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.
In his blustery way, Phil Anselmo has embodied everything that is right and wrong with the heavy metal lifestyle.
Fronting the legendary Pantera, he raised the bar with one timeless album after another. In Down, he combined soul and sludge. With Superjoint Ritual, he brought forth a mix of hardcore punk and groove. Throughout his life, he's been the pillar of the party -- notorious for heroin abuse that led to a near-fatal onstage heart attack -- and the ax that caused it to come crashing down. And let's not forget his array of death metal projects and independent label Housecore Records, which stands as a true representation of the extreme underground.
Since the dissolution of Pantera in 2003, Anselmo has followed his muse wherever it's taken him, into the depths of black metal and acoustic Southern rock. He's unblinkingly charted unknown territory. His new forthcoming solo album, Walk Through Exits Only, follows that singular path.
"Well, I was writing songs, and I've been doing Down for a long time," Anselmo explains to heavy-metal website Blabbermouth. "There's an extreme love in my heart for I guess what would be called extreme music. I wanted to basically just get this mad nagging out of my system, these songs."
Anselmo turned to guitarist Marzi Montazeri, drummer José Manuel Gonzales (of Housecore act Warbeast), and bassist Bennett Bartley to help solidify the riffs and ideas into a fully formed project.
"I feel pretty constrained with an instrument in my hand onstage," says Anselmo. "So I really need a guitar player so I can be myself up there with a microphone."
Fans eager for a taste of Anselmo's new songs will be sated by War of the Gargantuas, a split EP with Texas thrashers Warbeast, released January 8. The record is not only a sample of Anselmo's solo works and new material -- it's also a precursor to what's to come from Housecore in 2013.
Fronted by Bruce Corbitt -- of pioneering thrash outfit Rigor Mortis -- Warbeast is a perfect example of the kind of metal Anselmo pushes with Housecore -- not afraid to walk the margins. Corbitt says it was an easy choice to collaborate on the EP.
"The man's got so much experience and knowledge when it comes to recording," Corbitt says of Anselmo. "He does this thing where he cups over his mouth and it creates its own effects so you don't have to use effects through the board or anything, and he also records his own echoes."
The appreciation extends both ways -- Anselmo met Corbitt at a show in the '80s, when he started the pit at a Rigor Mortis show. Pantera and Rigor Mortis were fierce Texas rivals -- but the competition pushed both bands, and on the EP, you can hear the trading of influences and experience back-and-forth between Anselmo and the five-piece.
"Conflict" and "Family, Friends, and Associates" are bolstered by double bass, paired with Anselmo's visceral screams. Warbeast's "Birth of a Psycho" and "It" display how the band full of veteran players continues to shift and progress the '80s metal template.
This year, Corbitt will issue Warbeast's sophomore album, Destroy, and the long-awaited Rigor Mortis album Slaves to the Grave.
"In one year, I'm going to release more material than I have in my entire career so far," says Corbitt. "And I'm so excited for Destroy; it's like a Reign in Blood-type album from start to finish, a heavy assault."
For lifers like Anselmo and Corbitt, the old days can't compare to right now.
"Bands have a way to be seen and heard on the Internet now," Anselmo says. "The underground is thriving." -- Lauren Wise
Editor's note: In early 2012, our sister paper the Village Voice ran writer Steven Thrasher's interview with Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington about the influence of composer Philip Glass. In anticipation of the Quartet's two-night stand at the Musical Instrument Museum, here is that conversation.
In addition to several collaborations with Philip Glass, some of which specifically were written for the quartet, the Kronos Quartet has worked with the music and talent of Meredith Monk, Darren Aronofsky, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, John Adams, Noam Chomsky, DJ Spooky, and Dave Matthews.
This interview began with a chat about a 2005 outdoor concert in Prospect Park of the score to Dracula, which Glass composed for the quartet. The concert -- where Glass and Kronos performed together while the classic film played -- was aborted under rather dramatic circumstance, when a lightning storm blew in suddenly.
Steven Thrasher: I was at the screening of Dracula at Celebrate Brooklyn! in 2005, where you were trying to play live with Philip Glass!
David Harrington: [Laughs] Wow, you were there?
Yes. And I escaped!
We were so excited to be there, and the audience was great. And, in fact, nobody can forget that concert. The other thing was that it was going so great. I thought everybody was just on. And then the storm happened exactly . . .
Was the first bolt of lightning as the tracking shot moved in on Dracula?
Actually, it was during the storm scene!
Were you getting nervous?
I wasn't nervous. I was worried about the sound and lighting booth people, and the electrical situation. I think the right thing was done, of course.
In preparing for the pieces I am writing about Glass' 75th birthday, I was listening to the soundtrack to the film Mishima yesterday. Not being a professional musician, I hadn't realized for some time that it featured a string quartet -- you! But, of course, listening to it after I knew this, I could hear Kronos in with keyboards and other instruments. Was that your first project together?
The first music we ever played of Philip Glass' was "Company," and that was in the early '80s. And, I can't remember which year, it was probably about '81 or '82. So, we've worked together for about 30 years now. And, of course, the first recording we did of his was Mishima.
