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BIG BANG: Not unlike I Am the World Trade Center and The Coup, Austin instrumental quartet Explosions in the Sky did not have coincidence on their side two years ago. The band's debut album became a casualty of Sept. 11 for the following reasons: the album, released just a week prior to Sept. 11, was called Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever (2001, Temporary); it contained a track called "This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow"; the album artwork depicted a plane crash; and, um, they're called Explosions in the Sky. Add to that a tour with their Texas buddies ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and you've got quite a healthy FBI file stacked against them. Not only that, but the album was pulled from college radio stations and many venues canceled previously booked show dates; in other words, the band, and the album, didn't stand a chance--never mind that the few people who actually heard it couldn't stop raving about it.

But now, Explosions in the Sky are back at it with a new album bearing the slightly more uplifting title The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003, Temporary), and with it, are finally receiving their due props.

Where the debut resembled Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Isis' jolting, er, explosions of noise, Earth is closer related to Mogwai's Happy Songs for Happy People. It meanders gorgeously for a while, adding a quickly strummed guitar brick here, some heavy duty drum mortar there, until finally, the proverbial wall of noise is built, and all you can do is stand there and admire its seamless beauty. Now if we could only get them to build that backyard patio they've been promising us.

Explosions in the Sky are not available for contracting, but they will be performing at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Thursday, Dec. 4. Lazarus opens at 9 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $6. For more information call 884-0874.


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Just as our humble little rag will be doing three months from now, our fair burg's beloved community radio station, 91.3 FM KXCI (where, oh where, would we be without them?) celebrates a full two decades of operation on the radio dial this month, and to celebrate they're sponsoring a pair of 20th anniversary shows.

First up is blues singer/guitarist Deborah Coleman, who took a bit of a circuitous route to her beloved genre of choice. The Virginia native began scaling the frets at age 8, after seeing The Monkees on TV. (Marcia Brady wasn't the only one with a crush on Davy Jones, it seems.) Soon, she was delving into the British blues-rock of the day, exploring the likes of Cream, Led Zeppelin, and The Yardbirds, which of course, led to a tracing of that music's roots back to its instigators--John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

She began playing professionally at age 15, but took time off to raise a family several years later. When she reemerged, it was first as part of an all-female group called Moxxie, which broke up when they realized they had misspelled their name, which they all agreed was horrendous to begin with. (Sorry, we made that last part up.) To make a long story a bit longer, she eventually began fronting her own band, the Thrillseekers, which went on to win a blues National Talent Search. She used the prize of studio time to record her first album, Takin' a Stand (1995, New Moon), and has since recorded five critically acclaimed albums for the venerable Blind Pig label.

Deborah Coleman will perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Advance tickets are available for $15 ($5 discount for members of KXCI, Tucson Blues Society, and the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation) at KXCI, Antigone Books, and the Boondocks, online at www.kxci.org, or by phone at 623-1000, ext. 13. They'll be $3 more at the door. For more info call 690-0991.

The following night the celebration continues with a performance from one of the country's preeminent jam bands, Leftover Salmon. Though regular KXCI listeners likely need no introduction to the self-described "polyethnic Cajun slamgrass" band, the rest of you should know that the group uses bluegrass as the bedrock of improvisational exploration of everything from boogie-woogie to Latin jazz, Southern rock to funk, all with an emphasis on danceability.

Leftover Salmon headlines the second day of KXCI's 20th anniversary celebration, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Dec. 6. Greg Morton & the Mortones open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $15 ($3 discount for KXCI members) at KXCI, Hear's Music, Antigone Books and the Rialto, online at www.kxci.org, or by phone at 623-1000, ext. 13. They'll be $3 more at the door. For further details call 798-3333.


ALL THAT JAZZ: Local jazz promotion organization Zeitgeist, helmed by Steve Hahn, this week celebrates its seventh year of the annual aggregation known as Making It Up (in real time). The show collects a bevy of Tucson's best improvisational jazz (or near-jazz, in some cases) combos, and gives them each an hour to shine in the confines of the visual wonderland that is the Mat Bevel Institute. This year's participants include Latin jazz trio Sonido Tropical, guitar powerhouse Matt Mitchell's klezmetal (klezmer + metal = klezmetal) project El Creepy, acoustic hip-hoppers The Bandeye, and the Institute's resident musical ensemble, the Mat Bevel Orchestra. The event benefits the Society for Bevel Intentions Education Fund, and as usual, is sponsored by NYC-based Palmetto Records, who will be giving out free CDs all evening long.

