Holy crap! What a weekend. We had the soggy but stellar Carnaval Eléctrico with Cold War Kids, Hanni El Khatib, Mergence, and more at Crescent Ballroom, the raucous Rampage Fest with Nü Sensae, White Lung, Allah-Las, and more at Sail Inn, and a thoroughly enjoyable but exhausting performance by Matt & Kim at Marquee Theatre.
But such is the glory of SxSW runoff here in the 480/602. There's more this week, believe it or not: Kool A.D. of Das Racist's new hardcore band, Party Animal, future pop act Ruby Suns, psychedelic Tucson-based road warriors Saint Maybe, and more. Read 'em and weep, babies: Top Five Must-See Shows This Week. -- Jason P. Woodbury
When writing about Things As They Are, the debut LP by Tucson psychedelic outfit Saint Maybe, for my 10 Best Things I Heard in 2012 column, I noted the album's sprawling, wide-open desert quality: "[It] sounds like the space between Phoenix and the Old Pueblo. It feels like a late-night drive, the radio tuned to some far off AM station playing a psychedelic Van Morrison B-side you've never heard."
Songwriter Oliver Ray says that about sums up the record's windswept ambiance. "It seems to stretch across a lot of distance," he says, taking a quick break from roasting beans at his coffee shop in Tucson, Café Aqui. Not long after our conversation, the band announced a West Coast tour, outlining dates with Patti Smith (Ray is a veteran of Smith's band), Don't, Blind Divine, Gabe Mintz, The Low Hums, and others.
"I like it," Ray says of balancing the life of a coffee roaster with playing music. He says the dual disciplines "somehow inform each other." Opening the shop while recording the LP also helped -- or in some ways forced -- Ray to subdue some of his nitpicking tendencies.
"I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to things," he says. "I'll have projects that I don't think of as perfect, so I'll never let them go."
Luckily, he let Things As They Are go. Opening with "Everything at Once (And More)," an out-there garage rock barnburner Anton Newcombe would kill to have written, the record explores Dylan-esque folk on tracks like "Houses for Ghosts" and "She's Alright" (no coincidence -- drummer Winston Watson played in Dylan's backing band), blue-eyed reggae/fuzz rock on "Delicate Prey," and desolate country noir on "Everything That Rises." -- Jason P. Woodbury
How many young, impressionable music fans do you think got turned on to the Beach Boys by Full House? Remember it? Uncle Jesse and the Beach Boys. It didn't really make sense, but seriously, there's a whole generation of Mary-Kate and Ashley-viewing kiddos who thought, "Who are these awesome old white dudes, and how can they harmonize so well?"
We're not sure the connection's all that strong, to be honest, but we do know that Full House Fest at the Trunk Space, hosted by the cool kids at Tempe Starving Artist, is going to be awesome. Featuring touring acts like Peach Kelli Pop (Burger Records), Party Animal (featuring Kool A.D. of Das Racist), and other acts from the San Francisco Bay Area (hey, that's where the Tanners hail from!), and local rippers (see Jesse and the Rippers) like JJCnV, Skinny Shamans, French Girls, and TK and the Irresistibles, the show promises to be as much fun as Bob Saget's NSFW stand-up comedy and laughing about Dave Coulier inspiring that Alanis hit. -- Jason P. Woodbury
Ryan McPhun of The Ruby Suns describes the tour for his latest album as "a live rock band approach to not-live-band rock music." His fourth Ruby Suns album, Christopher (released in January on Sub Pop), is indeed a synth-laden futuristic pop album, highly polished and danceable. But McPhun made the decision to play the songs with a more rocking setup in concert.
"It's always a really daunting task when you're sitting down with a record that took a hell of a lot of work and the productions are meticulous, and for me every little sound is as important as everything else," he says. "In the past, I've stressed about trying to squeeze everything into the live show. This time around, I wanted to try a more straightforward approach and, for some of the songs, see if we could perform them as a three-piece. It ended up working, and that's something we've never really done before, to have four things going at once. I've always wanted 20 things going at once."
Christopher is inspired by what McPhun calls his "multi-hemispherical upbringing." After high school, he left California for New Zealand. The end of one relationship and the start of another brought him to Norway, where he started working on songs with just a laptop and one synthesizer. That shift in cultures -- and McPhun's own reflections on living through his 20s as a traveling musician -- color's Christopher's wayfaring songs. -- Eric Swedlund
Lest you think that indie rock (Foxygen), heavy metal (Dying Fetus), or hip-hop (A$AP Rocky) have the lockdown on "awesome band/project/performer with a shitty name" syndrome, allow us to introduce you to London EMD duo Bicep. That shit's utterly un-Googleable, right?
Luckily, the duo matches its beefy name with suitably buff house music, the kind that handily eschews the nasty direction of their post-dubstep peers. While others are content to let massive drops and slime-crusted bass hype crowds for them, Bicep practices EDM classicism, with erudite beats, glitchy soul and R&B vocal samples, and smooth 2-step glide setting the group in a different class than their nu-metal-indebted bros here across the pond. It's akin to the soul revivalism practiced by Mayer Hawthorne and Nick Waterhouse, a sort of live study on classic pop elements.
Anyone who imagines "EDM" -- electronic dance music -- as a "new trend" will be surprised by Bicep. Call it "retro EDM" to throw fans for a loop, just don't bother taking to the search engines to figure it out. -- Jason P. Woodbury
A year after making minced meat out of other Phoenix rappers in the track "Attack of the Robots," Numbers have settled into the hip-hop scene, finding new talent to collaborate with and etching their place in the Arizona rap game behind the mantra "dope beats, dope rhymes."
"We work with several artists and organizations whose movements we strongly support," says one-half of the crew, Izzy. "I believe the best thing AZ hip-hop has going for itself right now is talent. Despite the overwhelming number of people who believe they can make a career in making music, there is a selection that has quite a bit to bet with. A few have made or are making incredible moves into the national 'scene,' and we highly respect that and aspire to do as they are doing. There is great music being released in Phoenix. I just wish our culture and support structure were a bit more aware of the talent out here." -- Anthony Sandoval
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