kick off the event with a keynote address on Friday, November 13, and there will be a number of surprise performances on tap. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Psychedelic Furs - Friday, November 13 - Livewire
Certain records seem to appear, somehow, at virtually every yard sale: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Foreigner 4, Carole King's Tapestry, and . . . Psychedelic Furs' Talk Talk Talk. The first three make sense, given how ubiquitous they were, but the latter is harder to explain. Released in 1981, Talk Talk Talk, the Psychedelic Furs' second release, generally is considered the British band's best album — so well-regarded that a 2011 tour merited performing the album in its entirety. So why the sales bin? Listeners must have grown tired of the band's post-punk/New Wave sound, which oscillated between poppy and edgy without ever taking hold of either. Later versions of the band dabbled mistakenly in harder rock, as well as overtly commercial forays — including a schmaltzy remake of "Pretty in Pink" for the John Hughes movie of the same name — which could have alienated early fans. The band itself seemed to have had enough by 1991, calling it quits as founding Butler brothers Richard (vocals) and Tim (bass) formed Love Spit Love. But just shy of a decade later, the Furs reformed, recorded a new song, and toured on a nostalgia for the '80s that must not extend to record collections. GLENN BURNSILVER
The Struts - Friday, November 13 - Pub Rock
The last band with pure exuberance and panache to hit the scene and remind everyone what rock ’n’ roll was about in the first place — raw edge and rebellion with a don’t-give-a-shit attitude — was The Strokes. Now, The Struts invade the U.S., blending hard rock’s stomp, glam’s over-the-top attitude, and power pop’s infectious hooks. Add some black leather, makeup, disheveled hair, piss-off looks, and anthemic songs that put Oasis to shame, and The Struts effectively kick all the hard melodic rock bullshit in the balls. Luke Spiller, who fronts The Struts with the swagger of Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Marc Bolan, agrees: “I think the public and music folk as well are feeling slightly bored with what’s happening at the moment,” he says. “We are definitely coming along at the right time.” Already making a huge splash back home, this UK import is showing the states what’s been missing — even if we didn’t know it. “We never gave our music to the U.S. until now,” he says. “The moment we stepped out here, it’s been pretty crazy . . .We want the world and here’s a great place to start.” GLENN BURNSILVER
Arizona Hip-Hop Festival - Saturday, November 14 - Comerica Theatre
Valley hip-hop artist, impresario, and provocateur JustUs Samuel's vision for the Arizona Hip-Hop Festival, a massive daylong showcase that debuted last year at the Comerica Theatre and featured almost 100 performers from around the state of Arizona, was, in a word, ambitious. And this year’s edition of the event, which goes down on Saturday, November 14, is even more ambitious.
Samuel is planning to increase the scope of the event for 2015. We count more than 125 artists alone on the lineup, which means there are somehow even more performers lined up for this year's event than before. There will be four stages, upgraded sound, a map of all the performances, and a producer showcase, focusing on the people making the beats behind the music. There will be pop-up shops and more than 100 vendors, as well as dancers and DJs. Can the sequel top the original? We’ll see come November 14. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Circa Survive - Sunday, November 15 - Marquee Theatre
Thanks to a back catalog packed full of sweeping, vaguely ethereal tracks that land somewhere between prog and emo, the Circa Survive live experience can be a transformative one. Frontman Anthony Greene sings like Geddy Lee on sedatives (this is a good thing) and we've never seen this Philadelphia quintet put on a show that was anything less than musically flawless. The band is on the Juturna 10-Year Anniversary Tour with RX Bandits and will visit the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on November 15. RAE ALEXANDRA
Keep Shelly in Athens - Monday, October 16 - Valley Bar
Fans of Greek synth-pop act Keep Shelly in Athens have a couple options when it comes to listening to the band perform material from their latest LP, Now I’m Ready, which dropped last month via indie label Friends of Friends. You could download or pick up the album, of course, or check them out live and in person at Valley Bar on November 16. Though Ready is technically their second full-length, they’ve steadily released a stream of EPs and singles since forming in 2010. Initially fronted by vocalist Sarah P., the new record features singer Myrtha, whose voice layers to hypnotic effect at the climax of the album’s title track and soars on lead single “Fractals.” LINDSEY RHOADES
The Front Bottoms - Tuesday, November 17 - Club Red
Diving headlong into the cross-generational angst apparently endemic to northern New Jersey adolescence, the Front Bottoms have scrambled to get a grip in a quirky, hook-filled, pop-punk context that provides a roiling platform for Brian Sella's multi-tangential rants. The blustery drive of drummer Mat Uychich, stinging guitars, and whimsical bits (ambling synths, the odd celestial choir) is sufficiently catchy and urgent enough to get the blood flowing. But the Bottoms' lifeline is Sella's often hapless, slightly adenoidal, quasi-desperate quests for purpose and meaning, whose ambiguous twists of irony and naiveté recall Jonathan Richman.
On the Bottoms' fifth LP, Back on Top, Sella grudgingly concedes that getting older means "acting cool" might not be enough on the opening "Motorcycle," but then fitfully returns to "gettin' high and tryin' to figure it out" and sticking to "The Plan (Fuck Jobs)." It may be a sort of limbo, but the alluring eccentricity of both Sella's complaints and the music is plenty fascinating. RICK MASON
Deafheaven - Wednesday, November 18 - Crescent Ballroom
Someone who compiles these things (Metacritic, apparently) averaged all the reviews for all the records released last year, and Deafheaven's Sunbather came in at number one. In fact, the album with the starkly pink cover is the seventh-highest-scoring record in Metacritic's entire database, dating back to 1999. That means it beat Kanye West's Yeezus and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. That's a feat in and of itself, given how heavily most albums are marketed compared to this — what's more weird about a relatively unknown upstart taking such accolades is how the band is labeled post-metal, black metal, and shoegaze all in one.
