Music

Friday, March 24, 2017

In the Flesh: The Blind Suns, The Mission Creeps and Louise Le Hir at Sky Bar.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 5:39 PM

A sizable crowd of people, many clad in red and blue UA apparel, dominated the early evening at Sky Bar this past Thursday night. It was the NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament and the place was packed. Bands scheduled early had to wait until the game—that saw Arizona lose to Xavier—concluded or risk riot.

The crowd thinned, many left bummed, after the defeat. But for those who stayed, the night was just beginning to unveil delights.

Louise Le Hir
Louise Le Hir - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Louise Le Hir

Local chanteuse Louise Le Hir took stage first. The natural performer sang like a siren, danced, and bounced a tambourine off her hip. Along with her ace band—Joel Crocco on guitar, bassist Gabe Hostetler and drummer Adan Martinez Kee—they offered an impassioned set of their country-tinged French dreampop.

Le Hir later updated us on what they’re up to:
“We are recording with Matt [Rendon] on an ongoing basis,” she said. “Once we get Kill Pretty out properly we'll have our third record ready.”

Is there a working title for the album and how does this new recording differ from Kill Pretty?

“No title, yet. But yeah, we are going in a different direction so far with the sound.”

See Louise Le Hir Saturday, April 8 at Owls Club, 236 S Scott Avenue with Tele Novella (from Austin, TX).

The Mission Creeps
The Mission Creeps at Sky Bar on Thursday - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • The Mission Creeps at Sky Bar on Thursday

Founded in 2006—inspired by old horror flicks, Link Wray, The Dead Kennedys, and dark and otherworldly shit that may or may not have taken root during the African diaspora that brought voodoo to New Orleans … Tucson vets The Mission Creeps, in all of their pallidness, were next.
Drenched in ’verb, twang and feedback—provided by guitarist James Arr and his Gretsch Electromatic and the incessant drumming of George “Of The Jungle Beat” Palenzuela—The Mission Creeps unleashed a fury. They recently added saxophonist Adrian “The Graverobber” Daley to bolster the sound. And no one rocks harder than bassist Miss Frankie Stein, and that’s saying a lot—bending backwards and striking chiropractor-flinching poses—she pounded and rounded out the foundation that led the band to the edge of chaos.

The Mission Creeps said post-show that they’re finishing up mixing songs recorded in May at Wavelab: “We're working towards releasing an EP, on the 4th of July, called Welcome to the Murder, Stein said. “Some parts have more wiggle, some a tad more naked sophistry,” Arr added.

The Blind Suns
The Blind Suns - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • The Blind Suns

After performing at SXSW, en route for shows in California, French band The Blind Suns made a stop in The Old Pueblo and closed the night with a white-hot post-mod set.

The Blind Suns have released three albums, the latest is 2016’s I Can Sea You. We were intrigued so the band’s singer/guitarist Dorota Kuszewska answered a couple questions:

What is that sound of yours?
“We're inspired by surf rock, oldies like Dick Dale, The Surfaris, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Kid and The Pirates (we covered "Shakin' All Over”) and some psychedelic/shoegaze stuff like The Raveonettes, Mazzy Star or The Jesus and Mary Chain. We mix sweet, pop melodies with dirty arrangements. Oh, and we love reverb!”

Where's home?
“We all live in Angers, France, situated between Paris and Brittany, two hours drive from the Atlantic Ocean. Romain Lejeune [lead guitarist/vocals] and Jérémy Mondolfo [drums/machines] are French, but I originally come from Poland and have been living in France for ten years now.”

When did you form?
“We released our first album in October 2014. The Blind Suns was basically just a studio project. We were all playing in different bands and had a couple of spare songs that we decided to release as the Baltic Waves album but didn't really expect anything of it. It's been three years now that it became our main band.”

Any SXSW highlights?
“Definitely Hotel Vegas where we played our official showcase. We played on the Volstead stage [classic vintage cocktail lounge] and had some amazing liquid light show projected on us. We also played at Electric Church, Kitty Cohen's for the French Pool Party, Butterfly Bar and at Cheers' Rooftop for [a daily online viral music show] Balcony TV.”

What’s next?
“We're working on our second album. We've also created a label/booking agency—Wild Valley that we're trying to develop in France and abroad. We'd like to focus on promoting our music by touring around the world. And come back to the USA for a bigger tour again, hopefully next year.”

