Celebration Guns: Ambient Indie Pop Journeys, Unusual Instruments, and Cassette Tapes

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It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an abundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.

Up on the Sun is highlighting more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014, including local indie poppers Celebration Guns.

Celebration Guns' songs take listeners on an ambient indie-pop journey, with unexpected turns veering toward fuzzy guitars, intricate bass lines, busy drums, and the occasional toy piano or xylophone thrown in.

Just like the found objects sprinkled throughout their songs, the foursome that formed from broken projects last August goes against the grain. Their most recent album, Quitter, and an upcoming self-titled split EP with fellow locals Twin Ponies are both on cassette tape.

"I think there's a sense of nostalgia that comes with cassette tapes that makes me really appreciate them," says vocalist/guitarist Justin Weir. "It reminds me of a time where I wasn't overwhelmed with a flash drive of 18,000 songs from hundreds of bands I never quite feel connected to, but instead had to rely on whatever cassette tapes I could get my hands on, and when every new band sounded novel and fresh and worth holding onto."

Celebration Guns, which has drawn comparisons to Minus the Bear and Maps & Atlases, hopes listeners are inspired to hold onto their music and its tales of awkward dating experiences and lost loves.

"These songs are written by a jaded person trying to find credibility in taking the optimistic approach to life and love and whatever happens in between," Weir says, insisting tones of dating disenchantment are balanced by hints of optimism. And when bells, accordions and trumpets permeate your melodies, even the most heartbreaking lyrics hit a happy note.

The band, which includes guitarist Chris Blanco, bassist Ryan Miller, and drummer Timothy O'Brien, finds plenty of love, however, when they play shows in town. They strive to perform themselves in a diverse array of venues, whether it's live shows at an Urban Outfitters, or playing at house shows or an ice skating rink bar, usually as a part of lineups that are as diverse as the musical instruments you'll find onstage during a Celebration Guns set.

Catch them Thursday, March 6 at Crescent Ballroom with fellow local bands Instructions, WEBS and You Know This Moses. Find more details here.

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