Music News

Top Five Phoenix Music Stories of the Week

The news waits for no one -- at least that's what we read somewhere -- so it's perfectly understandable that you, the reader, might have missed out on a musical tidbit, breaking news about your favorite venue, or one of our rants.

So enjoy this digest-style sampling of some of our biggest stories from the week of January 14-18, 2013.

Five Favorite Live Hip-Hop Venues in Metro Phoenix

Musicians traditionally get all of the glory, but what about the venues that house them? Arizona hip-hop artists are regularly lauded for their lyrical lexicon and dazzling deliveries, but they couldn't be heard if popping music houses didn't provide the dark digs, microphones, stages, and booming sound systems.

There's nothing more innocuous than a strip mall, and it just so happens that the Valley is littered with them. These sidewalk shopping plazas are usually replete with an eatery -- something quaint like a Waffle House -- or maybe a friendly neighborhood yerberia.

And every so often there's a hidden gem known by few, but automatically appreciated once stumbled upon. Here's our look at our five favorite venues for live hip-hop in Phoenix.

--Anthony Sandoval

DJ Element Performing One Final Gig at The Blunt Club in Late February

We once asked local turntablism guru Logan Howard to approximate how many gigs he's performed over the course of his 16-year stint as DJ Element. While he wasn't able to answer the question exactly -- which you can't fault him for, considering the staggering length of his career -- he estimated it was "somewhere in the thousands."

On February 28, you can add one more performance to that hazy total, and it's probably one of the biggest of the bunch, since it will be Howard's swan song as DJ Element.

Howard, who has decided to turn in his turntables and call it a career when he announced his retirement last month, will provide one final performance behind the decks during a special edition of The Blunt Club on Thursday, February 28, at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.

--Benjamin Leatherman

Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie" Reminds Us Why We've Missed Him So Much

Six years is a long time for a musician to be absent from the field.

Unless you've reach "legendary" status, making a comeback after such a long period of dormancy is nearly impossible. With that said, Justin Timberlake's last album, FutureSex/ LoveSounds, is one of the greatest R&B albums of the last generation. Perhaps the now married, 31-year-old crooner-turned-actor felt that he didn't need to release any new music after putting out such an incredible album.

But a lot has changed in the world since he left. Things were very different in 2006: Twitter had just got off the ground, the iPhone didn't even exist, the term "swag" hadn't been abused into oblivion, George "Dubya" Bush was still in office, Lindsay Lohan was making seven million dollars a movie, and Lady Gaga wasn't even a thought.

See the full review of Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie."

--Jaron Ikner

10 Greatest TV Themes of All Time

Oh you don't own a TV? How brave.

Seriously -- people love bragging about not watching TV, but they're missing out. Whether watching live, on Netflix, or on DVD, there's almost nothing as fun as zoning out in front of the TV.

We're partial to music too (you might have guessed), so when we started chatting about our favorite television theme songs, things progressed -- pretty quickly -- and before you know it, we had this blog for you: Up on the Sun's 10 Favorite, Greatest, Coolest, Pretty Awesome, Television Themes of All Time (Or Right Now, At Least, When We Had to Come Up With Them).

--New Times Staff

Social Distortion's Jonny Two Bags: "I Don't Know What Else I Would Be Doing If I Wasn't Playing Music."

Orange County punk legends Social Distortion have always been generous about performing in Arizona. The band usually plays a double-header at Marquee Theatre early in the year, and once again, Social D will return to the Marquee on January 22 and 23.

The Tempe dates are part of a string of multiple headlining dates Social Distortion has all over Southern California and Las Vegas. Year after year, these shows continue to sell out, which is a testament to Social Distortion's staying power. After 35 years of rocking songs about hard luck with women and the law, Social Distortion continues to have a mass appeal.

"I really haven't been interested in doing anything else with my time other than being involved with music," says guitarist Jonny "Two Bags" Wickersham. "I think that we just got really lucky in that we've been able to do that and it still is relevant. We're really fortunate because it's true: A lot of bands don't get that opportunity."

We recently caught up with Jonny Two Bags to discuss Social Distortion's legacy, the band's new material, and the guitarist's reaction to The Vandals' writing a song about him.

--Melissa Fossum

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Eric Tsetsi
Contact: Eric Tsetsi