Top Five Must-See Shows This Week

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, October 22: Melvins Lite @ The Crescent Ballroom

The Melvins have been at it for 30 years -- and to hear guitarist Buzz Osborne (better known as King Buzzo, natch) tell it, there's no point in stopping now. "We are entertainers. We are here to entertain you," he says rapidly, having just finished up the 14th show of 51 consecutively arranged dates.

The band plans on hitting every state (with a bonus stop in Washington, D.C.) in support of its latest record, Freak Puke, released under the slightly misleading "Melvins Lite" name. "We figure we have good taste," he says, "and since we have good taste, other people will appreciate our good taste." The record, which features a pared-down lineup of Dale Crover on drums and Trevor Dunn on bass, explores a slightly jazzier take on The Melvins' fuzzy sludge, with Dunn playing an amplified upright bass and Osborne utilizing a metal guitar to unique effect on songs like "Inner Ear Rupture" and a cover of the Wings classic "Let Me Roll It." The record is hardly "lite," in a sonic sense, and the insane touring schedule fits the ambitious sound.

"We're using the same exact instrumentation live. We play through smaller equipment; we try and work our way around the bass," Buzzo says. "It has its limitations, but it has [room] that our normal setup doesn't. It's really cool. You want to do some things differently -- some people don't like us changing, but if we didn't, they'd really hate it." If listeners feel challenged, that's for the best, Buzzo believes.

"I think that it's pretty significant that in our 30th year of our existence, we're taking on something like this," Buzzo says. "Why? Because it was just a big, stupid thing to do, not unlike Evel Knievel. It gets people talking about us, and we're trying to sell a new record, so that's the point. It's something that's big and stupid, and we're perfect for that."--Jason Woodbury

Tuesday, October 23: Matt and Kim @ Marquee Theatre

If Matt and Kim had never made it as a musical duo, they probably could've found success as therapists. The indie-punk band is sickeningly sweet and happy, putting just as much emphasis on their perma-smiles and interaction with fans as on the music they play. Matt and Kim dance on their instruments, throw balloons into the audience, and carry out long conversations on stage.

It's obvious that Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino have formed a tight bond since they met nearly 10 years ago as students at New York's Pratt Institute. And it's probably not difficult to be constantly oh-so-happy when you're working with the love of your life (the two are in a romantic relationship). When they come through town, the Brooklyn-based duo will play songs off their latest album, Sidewalks. Don't be fooled by their video for "Cameras," though. Almost as if they're poking fun at their perpetually happy state, the clip features the pair beating each other bloody. But at their concert, the only blood you're likely to see is that coming from Kim's thrashing on her drums, which gives this giddy group just enough edge to call themselves punk.-- Nicki Escudero

Wednesday, October 24: Jane's Addiction @ Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair

Do you know how many albums Jane's Addiction has? Four. That's four records in 27 years. But at least two of them are straight-up classics -- Nothing's Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo Habitual (1990) -- and the others aren't terrible or anything (TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek added some cool textures to last year's The Great Escape Artist).

In their own way, Jane's blended the bare-chested nonsense of Los Angeles pop-metal with a wounded, mystic hippie aesthetic. Sure, "Jane Says" and "Been Caught Stealing" have been driven into the ground by modern rock radio, but tell me you don't have an urge to strut a little to "Mountain Song."-- Jason P. Woodbury

Wednesday, October 24: Busdriver @ Rhythm Room

L.A. avantcore rap doofus Busdriver has been tripping lyrical booby traps for over 10 years. In that time, Bus has gone from tongue-stepping on top of Bach flute minuets to cross-breeding with art rockers Deerhoof. Even with his high-speed rhyme skills, it's not easy being the strangest rap-game reality sandwich artist. His previous backhanded boasts, backpacker send-ups, and hipster cross-hairs kept him unboxed by simple genre walls, but they also betrayed confusion of audience and a bit of self-chastising for his own indulgences.