The naysayers proclaiming that rock ’n’ roll is dead can sod off. It was alive and kickin’ on a chill spring night at Sky Bar.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last Blast of Irish Music Thursday Night at St. Francis in the Foothills

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 4:29 PM

Fiddler Athena Tergis joins renowned Irish musician Mick Moloney at a concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, at St. Francis in the Foothills Church. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Fiddler Athena Tergis joins renowned Irish musician Mick Moloney at a concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, at St. Francis in the Foothills Church.

Mick Moloney is a singer of songs, a teller of tales, a player of tenor banjo and guitar, and a scholarly folklorist who can tell you the meaning and origin of every note and word he sings. And he’s funny and charming to boot.

That rare commodity, a folk musician with a Ph.D., Professor Moloney has taught Irish Studies at New York University for years. He can tell you how immigrants coming to America changed the Irish music they brought with them. A recent CD, If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews, “celebrates the joyous and creative era in American popular song from the early 1890's to the end of vaudeville and the start of the Great Depression.” Every song on the album is a collaboration between Irish and Jewish musicians who were immigrants or the children of immigrants.

A Limerick man, Moloney performs and records widely. He’s worked with PBS on the TV documentaries Out of Ireland and The Irish in America: Long Journey Home. His book Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song has an accompanying CD.

For the Tucson concert, the last blast of Tucson’s Irish Season, Moloney teems up with Athena Tergis, an American-born prodigy who began playing the fiddle at age 4. She’s a master of Irish fiddling styles from the Auld Sod as well as from the Irish diaspora in North America. She’s performed on Broadway in Riverdance, plays regularly with Moloney in the band Green Fields of America, and she even toured the world with the late Clarence Clemons, sax player with the E Street Band.

The show starts at 7:30 Thursday, March 23, at St. Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Road, at Swan. The church’s music hall has only 200 seats. Advance tickets are $20, $18 for seniors and member of TFTM, $3 more at the door. You can get them at www.inconcerttucson.com and at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., and The Folk hop, 2525 N. Campbell. For disability seats, call 981-1475. You can listen in to a sampling of songs here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bona Fide SX

Posted By on Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 12:24 PM

Minus the Bear frontman Jake Snider and bassist Cory Murchy tune up before their Friday night SXSW show. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Minus the Bear frontman Jake Snider and bassist Cory Murchy tune up before their Friday night SXSW show.

South by Southwest is not just about music. It’s also about waiting in line.

Waiting in line to maybe get in. To maybe be shoulder to shoulder behind the tallest man in Austin. To maybe strain to see a stage that’s a foot off the ground. To maybe – just maybe – find that sweet spot with a band you love and enough room to lose yourself.

On Friday evening, I’m looking through the list of that night’s bands, all within a half-hour walk of each other. Hmm, should I see Wyclef Jean, M. Ward or Neko Case? Or maybe I should check out Talib Kweli, Ryan Adams or Future Islands.

And then I see a new addition—Lana Del Rey! (Yes, I’m a fan. And the idea of seeing her in person kinda makes me swoon.)

She’s scheduled to go on at 9, in two hours, so I headed over. The line is already curving around the building, about 150 people. The doors are at 8, and there’s room for 450 badge-holders. Sweet! I’m a badge holder.

Eight p.m. comes and goes. The line begins to move but only a few feet every 20 minutes. At a quarter to 9, they’re at capacity. Only about 120 badge-holders got in. I guess they had more VIP show up than anticipated.

This is a normal occurrence at SXSW. Maybe 400 VIP get in first, then those who paid hundreds for badges, then people who just bought a wristband for a specific show. The last category of people usually wait a very, very long time, if they get in at all.

Abandoning my dreams of seeing Lana, I headed over to the Weezer show, a 10-minute walk. The line for wrist-band holders is a few dozen, for badge-holders, almost no one. I get right in and head toward the front of the stage to wait for midnight.

I’m close to the front. I hold my ground when broad-shouldered men try to push their way in front of me. But I scoot over for a couple women. And somehow I find myself, as I often do, standing behind the tallest man in Austin, straining to see opening bands on a stage only feet away, but totally blocked from sight. My legs hurt, my glass is empty, and the 90s are long gone. Weezer just isn’t worth it.

