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Noise Annoys

Total musical anarchy in Tucson, 2017

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As we enter officially into the death throes of the 2010s, the trail of musical carnage we leave behind is such that, if this were a real life war, the losses and casualties would be too great to understand the original aim of the conflict.

However, this is pop music and total destruction of what came before is often the best that can happen—clearing space for new forms of expression to be cultivated. It's no different than any other time there's been a pop-cultural shift that see careers end or downsize significantly. This time we see the fall of the old-style major-label system and the democratization of musical platforms where anyone can be heard, like on Bandcamp or SoundCloud or YouTube.

One thing we've been discussing in this column of late is rock music's seeming inability to deal with the social, political and cultural changes over the last seven of eight years. It can't even keep up with other forms of pop music. While it may still be alive, it's in the background. It doesn't speak to its target audience anymore and rock stars don't exist anymore.

With the proliferation and intermingling of hip-hop (which is killing it on all streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify), R&B, avant-garde and noise, along with the electronic pop, a lot of action in this world is happening in sleepy old Tucson right now.

You could file this musical action perhaps in line with Kanye West's most experimental and innovative work, or alongside noise-rap acts like B L A C K I E and genre pioneers Death Grips. It includes Tucson two-piece Headlock who call their music shred-rap, as well as the outre electronic record label Bank Notes (profiled a few months ago in Tucson Weekly) whose roster includes the luminescent Gray Sweater Audio and the wonderfully droning and abrasive Sunfucked (Note: although neither Sunfucked or Gray Sweater Audio will be performing this week with the other acts in this column, they are fellow travelers.)

There's the Jivin Scientists, who have been around long enough to be deemed seminal to the growth of the Tucson music community of like-minded people.

And there's Otherly Love and Acorn Bcorn, ostensibly rock bands but like the New York postpunk No Wave movement—that tradition going back through Yoko Ono and her infiltration of the rock world with John Lennon. Because Ono's work of the period used electric guitars and a drum set, audiences couldn't understand what the fuck she was doing and branded her a talentless charlatan. This would happen again a decade later with No Wave. And while Acorn Bcorn and Otherly Love tend to inspire much more goodwill in their music among audiences, it doesn't dull their edges.

And finally, there's Lasso, an enigma who wraps up all these different strands into one uncategorizable narcotic cocoon of hip-hop, silky R&B, Jamaican dub and the iconoclasm of Otherly Love and Acorn Bcorn.

This year is the year Tucson has a musical upheaval. Don't be surprised if these artists and others who haven't even played a show or wrote a song are part of the revolt. Which makes this unequivocally a victory, in that rare moment where the losses sustained were more than worth it.

Headlock, Acorn Bcorn, Jivin' Scientists, Lasso, and Otherly Love celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tucson fanzine Hocus Bogus. Saturday, Jan. 28. 191 Toole, 191 Toole Ave. 7 p.m. $5. All ages.


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