He's smoothed the creases with his more recent work, adopting a lyrical playfulness and lack of self-consciousness that's as inviting as it is impressive. His recent full-length, Beaus$Eros, is as unpredictable as ever. The electro-synth psych swirl sometimes goes as far as to veer into sunny indie-pop singing. The "Arguments with Dreams" tour comes on the heels of the brand-new seven-song EP of the same name, which Bus is offering for free on the Big Dada label website.

Steeped in deep synth wheezes and bit-crushed beats, the EP features guest spots from tourmate Open Mike Eagle and Brooklyn pranksters Das Racist, a group whose no-big-deal Taco Bell non-sequitur is indebted to Busdriver's straight-faced absurdism. "I can make Parker Posey's ovum / ingest Macaulay Culkin / Then turn Sarkosy Vulcan / Because I'm that ill," he snipes on "Fire Hydrant," with his tongue planted only slightly in cheek.--Chase Kamp Thursday, October 25: Bad Veins @ Sail Inn Irene, simply put, is an enabler.

Ostensibly a duo, Cincinnati's Bad Veins are able to augment their indie-pop performances with a vintage reel-to-reel player, such a crucial element to the band that it's been anthropomorphized, sort of as a do-it-all female multi-instrumentalist (complete with her own Twitter: @thereelirene).

"Irene does her bit and we do our bit, so we've never really limited ourselves as far as the sonic soundspace," says drummer Sebastien Schultz. "There's tons of tracks and lots of orchestration, and that's something that with having the tape deck with us playing live, we're not under any constraints."

And as much as that constraint-free approach mattered for Bad Veins' 2009 self-titled debut, it was more crucial to the just-released follow-up, The Mess We've Made, an expansively poppy record that was tabbed album of the week by USA Today. In its ongoing state-by-state roundup of bands, Paste magazine named Bad Veins the top Ohio band to listen to now.

Fans of The Format will find a lot to like in The Mess We've Made, with its big, polished production and array of sounds -- banjo, ukulele, strings, and horns -- that embellish the synth-guitar-drums backbone.

"If we were thinking of making an album for the live show, there's probably no way we would have strings and a choir backing us," Schultz says. "It's important for us to put it out of our heads and know eventually we'll figure it out. The number one thing is simply making the best album."

Schultz and singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Benjamin Davis recorded over a three-month period at Audiogrotto, a church turned recording studio in Newport, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

"I didn't really have any sort of outlandish expectations," Schultz says. "One of the things that led to the sound of the album overall was having the time in the studio. We had a couple of months to work on everything and get it just the way we wanted it to sound. It was much more achievable this time around to match the sound we had in our heads. Most bands can identify with that -- there's always one last thing you want to get to. We had the time to make it a little more slick and that goes with having more time."

The band spent a lot of time in pre-production, arranging the basic tracks and all the flourishes, and let things sit for about a month before returning to mixing and sculpting the final sound.

"We certainly are an indie band, and we both came out of that with other bands, and we love that sort of music. But we also grew up listening to pop music, from Phil Collins to Michael Jackson," Schultz says. "We both love popular music [and] we don't shy away from that. It's something that came through on this album and our work to really get the sounds right before we went into recording."

Davis' lyrics often exist in the diary realm -- no surprise, considering the record's title. Choice snippets of lyrics -- "I could run all day just chasing my failures away," "I'd never argue that I'm anything if not a mess," and "For better or worse I am still a child" -- all point to the album's theme.

"Introspection and self-doubt are pretty much the theme of Bad Veins. Growing and evolving, also," Schultz says.

Bad Veins won't discuss the origin of the band name, but they've been completely open about Irene, whom they call a "robot with feelings and orchestral overtones."

"We just as easily [could've hooked up] an iPod and hide that behind me, but we've elected to use the reel-to-reel and embrace it. We can point to it and stop it and start it," Schultz says. "Every show has some new people who have never seen us before, and they look at the setup and wonder how it works. It's nice when people get drawn in visually."-- Eric Swedlund

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