Music » Music Feature

Local Love

Levine looks at 2014’s local music offerings and what he loved most

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January

After announcing the year-end closure of Toxic Ranch Records from its location of nearly 20 years, on Sixth Street at Fourth Avenue, in October, 2013 due to rising rent fees, owner Bill Sassenberger sees a groundswell of support for the store, which finds a new home—albeit short-lived; Toxic Ranch as a brick-and-mortar entity is currently non-existent—at a strip mall at the intersection of Broadway and Campbell. Old Paint Records quietly opens in Old Town Artisans Square.

All-ages venue 191 Toole opens in the old Skrappy's building on Jan. 11. The Resonars, Prom Body, Dream Sick, Discos, Best Dog Award, Hermanitos, Hip Don't Dance and River Man all perform that day, and over the next 12 months the space will feature acts like Deafheaven, Future Islands and, uh, Macauly Culkin's pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band, The Pizza Underground.

Local rappers Cash Lansky and Marley B release their joint album for Murs' Label 3:16 imprint, "The Tonite Show."

Local legends Black Sun Ensemble—whose founder Jesus Acedo passed away in March 2013—sees the release of its posthumous album "Behind Purple Clouds," celebrated by a Rialto Theatre concert, headlined by Cobracalia.

Notable Releases: On the Corner, "Stuck on Stupid;" Hip Don't Dance "Zoetrope Woe;" Sutcliffe Catering Co. "Sedentary Life"; Ezra Letra "The Nobody EP;" Clay Dudash "Keep You Company."

February

After finishing up their soon-to-be released final, third record, Dream Sick disbands, though its members Jess Matsen, Matt Baquet, Connor Gallaher and John Bullock will, in different configurations, participate in projects that will prove to be very important to the trajectory of local music throughout the year.

The Rio Yaqui Benefit Show, whose proceeds went to efforts to preserve the "natural and legal water rights of the Yaqui Nation," as stated by organizers at the time, takes place on Saturday, Feb. 1 at The Global Center Justice Stardust Ballroom.

Former Redlands member Nick Prevenas debuts his Side Streets Podcast series, concentrating on interviews with local musicians and will go on to broadcast over 40 episodes by the end of the year.

Notable Releases: Bradford Trojan "Bradford Trojan;" Laser Dad "Laser Dad;" Godhunter "City of Dust."

March

Long-running blues-rock band Greyhound Soul, fronted by Joe Pena, celebrates its two decade anniversary with a show at Che's Lounge on March 8.

In an attempt to fill the void left by the Club Crawl Festival, which died a quiet death in 2012, this newspaper sponsors the March Radness event, with performers including Sir Mix-A-Lot, Murs, Pinback, Nite Jewel, Yacht, Painted Palms, Casket and others. The event takes place at The Rialto Theatre and Club Congress on March 8.

Seminal local hardcore band Feast Upon Cactus Thorns—or FUCT, get it?—play the last of their short-lived reunion shows following a period of dormancy since the mid-1990s.

Notable releases: North "Metatonia;" Tesoro "Tesoro."

April

In a notably quiet month for local music, two highlights are The Wild Wild West Fest at Terrasante Community west of Tucson. The Fest features more than 20 acts including Stanley Jordan, Haymarket Squares and 8 Minutes to Burn,

Plush changes ownership and renames itself The Flycatcher, in what was the year's silliest controversy.

Notable releases: A Fall to Break, "Disaster, Destruction and After;" Prom Body/Weed "Live;" and Sweet Ghosts "Certain Truths."

May

Steven Tracy opens St. Cecilia Studios on Congress Street, a state of the art recording studio that will be integral to the completion of records by Human Behavior, Best Dog Award, and others.

The first of two music festivals this year at Cowtown Keeylocko, a mining ranch 40 miles south of Tucson, takes place on May 5, with performances by Vox Urbana, Burning Palms, Ohioan, Algae & Tentacles, and others.

The 29th annual Tucson Folk Festival sets up shop at a number of downtown locations with 120 acts performing over two days.

Notable releases: Man Bites Dog "Man Bites Dog;" and Big Meridox "The 7th Division."

June

In what was 2014's most surprising and hotly anticipated concert, Malignus Youth played a benefit show for Solar Culture at The Rialto Theatre, the band's first appearance in 14 years.

The fantastic local alternative rock band How To Build a Rocketship also briefly reunites, this time for two shows, also for the first time in 14 years.