In reality, Sunbather transcends genre in an era when it means less and less to associate yourself with a particular category, anyway. The best descriptor for Deafheaven might be "texture-heavy," as nothing remains static: moments of intense, hand-wringing beauty amid pop and shoegaze influences are accented by engulfing tones of violence, despair, and a "sober restlessness," on songs that routinely last more than 10 minutes. TROY FARAH
Rise Against - Friday, November 20 - Marquee Theatre
These guys didn't invent melodic hardcore; they spent their early years releasing albums on Fat Wreck Chords. This included 2003's Revolutions Per Minute, recorded at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins — where the band has recorded most of its subsequent albums, like its 2011 offering, Endgame. The foursome's anthemic, infectious hooks probably make it seem like just another pop-punk band.
And yet, even though Rise Against has become one of the most commercially successful of its peers, its songs are informed by a vibrant social consciousness that goes beyond the usual punk-rock tropes. Without resorting to hackneyed conceits, Rise Against seems to find a way to humanize serious issues facing people on an individual and global scale — thus proving that punk rock done big doesn't have to dumbed down. TOM MURPHY
Global Dance Festival Arizona 2015 - Friday, November 20 - Rawhide
Rawhide in Chandler is in no danger of running low on electronic dance music or off-the-chain dance parties anytime soon, what with several major EDM events in the last year, including both the Crush Music Festival and the annual Mad Decent Block Party tour. The clamor of beats and bass coming from the Western theme will resume on Friday, December 20, when the Global Dance Festival, one of the region's biggest up-and-coming dance events, rolls into Rawhide tonight boasting EDM thrills and plenty of opportunities to rage.
The tour, which originated in Colorado in 1999 as a one-off called Rave on the Rocks, has become a multi-city electronic wonderland and rage fest and made its Arizona debut last year at Tempe Beach Park with showstopping performances by Steve Aoki and Adventure Club. This year’s edition will be just as loaded up with superstar EDM artists, incuding Big Gigantic, Cashmere Cat, Deorro, Gesaffelstein, Marshmello, NGHTMRE, RL Grime, SBCR, Sweater Beats, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Mac Miller - Saturday, November 21 - Marquee Theatre
Mac Miller refuses to remain confined to the style of hip-hop that sparked his rise. Ditching frat house rap for a more ambitions goal, the Pittsburg MC swings for the fences on his new studio album, GO:OD AM, by enlisting Ab-Soul, Lil B, Miguel, Chief Keef, and the Swedish electronic-pop group Little Dragon for assistance. Track “Brand Name” condemns the 9-to-5 lifestyle before fading out with some saxophone-led tranquility. (Miller was spotted at the recent Kamasi Washington gigs and the jazz influence exhibits growth in the “Donald Trump”-famed rapper.) Mac Miller is trying hard, and you can hear it in these results. SILAS VALENTINO
Holly Golightly - Monday, November 23 - Valley Bar
For over two decades, the prolific London native Holly Golightly has persistently crafted ballads befitting any dedicated lover of rock 'n' roll. Renowned for her collaboration with the seminal garage rock outfit the Headcoats, her role as a founding member of the all-girl sensation Thee Headcoatees and Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, and her successful solo career, Golightly’s efforts have remained influential.
Her work has served as stylistic and lyrical reference point for numerous successors within her genre, including the legendary Jack White. From her collaborations with Billy Childish to her most recent release, Slowtown Now!, her legacy is one of perpetual finesse and cohesion, which for the well-loved singer-songwriter has stemmed from her love for two things: American music and being set in her own ways. DIANCA POTTS
Lucero - Monday, November 23 - Crescent Ballroom
Since its inception, Lucero has just gotten bigger and bigger — not only in popularity, but also in the actual number of members in the band. What started as a four-piece rock band on The Attic Tapes evolved into an impressive musical production with horns, keys and steel guitar by the time of 2009’s 1372 Overton Park, the band’s major-label debut. That album features a huge sound and slick production that alienated some of the group’s early fans. But Lucero’s latest, All a Man Should Do, is a return to its early sound, with acoustic-based laments familiar to those original supporters. The song “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” finds singer Ben Nichols introspectively wandering back to old haunts, reflecting on where he’s been and questioning where he (and his band) are going next. ANDY THOMAS
Yellowman and the Saggitarius Band - Saturday, November 28 - Cactus Jack's Ahwatukee Tavern
Yellowman has been in the reggae world for almost three decades. Having been credited as the creator of "toasting" — a style of singing-rapping that is now modern-day dancehall delivery — as well as being the first to introduce "slackness," in which the topic of conversation is less about "One Love" and more about tappin' that ass, Yellowman is indeed a name that sits in Jamaican history books when discussing its native musical heritage. Most popular for the now-infamous 1983 reggae/dancehall record, "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng," the unpronounceable song has been sampled by such hip-hop greats as Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., and KRS-One.
Besides his crossover appeal, Yellowman is hailed as one of the hardest-working men in reggae show business. Noted as having produced at least five albums per year as well as more than 40 hit singles since his debut in 1979, this 54-year-old has toured nonstop throughout the world. And the reason for such nonstop action? Death, of course. If anyone knows what it means to overcome obstacles, it's Yellowman. Born an albino in the countryside of Jamaica, he was orphaned as a child and suffered from multiple skin diseases, including skin cancer and jaw cancer, to which he was given only three years to live. That was 1983. Regardless of any life-threatening illnesses, Yellowman is still here, strong as ever. His live shows have been deemed as memorable, high-energy experiences. ESTHER PARK