I have to start this off with a confession: I'm writing this on Christmas Eve and I'm scratching my head, wondering why there's next to no shows listed for the first week of January. Sure, it's a case of the post-holidays hangover in full effect; most people don't feel like doing anything at the dawn of a new year, nor do they want to break any resolutions when they can always be broken next week! Also, side note to the musicians reading this: there is a possibility that you have booked shows and haven't advertised them—don't think I don't know that, because I'm a musician myself and I pull that shit all the time.
And here we go:
In sludge/stoner-metal circles, the Athens, Georgia-based Jucifer is exalted high in the pantheon—they may not be Kyuss, but then again, outside of Black Sabbath, few if any bands are in that league. Still, Jucifer was there from the early days of the current scene, way back in the mid to late-'90s, around the time Josh Homme started his post-Kyuss project, a band called Queens of the Stone Age.
But back to Jucifer
Ed Livengood and Amber Valentine were in a romantic relationship in the jangle-pop college rock capital of the world, Athens—which had spawned the likes of the B-52s, Pylon and R.E.M. during the decade or so prior—and around 1993, the two started mixing super grimy guitar riffs, plodding drums, with some textural atmospherics floating in and out of the mix. This, of course, must have been brain-destroying to University of Georgia students who were still wrapping their heads around how Nirvana could possibly claim Michael Stipe and company as primary influences.
Over the next five years, it seems that local audiences warmed up to Livengood and Valentine's noise factory, and in 1998 the small local label Crack Rock Records issued Jucifer's debut release, "Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip." The timing was perfect: In the mainstream, the craven, best-forgotten sounds of nu-metal acts like Limp Bizkit, KoRn, and Kid Rock were putting alternative rock radio and the pop charts in a chokehold, while warmed over corporate-produced nonsense such as Eve 6, Lit and Tonic were simpering around MTV. In certain underground circles, new bands—including Queens of the Stone Age—who were building on the possibilities explored by Kyuss' mind-expanding and mind-numbing jams were gaining traction that eventually, for some, would turn into commercial success.
Jucifer never really "made it," but they have released several excellent records since their inception, and it's safe to say that when they roll into town on Friday, Jan. 2 at The Flycatcher, it's definitely worth your while to check it out. Admission is $12 and the show will be opened by locals Powered Wig Machine and Methra. See theflycatchertucson.com for details.
There isn't exactly what you'd call a heavy presence of jazz-pop combos in town, but irrelevant to their peers, or lack thereof, Steff and the Articles have been shining bright onstage and on record for years now.
They last released a recording of new music at the tail end of 2013, but the past year has seen the Articles complete a successful tour, shoot a video and play some fantastic, if sporadic local shows. A little bird told me that they were wined and dined by a few major record labels in Los Angeles, but I can't confirm that and it has little to do with their performance at Club Congress this weekend.
Sadly, the occasion of this show is a fond farewell to longtime violinist Alexandra Tuggle, whose lovely melody lines livened up and intertwined perfectly with the rest of the band for the past five years.
Steff and the Articles celebrate the end of an era and hopefully the start of a new chapter on Friday, Jan. 2 at Club Congress. Head Over Heart and Captain Squeegee open the show, and more info can be found at hotelcongress.com
WE WON'T KNOW
There's a few concerts that have been announced for later dates that I'd be remiss in not mentioning, because some, all or, possibly, none may sell out in advance: King Tuff at The Flycatcher on Thursday, Jan. 8; Midge Ure (formerly of New Romantics Ultravox) at Club Congress on Friday, Jan. 16; The Fab Four: Ultimate Beatles Tribute at The Fox Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 17; D.R.I. at The Rock on Saturday, Feb. 28.