She and him and them and them and him and her and them are playing in Phoenix this week, and all of them are a part of our five must-see Phoenix shows this week.
You're bound to like one of those pronouns, if only you give it a chance.
She & Him - Comerica Theatre - Tuesday, June 18
Hey! There's a famous person on one end of that photo! It's She & Him's gift and curse that their not-as-twee-as-you're-guessing tunefulness is so easily reduced to Zooey Deschanel being She; it's undoubtedly helped them reach a wider audience, but it's also irrevocably shaped the way that audience responds to their music.
Neither She nor Him probably wants to hear each album--their latest, Volume 3, is a month old--brought up in conversation as Surprisingly Good for The Zooey Deschanel Band. And they shouldn't; this is just really good pop, smooth in the pre-yacht-rock sense of the word. It sounds country-tinged not because you'll hear a lot of steel guitar in it, but because that's where most pop this polished comes from.
It's good, and it'd be good even if the first time you heard its lead singer perform hadn't been Elf. But if her sitcom fame means you've heard it when you mightn't otherwise, all that typecasting wasn't in vain.
Big Country - Tempe Arts Center - Tuesday, June 18
If you're going to be a quasi-one-hit-wonder in the United States -- at least as far as Casey Kasem is concerned -- you could hardly do better for name recognition than these shrewd Scots, who had the IQ to enshrine forevermore their band's name in the title of said hit, "In a Big Country."
But let's not give them too much hindsight credit -- they also saddled themselves with one of the worst band names to Google in all godliness. Try finding out what the next stop on their "The Journey" tour is, and you'll be redirected to a dozen big country music festival sites. And if you thought they might be playing the Crescent Ballroom, you could be reading a recipe for delicious buttery Pillsbury Big Country dinner rolls right now!
Since the 2001 suicide of the group's main guiding light, Stuart Adamson, the guy who wrote, sang, and came up with the whole "make the guitars sound like bagpipes, only bearable" idea, you'd be within your rights to think that Big Country was annexed for good. Yet original member Bruce Watson enlisted Mike Peters of the Alarm for vocals, along with the bassist from Simple Minds, and wrote a new chapter in the band's canon with the first Big Country UK hit in decades, called -- wait for it -- "Another Country." If you don't expect them to play "Rain in the Summertime," they won't expect to grow flowers in the desert. Deal? -- Serene Dominic
Shurman - Last Exit Live - Tuesday, June 18
Any Phoenicians who were unable to make it to Circus Mexicus will have another chance to catch one of the best acts from that festival, rock and roll/country band Shurman, this week.
Based out of Austin, TX, Shurman spends little time at home as they relentlessly tour the country to spread their shared love of music to pockets of fans in every small town and big city along the way. The state of Texas seems to breed a rare type of musician, but combine that with lifelong influences from Georgia, Los Angeles, and even Phoenix, and the end result will be the musical sound of rock and roll stitched together with acoustic country and blues. Or to sum it up in a single word: Shurman.
Audiences can enjoy them this Tuesday night at Last Exit, but first check out Up on the Sun's interview with singer Aaron Beavers as he talks about a new album, his musical direction and his lifelong process of assembling the perfect band. -- Caleb Haley
Pitbull & Ke$ha - Desert Sky Pavilion - Wednesday, June 19
She climbed the entertainment ladder by writing songs for artists like Britney Spears and Flo Rida before releasing her debut album, Animal, in 2010, and its follow-up, Warrior, in 2012. To this day, her party anthem "Tik Tok" is the second-best-selling digital single in history.
Her live performances are known for being shocking, vulgar, and impressive. She's described it as a visual assault, and in the past made good on her words with cannons that shoot out packaged condoms and shouts of "Go get laid!" to a crowd that's one-third tweens, sandwiched between sneering bravado, hip-hop rants, and near-yodeled vocals.
Ke$ha celebrates a life of excess and spontaneity, arguing that as a woman in rock she should be allowed to pull off all the ridiculous shenanigans of her male counterparts. As of April, fans can easily get a glimpse into the whiskey-loving, man-objectifying artist's life with her MTV documentary, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, just in case you're interested in watching her try her own urine as a beverage or employ a roadie whose only job is to lather her in baby oil and sparkles.
That's okay: We've known since that first line of "Tik Tok" that she's got some interesting hygiene habits. But Ke$ha also has undeniable talent, visible in the dozens of instruments she plays so well, her vast influences, and an ability to market sleazy party entertainment to the masses that the cast of Jersey Shore must envy. -- Lauren Wise
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The THR33 Show - Trunk Space - Thursday, June 20
Green Line Operator knows how to leave an impression in a crowded scene and with a very distractable music editor: Easily digested, arbitrary show ideas. The THR33 Show is, as its flier helpfully points out, three bands with three-word names playing three sets of three songs for $3 at, and this one just might be overkill, 7:33 PM. (In addition to Green Light Operator you've got Darkness Dear Boy and Watch for Rocks.)
Green Line Operator, the ringleaders, play a kind of unmediated guitar pop that might have gotten them signed, 20 years ago, in the same batch of post-Green-Day major label acquisitions as Superdrag and the Smoking Popes.
Also, their album is called Sixteen Ounce World, but contains no song titles that are exactly three words long.