Here are our concert picks for this weekend. Be sure to check out our comprehensive concert listings for more options.
Formed in 2010 following the dissolution of electro-dance band The Analog Society, The Echo Bombs aimed for a more lo-fi approach, a la Best Coast. Now they're switching gears again with their first full-length, King of Uncool. It's more primal and creepy as fuck, with sludgy garage-rock riffs that typify characters with "blue skin, hands of a dragon" and "like the taste of teens."
"We were going for minimalistic and energetic like Pixies," lead singer Eddie Horn says. "Sex Bob-omb [from the Scott Pilgrim movie] was one of our big inspirations as well, even though it's just a movie band."
But despite being around for four years, The Echo Bombs haven't released much. After frontwoman Cecilia Olea left the band to focus on her work in Sedusa, the Bombs restructured themselves and completely changed direction and the result is the darker, grittier King of Uncool. TROY FARAH
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Bass Drum of Death crank out a sound that's as fearsome as their name, which is even more impressive considering singer John Barrett started as a one-man band. Expanded now to a trio, the Oxford, Mississippi, group begins with a garage-rock foundation, but songs such as "For Blood" are pumped with grungy power chords as Barrett sneers over it all with punky aplomb. "Better Days," from BDOD's new album, Rip This, changes things up with acoustic-guitar strumming and woozy violin. The band returns to fuller rock power on "Left for Dead," with Barrett howling through a filter and bolstered by stadium-rock guitars. "We're not coming down," he insists, as the song's video plays a montage of hot rods, knives, guns and beautiful women in casts and bandages. FALLING JAMES
The name isn't blasphemous -- at least not intentionally. In fact, Zola Jesus (sometimes known as Nika Roza Danilova) combined French writer Émile Zola with our Lord and Savior's name to alienate her peers, not to piss off the pious. But it seems now Zola has more friends than she ever could imagine or she sure works well with others, having collaborated with artists ranging from M83 to Fucked Up to Prefuse 73, not to mention the time David Lynch remixed her song "In Your Nature" or the time avant-garde composer J.G. Thirwell helped her remix her hits in the neo-classical style.
What's the attraction? First and most obvious are Zola's vocal stylings, which have grown into her own distinct technique -- owing to Elizabeth Fraser as much as Ian Curtis -- and were honed over 10 years through classical opera training. But perhaps deeper than that is Zola's masterful command of mood, atmosphere, and environment, which are woven into her dark, raw dirges. With her latest album, Taiga, Zola explored pop-star territory, but whatever she does is a welcome relief from normal. TROY FARAH
A few years ago, comedian Daniel Tosh put the DJs of the world on blast via his famed TV show Tosh.0. And true to form, the fearlessly snarky standup comic was quite merciless: "Do you know why everyone thinks they can DJ? Because everyone can," Tosh stated. "It's easy: pat your head and rub your stomach. There, you're an amazing DJ. Ninety percent of what DJs do is [pretending] to touch stuff. Stop acting like you're so busy. You're not hacking into the mainframe of the Pentagon; you're a professional iPod controller." Ouch.
With all that said, however, its readily apparent that Tosh has never seen the legendary DJ Craze perform one of his signature sets, since the comedian would likely take back a few of his aforementioned barbs. The world-renowned turntablist is nothing like your ordinary club jock or button-pusher, as his gigs are filled with a flurry of activity on the ones and twos. Not only can the Miami-born selector serve up records, he can also cut, scratch, spin, and manipulate the decks to create a symphony of hip-hop, breaks, bass, and trap sounds. Its little wonder, then, that he claimed the DMC World Championships three times in the late '90s and is considered to be one of the best in the DJ biz. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
This show is the album release for both Smoke Bombs and No Volcano, two bands whose members have decades of experience in Phoenix music. No Volcano's members include Jim Andreas and Christopher Kennedy, who once had a major label deal with their group Trunk Federation, and Smoke Bombs members used to play in Asses of Evil and Junior Achievement. Two other bands on the bill, Scorpion vs. Tarantula and Father Figures, have also spent years cutting their teeth in Phoenix venues. All in all, this concert represents some of the most distinguished punk rock the city has to offer, and if there is such a thing as a Phoenix punk sound, you'll hear it at the Pressroom. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
After releasing their first two EPs, Live Forever and Go Demon or Go Home with Tempe-based cassette tape label Rubber Brother Records, Phoenix garage punks Wolvves are finally dropping their first full-length album, Whatever, on Tucson-based Diet Pop Records. The new record has a completely different sound from Wolvves' first two offerings. It is vastly more mature than Live Forever, and while inklings of the new sound are present on Go Demon or Go Home. With this new record, the band leans as far away from punk as possible, while still fitting into the genre, and more toward garage rock.
Perhaps frontman Aydin Immortal has recognized his own mortality and made a conscious decision to create something worthy of being left behind. But more likely, the group is starting to gel as a four-piece after just more than a year of playing together. So what used to come off as great because of the sheer amount of talent in the band now comes off as utterly amazing because the talent is focused and shaped to fit the best interest of the overall sound. Whatever is Wolvves' departure from being a fresh new band seeking a sound and a scene. It is the group's coming-out party as premier music makers in metro Phoenix. JEFF MOSES
Robert Rodriguez, eat your heart out. Gabriel Sullivan is a traveling guitarist who might put even the toughest mariachi to shame. Growing up a punk teenager in Tucson, where he still resides, Sullivan became smitten with the local Latino flavor, blending cumbia and conjunto with Balkan brass and desert psychedelia. Kickstarter graciously funded the Denmark field trip necessary to record Sullivan's sixth album, Jvpiter, produced in an Internet-free farmhouse where the sun set for only two hours a day. Bassist Thøger T. Lund and the Danish portion of Giant Sand joined the singer-songwriter for an approach that is much more stripped-down than gypsy folk of 2011's None of This Is Mine, Sullivan's work with Taraf de Tucson. But for all the world-weary backpacking Sullivan gets up to, his roots will always be distinctly Sonoran. Also co-fronting Chicha Dust with fellow Tucsonan Brian Lopez, it's obvious Mr. Sullivan has a flair for the sounds and textures that define this arid region. TROY FARAH
Blood is thicker than water, but for the Avett Brothers, music is thicker than blood. It's not just a moniker -- Scott and Seth Avett really are related, and they've been playing together since they were kids. But 2000 was the year they started releasing their signature blend of fervent bluegrass and folk. Fifteen adventurous years later, the North Carolina indie rockers have released four EPs and eight full-lengths (with another on the way), earned a Grammy nomination, played a few late-night TV guest spots, and have been heard on shows like Parenthood and One Tree Hill.
But if one attribute stands out over the Avett Brothers' varied career, it's that they are gentlemen. Their approach to soulful, traditionalist Americana is stark yet rich, sometimes sarcastic, often existential. But their technique is especially unique in the light of their contemporaries, because it is unambiguously honest. TROY FARAH
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