Yeah, yeah, yeah...we get it. Mondays suck (we've read Garfield). But it means the start of a new week, which means a bunch of killer shows in and around Phoenix.
And here are a few of the coolest -- our top five must-see shows this week.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what's pulsing in the world of underground shoegaze pop, but it seems to sound an awful lot like the hazy, languid rock of San Francisco's Young Prisms. Heavy, droning, swirly, fuzzy, gothic, melancholy, and cathartic, Young Prisms' music is reflective of an '80s sound that was the antithesis to the skinny-tie buoyancy of synth-happy new wave. This five-piece channels the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Curve, Slowdive, and (thanks to the dreamy, atmospheric vocals of Stefanie Hodapp) the Cocteau Twins.
"Stay Awake" captures that pre-sleep feeling with its near-feedbacking guitar over single pulsing organ notes and airy vocals, while "Runner" takes a page straight from the JMC songbook (circa the late-period Hope Sandoval era) with a driving beat, repeating hypnotic guitar lines and faraway wail; "Midnight's When" swirls and grinds, giving way to uplifting moments, as "Floating in Blue" rides a mesmerizing blend of fuzzed-out guitars, cascading drums, static-y synths and behind-the-eyes voice. The shoegazer movement never died, but Young Prisms certainly breathes new life into the genre.-- Glen BurnSilver
With his long brown hair, an intimidating beard and his don't-fuck-with-me look, the White Buffalo--who was born into this world as Jake Smith--is a throwback to a time when rough-and-tumble, hard-drinking artists (à la Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart) resonated with audiences more than manufactured, über-produced pop stars. But Smith connects with a range of audiences in a very contemporary way and has a catalog that spans not only heartfelt ballads, but also raucous bar songs.
In February, he released his latest full-length, Once Upon a Time In the West, which features 13 songs, each with a similar theme. "On the album, there's a nostalgic theme about growing up in suburban California," he said. "It's American music to the core, as there is a broader story to tell about growing up."
Despite his growing mainstream popularity, it wasn't always this way for the singer. When he first started playing music, Smith wallowed in the Bay Area, playing a few shows and not writing a whole lot of material. He was, he says, "unmotivated." That was until he caught the ear of surf veteran-cum-filmmaker Chris Malloy. By chance, a bootleg tape landed in the surfer's hands, and in 2002, he used the White Buffalo's heart-wrenching ditty "Wrong" in his film Shelter. "[Malloy] was one of the main influences who got behind me and made me realize this is what I should be doing," Smith says.
The film not only exposed him to a new audience, but it was also the impetus for dragging his ass off his friend's couch. The White Buffalo roamed down to Southern California, where the loyal surf community threw its support behind the fledgling singer. At the same time, he was building a cult following; it seemed as though Smith's popularity gained traction almost overnight.
Since 2004, Smith has released several EPs and a full-length. The White Buffalo's music has also appeared on such TV shows as Sons of Anarchy and Californication. (Coincidentally, both shows have characters who reflect the rough-and-tumble, flawed tendencies that are also portrayed in the White Buffalo's lyrics.) His most recent EP, The Lost and Found, hit stores in December to positive reviews, as well as earning a place on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.
It's the vague truthfulness of Smith's lyrics that have helped the White Buffalo's career. "Some songs are autobiographical, some skewed, twisted versions of the truth, and others completely imagined," he explains. "Being somewhat vague serves some songs. It allows the listener the liberty of deciding what's true to them. The honesty lies in the performance. You have to feel what you write and sing, whether it's truth or fiction."
And the White Buffalo says he'll keep doing things his way. "I've been underground for nearly 10 years now," he says. "I just do what I do, which is to try to write good, honest songs that make people feel something."-- Daniel Kohn
He's being awful polite about it, but Lawrence Zubia has places to go.
It's Halloween evening, and he's sitting at a table at Casey Moore's in Tempe. He looks every inch the rock star. He's sporting a black vest and drain-pipe black Levis, a red bandanna around his neck, and hair slicked back stylishly. It's just about sundown, and he's wearing shades.
Lawrence and his brother, guitarist Mark Zubia, are entrenched in Tempe rock 'n' roll lore. In the late '80s, their band Live Nudes gigged around town, and in the early '90s, they teamed with guitarist Doug Hopkins, who'd just been booted from the Gin Blossoms during the recording of that band's breakthrough record, New Miserable Experience. Hopkins and the Zubias started kicking around tunes at the "Live Nudes house" after shows and on lazy afternoons, and before long they had a new band, The Chimeras, which embraced both the bluesy style of the Zubias and Hopkins' chiming power-pop style.
Wednesday, November 21st: Mergence @ Sail Inn
How can a self-respecting weirdo rock 'n' roll songwriter stand apart from the crowd? How does one manage to craft songs about typical tropes (love, freedom, and self-discovery) without sounding, well, typical?
"Society's got strong robot hands / And it's a well-oiled machine / A metal soul / And sharp bloody metal robot teeth," Bruce sings in "Me and My Family vs. The Robots," from The Vibrant Young People are Dead, released by the band earlier this year. "My current status is 'Fuck you, robot!'/ You'll never take us alive."
The song is huge, a rock epic that lies somewhere among the sounds of The Black Keys, Led Zeppelin, and Cold War Kids, but the band often gives in to space-rock tendencies, with vamps and riffs that sound like they may have escaped from the grooves of some unreleased Pink Floyd LP.
Ohio hip hopper Blueprint- born Albert Shepard-, is bringing the Columbus underground to Phoenix.
His contribution on RJD2's 2002 debut album Dead Ringer earned him a growing fanbase and he's been busy ever since. He is a founder of Weightless Recordings and his latest solo album Deleted Scenes will hopefully be the center of his performance when he hits the Valley.--Richard Noel
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