There might be a few concerts happening this weekend. Little things like the 90-band Viva PHX or the headliner-packed Pot of Gold Music Festival. But until then, here are some options to whet your appetite.
Plenty of Electric Six's converted would follow these well-dressed freaks and their amped anthems of social and romantic chaos to the end of the Earth, but not everyone's that committed. Folks familiar with this Detroit outfit slot nicely into three distinct groups: casual fans with a couple of dance floor smashes like "Gay Bar" and "Danger! High Voltage" from 2003's Fire on their iPods, cultists who've memorized the six(!) comparatively obscure albums that followed, and the concerned friends and family of the second group who can't comprehend how their loved ones could devote so much time and enthusiasm to a band that sounds like Jack Black leading Roxy Music on an endless roid rage ("One and one and one and one and one I'm pretty sure adds up to five/Teenage alcoholics can be oh so entertaining when they drive!").
If the aforementioned touch of Tenacious D isn't a deal-breaker, listening to the Six's later, more lyrical LPs reveals a band with traits similar to critical favorites Of Montreal, the Hold Steady, and the Drive-By Truckers -- prolific plunderers of rock's past who refuse to check their intelligence and verbosity at the theater door. But where the commercial success of those infinitely more earnest combos grew gradually from cult roots, the Six has enjoyed an inverted trajectory. "[Our early hits] definitely put our foot in the door and got noticed by people," says singer Dick Valentine, "[but] when the radio stopped caring about us, that's when we relied on the people who stayed with the band like life preservers." ANTHONY COHAN-MICCIO
Death via noise may be Oliver Ackermann's end goal, but A Place To Bury Stranger's frontman says he doesn't have tinnitus yet. "Maybe things are a little bit quieter," the guitarist tells us. "But I still feel like I can hear the full spectrum of sound. I guess I'm pretty lucky."
But Ackermann still wants it loud, crafting crushing ramparts of industrial noise akin to more sinister versions of Ride or The Warlocks. But APTBS were never content with the options available to them, so they've meticulously built their own gear, everything from the amps to the pedals to the guitars. Thus, Death By Audio was formed, Ackermann's effects pedal company that produces deadly devices such as the Supersonic Fuzz Gun, the Wave Destroyer, and a five-channel distortion box simply called Apocalypse. But these aren't some hacked together things - Ty Segall, Jet, and Trent Reznor have all ordered custom gear through Death By Audio.
"I'm just a such a fan of [Nine Inch Nails] and their work. To be appreciated in something you do is a pretty wild feeling," Ackermann says. "It's a weird thing being a kid and listening to this music and then getting these opportunities to these things. I don't get it, but I'm not complaining." TROY FARAH
In an age when the Internet immediately determines the popularity of an artist, it seems presumptuous to heap the hype on a musician after releasing just one song. After listening to the malaise-filled anthemic "Stuck In The South" by Nashville-based artist Adia Victoria, the song legitimizes the practice of being quick to judge the vitality and importance of this songwriter and her distinctive perception of the ways of the world. The single not only works in establishing Victoria's bold and brash personality, but it paints a melancholic picture of a young woman's hopelessness and desperation to escape her upbringing set to muddy rhythm and blues.
Raised in South Carolina, Victoria has been known to bring a feeling of a humid Southern heat to her performance with a bold honesty that has listeners reaching for their handkerchiefs to wipe the nervous sweat from their foreheads. As she works on putting together her first full-length album with producer Roger Moutenot, who has worked with Sleater-Kinney and Yo La Tengo, she is setting herself apart from her Nashville peers with an irreverence and openness that blurs the line between country, poetry, and punk. Her second single, "Sea of Sand," builds on the promise of her first groundbreaking song. JASON KEIL
In the pantheon of heart-on-sleeve songwriters, most modern musicians of the craft can lean toward trendy aesthetics or cloying sweetness in an effort to get their message across. Joshua Radin, the Ohioan singer-songwriter who was pushed into the spotlight by none other than Zach Braff, falls into neither of these categories. Rather, Radin is a man of earnest proportions, having long outgrown the awkward tropes of youth and developing a voice that's straightforward and striking.
Take for example Radin's latest offering, Onward and Sideways, just over a month old and a love letter of a record, in the literal sense of the phrase. Penned as a series of songs meant for a prospective love interest in Stockholm, who he did later woo, Onward and Sideways is heavily rooted in the folk and Americana sensibilities that have made Radin such a relatable writer for almost 10 years.
On this latest run in support of the new album, Radin is only bringing out two other musicians on the road for what will be his most intimate stage performance yet. Given the context and eventual triumph behind the record, there's nary another setup that would do justice to Onward and Sideways in the way it's meant to be heard: up close, personally, and with the hushed and warm approach that Radin is known and loved for. K.C. LIBMAN
Kalyn Heffernan weighs 53 pounds and measures three feet, six inches tall. She's light enough to carry, compact enough to hide under a winter coat, and is sometimes mistaken for a child. But Kalyn, who has the brittle-bone disability osteogenesis imperfecta, is hardly innocent, precious, or inconspicuous: The Colorado native dabbles in graffiti, cusses gloriously, and has a septum piercing. She raps, scribbles rhymes, and has been known to cover the viral YouTube video "My Vagina Ain't Handicapped." If you ask--and even if you don't--she'll eagerly lift her shirt to show off the words "CRIP LIFE" inked on her stomach, an homage to Tupac Shakur's THUG LIFE tattoo.
Kalyn is the founding member of Wheelchair Sports Camp, a fledgling jazz-hop trio cheekily named after a week-long youth-disability program she attended growing up and, by her own admission, "corrupted." The Denver-based band consists of Kalyn and two able-bodied friends from college, Abigail "Abi" McGaha Miller, a towering, talented 22-year-old saxophonist/vocalist, and Abi's Marvel Comics-nerd older brother, a 25-year-old mountain of a drummer named Isaac. Although both siblings are far more experienced musicians than Kalyn, they will comfortably concede that this project is "Kalyn's show." CAMILLE DODERO
Mammoth, Arizona-based Al Foul's website proudly proclaims the rockabilly singer as the "One, the Only Al Foul." It's more than just an accurate boast: The duder performs solo, snarling over a fat Gretsch guitar and stomping on a bass drum. But his songs aren't rowdy BBQ Show/Bob Log-style tirades. No, there's a lowdown elegance to songs like "Sugar Me and the Boy" and "Maybe Tonight," a restrained noir element that's as in keeping with Jarmusch's black-and-white films as it is with Sun Records' heyday. "Maybe tonight I'll freeze to death," he belts over a "Tequila"-style strum, a sturdy hiccup in his voice and a steady beat pounded out by his foot. If the one-man-band routine is the standup comedy of musical idioms, call him a Louie C.K. -- the kind of guy willing to bare his heart in order to make you laugh or break your heart. JASON P. WOODBURY
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