A DROUGHT, OF SORTS
Just as the monsoon is about to arrive, summer has left us a bit high and dry this week in another department: live music. Nonetheless, there are still some shows worth your time and money. Here are some of them.
FROM THE SOULLESS NORTH
There's always been something of a rivalry between Tucson and the Phoenix metro area. They think we're a bit of a backwater, and we think they're a bland, soulless megalopolis that's trying too hard to be Los Angeles—and failing miserably. (See what I mean?)
But the truth of the matter is that a lot of it is mere jest: Once we all get together, we seem to get along just fine.
Although Phoenix has given us bands like the Gin Blossoms, Jimmy Eat World, Dead Hot Workshop and The Format over the years, Tucson has always been more of a music town—especially when you consider the size difference. This week, though, Tucson gets a surprisingly rare taste of two of Phoenix's most highly touted young bands, who are playing on consecutive nights, at two different clubs.
After releasing a pair of EPs on Jim Adkins' (Jimmy Eat World) Western Tread label, Carefree, Arizona's Peachcake finally released its debut LP, What Year Will You Have the World?, last fall. It's chock-full of smart electro-pop tunes that work on every level: witty lyrics, sweet melodic hooks and, yes, you can dance to it. If Gravy Train!!!! and The Postal Service collaborated on an album, it might sound something like What Year. The album followed a period of tragedy and travails, including the death of frontman Stefan Pruett's brother, which nearly broke up the band. But like the name of the town from which they hail, the band's music is all about positivity and the pursuit of a good time. (That's where the costumes come in.)
Also on this bill for this four-fer: the relatively new local band Seashell Radio—Jeremy Serwer, Cassie Van Gelder, Fen Ikner, Esmé Schwall—which has already released an EP of gorgeously moody tunes that at times recall the sophisticated pop of Talk Talk and Air; Tucson young'uns I Am the Lion, who trade in post-punk prog; and Austin/Brooklyn combo Mothfight, who sound like they've been influenced by Animal Collective, the Polyphonic Spree and Grizzly Bear (i.e., pop tunes with lots of harmonies and noise-fuckery).
This one goes down at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is free. For more information, call 622-8848.
Miniature Tigers, who also call Phoenix home, perform in Tucson even less frequently than Peachcake. (In fact, I can't recall them ever playing here before, though that's not to say they haven't.) Like Peachcake, the band boasts smart lyrics and a pop sweet spot that'll have you checking your blood sugar. But the songs on Tell It to the Volcano, the band's debut album, which was released on Epic last September, are more organic and less electro than the music of Peachcake. Instead, they're kissed with the sunny pop associated with California.
"This is not a test or an S.O.S. / I'm no longer on a quest to get girls undressed / I searched through their hearts and no treasure I found / I'm so lucky this one lets dogs hang around," is how the album's first single, "Cannibal Queen," opens; but lest you be led to believe that Miniature Tigers are some emo-lite outfit, once the chorus kicks in, the tune sounds like nothing so much as E.L.O. had Jeff Lynne grown up in L.A. instead of the United Kingdom. (There's also a bit of Ben Folds in there, which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the band has toured with him; they've also toured with Bishop Allen and fellow Phoenicians Dear and the Headlights.)
Miniature Tigers headline a bill that also includes California's Princeton, who have often been compared to Vampire Weekend, but who swim in more of a Beatles/chamber pop vein, and Tucson's Umbrella Bird, who have recently undergone a name change; they used to be Lydian and the Amphybians.
All three bands perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., next Thursday, July 2, starting at 9:30 p.m. Cover is a fiver. For further details, call 798-1298.
I'VE GOT YOUR PLANK RIGHT HERE
Tucson and Devil Doll, the Los Angeles-based band fronted by Devil Doll (aka Colleen Duffy) herself, have developed quite a relationship over the years, which should come as no surprise: The group's sexy blend of rockabilly, jazz (of many varieties including Latin and swing) and punk is a no-brainer match for the greased-hair-and-tattoos set.
But this week, Devil Doll is doing something a little different: A show at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., on Thursday, July 2, will be the debut of Devil Doll and the Dread Crew of Oddwood, which Duffy, in an e-mail to Soundbites, describes as "an authentic pirate band." She compares it to the Pogues.
The whole night is pirate-themed, in fact, with discounts at the door for those dressed in pirate garb. And we're guessing that opening act Black Cherry Burlesque (not a band, but an actual burlesque troupe), who never turn up their nose at a theme, will tailor their act accordingly.
The show starts at 9 p.m., and cover is $12—$10 if you're done up as a pirate. Need more info? The number to call is 882-0009.
While he made a name for himself as an influential rapper in the early '90s—his now-classic debut, 1991's Quik Is the Name, went platinum—DJ Quik in recent years has become as known for his production—for the likes of Talib Kweli, Ludacris, and Jay-Z—as his rapping. He'll be at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, June 26, along with Kurupt (Tha Dogg Pound), who starts off the all-ages show at 8 p.m. $25 in advance, $29 on the day of the show; 740-1000.
Carbon Leaf, who have a rabid cult following, and whose music Gene Armstrong once described in these pages as "gentle pop-rock for 30-something traditionalists who no longer need to be shocked or threatened by music, who tend to ponder a well-phrased, introspective lyric as they might a modest California wine," arrive at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., for a show on Saturday, June 27. Opening at 7 p.m. is Trevor Hall, whose debut album will be released on Vanguard, on July 28. Hall, who has toured with Matisyahu (the album's first single, "Unity," is a collaboration with him), merges two beachcomber favorites: acoustic pop and reggae. $13 in advance, $15 on the day of the show; 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON
The Wyatts, Redlands and Loveland at Plush on Friday, June 26; 2 Live Crew at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, June 28; Intocable at AVA at Casino del Sol on Friday, June 26; Jose Feliciano at Desert Diamond Casino on Monday, June 29; Triple Cobra at The Rock next Thursday, July 2; Prince tribute act Purple Reign (as seen on Letterman) at the Paradiso Bar and Lounge at Casino del Sol next Thursday, July 2; Led Zeppelin tribute act Whole Lotta Zep and Pink Floyd tribute act Atom Heart Mother at O'Malley's on Saturday, June 27; 8 Minutes to Burn, The Tryst and Flagrante Delicto at Plush on Saturday, June 27; The Mission Creeps, Wolfman and the Nards and The Stripper Killers at Vaudeville on Saturday, June 27.
Also, be sure to check out the fine lineup of shows this week at The Red Room at Grill, which includes appearances by Monster Pussy, Gamma Like Very Ultra, The Modeens, Terraformation and Cassette Culture.