Top Five Must-See Shows This Week in Phoenix

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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, January 21: Avian Architecture @ The Rogue Bar

Psych fans and math-rock devotees both enjoy technical drum feats and guitar pyrotechnics, but each group has its preferred flavors of jam. Mathletes tend to like riffs that show the science at work, geometric patterns that confound in exciting ways.

Psych rockers like their technical proficiency to offer an escape, whorls and stretches of notes that are easy to get lost in. Mesa-based Avian Architecture splits the difference, affixing psych textures and tightly syncopated drums to guitar work that rides comfortably in between, covering the entrails of composition while still sounding impressive.

The airtight duo of JD Snell and Tyler Lindgren is just as dexterous as math-rock favorites Tero Melos, but the structures and meters on the band's Gemini Talons EP manage to stay fitful and accessible. And like psych visionaries Mars Volta, Avian Architecture is fond of fun-to-say, hard-to-spell portmanteau song titles. "Circumabulation" is built around a spacey, serpentine groove in 6/4 time that sounds much more propulsive than complex. The sharp "Earthbound Portals" is littered with double-kick drum accents and pointillist fills, all guided by start-stop guitar arpeggios that revel in the tension.

The boys are hard at work on a new full-length, something Valley fret-worshippers should keep on high alert. -- Chase Kamp

Tuesday, January 22 and Wednesday, January 23: Social Distortion @ Marquee Theatre

Aging well is remarkably difficult in the world of punk rock. Can you imagine Sid Vicious in his 50s? But Mike Ness of Social Distortion still has it going on. Ness continues to win the hearts of pompadour-sporting gals because he is a textbook example of the sensitive bad boy. He's broken hearts and gone to jail (face tattoos!), all the while celebrating and staring down his demons. He's a roughneck, but tender, too, able to croon with equal parts romance and danger.

He's the symbol that sums Social Distortion as a whole. Over the course of a 35-year career, Social D has released seven albums, each one straddling common themes: nostalgia, the flirtatious relationship between rock and country, struggles with women and the law. The balance of bruised love songs and the band's rebellious ethos keeps attracting new fans to Social D's annual double-header shows in Tempe.

The band's longevity is a benchmark for blue-collar punk 'n' roll acts like Lucero and The Gaslight Anthem. "We just got really lucky in that we've been able to [play music for a living] and it still is relevant," says guitarist Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham. "I don't know what else I would be doing if I wasn't playing music." -- Melissa Fossum

Read Up on the Sun's full Q&A with Jonny "2 Bags" of Social Distortion.

Wednesday, January 23: Lady Gaga @ US Airways Center

Lady Gaga might be even more calculating and fatally self-absorbed than her idol Madonna, but there's nonetheless a goofy, underlying charm to frothy tunes like the early hit "Paparazzi" that sometimes is obscured by the glittery smoke and mirrors of her onstage spectacles.

It's not easy to be a mainstream dance-pop singer who aspires to be a transgressive LGBT rebel, and the onetime Stefani Germanotta usually ends up closer to the electronic middle of the road than to the deep underground. Turning Judas Iscariot into a sympathetic, seductive character might have seemed like a provocative idea, but ultimately Lady Gaga's allegorical 2011 single "Judas" was more sensual than profane. The big problem remains Germanotta's hardly transgressive tendency to lift music and fashion styles, whether she's paying homage to such well-known predecessors as Madge and Dale Bozzio or, like a reverse Robin Hood, figuratively taking that notorious plastic bubble dress off the back of the relatively obscure Kristeen Young.

Even with her considerable charisma, it's not always clear who Lady Gaga really is. --Falling James

Thursday, January 24: RA the Rugged Man @ Red Owl

RA the Rugged Man may not be the most well known rapper out there but there is no denying the guy's skills. The Long Island native signed with Jive Records when he was 18 and has worked with some of hip-hop's biggest talents, but has kept things quiet since 2004's Die, Rugged Man, Die. This year is supposed to see its followup, titled Legends Never Die and is slated to feature a diverse guest roster including Kool G Rap, Talib Kweli, Masta Ace, Brother Ali, and Tech N9ne. -- Mike Escoto

Thursday, January 24: Wiley One @ Rock Bar Inc

Sam Wiley, the heart and soul of Tempe-based The Wiley One, is known around town for churning out acoustic-driven, reggae-infused hip-hop tunes with rapid fluidity. Since 2007, the "No. 7 Kid" has dished out bouncy beats and twangy guitar licks, spreading his sound across the Southwest while, at the same time, striving for ecological responsibility.

"Green" has plenty of connotations for a reggae singer -- but Wiley's serious about the green movement.

"I've always been passionate about the environment," says Wiley, an avid snowboarder and surfer. "That mainly comes from my family in Mexico City, where they make wind generators. My grandfather had a hand in placing a lot of the wind turbines you see on the drive to California. So we always grew up energy-conscious in that sense."

A musician's carbon footprint may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but whenever touring artists use biodiesel fuel, they're actually helping to offset the carbon dioxide emissions created by their sometimes mammoth buses and titanic trailers.

"I just wanted to do something to spread awareness and to help out communities," he says. "We were inspired by different bands that were doing it, like Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, and Dave Mathews. They wanted to educate bands on how they could reduce their footprint when they were on tour." -- Anthony Sandoval

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