Prom Body begins the most aggressive—and as it would appear, successful—P.R. campaign of any local act this year, appearing on the blogs of NPR, Spin, Noisey and others in the rollout for their second album "Naughty By Natural," which is issued in June.

Notable releases: Dead Retina "Two Young Cops;" Burning Palms "Burning Palms."

July

Hard-rock quartet Sugar Stains celebrates the release of its final album with a performance at Sky Bar and subsequently goes on indefinite hiatus.

Prom Body's huge blowout release show for "Naughty by Natural" takes place at Topaz, which would be, in fact, the venue's second to "last" show at that point.

Notable releases: Texas Trash & the Trainwrecks "Gimmie a Hand!;" Signals, "Hindsight;" and Best Dog Award "Faith-Based Space Place."

August

La Cerca and Lenguas Largas both release long-awaited instant-classic new records—"Sunrise For Everyone" and "Come On In," respectively—and embark on reportedly successful national tours.

The annual HoCo Fest commences at Club Congress on the month's final weekend, featuring appearances by Nik Turner (formerly of Hawkwind), Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, Zackey Force Funk, Chicha Dust, Orkesta Mendoza, among many others.

Notable releases: Head Over Heart, "I Believe You, Liar"; La Cerca, "Sunrise For Everyone"; Lenguas Largas, "Come On In."

September

Beloved local musician Cyril Barrett tragically passes away after a prolonged illness on Sept. 1 at the age of 59. A memorial show at Che's Lounge on Sept. 14 features moving performances by Gabriel Sullivan, Naim Amor, Laura Kepner-Adney, Leila Lopez, Brian Green, Courtney Robbins, Tom Moore, Vicki Brown, Amy Rude, Carlos Arzate, Cristina Williams, Peter Newbegin, Brian Lopez, and Jamie Laboz. Donations pouring in from the concert and online will fund a various artists tribute record that benefits No More Deaths, Barrett's favorite charity.

Laura and the Killed Men, a new band comprised of Laura Kepner-Adney with Sun Bones as her backing band, releases its self-titled debut EP. In a slightly confusing twist, Kepner-Adney also joins Sun Bones as a permanent member.

Notable releases: Brian Lopez "Static Noise;" Copper & Congress, "Fault Line."

October

30 years after forming Giant Sandworms with Howe Gelb, Billy Sedlmayr finally releases his debut solo album, "Charmed Life." Over two years in the making and sired by Gabriel Sullivan, "Charmed Life" is celebrated with a show at Club Congress, while the album receives across-the-board praise regionally.

The third annual Southwest Terror Fest moves from its previous location at The Rock to downtown, at both The Rialto Theatre and The District Tavern. It lasts four days, hosts Neurosis' first Arizona appearance in 15 years and features over 20 bands from around the country, including locals Godhunter, North, Conqueror Worm and Sex Prisoner.

Notable releases: Shaun Harris "Journey to F-Sides;" Black One, "Rosemont."

November

The second installment of Night of the Living Fest moves to La Cocina from Old Tucson Studios where it was held in 2013. The event includes performances by Mike Watt, Prom Body, Chicha Dust, Mangchi, The Night Collectors, Hermanitos, Treasure Mammal, Whoops, Acorn Bcorn, and Black Ginger.

Another annual event, the Tucson Rock Lottery—where bands are formed by randomly drawing musicians' names out of a hat; the bands then have 12 hours to put together a four-song set to be played that night—takes place at The Flycatcher on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Notable releases: Gabriel Sullivan "Jvpiter;" Jess Matsen, "Tall Told Tale;" Various Artists "Dune Drift III;" Mik and Scott, "Introducing."

December

"The Second Annual Benefit for Amy and Derrick Ross: A Celebration of the Lives, Love and Music of Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl" commences at The Flycatcher and Cafe Passe on Dec. 6. Featured performers include The Sundowners, Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls, Dry River Yacht Club, Keli Carpenter and Bryan Sanders, who donate their time and efforts with proceeds from the shows going to the Lupus Foundation, as the disease tragically took Amy's life in 2013, with Derrick passing the following day.

The Great Cover-Up celebrates year 16 with performances from The Jons, Spacefish, Easyco, Copper & Congress and others.

"The Banks of the Ship Canal," a various artists tribute record to Cyril Barrett, is released.

Notable releases: Wight Lhite "Beyond the Satellites;" Naim Amor,"Hear the Walls;" American Monoxide "In Flight Mode."

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