Music News

Local Music Musings: Vinyl Dreams & The Jekyll/Hyde Scene

By Steve Jansen

Want more JJCNV? Check them out on a recently-released 7-inch record.

Just-Released Records:

In the past week, my turntable has been on constant rotation due to vinyl releases by a number of local bands.

One is the four-way, two-7” split featuring hard rockers Skinwalkers, polka freakout trio Haunted Cologne, the indescribable Ray Reeves and the Phoenix $ons, and current New Timescover story darling JJCNV. You can cop the album at a number of locally-owned spots, such as Stinkweeds, Revolver Records, Trunk Space, and Eastside Records.

The other is recent Noise Boy subject Foot Ox and his It’s Like Our Little Machine. (Read the review of the CD-version here.) The sleek LP on Distant-Colony Records features a cool insert. Pick one up next time you’re in Tempe at Eastside Records.

Upcoming Must-See Shows:

There are so many amazing shows going on these days that it was tough to parse down the list to just a few. So if you have limited time/funds, here’s a recommended shortlist. Circle the date, send yourself an email, write it down on your hand, do whatever you need to do to remember to hit up these concerts.

Monday, 9/22: Beck at Dodge Theatre – No explanation needed.

Friday, 9/26: Dear and the Headlights CD release at The Clubhouse, Tempe – The local rock band drops a new album, Drunk Like Bible Times.

Monday, 9/29: Taraf Degrief @ Trunk Space – Yiddish music duo performs a rare concert to usher in the Jewish New Year. (Read the preview here.)

Tuesday, 9/30: David Byrne @ Orpheum Theatre – World Renaissance musician and former leader of the Talking Heads performs. The biggest bummer? Missing Sigur Rós.

Tuesday, 9/30: Sigur Rós @ Marquee Theatre, Tempe – The best thing to come out of Iceland since Björk? Perhaps. The biggest bummer? Missing David Byrne.

The Just-Plain Ugly:

For all of the awesomeness that’s been going on musically, Phoenix (specifically Mesa) did its best to fulfill the bad side of the good-bad parallel.

It all occurred during last Sunday’s Kronos Quartet show at the Mesa Arts Center. The string quartet, arguably the best-known classical group in the States, and Chinese pipa player Wu Man, were in the middle of performing Terry Riley’s The Cusp of Magic. During one of the piece’s more melodic and sparse movements, violinist David Harrington began to play a number of found objects, including stuffed animals with talk boxes, a squeaky dog toy, and wooden percussion.

Anyone with a functioning brain knew that these alternate sounds were meant to add additional textures and colors to the stirring composition, not to portray a comedic value in the music. However, this didn’t stop an audience filled with half-wits and children from giggling like a bunch of 14-year olds in sex education class. The more Harrington and Wu Man played these sound-producing devices, the more the audience laughed, even reaching a point where I felt as if I was at the frickin’ Tempe Improv; thus, completely ruining the concertgoing experience.

This complete embarrassment brings up another question: Why were there so many children in the audience? It’s because the concert was part of the Phoenix Symphony’s Target World Music Festival program, a series that has been wrongly marketed as a family-friendly event. I wouldn’t consider a matinée concert headlined by Kronos to be an appropriate shindig to shuttle the entire doggone family to check out. The music is not kid-friendly, nor is it dumb-friendly. Plus, the show took place inside a beautiful, intimate concert setting, not at a more relaxed outdoor venue like Steele Indian School Park.

Whoever is to blame for the debacle that I witnessed, one thing is clear: Phoenix ain’t shaking its cowtown moniker anytime soon.