Top Five Must-See Shows This Week

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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.

Monday, September 17: Bears of Manitou @ Crescent Ballroom

It hasn't taken long for Kickstarter to seem as played out as a months-old Internet meme (I can haz money, plz?). But the fact remains, the crowd-funding service is all the rage with indie musicians trying to raise capital. For the average price of a record, you can secure your purchase ahead of time (and maybe get your name included in the credits for a few extra bucks). The process is simple, but standing out in a sea of bands who have their hands out is more challenging. Local indie folkers Bears of Manitou pulled it off, offering to write songs for donors or take backers camping, and promising to donate excess funds to the Colorado Wild Fire Tees charity. The band's relationship with the Centennial State is a close one: Gabe Williams traveled to Manitou Springs and was told about the region's black bears, inspiring the band's name. He didn't see any, but his experience looking for bears was inspirational: "This is how life works. The people we meet, the time we spend. It takes years to truly know a person." The resulting album, Origins, is full of heartfelt, toe-tapping sounds. -- Melissa Fossum

Tuesday, September 18: Pretty Lights @ Comerica Theatre

In the two years that Derek Vincent Smith, the man behind dance music juggernaut Pretty Lights, has been tirelessly working on his new record, yet untitled, his genre, EDM, has blown up into a international phenomenon.

Two years -- that's equal to 14 in both EDM production and dog years, according to the Internet.

"It's a crazy project. It's massive and it's very idealistic," Smith says over the phone from Chicago, where his "Illumination Tour" has landed for the night. "The challenge to myself was to create something new and beautiful but retain my style."

Traditionally, Smith uses software to make his music. He samples a vinyl record, synthesizes the sample to achieve his trademark glitchy, futuristic, fractal-forging sound, and then massages it together with 20 other samples to create something that sounds undeniably like Pretty Lights. The sheer amount of samples and synthesis occurring in a single song is enviable (or not, depending on your work ethic). With his new record, Smith tripled his workload.

"I kind of dreamed about this vision of really keeping the sound and style but not sampling old records," Smith says, "and the only way to do that would be to actually go through every element of the process like [a live band] would have done."

When Smith says "every element" he means every element. Everything in the project was created with analog equipment, even the music videos that accompany each song.

This meant building his own library of vinyl records by directing and recording jam sessions with musicians in New Orleans and New York City. He recorded the sessions to tape and then pressed them to vinyl. Since Smith utilizes samples from scores of genres in any given song, he held jam sessions to create appropriate sounds, drawing from varying stylistic templates: rock, soul, and funk. -- Chris Piel (Read more about Pretty Lights.)

Tuesday, September 18: YOB @ Rogue Bar

If he were so inclined, YOB vocalist and guitarist Mike Scheidt could easily sneak in a solo gig at Fiddler's Dream or some similarly folky coffeehouse before shuffling into the Rogue Bar for a set with his doom metal trio.

His recent acoustic solo album, Stay Awake, recorded for Chicago independent label Thrill Jockey, dials down the fuzz and showcases Scheidt's folk, country, blues, and Americana influences. Which isn't to say that the work of his long-running Eugene, Oregon, trio (YOB formed in 2000, disbanded in 2006, and reformed in 2008) is without nuance.

On the band's latest, 2011's Atma, Scheidt does the stoner/Sabbath/Sleep thing perfectly on tracks like "Prepare the Ground," but steers things into more mysterious, intricate territory with songs like "Adrift in the Ocean," with Middle Eastern-tinged guitars morphing into a stomping post-rock throw down, with Schedit's nasally, Ozzy-meets-Neil Young vocals careening over top. -- Jason P. Woodbury

Wednesday, September 19: Sugar Thieves @ Copper Blues

The swing dance revival of the '90s was, by all accounts, a dark time for humanity. An entire nation seemingly accepted that the '40s were an innocent era, and we could dance our way back to them if we really, truly mastered all the right moves and indulged Brian Setzer. But we were running a couple decades early. Now we'd give anything to experience one day of that '90s-wanna-be-'40s innocence -- and this time that desire is warranted.

Every Wednesday the Arizona Lindy Hop Society gets its groove on during Hump Night Blues. With that dance party comes the opportunity to escape Twitter, Facebook, and all the unbearable folks who come with them. (We're looking at you, Farmville friends.)

Rekindle your memories from two decades ago, when you reminisced about five decades earlier, as the Sugar Thieves lay down some lowdown blues and a metric ton of high energy to boogie-woogie the night away -- Christina Caldwell

Thursday, September 19: Nude Beach @ Tempe Tavern

You'll hear a lot of reference points listening to II, the second LP from Nude Beach. Brooklynites Chuck Betz, Ryan Naideau, and Jimmy Shelton know all the right moves, the kind borrowed from Tom Petty, The Replacements, and Dwight Twilley records.

There's a kind of pure enthusiasm to the record. Opener "Radio" has got the kind of groove that could appeal as easily to fans of Springsteen as The Clash. "Love Can't Wait" shines with chiming chords, and "You Make it So Easy" shows off a classicist pop streak, with bouncing bass and pianos.

The band backs up its garage-y swagger with great songs and killer melodies -- and even if their name keeps them from easy google-ability, the songs have the kind of hooks that linger once you've found them. -- Jason P. Woodbury

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