When I hit the street, the line of people waiting to get in is in the hundreds. But I know I made the right choice. I can move. I can breathe. I walk down the very busy Sixth Street, weaving in and out of the crowd, determined not to let anybody slow my role. My phone is about to die, but I know where I’m going. I’m giving SXSW’s Friday night one last shot at redemption. I’m going to Minus the Bear.

There’s a decent line outside of Barracuda Backyard. I asked the door man if they’re at capacity.

“For wristbands, yes, but you go to the good line,” he says, pointing to the alley.

Around back, there’s no line, just dumpsters overloaded with beer bottles and paper plates. Inside it’s a wonderland of space. I walked right to the front of the stage and stretch my legs. The Minneapolis band 4onthefloor is rocking the stage. The lights are low. People are dancing. Full-bearded frontman Gabriel Douglas, sings about being drunk on Tuesdays. I get a drink.

After 4onthefloor is the Mothers, from Athens, Georgia. I get comfortable on a bar stool and endure possibly the most boring show at SXSW. The band’s vocals are as lazy as their stage presence. Every song the same—a monotone whine and absence of all body movements or facial expressions.

When Minus the Bear comes on at 1 a.m., I easily make my way to the front. The indie-rock band from Seattle is getting into their groove, but the vocals are totally drowned out. I start to get jostled. My ears begin to ring. I go to the back of the room.

The stage is high enough, I can still see the band. And from the back, I can hear all the sounds. I can hear the guitar, rocking and weeping. The bass, grooving and the drums, pounding. And I can hear frontman Jake Snider’s vocals, soothing and strong.

And I dance. In the back of the room, in the middle of the night, I found my sweet spot. And so I dance.
Minus the Bear plays a 1 a.m. show at Barracuda Backyard during SXSW. They look just fine from the back of the room. And there's space to dance! - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Minus the Bear plays a 1 a.m. show at Barracuda Backyard during SXSW. They look just fine from the back of the room. And there's space to dance!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Future Islands on Fire at SXSW

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 9:21 PM

Future Islands front man Samuel T. Herring is raw emotion, making for a stunning performance at SXSW Thursday night Pandora showcase. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Future Islands front man Samuel T. Herring is raw emotion, making for a stunning performance at SXSW Thursday night Pandora showcase.

The lead singer of Future Islands reveals his soul while he performs. The persona most of us wear when in public, guarding our emotion, our inner selves—front man Samuel T. Herring motions pulling off his mask while on stage at Thursday night’s Pandora showcase at SXSW.

Under his mask, he’s crying unabashedly, in front of the hundreds in the audience. He pounds his chest. He growls in to the microphone. He reaches out a hand to the audience as if to say, “Be real. Be strong.” Sweat pours down his face. He reaches a hand to the sky. It’s a difficult time in our country, he told the audience when he stepped on stage, and he’s so excited to be here.

With band members Gerrit Welmers on keyboards, William Cashion on guitar and a hired drummer, Future Islands music is hard and emotional. The audience was lost in the moment as Herring danced across the stage and leaned into the crowd to sing directly to them—each and every one.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Secret Sisters and Other Indie Heartbreakers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:40 PM

The Secret Sisters play an Americana Ladies Night at SXSW. It's the first time Lydia and Laura Rogers bring their melancholy old-timey ballads to the festival in Austin, Texas. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • The Secret Sisters play an Americana Ladies Night at SXSW. It's the first time Lydia and Laura Rogers bring their melancholy old-timey ballads to the festival in Austin, Texas.

The Secret Sisters are as joyful on stage as their songs are depressing. Laura and Lydia Rogers love the dark days.

“We sell antidepressants at our shows,” Laura jokes on stage at Cooper’s BBQ’s Americana Music Association showcase, which became Americana Ladies’ Night when the organizers realized all their headliners were women.

In front of a brick wall with a neon Budweiser sign over the shape of Texas, the Alabama women sing “Bad Habit,” a song their mother calls “intense.”

The huge head of a longhorn bull looks down on them as they harmonize with a rapturous twang. Over 100 people sit on the floor, fill the tables and stand along the walls. The whole room is silent, enchanted.

Between songs, Lydia tunes her guitar, and Laura chats with the audience, joking and telling stories. Chewing gum, she tells them about meeting the Everly Brothers. Laura says she was so excited, she burst into tears, and they weren’t pretty tears. She looked like she’d “just been born—red and shiny and wet."

