TURNING JAPANEESEBy the time Americans became hip to the Japanese all-girl pop trio Shonen Knife--via the 1989 tribute album Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them, which included Knife tracks performed by the likes of Sonic Youth, Redd Kross and L7, and the raves of outspoken fans like Kurt Cobain (who once famously proclaimed, "When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical 9-year-old girl at a Beatles concert")--their best work was behind them. Major-label contracts and the recording budgets that came with them did much to blunt what people loved about them in the first place: the supremely catchy, simplistic songs, performed in shambolic manner, and sung in charmingly broken English or Japanese.
Praise be to Oglio Records, then, who recently re-released the band's first four albums--Burning Farm (1983), Yama No Attachan (1984), Pretty Little Baka Guy (1986) and 712 (1991)--in remastered versions with bonus tracks. For those who heard the later albums and wrote the band off as a mere gimmick, these albums will be revelations of a sort, and will explain exactly what all the fuss was about to begin with. Guitar-pop rarely inspires the giddiness that these four discs will provide in spades. Suddenly, that Cobain quote makes sense after all these years.
Shonen Knife perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Tuesday, March 22. The Forty-Fives (see this week's Rhythm & Views, Page 72) and Gore Gore Girls open at 9:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $10 at www.virtuous.com. They'll be $12 on the day of the show. For more information, call 798-1298.
GIRL POWERIf it seems like neo-folkie Melissa Ferrick just played in town a few months ago, well, it's because she did. Ferrick performed at Club Congress in November in support of her latest (and some say bestest) album, The Other Side (2004, Right On), which found her not only playing every note you hear on it (save for a single cameo appearance by guitarist Teddy Goldstein), but producing and engineering it, as well.
Ferrick returns to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, March 23, with KXCI favorite Garrison Starr handling opening duties at 7:30 p.m. Advance tix are available for $10 at the front desk of Hotel Congress or online at www.hotelcongress.com. They'll be $12 on the day of the show. Further details may be obtained by calling 622-8848.
Meanwhile, in a rather odd coinkidink, Ferrick's opening act at that November show will be headlining their own show the previous night, at a slightly larger venue. Despite a press release claiming that "this will be the first time Tegan and Sara visit the Old Pueblo," they were, indeed, on the bill at that last Ferrick show. If you missed 'em the first time around, or didn't catch their appearance on Conan, consider this a second chance to check out why these 23-year-old Canadian twin sisters are being hyped. Their third album, So Jealous, which was released last September on Neil Young's Vapor imprint, is chock full o' assured songwriting and killer sisterly harmonies, with elements of folk, new wave, punk and pop littered about.
And just as Ferrick had the up-and-coming, much-hyped Tegan and Sara open for her last year, this time, it's T&S's turn to share the spotlight with the up-and-coming, much-hyped Ditty Bops, who will open for them. The L.A. duo--Abby DeWald (vocals, guitar) and Amanda Barrett (vocals, mandolin, dulcimer)--specialize in a sort of modernization of several forms of music: swinging vocal jazz, Western swing, ragtime and cabaret, among them. Just so their self-titled debut (2004, Warner Bros.) didn't end up sounding like a relic from a long-gone era, they got the deservedly respected producer Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega) to helm the thing--no small feat for a debut album. Their live act is said to be rather theatrical (puppet shows, costumes, etc.), and if that doesn't jazz you, when was the last time you saw anyone play the dulcimer?
Tegan and Sara and the Ditty Bops perform an extremely early show at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22 at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tickets are available for $12 at the venue, all Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more info, call 733-6262.
ON THE BANDWAGONSince there's still an awful lot to cover, let's do some short takes on some worthwhile shows, shan't we?
Rivaling only the Wu-Tang Clan in crew membership, all nine members of the Living Legends--Murs, The Grouch, Eligh, Luckyiam, Scarub, Bicasso, Sunspot Jonz, Aesop the Black Wolf, and Arata--will appear this week at a hip-hop extravaganza that also features J-Live, Pigeon John and Phoenix's Pokaface. This all-ages show hits the stage at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, March 20. Doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $18.50 at the venue, all Zia locations, or www.ticketweb.com. For more info, call 622-8848.
Feeling a bit blue lately? Relationship troubles? If you're looking for a soundtrack that speaks to your troubles, look no further than the show Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., has in store for Monday, March 21. Headliners Stars are a pack of Canadians that trade in highly crafted, layered songs of urban ennui and troubled relationships, while openers Parker and Lily's third album, The Low Lows (2005, Warm) is inhabited by songs that merge tales of breakups with bleak, droning atmospherics. (Warning: not for the suicidal.) Apostle of Hustle take the middle slot, and while we haven't actually heard them, we're betting they're not a happy pop band. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $8. Questions? Call 798-1298.
We're not exactly sure when or why the Meters became the Funky Meters, but we do know that for almost 30 years, they've been plying the embodiment of syncopated New Orleans funk, influencing scores of acts in their wake. They'll be at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road, on Wednesday, March 23. Doors open at 8 p.m., and advance tickets are available for $30 at the venue, all Ticketmaster locations, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For further details call 733-6262.
As has been the case in recent weeks, we've only scratched the surface of the cornucopia of musical options available this week, so be sure to check our listings for the complete picture.