Was that first piece he wrote for Kronos specifically?
Yes, except there were two songs we'd recorded for Linda Ronstadt for the Songs from Liquid Days album. The first major piece that he wrote specifically for Kronos was the String Quartet No. 5.
Did he say that he's wife's death was an inspiration for that composition, or a par of his grieving process?
Publicly, he didn't say much about that. Privately, it was the first piece he wrote after that. I believe he spent quite a while in Nova Scotia, and that was the first music he wrote after she died.
I think that that, when we rehearsed with him on that -- it's hard to put emotions into words, to interpret that, but I did have the feeling that this music was a part of that experience, and perhaps even surmounting that experience and dealing with it.
When you talk to laypeople, how do you describe what it's like to play Philip's music?
It depends. Some musicians -- let's start with musicians -- totally disregard the music of Philip Glass, thinking it's very simple. And simple-minded. Well, I have this to report to the people who have said that kind of thing in public and in private: They should try to do it sometime. Philip's music requires the utmost clarity -- of interpretation and sounds and intonation and rhythm of any music I can think of. He creates momentum and mood and a kind of texture through the use of repetition.
And one of the things that can always happen in Philip's music is you can forget to take a repeat and realize that you're in a different place than anyone else! Like, "Where am I?" [Laughs]
A quick question: Is it possible for a rock 'n' roll song to feature bells -- those chiming, ringing things -- without plunging to the depths of saccharine "twee-ness"?
We're not talking booming "For Whom the Bell Tolls"-by-Metallica bells. We're talking street-performer, Christmas-caroling bells. Is it possible to employ the use of that kind of bell and not sound positively wussified? A strong case for a "yes" vote would be "Shake Your Fist" by Fort Worth, Texas-based band Telegraph Canyon.
Yes, it's got bells, but it's also got balls. Featured on the band's sophomore LP, The Tide and the Current, recorded with Centro-Matic's Will Johnson (who's got a string of gravely stated alt-country releases to his own name) in 2009, the song features bells (and that other instrument-turned-Portlandia-joke, the banjo) but doesn't resign itself to cutesy sentimentality.
"Testify nothing but the truth," vocalist and songwriter Chris Johnson howls over a sturdy, surging chorus that recalls Band of Horses' primal early work and the arena-encompassing grandeur of Arcade Fire. So, bells? Sure -- as long as you got guts (and a well-worn copy of Born to Run to consult as reference). -- Jason P. Woodbury
It's a small, stripped-down EP, but Songs from the Stratton Sessions encapsulates just about everything Jon Rauhouse stands for musically.
And oddly enough, there isn't one lick of steel guitar, the instrument he's made his name with. There's the joy and spontaneity of creating: Rather than stick to the few unrecorded songs he'd intended to play, Rauhouse added another song he and Megyn Neff of Dry River Yacht Club had written. There's the fortuitous collaboration: Neff played violin on the EP just because she happened to be visiting. There's the sense of sharing, both music and good fortune: Half the proceeds from the EP go to providing free Suzuki violin lessons and half go to child abuse prevention.
"The first thing I started playing was a banjo. I started learning with some boys in Tempe back in 1977," he says. "It was so much fun that we would just get together and get a case of beer and sit down, and even if we knew just three songs at the start, we'd play them over and over and over, and it was a complete blast. It's always been something that was a positive camaraderie thing."
Camaraderie is right. The Stratton Sessions release comes in the midst several projects for Rauhouse: recording for Neko Case's next album, working on songs with Visqueen's Rachel Flotard, and recording his next "solo" album, which will feature Case, Flotard, Calexico, Kevin O'Donnel, Tommy Connell, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Berlin, and Sergio Mendoza.
"My records are like giant collaborations," Rauhouse says. "I get Joey [Burns] and John [Convertino] from Calexico a lot to play the rhythm section for me, and they love it because it's not the usual things they get to do. One of the best things about music is it gets to brings people together." -- Eric Swedlund
There is a Nashville-style knock knock going around where you can make any "what the hell ever happened to" country singer of the past the punchline. Since Clint Black is hitting town, we'll use him. It goes like this:
Knock knock. Who's there? Clint Black. Clint Black who? Hmmmph. Tough town...
Nashville radio is known for chewing up its legends and spitting them back out like soggy tobacco chaw when they get a little long in the yellow tooth - Merle Haggard and George Jones haven't had hit singles in decades, and even the New Traditionalists who saved country from the Urban Cowboy wave of pop country in the 80s are fading from memory with Garth Brooks recently ending three year stint in Las Vegas and Alan Jackson's latest record offering up three singles that each died a wheezy death like an old ranch mule barely inside the Top 30.
Clint Black was one of the New Traditionalist who rescued country when his 1989 debut album "Killin' Time" hit country radio with four No. 1 hard country singles. Although Black hasn't recorded an album of new material since 2005, country music needs a few more Clint Blacks, honest to God country singers, and less of the preening cowboy-hatted, tank-topped, wallet-chained jackasses populating the new millennium country charts. -- Chris Hansen Orf