The sisters love music from another time, and most of their favorite musicians are dead. It shows in their music—an old-timey feel with a sadness that’s older than they are.

“And now we’re going to segue into happier material by playing a murder ballad,” Laura says. It’s a sequel to their first murder ballad and will be on their next album, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” produced by Brandi Carlile and out this summer.

“Don’t tell us if you don’t like it,” Laura tells the audience, laughing. “That’s like telling someone they have an ugly child.”

The women get a lot of their inspiration from failed relationships, which is why Laura hasn’t written a song she likes since she got married to a “redneck from Alabama” last April. So they play the last good song she wrote: “He’s Fine,” about the last man who broke her heart.

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SXSW Day 4: Nogales-Bred Lights On Ceres Comes Up

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:18 PM

Lights on Ceres fom Nogales, Mexico plays a set at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15. - NICK MEYERS
  • Nick Meyers
  • Lights on Ceres fom Nogales, Mexico plays a set at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15.

Last night I decided to check out the closest thing to a local band South by Southwest has to offer those from Southern Arizona.

Hailing from the Mexico side of Nogales, Lights on Ceres is a three-piece band self-described as “space wave,” which must be in reference to their heavy use of electronic components and voice effects.

Comprised of 28-year-old Alberto Espinosa on lead vocals and guitar; drummer Roberto Garcia, 32; and Jorge Pablo Zarate, 26, on keyboard and backup vocals, Lights on Ceres offers a fresh sound with a solid beat.

Their music feels like something out of a 80’s night club with an updated style for the 21st century. The blend of throwback and fresh sounds makes for a set you can’t help but swing your hips to.

Espinosa’s experience stood out as he manipulated his voice to hit the effects just the right way, and Garcia’s affinity for the drums held up the backbone for each song as Zarate threw in the details for the full experience.

The band played an eight-song set with a few songs off their EP, Space Waves: “Moon Dance,” “Show me Love” and “Fly,” but most of the set was new compositions written since the release of the EP (recorded in Phoenix) last year.

Zarate said the SXSW show was a pretty big deal for the band as they drove 16 hours in a rented pickup just to stay in town for the night.

Lights on Ceres should have no trouble getting off the ground on their own merit, but Espinosa’s previous notoriety from Nikki Clan, which had a decent following in Mexico, along with Grammy-winning Gardner Cole, who has written songs for Cher, Tina Turner and Madonna, acting as producer, it should be no time at all before you start seeing these guys around.

The show at SXSW marks their fifth live gig together and the band hopes to make an appearance at Tucson’s Hotel Congress or The Rialto in the near future, so keep an eye out.

You can head to their website or check out their music on Spotify and Facebook.

Noise Annoys Blog: Tucson Star Emcee Cash Lansky Bridges Bridges Regional Styles With Vastly Different Musical Approaches and Lyrical Stances

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Cash - DYLAN GREENWOOD
  • Dylan Greenwood
  • Cash
By the time hardcore hip hop cemented its worldwide cultural dominance in the early '90s—Dr. Dre's epochal LP The Chronic being its undisputed moment of coronation—its ethos was dizzying in complexity and magnitude. Call this coincidental or contradictory or, probably most accurately, multi-dimensional. Twenty-five years later, pulling the layers of infinity apart is, as with anything, a ridiculous task that trivializes its nature. The point is that the last and easily most innovative form of Western pop music in recorded history succeeded in fulfilling that elusive and distinctly American mythos: being all things to all people. Beyond that, hip hop ascended to the mainstream throne without compromise; pop music was remade in rap's image, unlike virtually any other musical movement that preceded it. And that remains unchanged a generation or two later.

Reinventing the wheel creatively is also one of its central and most admirable tenants. Imitation is never flattery in this genre. But what about linking regional styles and vastly different musical approaches and lyrical stances?

Thirty-two-year-old Tucson emcee Cash Lansky makes a strong case for the positive merits of that question. Over the course of three solo albums, a high profile and Murs-consigned collaborative record with local rapper Marley B called The Tonite Show and countless one-off releases, Lansky's talent has never been in question. Neither have his commercial instincts. One of his greatest stylistic coups has been his ability to connect the dots between various underground rap sub genres—East Coast boom bap and introspective backpack rap—and make it seem like the similarities far outweighed the seeming fundamental differences in approach and worldview. Lansky's signature has been the erasure of such borders.