Making It Up (in real time) kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone. All ages are welcome and admission is $7 at the door. For further details call 622-0192.


JUST IN TIME FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING: The locals of the Larry Redhouse Trio celebrate the release of a new CD, Live at the Westward Look, with a release party this weekend. The self-released disc comprises a pair of original compositions and nine standards as interpreted by the group--the trio's namesake keyboardist, drummer Lenny Redhouse, and bassist Andy Bourke--at a gig at the local resort, on Aug. 3 of this year, and demonstrates their not-overbearing dexterity and sheer versatility. Larry Redhouse's influences are apparent on first listen: think early fusion jazz pioneers like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. But the trio also knows when to play it a bit more organic, as on their splendid interpretation of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," one of several highlights here.

The Larry Redhouse Trio celebrates the release of Live at the Westward Look at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, at The Sanmaniego Place, 220 S. Church Ave. Tickets are available in advance for $12 by calling 623-0313. They'll also be available at the door for $15. The cost of admission includes a copy of the CD. Call the same number for further info.


ON THE BANDWAGON: One of the breakout acts of this summer's Warped Tour, inventive Seattle emo-meets-hardcore combo Vendetta Red headlines an all-ages show at City Limits, 6350 E Tanque Verde Road, on Saturday, Dec. 6. Opening the show at 4 p.m. are S.T.U.N. (which stands for "Scream Toward the Uprising of Non-conformity"--no, I didn't make that up), Armor for Sleep, and Pris. Advance tix are available for $8 at City Limits and Zia Records, online at www.calproductions.com, and by phone at 800-514-ETIX. They'll be $10 on the day of the show. For more 411 call 733-6262.

San Diego's Pinback makes complex but oh-so-smooth indie-pop that will appeal to fans of Sea and Cake and the like. Judging from the throngs that turned out to the band's superb performance earlier this year at Club Congress, their fans don't need much more coaxing than that to inspire a return visit to their show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Tuesday, Dec. 9. One of Pinback member Rob Crow's many side projects, Optiganally Yours, opens at 9:30 p.m. Call 798-1298 for details.

Local disco funk oddballs Sugarbush are playing their last show before taking a three-month sabbatical this week, so git while the gittin's good. Also on the bill are Anna Oxygen, Janet Pants Dans Theeatre, and Dear Nora. Sugarbush's Dimitri promises a "ladies night jazzercise sweat out the dirt disco hand washer" for attendees. The fun goes down at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at the Sangin Building, 300 N. Sixth Ave. Admission is $5, and you can e-mail the friendly folks at soildgoldrecords@casino.com for more info.

Meanwhile, after a year of bashing out sets full of controlled post-punk chaos, West Cool 7 aren't merely going on sabbatical, they're calling it quits. Unfortunately, one of the band's members is relocating to Atlanta, but luckily there's time enough for one more blow-out this week. West Cool 7's final performance, along with sets from Tucson hardcore granddaddies Gat Rot, The Alpha Watchers, a band to be announced, and DJ Bonus, takes place at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E Congress St. Questions? Ring up the friendly folks at 622-3535.

The name Rami Kleinstein might not mean much to us Americans, but in his native Israel, Kleinstein is a mega-superstar. That country's most popular contemporary singer, Kleinstein has earned triple-platinum albums for his tasteful pop tunes, which have been compared to those of Elton John and Phil Collins. He'll perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at Temple Emanuel, 225 N. Country Club. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased by calling 299-3000, ext. 291. They'll also be available at the door. For more info call 299-3000, ext. 211.

On his highly enjoyable debut EP, Trouble and Desire (2003, Startracks), 23-year-old soulful Swedish singer/songwriter Tiger Lou (nee Rasmus Kellerman) calls to mind a more melancholy Josh Rouse or, come to think about it, a reincarnated Jeff Buckley with a more direct sense of melody and pop smarts. He'll perform as the penultimate act on a bill that also includes headliner Catalonia and fellow openers Rachel Jacobs and New Socialist Man, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd. For more info call 358-4287.

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