Another month is on us. The Arizona State Fair has wrapped up, capping off an extremely good concert series with an epic old-school hip-hop show. Gone are the marquee names the state fair brought in October, but November ain't looking bad, either. Check out our picks below for this week, and browse our comprehensive concert calendar for more options.
Who knows why Americans have such abhorrence to foreign languages? Someone says "Cómo estás?" and you'll hear, "English, motherfucker. Do you speak it?" Movies spoken in some other mother tongue? Let's just have David Fincher remake it. But France's Yelle defies that, saying her native vocabulary is all she feels comfortable expressing herself with. It's that kind of dedication and honesty in poppy dance music that you don't often find. And yet Yelle's sensibilities are truly universal. Her progression isn't cookie-cutter and her production is wrapped in sticky, colorful plastic, stimulating in a way that doesn't feel prepackaged. On "Moteur Action," Yelle is delicate and effervescent, but she shows her dark side on the Deadmau5-versus-Mellefresh-inspired "A Cause Des Garçons," while songs like "Safari Disco Club" prove Yelle has enough of a weird streak to stay ahead of the curve. And no one needs Rosetta Stone to hear that. --Troy Farah
The Danish quartet Iceage came together as teenagers in Copenhagen in 2008, combining a shared love of proto-goth post-punk (like the Joy Divison song the band is named for) with the frayed-nerve sensibility of '80s hardcore legends like Hüsker Dü. If this makes the group come off as a European cousin of American emo, well, that's fair. But with its new record, Plowing the Fields of Love (Matador), Iceage considerably expands its palette with piano and horn flourishes, and that sets the stage for a transition from cold outrage to anger tempered with introspection. New songs like "The Lord's Favorite" and "Let It Vanish" use this current template of guitar lines made of shattered glass stabbing singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt in the heart and throat until he resembles The Pogues' Shane MacGowan, had he been murdered as a young man. That's not to say Iceage doesn't acknowledge beauty, as the album's title track displays it movingly. But catharsis rarely sounds so inviting as it does with Iceage, who puts stakes through hearts and then sit around to mourn the carnage. --Joshua Levine
In the five years that Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst have been performing as Shovels & Rope, the married musical duo has distilled their songwriting into a musical embodiment of their relationship. As is common with wizened folk singers versed in story telling, their lyrics are filled with tales of love-gone-wrong and enough hardened insights to make them come off as worn out and rusty as the found objects they use to make their music. But contrary to their toughened sound, they're young and spry, easy on the eyes, and surely not to be missed on this tour as they promote their album Swimmin' Time, released last month via Dualtone. Touching on hard blues, folk revivals, and early soul, their "ragged but right" looseness directly translates everything into a fluid, water-themed body of work. Roots music fans and critics love them alike, so anyone planning on seeing STOMP while visiting New York should just plan on trading in their ticket to see Shovels & Rope and call it a day. --Erin Manning
Courtney Barnett tends to find her songs in places no one else is looking.
The Melbourne, Australia, singer-songwriter collects subject matter like a curio shop, her words turning the inexplicable or the mundane into fully formed commentaries and poignant observations on some of life's biggest questions.
The plain, the everyday, the too-weird, and the not-weird-enough all find their way from Barnett's notebooks into songs that are too pure, too honest to turn away from. Barnett's style is encapsulated nicely by "Avant Gardener," the single from her second EP, How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose. Drawing Beck comparisons for her "slacker" style, Barnett writes of an anaphylactic asthma attack that strikes when she decides to weed her garden on a sweltering afternoon. It's a simple story that contains so much more than expected: questions of domesticity, career decisions, fate, mortality, and independence, all full of sharply rendered details and quotable lines: "The paramedic thinks I'm clever 'cos I play guitar / I think she's clever 'cos she stops people dying."
It's a combination of humor and tragedy that have propelled Barnett's deadpan delivery and plenty of guitar hooks. And the song gave Barnett far more mileage than she ever anticipated. --Eric Swedlund
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The story is not altogether unfamiliar: A couple guys get together to play music, tour the folk festival circuit and have a little fun. Suddenly, the duo becomes a full band, a song gets significant radio attention, and record labels come knocking. That's part of the back-story for Canadian bluesy roots rockers Brothers Landreth. Joey and David Landreth abandoned successful careers working for various Canadian touring bands so they could spend more time together. That they thought playing the folk circuit would sustain them is probably a media-generated story. Digging deeper -- their father was also a well-traveled musician -- it's clear something more was a foot. Raised on a diet of heartland rock, country, soul and blues -- plus hundreds of nights watching dad play country, jazz, blues and rock with local acts, the brothers' innate musical upbringing led them to a remote Manitoba cabin in the dead of the coldest winter in 150 years to churn out what became their debut album. That it was 40 degrees below zero helped the group work even harder. "We weren't going outside," Joey laughs. "No way. It just wasn't possible." Let It Lie (Slate Creek) comes out, appropriately, in January.--Glenn BurnSilver
We're pretty sure the Love Me Nots are the only rock band worth listening to that's fronted by an actual sitting judge. And if that sounds like a gimmicky hobby, we wouldn't blame you, but you're wrong -- the Love Me Nots are as serious as a throwback garage rock band can be. And the lineup for this show -- which includes Scorpion vs. Tarantula, French Girls, and Steel Crane -- makes Rips the place to be for rock music Thursday night. --Phoenix New Times