With all due respect to the holiday season, right now is arguably the most wonderful time of the year. We've got the Arizona State Fair and its tremendous concert series launching by week's end, Halloween a few weeks after that, and some great shows to check out until both those things come to pass.
This week will be particularly busy for those with great taste in music (not to mention the means and the money to go to three or four straight days of show) since there will be must-see concerts every night this week. Wednesday is a certainly a big night with Belle & Sebastian at Civic Space Park, Little Dragon at Marquee Theatre, Bishop Allen at Crescent Ballroom, and Pompaloose at Pub Rock.
We definitely feel for you, since those with the means, the money, and an interest in good music are ultimately going to have to pick one to attend. Hopefully, we can help you decide with the following show picks and previews.
Busdriver has always had a way with words, spitting them out at a mile a minute until the multilayered skein of potent phrases unrolls like a densely detailed, never-ending tapestry where the local rapper weighs in on everything from love and war to racism and the music industry. With a mind this restless, Busdriver can't be neatly categorized or lumped in with other rappers. On his 2012 album, Beaus $ Eros, his lyrical concerns range from profound social confrontation ("NoBlacksNoJews NoAsians") to warped and spaced-out goofiness ("Picking Band Names"). Even though the Project Blowed veteran is a supreme wordsmith, he digs into a wider variety of freaky and funky sonic settings. -- Falling James
Should someone undertake a study of musical groups and the manner in which most dissolve, it is unlikely that many end amicably. Typically, internal friction, ego, death, or addiction causes band breakups. Anberlin has decided to take a different path despite differences making the band's existence somewhat tenuous. "The decision to walk away is what is best for the fans, even though they may not see it," lead vocalist Stephen Christian says. "Our passion for being in the band has been waning for years because we have all started to invest our lives in other opportunities. If you are not performing music with passion, then it is for all the wrong reasons. Being in this band [any longer] . . . risked the chance of [us] being five hollow men on stage disgruntled with life, music, and each other."
Instead of allowing that prospect to develop, Anberlin elected to create one more album and then embark on a farewell tour. Ironically, the process has left the band energized and performing with that once-former passion and vigor. The band's final album, lowborn, spans all aspects of Anberlin's history, touching on everything from early-period heavy melodic pop to the more brooding sounds that dominated later albums, a reflection of the mood in which the band was gradually succumbing. "We have always had multiple personality disorders musically speaking," Christian says. "This album just reconfirms that." -- Glenn BurnSilver
See also: Anberlin Calls It Quits on Its Own Terms
Matt the Electrician (Matthew Sower to his family and friends) is one of a handful of brainy, somewhat quiet Central Texas singer-songwriters who write with considerable plainfolks wit, down-to-earth blue-collar common sense and smart-folks ideas. What emerges are songs like "Change the Subject" and "One Right Thing," delivered somewhere between Paul Simon's New Yorky folk-pop and Waits's back-alley sandpaper growl. There's just the right mix of vulnerability and strength, ennui and hope to make women want to take him home and mother him. The Electrician makes it earthy and ethereal, and that's a hard trick to pull off. -- William Michael Smith
Stuart Murdoch is well-versed in the ways of gentleness. As leader of Belle and Sebastian, he's been crooning sweetly laid-back pop laced with literate, witty lyrics since the indie-pop band formed in Glasgow in 1996. Even a song like "Calculating Bimbo," from the group's most recent album, 2010's Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, belies its catty title by cataloging a series of sweetly rendered and thoughtful romantic details. When Murdoch claims that he wants "the world to stop," he delivers the sentiment cloaked in candied keyboard, guitar chimes and sympathetic harmonies, and the overall mood is more languidly peaceful than despairing. Occasionally, violinist Sarah Martin lightens things even further, contrasting Murdoch's vocals with her angelic delivery. -- Falling James
They're not so little anymore -- following Damon Albarn's personal invitation to collaborate on the 2010 Gorillaz albumPlastic Beach, Little Dragon's third, Ritual Union, blew up, landing the band on unlikely TV landscapes like 90210, The Vampire Diaries, and Being Mary Jane. The cautiously upbeat yet sedated jams like "Little Man" and "Please Turn" cemented Little Dragon as the Swedish champions of chillwave. Now the quartet is back with its fourth LP, Nabuma Rubberband, named after a Chinese girl with a Ugandan name.
Largely inspired by so-called "Janet Jackson slow jams" (particularly "Any Time, Any Place"), Rubberband focuses on pacing over grooves, something frontwoman Yukimi Nagano has said she feels strongly about. It puts her in good company alongside this year's albums from FKA twigs and SBTRKT, the latter Little Dragon has worked with on 2011's "Wildfire." So maybe it's the year of the chill -- whatever the case, it's a good excuse to take a load off. -- Troy Farah
As of this writing, the YouTube channel of California indie duo Pomplamoose has 435,213 subscribers. Several of its unique videos, including a multi-instrumental take on the Angry Birds theme, a mashup of Pharrell songs (complete with eyeballs projected on vocalist Nataly Dawn's chest), and a cover of James Brown's "I Feel Good," have more than a million views. These videos have to follow two rules, according to Dawn's bandmate and significant other Jack Conte: What you see is what you hear, and if you hear it, at some point you see it.
Pomplamoose (which take its name from the English pronunciation of the French word for grapefruit) focuses on touring and distributing their music digitally. It allows them the freedom to share their music with an audience eager to hear their peculiar take on pop hits, such as Michael Jackson's "Beat It" complete with xylophone, and original music, a hodgepodge of indie rock, folk, hip-hop, and electronic influences. Their fun and fresh approach has transcended the Internet and garnered the attention of the advertising world, as the duo played Christmas tunes for a series of Hyundai commercials. -- Jason Keil
Like it or not, Skrillex and his style of EDM helped light the fuse on electronic music's resurgence in 2011, gave it a massive paradigm shift, won several Grammys, fostered the careers of producers like Seven Lions and Jack Beats via his popular vanity label OWSLA, and has made more money in a single year than you'll see in six lifetimes.
Accordingly, Skrillex's latest release Recess, the 11-track album that dropped in March and is (surprisingly) his full-length debut three years after his crossover to the mainstream, has also charted higher than any previous effort, including the breakthrough Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Although Skrillex has dabbled here and there outside his usual subwoofer-quaking stomping grounds, Recess, like with the 2013 EP Leaving, expands his palette considerably, this time with shades of ragga, funk, jungle, dancehall, disco, reggaeton, and both indietronica and indie rock mixed in with his usual grinds and wobbles. "It maybe hasn't always been in the public eye, but I've always made different stuff," Skrillex told NME in March. "But this is the first time I've made so many different styles under one roof, on a record." -- Benjamin Leatherman
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