While The Tonite Show didn't end up being the commercial breakthrough it was designed to be, but, along with Lansky's subsequent recordings, it propelled him into the upper stratosphere of Southwestern hip hop.

On his new album, The Cool Table, the rapper branches out even further. His lyrics, always impressive, are now completely effortless vignettes of daily life, but the mundanity of daily life is honestly examined with razor sharp articulation. Boredom, pleasure, injustice are all themes that permeate The Cool Table—delivered with either dismissal or pathos, but Lansky never gets bogged down in rage or disgust. Though sometimes reflectively melancholy, this stunningly consistent group of songs are more often elevated to anthems of the idea of just letting things be, a rarity in any genre of modern pop, usually united in bravado.

While Lansky's deft observations are the record's consistent thread, the infectious and accomplished production is where The Cool Table aims for a place in history. Clattering 808 drums suggest contemporary trap on a few songs; soul-based strings and bass lines nod to rap's past on others. But as usual for Lansky, the titles tell a good deal of the story: "Modus Operandi," "Soufwestern State of Mind" and "90's Chill" give half the game away on their own. But naming his record The Cool Table seems to suggest his exclusion from such a place. Or maybe he's aware, accurately, that the implied exclusive club, and his place in it, is at this specific time and place in hip hop's estimable history is one headed by Lansky himself.

The Cool Table release show is Friday, March 17 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress. With Jae Tilt, Headlock, Street Blues Family, Lando Chill, Marley B. $8-$10. 7 p.m. 21+

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SXSW Day 3: Sleigh Bells Concert Leaves Heads Spinning, Ears Ringing

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Sleigh Bells front woman Alexis Krauss sings from atop the crowd duing a March 14 show at the Empire Control Room in Austin, Texas at South by Southwest. - NICK MEYERS
  • Nick Meyers
  • Sleigh Bells front woman Alexis Krauss sings from atop the crowd duing a March 14 show at the Empire Control Room in Austin, Texas at South by Southwest.

Last night was a party for the record books as we hit up Empire Control Room in Austin to check out the evenings lineup, which mostly consisted of bands with “wild women” front singers.

The lineup included Mothers from Athens, Georgia; Hurray for the Riff Raff out of the Bronx; Julie Byrne from New York City; Girlpool out of Los Angeles and headliners Sleigh Bells from Brooklyn. The only band not to feature a female vocalist was Real Estate from Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Sleigh Bells stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the lineup, dishing out their ferocious noise pop to the sweaty pit.

“It’s like being blinded by garage rock aliens,” said one fan before the show who had the foresight to wear a pair of sunglasses for the 1 a.m. show.

I don’t know what garage rock is, but it seems an apt description of the band’s brutal shock rock sounds.

The band has certainly come into maturity since their 2008 founding. Four albums later and the hits off their debut, “Treats,” are still crowd favorites.

Their mix of harsh guitar effects and electronic components were even more unforgiving coming from the massive speakers at the live show.

Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells during a show at Empire Control Room in Austin, Texas on March 14 during South by Southwest. - NICK MEYERS
  • Nick Meyers
  • Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells during a show at Empire Control Room in Austin, Texas on March 14 during South by Southwest.

But the speakers were only partly responsible for the immense amount of energy transferred to the crowd. Alexis Krauss on the lead vocals commanded a mastery of the live show, her melodic voice a stark contrast to the abrupt beats—a combination that gives the band its signature sound.

The pit fed off her energy like hyenas in the savannah devouring a lioness as she jumped from stage supports to railings and surfed atop the crowd.

If you’ve never listened to Sleigh Bells before, there’s a small chance that you’ll actually enjoy it your first time, but that’s part of nearly every fan’s obsession with band.

The sentiment was echoed before the show as we spoke with Julia Cunningham and Jenny Eliscu, hosts on SiriusXM’s XMU channel. They confirmed that yes, the people who pick the music for radio (not the hosts) actually do try to play songs so many times that you can’t help but crave them after a while.

The same holds true for Sleigh Bells. You won’t “get it” until you’re sittin’ there with the urge to
get pumped up and one of their earworms burrows into your brain, and headbanging is its only way out.

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